7 Signs Your Loved One Has a Xanax Addiction and How to Handle It

xanax addiction

Over 13.5 million American adults currently have a prescription for benzodiazepines such as Xanax. 

Though originally prescribed to treat anxiety, the ugly truth is that Xanax can quickly become incredibly addictive. 

Are you concerned that someone you care about currently has a Xanax addiction? 

Before you confront them, it’s important to understand the potential signs that someone is abusing Xanax. This article is here to help you to do just that. 

We’ll also tell you more about how Xanax works, why it’s so addictive, and where you can get help

What Is Xanax?

Before we get into the signs that someone you love is abusing Xanax, let’s first make sure you understand what it’s used for. 

Xanax is a benzodiazepine, or “benzo” for short. 

When used correctly, it can greatly alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and even panic disorder. Your brain already produces a natural chemical known as gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA for short

An imbalance in or a lack of the proper amount of the GABA chemicals is what is thought to create these intense feelings of anxiety and panic. Xanax improves communication between neurotransmitters and the rest of the brain. It also binds onto these receptors, balancing out and strengthening your GABA chemicals. 

This is what creates that calming effect that Xanax is so well-known for. It also decreases the amount of overall neuron activity in the brain. 

Is it effective? Absolutely. 

Unfortunately, Xanax is also incredibly addictive

Your body gets used to — and even craves — this rush of natural “feel-good” chemicals very quickly. This means that, just in order to get the same effects as you did on a lower dosage, you’ll need to take a higher dosage of Xanax more frequently. 

In some cases, it can take as little as a month to become addicted. 

Here’s what many people don’t realize. Xanax, along with other benzos, were never created as part of a long-term treatment plan. Instead, the goal was to provide desperate individuals with immediate relief while waiting for safer medications — and therapy — to help them. 

Of course, pharmaceutical companies make a huge profit off of someone’s addiction to Xanax. In some cases, doctors may even receive kickbacks for prescribing it. 

As a result, many people are overprescribed Xanax, and quickly become addicted. 

Now, let’s take a look at some common signs of Xanax addiction. 

1. The Physical Signs

First of all, let’s talk about the top physical signs that someone is abusing Xanax. 

Remember that not all of these signs and symptoms must be present in order for someone to have an addiction. Of course, just because someone displays a few of these symptoms also doesn’t mean they have a problem. 

That being said, if you notice certain physical symptoms keep cropping up, you may want to consider talking to the person you’re concerned about — or the other people close to them. 

They may frequently complain of dizziness, blurred or double vision, headaches, and digestive issues. They may also frequently vomit, or just complain of continual bouts of nausea. 

When they move, you might notice that they seem to have trouble walking straight. They may stagger, move more slowly than normal, or just stumble around. There might seem to be a complete lack of or serious, noticeable decrease in their coordination. 

The person in question may also complain of dry mouth, even though they stay hydrated. 

Lastly, when it comes to the physical Xanax effects, be on the lookout for tremors and the shakes. This can be a sign of taking too much Xanax. It can also be a sign that the addict is going through Xanax withdrawal. 

This is especially common when it comes to addicts who enjoy snorting Xanax. This is serious, as someone who abuses Xanax is at a high risk of seizures and other neurological issues. 

2. A Change in Sleep Patterns

In addition to the physical signs of addiction we mentioned above, you should also closely monitor the potential addict’s sleep cycle. Have you noticed that it’s drastically changed in the past few months?

Perhaps they sleep for much longer than they usually do. They sleep through alarms, important meetings, and even work. Sometimes, they miss out on things you know they care about because they fell asleep without realizing it. 

They may also nod off throughout the day, or require naps. 

Of course, the opposite can also be a sign that someone is abusing Xanax.

Maybe it seems like they barely sleep. In some cases, they seem to need less sleep than ever before. They’re up at all hours of the night — and they were never like this in the past. 

They seem tired and frequently complain of insomnia. 

But even if it seems like they want to sleep, the reality is that they just can’t seem to.

They may even start hallucinating because of a lack of sleep. Or, when they are able to get some rest, they might frequently talk to you about graphic nightmares they have.

3. Social Isolation

It’s no secret that there’s a great deal of shame when it comes to addiction. 

You might get the sense that the addict is trying to hide their addiction from those around them, whether they want to protect themselves or you. You’ve also noticed a serious social withdrawal lately. 

They don’t come to hang out with you anymore. In fact, they barely return your texts or calls at all. 

And when you do spend time with them? 

They seem like they’re not able to focus on what’s going on around them. They seem either spaced out or incredibly hyperactive — there’s not much of an in between. 

You can tell this person is trying to isolate themselves intentionally. Maybe they’ve even “moved on” to a new group of friends that you don’t know much about, and no longer have time for you. 

