Skip to main content

Xanax Abuse: Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

man addicted to xanax crushing pills

Xanax is a brand name medication that is generically known as alprazolam. It belongs to a group of medications called benzodiazepines. Xanax is an anti-anxiety medication, which is commonly used to treat panic attacks and anxiety disorders. Xanax is a central nervous system depressant that works by acting on certain neurotransmitters in one’s brain, specifically the GABA-A (gamma-aminobutyric acid-A). When Xanax binds to this receptor it elicits a calming effect as it slows down excessive brain activity and reduces feelings of panic and/ or stress. Xanax is fast acting and typically begins working within one to two hours. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the average half-life, meaning the length of time the substance will remain in one’s system until the concentration in one’s blood has been reduced by half, of alprazolam “has been found to be about 11.2 hours (range: 6.3-26.9 hours) in healthy adults.” Xanax can be a highly effective medication when used properly and under the direct supervision of a medical professional. However, as is true with any medication, there are risk factors and potential side effects associated with taking Xanax. The United Stated Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies Xanax as a Schedule IV Substance, which is defined as “drugs with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence.” When abused, Xanax is known to be a drug with high addiction potential.

Addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic brain disorder. It is characterized by compulsively engaging in rewarding stimuli (e.g., abusing drugs) without regard for consequence. Often individuals who abuse Xanax will develop a tolerance to the substance, meaning they will require more of the drug (e.g., higher dosage, more frequent use, etc.) to achieve the same desired effects that were once accomplished using less of the substance. An individual that struggles with addiction will prioritize satisfying her drug cravings above all else. 

Signs and Symptoms

There are a variety of signs and symptoms that can manifest when an individual is addicted to Xanax. Common examples include, but are not limited to the following, provided by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Slowed breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Poor coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Delirium
  • Nausea and/ or vomiting

Every individual is different and will exhibit a unique set of signs and symptoms when it comes to Xanax abuse. Prolonged Xanax abuse can exponentially increase an individual’s risk of overdose. 

For Information and Support 

Substance abuse and addiction can be incredibly dangerous and can result in severe short and long-term consequences. If you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse or addiction, please get help as soon as possible. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to leading happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives. There is no reason to go through this alone, and we are here to help. Please feel free to reach out to us for further information or with any questions regarding substance abuse or addiction. We are available anytime via telephone at: 213-389-9964, or you can always email us at:

Back to top