What Is Xanax Addiction and Treatment?

Xanax is a prescription medication for anxiety and panic disorders. It is the brand name for Alprazolam, one of the most commonly prescribed medicines in the US for patients with anxiety and panic. Due to the wide prescription and treatment, Xanax has always been in high demand. Among other reasons, Xanax produces euphoria-like effects, which is why it is also widely abused and is a controlled substance in the US.

How does Xanax function?

Xanax is a benzodiazepine that is responsible for reducing abnormal activity in the brain. When the brain is overactive, it indicates anxiety and panic. Benzodiazepine works to enhance the effects of GABA or Gamma-aminobutyric Acid. GABA is known to function as an inhibitory neurotransmitter as it blocks or reduces the initiation, sending, and receiving of chemical signals or messages from one nerve cell to the other. 

GABA is present in the central nervous system comprising the brain and spinal cord and centrally decreases overactivity in the brain. While low levels of GABA cause stress, anxiety, chronic pain, and epilepsy, Xanax increases GABA levels, producing a calming and relaxed feeling in the body that reduces symptoms of anxiety and panic.

What are the possible side effects of Xanax?

  • The common side effects include-
  •  Dizziness
  •  Drowsiness
  •  Change in sex drive
  •  Increased saliva production 
  •  Feeling light-headed
  • The common side effects of Xanax should ideally decrease with time. However, it is advised that you inform your doctor if they get worse.

Side effects on the mood include the feeling of relaxation, euphoria, and general shifts in mood or irritability. Physical side effects include dry mouth, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, poor coordination, shortness of breath, tremors, slurred speech, and erectile dysfunction. In contrast, psychological side effects are lack of focus, confusion, memory problems, and lack of inhibition. 

What is addiction 

Addiction is a chronic brain and body dysfunction that revolves around rewards, memory, and motivation to crave a particular substance, thing regularly, or activity. It is a treatable condition where the earlier it is detected, the easier it is to treat. 

What does Xanax addiction feel like?

  • The common signs of addiction include-
  •  Urge or craving that is intense, making it difficult to focus on anything else
  •  The compulsive need to have more Xanax
  •  Taking more and more of the Xanax or taking it in larger doses and for a longer time than is prescribed
  •  Spending a lot of time obtaining Xanax and using it
  •  Continuing to use it despite the negative effects
  •  Giving up other activities or events and interactions to use Xanax
  •  Lack of the ability to stop using Xanax

Treatment for Xanax addiction

If you have been using Xanax for a long time, you may develop dependence or tolerance. It is suggested that you inform your doctor if you think the dosage prescribed to you isn’t working instead of increasing it on your own. Another precaution will be to taper your dosage with time as directed by your physician if you have been using Xanax for a prolonged period and in high doses to avoid withdrawal symptoms. 

The withdrawal symptoms include-

  •  Anxiety and panic
  •  Insomnia 
  •  Nightmares, feeling agitated and restless
  •  Depression
  •  Tremors
  •  Muscle pain

Behavioral treatment includes focusing on the reason behind the addiction and finding better ways to cope with anxiety, stress, and other difficult emotions that aren’t easy to deal with. This involves a psychotherapist who will guide you through ways to let go of your addiction while also simultaneously dealing with anxiety and panic. There are three primary kinds of therapies that can help with Xanax addiction-

Cognitive behavioral therapy- This focuses on unhealthy thoughts or beliefs that lead to addiction where the aim is to help you understand how these negative beliefs or situations that lead to negative beliefs impact your emotions and behavior

Contingency management – This is a treatment prominently used in rehab centers where the idea is based on a reward-based system, like a reward for a negative drug test. 

Couples therapy or family therapy – It is suggested that if you are struggling with addiction, you should inform your family members or people that you are close with. It will also help if you include them in your treatment, improving communication and recovery.


As ironic as this may seem, many doctors advise and practice it. This includes replacing the high dose Xanax with a slightly low dose benzodiazepine which will have a similar effect in treating your anxiety or panic disorder. Medications like Diazepam or Valium are prominently used to treat withdrawal symptoms among substance abuse patients.

Detox and its symptoms-

The first step in overcoming an addiction is acknowledging your problem. Detoxification is a process that aids you in safely stopping taking Xanax while reducing and managing withdrawal symptoms. Usually, rehab centers and hospitals have the proper and required expertise to treat Xanax addiction. The common symptoms you will face are – Tremors, restlessness, paranoia, anxiety and panic, headaches, and insomnia.

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