One thing is for certain: they’re not acting like themselves. They don’t even want to take part in the activities or hobbies they love anymore. 

It seems like they’re just coasting through life — and you think Xanax might be to blame. 

If you’re in a romantic relationship with this person, you’ve realized that their sex drive has completely evaporated. They never seem to be “in the mood” anymore. 

Perhaps the opposite is true, and they’re dealing with an intense sex drive that you just can’t keep up with. 

Either way, the outlook isn’t good. 

4. A Drastic Change in Physical Appearance

In the past, the person you’re concerned about always took care of themselves physically. 

Sure, like everyone, they enjoy a good cheat day and sometimes fluctuate when it comes to weight. 

But lately? 

You’ve noticed a drastic change in their physical appearance. In some cases, you might also realize that the person you’re worried about has stopped taking care of their basic hygiene. 

It seems like they’ve stopped showering, putting on makeup, brushing their hair, or even taking care of their teeth. 

And then there’s their weight. Whether they’ve gained or lost, it’s all happened incredibly quickly. You’ve also noticed a marked change in their diet in general. 

They eat poorly, when they remember to even eat at all. It seems like they’re not interested in nutrient-rich foods. Instead, they eat whatever is available. 

You may also have noticed a serious increase or decrease in appetite and eating patterns. Maybe they seem like they’re binge eating once a day instead of enjoying three meals. 

5. An Increase in Depression/Talk of Self-Harm

One of the most devastating side effects of a Xanax addiction

It can cause the person with the addiction to feel extreme depression and anxiety. 

This is often due to the nature of the pills themselves, as well as the combination of the other factors we’ve mentioned here. When someone isolates themselves, mistreats friends and family members, and feels physically ill, chances are, something is up.

You’ve also noticed pretty drastic mood changes. They can go from being hostile, angry, and even aggressive to the point that you’re worried for your safety and back to happy in a matter of hours. 

In some cases, they may even talk about how hopeless and worthless they feel. They could even express the desire to hurt themselves or end their life. In fact, you often wonder if they’ve already started to self-harm. 

This is the most serious sign of an addiction. It also points out the often-overlooked connection between Xanax addiction and mental illness as a whole. 

6. Financial Problems 

Xanax isn’t cheap — whether it’s obtained legally or illegally. 

At a certain point, you’ve realized that the potential addict’s financial situation has completely changed.

Maybe they’ve stopped going to work. Perhaps they’ve started selling important possessions. Maybe you share a joint bank account, and you’ve realized that large amounts of funds are missing. 

But when you confront the person about this, they may claim to not know what you’re talking about.

In some cases, they may even ask you for money.

They don’t tell you that they’re planning to spend it on Xanax, but you have your suspicions. Plus, it never seems to last them long when you do give it to them. They’re making up excuses and wild stories about why they need the money. 

At a certain point, you know they’re lying to you. 

Perhaps this addict lives with you. You hate to say it, but you suspect that they might be stealing from you in order to fund their habit.

In some cases, you might realize that money is missing out of your wallet. 

You’ve noticed that valuables around the house keep disappearing. The addict might even leave the room to take calls — and you suspect they’re connecting with people who want to buy your things. 

7. Memory Issues

Another one of the most common signs of Xanax addiction is increased confusion and a lack of focus. Additionally, you may start to notice that the person you’re worried about just can’t seem to keep track of anything anymore. 

It started small. Maybe they couldn’t remember where they placed an item. Perhaps they repeated themselves a few times over the course of a conversation. 

But now, their memory issues seem more common — and more severe. 

It’s not just that they’ve totally lost their ability to concentrate on one thing at a time anymore. Now, they’re blanking on entire conversations you’ve had with them. 

It seems like they’re almost blacked out when you speak to them. They may try to lie and cover up their confusion, but they can’t hide it from you any longer. 

You know that they need help — and that they need it fast. 

The good news is that there is something you can do to get them the help they deserve. They just have to be willing to listen to you.

Getting Help for a Xanax Addiction

We know it can be incredibly frightening and upsetting to face the truth about someone you love’s Xanax addiction. 

Perhaps, in reading this post, you’ve even realized that the person suffering from a Xanax addiction is you. 

Help is out there. It’s not your fault that you became addicted to Xanax, and this kind of addiction can happen to anyone regardless of age, race, social class, or gender. 

What is important is that you seek help as soon as possible. You need to get professional treatment not only for your safety, but also to propel you on the right path forward. 

Reach out to us today to learn how we can help you get your life back.

Content Reviewed by Jacklyn Steward

Jacklyn StewardJacklyn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and an EMDR trained trauma therapy specialist with over 6 years of experience in the field of addiction. She has a Masters Degree in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling from Nova Southeastern University.