Causes & Effects of Xanax Addiction

Understanding Xanax Addiction

Learn About Xanax Addiction and Abuse

Xanax is a prescription medication that is frequently prescribed by physicians to alleviate the distressing symptoms of anxiety disorders, including those associated with panic disorder. As a benzodiazepine, Xanax works as a depressant on the central nervous system, offering individuals a sense of calm and wellbeing. The use of Xanax can be extremely beneficial in allowing individuals who suffer from the distressing symptoms of anxiety to resume functioning appropriately on a daily basis.

Despite the benefits that Xanax can provide to those who possess a legitimate need for the medication, it is also a substance that contains highly addictive properties. As such, those who begin to consume this substance outside of the prescribed guidelines that they were given, or those who consume it without possessing a prescription for it, run the risk of becoming addicted to it. When this type of addiction develops, it can be difficult to overcome. Fortunately, however, there are treatment options available that can assist individuals in resuming a life that is no longer tainted by the compulsion to continue taking Xanax.


Xanax Addiction Statistics

Research has shown that approximately 27% of individuals between the ages of 18 and 25 and 21% of adults over the age of 26 report having a history of Xanax abuse. Furthermore, studies on the prevalence of Xanax abuse have indicated that nearly 5% of the American population consumes this prescription medication outside of its prescribed guidelines in a given year.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and Risk Factors for Xanax Addiction

The causes and risk factors that can impact an individual’s susceptibility to developing Xanax use disorder are outlined briefly in the following:

Genetic: Addictions are known to have a strong genetic link to their onset. When individuals have a family history of substance abuse, including the abuse of benzodiazepines like Xanax, they are vulnerable to suffering from the same type of concern at some point in their lives.

Environmental: The environment by which an individual is surrounded can play a role in increasing his or her chances of beginning to experiment with, and subsequently becoming addicted to, substances like Xanax. For example, if individuals are exposed to highly stressful work or home lives, and do not possess healthy coping skills, they are likely to seek out a means of alleviating that stress. Additionally, individuals who have been subjected to trauma may experience increased feelings of anxiety, causing them to search for a way to alleviate their symptoms. Furthermore, individuals who are exposed to the abuse of substances by peers or family members, whether it be Xanax or another type of substance, are more likely to engage in similar behaviors than are those who do not have such exposure.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of substance abuse and addiction
  • Personal or family history of mental illness
  • Being exposed to stressful environments
  • Abusing other substances
  • Beginning to abuse substances early in life
  • Lacking healthy, appropriate coping skills
  • Experience trauma, abuse, and/or neglect

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Xanax Addiction

The signs and symptoms that may be indicative of the presence of Xanax use disorder will vary from one person to the next, but may include the following:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Slurred speech
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • No longer taking care of daily responsibilities
  • Failing to perform to expectation at work
  • No longer engaging in activities that one once enjoyed
  • Forging prescriptions
  • Continue to consume Xanax despite having the desire to stop
  • Using more Xanax, or using it for a longer period of time, than was originally intended
  • Using Xanax when it is physically hazardous to do, such as before operating a vehicle

Physical symptoms:

  • Light-headedness
  • Unsteady gait
  • Repetitive, uncontrolled movement of the eyes (nystagmus)
  • Headaches
  • Changes in sleeping and/or eating patterns
  • Excessive drowsiness or lethargy

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Lack of coordination
  • Impaired cognitive capabilities
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Memory loss
  • Suicidal ideation

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Mood changes
  • Episodes of emotional detachment
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Hostility


Effects of Xanax Addiction

Engaging in an ongoing pattern of problematic Xanax use can elicit countless detriments in an individual’s life. Examples of such detriments can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Decline in overall cognitive functioning
  • Decreased ability to perform to expectation occupational, potentially resulting in job loss
  • Interaction with the legal system as a result of forging prescriptions
  • Lost friendships as a result of social isolation or inappropriate behaviors in social settings
  • Familial strife
  • Discord within marriages or partnerships, potentially resulting in separation or divorce
  • Loss of child custody
  • Onset of new, or worsening of current, mental illness symptoms
  • Seizures
  • Muscle spasms
  • Hospitalization
  • Decreased respiratory rate
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Hindrances in autonomic nervous system functioning
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors

Dual Diagnosis

Risk of Dual Diagnosis Among Individuals Who Become Addicted to Xanax

Many people who abuse Xanax often have another mental health disorder. Having both a substance abuse problem and a mental health challenge is often referred to as dual diagnosis. If you meet the criteria for dual diagnosis, it’s important that you get care to address both the substance abuse problem and the mental illness.

Individuals who become addicted to Xanax may be at increased risk for the following disorders:

  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Tobacco use disorder
  • Other substance use disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Other anxiety disorders
  • Antisocial personality disorder

Getting professional help for Xanax addiction without addressing other mental health disorders can undermine your ability to achieve long-term recovery. To best prepare yourself for a healthier future, choose a program that can thoroughly assess your needs and incorporate dual diagnosis programming into your care if necessary.

Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of Xanax Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of Xanax withdrawal: Prolonged Xanax abuse can elicit the onset of tolerance and physical dependency which, in turn, can induce symptoms of withdrawal should an individual cease his or her use of the substance. Examples of possible signs and effects that may arise during Xanax withdrawal can include but are not limited to, the following:

  • Hand tremors
  • Excessive sweating
  • Pulse rate reaching above 100 bpm
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Grand mal seizures
  • Transient tactile, visual, or auditory hallucinations
  • Increased anxiety
  • Psychomotor agitation

Effects of Xanax overdose: Overdosing on any substance should be viewed as a medical emergency, and overdosing on Xanax is no exception. When an individual ingests more Xanax than his or her body is capable of metabolizing or excreting, he or she will likely experience an overdose. Symptoms that could indicate that someone has overdosed on Xanax may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Muscular weakness
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Poor balance and dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Extreme confusion


Insurance Accepted
Verify Your Coverage
  • Aetna
  • Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Carelon Behavioral Health
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • TriWest Healthcare Alliance
  • And More

Trusted by 38,000 families since 1967.

I came into Duffy’s a broken man, not sure if I wanted to live or die. After 28 days, with a sponsor in hand, my life changed. I love my life & what it holds for me now. My future is bright, but only if I stay connected - meetings, service, & my higher power. Thanks to all at Duffy’s, I owe you my life.

– A former guest