Xanax Abuse and Addiction

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Addiction and substance use prevalence continues to grow throughout the country. In the United States, approximately 61.2 million individuals reportedly engaged in substance use during the year of 2021. (1) That same year, approximately 46.3 million individuals were diagnosed with a substance use disorder. (2) Xanax is a benzodiazepine medication that approximately 3.9 million individuals, ages 12 years and older, reportedly engaged in during the year of 2021. (3) For those with little psychoeducation regarding substance use, Xanax addiction and the effective treatment options may be unknown.

At Guardian Recovery, we offer comprehensive and evidence-based treatment for those experiencing xanax abuse. With xanax specific detoxification services, we can aid you or a loved one in reaching sobriety in a safe environment. Providing different levels of care, such as residential inpatient and partial hospitalization, we ensure that each treatment plan is individualized to meet each individual’s needs. Additionally, we offer family workshops and family therapy to help those seeking treatment and their family members the opportunity to process how substance use has impacted them. Contact us today to learn more and to get started with your road to recovery.

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What Is Xanax?

Xanax, also known by the brand name Alprazolam, is a medication classified as a benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines are depressant medications, meaning that they slow down the brain and central nervous system. Xanax is often prescribed to help treat moderate to severe anxiety disorders. Xanax can also be prescribed to help treat insomnia and other sleep related issues, though this is not the common use of Xanax. Common street names for Xanax include Zannies and Zan Bars.

Can Using Xanax & Benzodiazepines as Prescribed Cause Dependence?

Even if Xanax and other benzodiazepines are prescribed by a doctor, repeated use can lead to addiction or dependence. This is due to how Xanax affects the brain and body. Xanax increases dopamine and GABA, which are neurotransmitters in the brain. GABA and dopamine both reinforce the reward center in the brain, leading to the individuals feeling as if they need to continue their Xanax use. This cycle helps an individual maintain their substance use and addiction over time. It is important for Xanax to only be taken as prescribed in order to decrease the chances of the development of addiction.

What Are the Addiction Rates From Xanax Use?

Xanax is one of the most frequently prescribed medications in the United States. Xanax is classified as a Schedule IV substance by the Drug Enforcement ADministration meaning that it can be used for medical purposes, though it is addictive. (4)

Causes & Risk Factors for Xanax Abuse & Addiction Development

There are many reasons why an individual may develop an addiction to Xanax. The exact cause for an individual’s Xanax use has not yet been determined, however, there are some risk factors that may increase one’s chances of becoming addicted.

Risk factors for Xanax misuse and addiction include: (5)

  • Having a history of substance use.
  • Having a family history of substance use.
  • Favorable attitudes from loved ones towards substance use.
  • Family rejection regarding sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • History of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Xanax Use & Its Effect on Mental Health

Xanax is often used to help treat anxiety related mental health disorders. Xanax can reduce stress and tension in the body. Being utilized for the treatment of anxiety related disorders is one of the reasons why Xanax prescriptions have increased.

What Demographics Are Most at Risk of Xanax Abuse?

Research has found that those 50 years of age and older are at a higher risk of developing Xanax addiction due to them being more likely to use benzodiazepines more often than they are prescribed to aid with sleep disturbances. (6) Those ages 18 to 25 are also at risk of developing Xanax use disorder due to substance use being high amongst this age group. (7) Understanding which individuals are most at risk for Xanax addiction can help with treatment options.

Visible Signs Someone May Be Addicted to Xanax

There are identifiable signs and symptoms that are associated with Xanax addiction.

Common signs and symptoms associated with Xanax addiction or benzodiazepine use disorder include:

  • Taking higher doses of Xanax for longer periods of time than initially intended.
  • Unsuccessful attempts to cut back or stop Xanax use.
  • Experiencing intense cravings and urges to engage in Xanax use.
  • Continuing to engage in Xanax use despite experiencing personal problems directly caused by substance use.
  • Spending time obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of Xanax use.
  • Engaging in drug seeking behaviors such as stealing prescriptions from loved ones or attempting to receive more than one prescription from doctors.
  • Experiencing interpersonal problems due to Xanax use.
  • Experiencing financial and legal issues as a direct consequence of Xanax use and dependence.
  • Developing a physical tolerance, or needing larger amounts of Xanax in order to reach the desired effects.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when Xanax use is suddenly stopped or cut back.

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Common Symptoms & Side Effects of Xanax Dependence

Engaging in chronic, repeated, or daily Xanax use can lead to dependence. Symptoms can be broken down into two separate categories. These symptoms usually begin 6 to 12 hours following last use.


Physical side effects associated with Xanax dependence include:

  • Body tremors.
  • Muscle spasms.
  • Intense and persistent headaches.
  • Profuse sweating and sweating throughout the night.
  • Chills.
  • Elevated pulse and heart rate.
  • Increased blood pressure.
  • Difficulty falling asleep or experiencing insomnia.
  • Seizures.


Psychological side effects associated with Xanax dependence include:

  • Anxiety and panic attacks.
  • Depressed mood which can lead to depressive disorders and suicidal ideations.
  • Experiencing restlessness and irritability.
  • Experiencing feelings of detachment from reality.
  • Difficulty concentrating and focusing.
  • Experiencing visual and auditory hallucinations.
  • Experiencing delusions and delirium.

What to Do if Someone Overdoses on Xanax

Taking too much Xanax or mixing Xanax with other substances can increase one’s chances of experiencing an overdose. If you or someone you love experiencing overdose symptoms, it is important to seek immediate emergency attention as a xanax overdose can be fatal.

Signs and symptoms associated with a Xanax overdose include: (8)

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Impaired coordination
  • Reduced reflexes
  • Coma
  • Death

Xanax Overdose Statistics

In 2021, approximately 12,499 individuals died due to experiencing a fatal overdose involving benzodiazepines.

What Treatment Is Available to Those Who Suffer From Xanax Addiction?

At Guardian Recovery, we offer various treatment options for those experiencing Xanax use disorder and dependence.


We offer services to help individuals begin the addiction recovery process.

These services include:

Therapeutic Interventions

We offer therapeutic interventions that are conducted by licensed clinicians.

Our therapeutic interventions include:

Therapeutic Modalities

There are different therapeutic modalities that are used during therapy sessions.

At Guardian Recovery, we utilize the following therapeutic modalities:

Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing

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Our Simple Admissions Process

If you suspect that you, or someone you love are experiencing Xanax addiction, attending a substance use treatment program is the best way to overcome it. Contact us today to speak with one of our Treatment Advisors who will help guide you through our simple admissions process. A free, no obligation insurance benefits check can be provided upon your request. Addiction recovery may not be easy, but we are here to support you. Start your recovery journey with Guardian Recovery.


Do I have an Addiction issue?

Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

  1. https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2023/01/04/samhsa-announces-national-survey-drug-use-health-results-detailing-mental-illness-substance-use-levels-2021.html
  2. https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2023/01/04/samhsa-announces-national-survey-drug-use-health-results-detailing-mental-illness-substance-use-levels-2021.html
  3. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/misuse-prescription-drugs/what-scope-prescription-drug-misuse
  4. https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Benzodiazepenes-2020_1.pdf
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/substance-use/index.htm
  6. https://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ps.201800321#:~:text=Adults%20ages%20%E2%89%A550%20were,benzodiazepine%20to%20help%20with%20sleep.
  7. https://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ps.201800321#:~:text=Adults%20ages%20%E2%89%A550%20were,benzodiazepine%20to%20help%20with%20sleep.
  8. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326551

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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