Xanax Addiction

Xanax is the brand name of a generic medication called alprazolam. Alprazolam belongs to a group of medications called benzodiazepines, which doctors use to treat people affected by anxiety disorders, seizures and muscle spasms. Because of the certain chemical changes they make inside the brain, benzodiazepines can produce substance abuse and substance addiction when used improperly. Doctors can diagnose issues of Xanax abuse or addiction under the heading of a condition called “sedative, hypnotic or anxiolytic use disorder.”

The Basics

Xanax is particularly known for its usefulness as a treatment for various kinds of medically serious anxiety, including anxiety that stems from the effects of major depression and anxiety related to a condition called panic disorder. Like all other benzodiazepines, it achieves its basic effects by slowing down the rate of activity inside the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). In the case of Xanax, this slowdown helps reduce certain chemical imbalances that contribute to feelings of increased anxiousness. Xanax comes in forms that include tablets and extended-release tablets. Other alprazolam products come in additional forms that include liquids and dissolving tablets. Speak Confidentially with a Promises Scottsdale Recovery Advisor at 888-478-0036.


The risks for Xanax addiction arise because alprazolam makes certain changes in the brain’s chemical environment. When these changes recur repeatedly over time, the brain can start to rely on the presence of the medication and come to treat it as an essential chemical component. This reliance is the basis for chemical dependence, a key factor in the development of substance addiction. Addiction itself arises when a Xanax user starts to experience recurring cravings for more of the medication, begins to orient his or her life around satisfying those cravings, develops an increasing tolerance to the effects of the medication, experiences withdrawal symptoms when Xanax intake stops or drops quickly, demonstrates an inability to control Xanax intake and experiences serious life disruption or impairment as a result of a Xanax-oriented day-to-day outlook.

Under the current guidelines established by the American Psychiatric Association, doctors in the U.S. don’t directly diagnose Xanax addiction. Instead, they diagnose sedative, hypnotic or anxiolytic use disorder, which encompasses both Xanax addiction and non-addicted Xanax abuse. At bare minimum, before receiving a diagnosis for this disorder, a person must have at least two or three symptoms that indicate serious problems with the use of Xanax. Severely affected users may have as many as 11 separate symptoms of problematic Xanax intake. Doctors note the severity of each patient’s condition when making their diagnoses. Speak Confidentially with a Promises Scottsdale Recovery Advisor at 888-478-0036.

Xanax Addiction Treatment

Xanax and other benzodiazepines can produce severe or potentially fatal changes in brain and body function during withdrawal. For this reason, a person addicted to Xanax should never stop taking the medication unless he or she is under some sort of medical supervision. Doctors typically wean users off the medication gradually over time. In addition to supervised detoxification, treatment for Xanax addiction commonly includes some form of psychotherapy or counseling conducted either in a hospital setting or on an outpatient basis. One specific form of psychotherapy used to treat people recovering from Xanax addiction, called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), helps the individual identify and replace the dysfunctional behaviors that increase the likelihood of medication abuse in stressful situations.

Important Considerations

The vast majority of people who abuse Xanax or other benzodiazepines also abuse alcohol or another drug. The drugs most commonly used in association with benzodiazepines are marijuana and some form of opioid narcotic. Unlike some drugs and medications, which only produce problems with chemical dependence or addiction when used to excess, Xanax can potentially produce problems with dependence and addiction when taken according to a doctor’s orders. For this reason, doctors who prescribe the medication typically monitor their patients closely and limit the overall length of Xanax use. Speak Confidentially with a Promises Scottsdale Recovery Advisor at 888-478-0036.