Xanax, the popular brand name for the drug alprazolam, is a short-acting prescription medication that is sometimes prescribed to people with a variety of anxiety disorders. Xanax has a powerful sedative effect which wears off quickly, so patients are told to take xanax as needed in response to how they feel. However, this combination of powerful effects and repeated dosing means we have to consider the question: Is Xanax addictive?
Xanax is a Schedule IV controlled substance, meaning it is considered to have a low potential for abuse. However, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Xanax is one of the most commonly abused drugs in the U.S.. In fact, about one in five people who take benzodiazepines like Xanax will misuse them.
Why Is Xanax Addictive?
Xanax belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. These are sedatives that have strong effects on the nervous system by acting on a neurotransmitter in the brain called GABA. If someone takes Xanax regularly, it can lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms, especially if taken for a long time or in high doses. Xanax can cause physical and psychological dependence or addiction even in people who take it as prescribed.
In 2012, 17,019 people were admitted to treatment facilities across the nation citing benzodiazepines like Xanax as their primary or sole drug of abuse, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The reason for Xanax’s high addiction potential is the combination of its strong sedative effects and short duration. These lead to people taking Xanax repeatedly and becoming psychologically dependent on its calming effects.
Additionally, the strong influence Xanax has on the levels of GABA and dopamine in your brain, important neurotransmitters that control mood and muscle movements. Prolonged periods of taking Xanax can lead to your brain rewiring itself based on these elevated levels of GABA and dopamine, causing withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking Xanax.
What Does Xanax Look Like?
Due to the high addiction potential of Xanax, there is a large illegal market for Xanax for those who can’t get it prescribed. However, many of the pills sold as Xanax are fake homemade pills known as bars. These Xanax bars are often laced with other drugs, including dangerous ones like fentanyl.
Real Xanax, or alprazolam, comes in many different forms, each indicating a different dosage strength or coming from a different manufacturer. Being able to identify genuine alprazolam tablets can help prevent accidentally taking more than intended or taking dangerous drugs disguised or sold as Xanax.
- White Xanax: The most common form of Xanax is a small, rectangular white tablet with the word “XANAX” stamped across it. Many generic brands of alprazolam also come in similar shapes.
- Blue “football” Xanax: Pfizer produces a blue Xanax tablet, shaped like an oval, that contains two milligrams of alprazolam.
- Green Xanax: Dava Pharmaceuticals Inc. produces a green, rectangular alprazolam bar stamped with “S903,” which contains two milligrams.
- Yellow Xanax: Actavis Pharmaceuticals produces a yellow tablet with “R039” stamped on one side.
- Orange Xanax: Pfizer produces an orange Xanax oval tablet with “XANAX 0.5” stamped into one side, containing 0.5 milligrams of alprazolam.
What Are the Signs of Xanax Addiction?
If you’re wondering “is Xanax addictive” it may be because you or somebody you know is at risk of abusing Xanax. When someone becomes dependent on Xanax and regularly abuses it, psychological and behavioral symptoms will be more prominent. People will be unable to control their impulse to take more Xanax and may become increasingly preoccupied with this drug. As a result, the person may lie, steal, lash out, or go about shady ways to get more Xanax.
If you find yourself lying to friends, loved ones, or doctors about how much Xanax you’re really taking, it’s likely that you’ve developed a dependency. You may find yourself needing larger doses to achieve the same results, which may indicate drug tolerance. When you don’t have access to Xanax, you may have sharp mood swings, making you depressed, anxious, or irritable.
What Are the Symptoms of Xanax Withdrawal?
Xanax withdrawal symptoms can take hold within hours of the last dose, and they typically peak in severity within one to four days. During withdrawal, people often experience headaches, blurred vision, tremors, loss of appetite, insomnia, and anxiety.
Removing Xanax abruptly without the supervision of a medical professional can result in numerous health problems, swings in body temperature, respiration issues, and rapid heart rate. In extreme cases, it can even lead to seizures that can damage your brain. These are serious signs of dependence on Xanax, and if you’re experiencing them, it may be time to seek some professional medical help before it develops into a life-threatening situation.
Can Xanax Addiction Be Treated?
Addiction to Xanax is a complicated issue. Not only does the addiction issue need to be considered, but there is also an underlying mental health condition. This means that individuals need specialized care to manage these co-occurring disorders. Luckily, we offer dual diagnosis programming to address both of these problems at the same time. In this way, you can make a complete recovery with regard to both addiction and mental health.
At Georgetown Behavioral Hospital, we offer also offer a medically supervised detox program with around-the-clock care by our team of medical professionals. Our detox and dual diagnosis programs include discharge planning and relapse prevention to ensure long-term healing. Using evidence-based therapies that build long-term recovery skills, we aim to give every patient the skills they need to remove the influence of addiction on their lives and allow them to start again.
If you’re asking “is Xanax addictive,” you may already have a chemical dependency. It can feel impossible, but with professional support and a reliable drug and alcohol detox program, your recovery is only a few steps away. To learn more about our programs or start the admissions process, call our admissions staff at 937-483-4930 or fill out our confidential contact form.