Alprazolam (Xanax) Addiction and Treatment

Xanax is the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine in the United States.1 While prescription benzodiazepine misuse has declined recently, it is still a major problem.2 In 2020, nearly 5 million people aged 12 or older had misused benzodiazepines within the last year.2 And roughly 1.2 million people aged 12 or older had an addiction to prescription sedatives or tranquilizers, a class of drugs that includes Xanax.2

The western states, including Nevada, have slightly higher rates of illicit (illegal) drug use and disorders than other regions of the country.3 While there is no specific data on regional rates of benzo addiction, illicit drug disorders include addiction to prescription drugs such as alprazolam (Xanax) as well as illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin. In 2020, about 7.17% of the population aged 12 and older had an illicit drug use disorder in the West, compared to 6.6% in the Northeast, 6.73% in the Midwest, and 6.28% in the South.3

What Is Xanax?

Xanax is the brand name for the prescription drug alprazolam, a central nervous system (CNS) depressant in the class of drugs knowns as benzodiazepines, or benzos for short.5 Similar medicines include Klonopin (clonazepam), Valium (diazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam).5

A doctor may prescribe Xanax for many reasons, including to treat or manage:4

  • Generalized anxiety disorder.
  • Panic disorder.
  • Insomnia (trouble falling or staying asleep).
  • Alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Alprazolam and other benzos work by affecting levels of chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters.7 By changing neurotransmitter levels, it can lower anxiety, make you feel sleepy and, if taken in large doses, create a “high” feeling (euphoria).7, 8

Alprazolam is also one of the most common benzos on the illicit (illegal) drug market.5 This can be especially dangerous because you don’t always know what is in a counterfeit (fake) pill. Fentanyl and other highly dangerous substances are often added to counterfeit pills, increasing your risk of overdose.14

Xanax Side Effects

Alprazolam can help ease anxiety, but it can also cause unwanted side effects.4 These side effects can appear even if you take Xanax exactly as your doctor prescribed.

Some common side effects of Xanax use include:4–8

  • Feeling tired or fatigued.
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy.
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia).
  • Trouble concentrating.
  • Headaches.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Intense or upsetting dreams.
  • Memory loss.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Stomach troubles, including constipation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or upset stomach.
  • Sweating.
  • Seizures.
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Tolerance, Dependence, and Addiction

Xanax has a high risk of misuse.1, 12 To misuse a drug means to take it in a way other than how your doctor told you. This includes:12

  • Taking a larger dose than prescribed.
  • Taking it more often or using it for a longer period of time.
  • Taking it a different way, such as chewing or crushing and snorting your pills.
  • Taking the drug to get high.
  • Combining it with other substances.

Xanax abuse can increase your risk of overdose, tolerance, physical dependence, or addiction.12

  • Tolerance means you need higher doses of a drug to feel the same effects as before.6, 10
  • Physical dependence is when your body and brain have gotten used to the drug and need it to feel normal.6, 12 If you are dependent on Xanax and suddenly stop taking it or greatly reduce your dose, you may have withdrawal symptoms.6, 12, 13 Taking Xanax every day can lead to physical dependence in as little as 2 weeks, especially if you take high doses.4
  • Addiction—otherwise known as substance use disorder (SUD)—is compulsive drug use no matter the harms it causes in your life. Addiction is a chronic disease that can affect all areas of your life, including physical and mental health, relationships, work or school performance, and finances.8, 13Xanax addiction commonly involves aspects of misuse, tolerance, and dependence.8, 13

Xanax Withdrawal

Alprazolam withdrawal symptoms differ depending on how much Xanax you take, how often you take it, and your overall health. Some common Xanax withdrawal symptoms include:6, 8, 10, 11

  • Anxiety.
  • Insomnia.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Fast pulse.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Low appetite.
  • Headache.
  • Hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren’t there).
  • Sweating.
  • Shaky hands (tremors).
  • Seizures.
  • Delirium (sudden, severe confusion).

Many people also have rebound symptoms when they stop using Xanax.10 A rebound symptom is the return of symptoms for which you were taking the drug. For example, if you took Xanax for anxiety, you are likely to have anxiety again during withdrawal.10

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Xanax Addiction Treatment Options

Alprazolam withdrawal can be severe or even life-threatening, so it’s very important to talk to a doctor before you try to quit Xanax or other benzos on your own.6 Many people choose to start their recovery with detox. Professional medical detox can treat your withdrawal symptoms, keep an eye on your progress, and work to prevent any withdrawal complications.11–13

While detox helps keep you safe as you withdraw from Xanax and any other substances you may have been taking, it is not considered addiction treatment since it does not address the underlying triggers that led to your misuse.13 To change the long-standing patterns of thoughts and behaviors that contributed to your addiction, you may need further treatment.13

After detox, rehab can help you continue your recovery from alprazolam abuse. Inpatient Xanax rehab offers a safe, structured, living environment with 24/7 care and support.13 In contrast, during outpatient rehab you live at home while getting professional treatment for alprazolam addiction at set appointments during the week.13

In both treatment settings, you will likely attend a combination of group and individual therapy sessions.12, 13 Behavioral therapy techniques teach you how to change your thoughts and behaviors so that you can better:12, 13

  • Cope with drug cravings.
  • Avoid or manage your triggers—the people, places, and things that tempt you to use substances.
  • Prevent relapse (return to drug use after a period of not using).

Finding Xanax Addiction Treatment in Las Vegas

American Addiction Centers is one of the country’s leading providers of Xanax abuse treatment. With locations across the country and in Las Vegas, Nevada, it is easier than ever to get effective, evidence-based care no matter where you live. Our treatment centers offer all levels of care, from medical detox to outpatient treatment.  To learn more about how American Addiction Centers can help you, call our free, confidential helpline 24/7 at .