Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam, a prescription benzodiazepine commonly used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Benzos are effective anti-anxiety medications. However, benzodiazepines are only meant for short-term use, leading many to question, is Xanax addictive? Learn more about the short and long-term effects of Xanax and why this medication is only recommended for temporary use.

How Does Xanax Work?

Is Xanax Addictive

Xanax is a central nervous system depressant, so it slows the body down. Benzodiazepines work by increasing the effects of the neurotransmitter GABA. This is a naturally occurring chemical in the brain that produces feelings of calmness resulting in a relaxed or sedated state.

Xanax is a short- to intermediate-acting benzo. This means that it begins working and leaves the body quickly. On average, Xanax is active for 11-20 hours. While these fast-acting anti-anxiety medications carry the benefit of working quickly, withdrawal symptoms are more often reported with this type of prescription.

Why is Xanax so Addictive?

Simply put, the answer to the question, “Is Xanax addictive?”, is yes, benzodiazepines are a particularly addictive medication. This is because, like many other drugs, Xanax alters the brain’s chemistry. In the short term, this prevents panic attacks and other symptoms of anxiety. However, in the long term, the body comes to rely on the presence of Xanax and begins to malfunction without it. This is due to the tolerance that develops quickly and the resulting physical dependence. In these situations, it is recommended that the Xanax dosage is gradually tapered off in order to avoid uncomfortable Xanax withdrawal symptoms.

What Do Xanax Pills Look Like?

What Does Xanax Look Like

Xanax comes in many shapes and colors. Usually, Xanax colors are white, blue, orange, green, or yellow and are either ovals, elongated rectangles, or triangles. A few of the most prescribed Xanax pills include:

  • White Xanax: scored oval pills (.25 mg)
  • Orange Xanax: scored oval pills (.5 mg)
  • Blue Xanax: scored oval pills (1 mg)
  • White Xanax Bars: elongated rectangles scored into four sections (2 mg)

All of the above configurations have the word Xanax printed on the pill. However, there are also many versions of generic alprazolam. Generic versions are generally shaped similarly to the branded counterpart but may have different letters printed on the pills.

Fake Xanax

A concerning trend in recent years is to purchase Xanax on the black market. Unfortunately, this demand for benzos has encouraged drug traffickers to make and sell their own fake Xanax that is pressed into pills made to look like legitimate prescriptions. At best these homemade mixtures contain a toxic mix of cheap ingredients, but at worst they contain a fatal dose of fentanyl. To ensure that you are getting real Xanax, it should always come from a legitimate physician and be prescribed to you specifically.

Is Xanax Addictive? Yes. Know the Signs of Xanax Abuse Symptoms

Most addiction is defined by drug use that continues despite the negative outcomes that it’s causing. For example, negative outcomes of benzo abuse could include a failure to meet family or work responsibilities. Personal characteristics that may change as a result of Xanax addiction include a person’s hygiene, sleep patterns, behaviors, or group of friends.

Xanax abuse symptoms could also include noticeable behavior changes. Benzodiazepines are depressants, so someone abusing them may appear to be sleepy, confused, or clumsy. Once a person is addicted to Xanax, they may feel withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop taking the mediation. Withdrawal symptoms largely mimic the symptoms the anxiety was treating, including increased panic attacks and other symptoms of anxiety.

Xanax Addiction Treatment

Xanax Addiction

Benzo detox and withdrawal management are only the starts of benzo addiction treatment. In order to address mental illness and addiction together, an inpatient dual diagnosis program is recommended to treat co-occurring disorders. In this way, reasons for addictive behaviors can be assessed all while keeping an eye on mental health.

At Ridgeview Behavioral Hospital in northwest Ohio, our behavioral facility offers several programs to address mental health and addiction. These include:

Each program offers around-the-clock care for mental health and addiction issues. If you have questions about how to get started on recovery, contact our admissions specialists at 419-968-2950 or use our confidential online form. However, you choose to start the conversation, we look forward to helping you on your journey toward recovery from anxiety and benzo addiction today.

Additional Xanax FAQs

A Xanax bar is usually the 2 mg version of the alprazolam. It comes in four squares attached lengthwise and is referred to as a Xanax bar (or xanny bar).

No, Xanax is a sedative in the benzodiazepine drug class. Narcotics are opioid pain-relieving medications like oxycodone and hydrocodone.

No, Xanax is a sedative in the benzodiazepine drug class. Opioids are pain-relieving drugs that are either derived from the poppy plant or created in a lab.

No, but Xanax and other benzos are like barbiturates. In fact, they were created to replace barbiturates due to the high risk of addiction associated with barbiturates.

Yes, Xanax (alprazolam) is a Schedule IV substance. This means that it has a lower risk of abuse than the first three classes, but there is still a risk.

In short, it depends on the type of benzo. Short-acting benzos (like Xanax) will enter and leave the body quickly, usually within a day. On the other hand, longer-acting benzos (like Klonopin) will have a slower onset and stay in the body longer, up to a few days. 

Overdosing on benzodiazepines alone is unusual. That said, Xanax often plays a part in overdosing in combination with other substances. The most common combination of substances found during a benzo overdose includes benzos and alcohol, benzos and opioids, or all three. Each of these substances slows the body down so when taken together, the body could slow to the point of stopping.

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