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Why is Xanax so Addictive?

Your doctor may prescribe Xanax to treat a mental health problem (or to alleviate the side effects of a painful process like chemotherapy). However, if you take Xanax for an extended period, you may become dependent on its soothing effect without even recognizing it.

Since the approval of Xanax in 1970 for treating panic disorder, the drug has become necessary in treating other mental conditions such as anxiety, depression, chemotherapy, and other health problems. Xanax is a schedule IV benzodiazepine and has a low potential for abuse. However, in 2013 alone, 10.3% of people aged between 18 and 25 doubled the number of 26+ year-olds who abused Xanax. Both psychological and physical dependency characterizes Xanax addiction. 

What is Xanax?

Xanax, commonly known as alprazolam, is a benzodiazepine that affects the central nervous system by producing sedative effects. Xanax is available in the market as a tablet. Medical health providers recommend benzodiazepines for short durations, usually weeks or months, to reduce the risk of addiction.


Xanax acts by reducing irregular exhilaration in the brain. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it in October 1981 and continues to improve on it to reduce the risks of addiction and even deaths from overdose.


Xanax is a prescription medication that makes you trust and think it is safer than illegal drugs. However, this is not the case if you don’t adhere strictly to the dosage, method of consumption, and frequency of use. 


You may find Xanax and other forms of Xanax with the following street names; Xannies (or Zanies), Xans, Xanbars, X, Z, Zanna, Handlebars, Bars, Happy Bars, Z-bars, Totem Poles, Speedy Gonzales, Fantastic, Xando, Xanado, Xandont, Xanadont, Xanalax, Zebras, Xankful, Xantrocity, Xanbang, Xansexual, Xanathon, Xanspam, XanXan, Xanemon.

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Expert Contributor

Dr. Williams presently serves on the board of Directors for two non-profit service organizations. He holds a Master’s degree in Human Services from Lincoln University, Philadelphia, Pa, and a Ph.D. with a concentration in Clinical Psychology from Union Institute and University. In Cincinnati, Ohio. He is licensed to practice addictions counseling in both New Jersey and Connecticut and has a pending application as a practicing Psychologist in New Jersey.

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Xanax Addiction Problem

You may have received Xanax from your medical caregiver to treat insomnia, panic disorders, or generalized panic disorder (GAD). You are in imminent danger if you abuse Xanax for long periods, as it is highly addictive.


BBC recently reported that Adolescents as young as 11 years are using Xanax. It stated that the children buy drugs from school grounds and on social media. Some of these kids acquire the medications at home from their family’s medicine cabinets. You may become addicted quickly and begin to increase your intake of Xanax because your body develops tolerance quickly.


Taking 20 to 30 Xanax pills daily poses life-threatening withdrawal symptoms once you cease taking the drug. It is worse if you mix Xanax with other benzos or alcohol. The onset of withdrawal symptoms usually means that your body has developed tolerance to the drug, meaning you have become addicted to Xanax. Other withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, anxiety, tremors, and insomnia.


A medical study published in 2017 concluded that young adults aged 18 to 29 were the most significant number of benzodiazepine users. Most people who visit clubs and use drugs in the said clubs are also in this age group — people who consume more alcohol, marijuana, ecstasy/MDMA, and related substances.


The study further indicated that benzodiazepine sedatives like Xanax are most likely mixed with other intoxicating and prescription drugs. Younger adolescents appear to be refraining from abusing many substances except Xanax.

Rolling Hills Recovery Center offers free 24/7 Xanax addiction support. Call today and confidentially speak with our addiction specialists at 855-559-8550.

The Addiction Potential of Xanax: How Does Xanax Work?

Consuming Xanax slows down the movement of brain chemicals that may have become irregular, decreasing nervous tension and anxiety. Xanax boosts the effects of a natural chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is naturally made in the brain.


GABA is a neurotransmitter that dampens neural excitation and suppresses communication between the different neurons in your brain. When this happens, you may experience some or all of the following symptoms:


  • Decreased tension and anxiety

  • Sleepiness

  • Loss of coordination

  • Impaired judgment


The substance changes your brain’s neuronal signals within your brain in a way that increases the emission of dopamine. This chemical naturally occurs in your brain and is tasked with the induction of feelings of pleasure and relaxation. Large amounts of dopamine may be induced in your brain after you use Xanax; this surge may trigger an extremely pleasurable high that will give you the desire to use the drug continuously.


You may reach a point where the drug no longer gives you the same effect and therefore decide to mix Xanax with other drugs such as heroin, cocaine, alcohol, etc. You will find yourself using methods other than the recommended one to get a similar or more potent high from the drug. You may crush the tablet and snort it or inject it, putting yourself at a higher risk of other health issues, including death from an overdose.

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How To Determine If You Are Addicted To Xanax

Dependence happens rapidly with Benzos. Even when you or a loved one uses Xanax as directed by the doctor, you can become addicted to Xanax. Since Xanax addiction, or physical dependence, can occur quickly, it is crucial to recognize the effects of Xanax and the symptoms of Xanax addiction.


When you are addicted to Xanax, you appear incredibly drunk. You may also observe some of the following physical symptoms of Xanax addiction:


  • Drowsiness/lack of coordination.

  • Slurred speech.

  • Headaches.

  • Dizziness.

  • Dry mouth.

  • Nausea/constipation/diarrhea.

  • Sweating.

  • Seizures.

  • Swelling in hands and feet.

  • Fluctuations in weight.


You may also experience specific behavioral symptoms, including:

  • The need to withdraw from peers and family members.

  • Financial problems.

  • Always thinking about Xanax.

  • Feelings of shame.

  • The need to take more Xanax than prescribed.

  • Needing a refill before the due date.

Bottom Line

Xanax is more harmful than helpful. High levels of misuse, physical and psychological dependence, and several health concerns are all associated with Xanax usage. Hundreds of patients are rushed to the emergency department each day due to the adverse effects of Xanax abuse or use. 


The effects are harsher when combined with other drugs like cocaine, alcohol, or heroin. This may result in complex health issues and various overdose and mortality reasons. When you become aware that you or a loved one is misusing Xanax, you should seek expert assistance immediately to prevent a crisis.


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What is Xanax?
Xanax addiction problem
The addiction potential of Xanax: How does Xanax work?
How to determine if you are addicted to Xanax
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