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Signs of Xanax Addiction: Everything You Need to Know

Learn more about how to recognize the signs of Xanax addiction and how to find effective treatment here.


Medicine has made a lot of headway in helping people with mental health conditions like depression and anxiety enjoy recovery. But, while prescription drugs like Xanax are beneficial, they have one major flaw: they can cause dependency.

According to a study carried out in 2019, over 5 million people were found to be misusing benzodiazepines (Xanax). While Xanax addiction is both prevalent and dangerous, Xanax dependency often displays warning signs early on.1

This article will explore the signs of Xanax addiction and how to recognize them early. It will also discuss the dangers of Xanax addiction and how to seek treatment at reputable facilities like Ripple Ranch.

signs of xanax addiction

Table of Contents

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What is Xanax?

Xanax, also known as alprazolam, is a potent benzodiazepine that is commonly prescribed to treat conditions such as anxiety and panic disorders. It is also sometimes used to treat insomnia due to its sedative-hypnotic, muscle relaxant, and anticonvulsant properties.2
While it’s a lifesaver for many, its potential for misuse can lead to dependency. This dependency can quickly evolve into addiction. But how exactly does this addiction occur?

What is Xanax Addiction?

Xanax addiction occurs when dependence on the drug alters the person’s behavior and judgment. This, in turn, leads to a compulsive need to get and use the substance.
Addiction to Xanax can also be dangerous because it often starts legally, with a prescription from a healthcare provider. But, once the craving begins, some people might find illicit ways to get it. This can, in turn, lead to legal challenges.

Who is Affected by Xanax Addiction?

Xanax addiction impacts:
  • Individuals dependent on the substance
  • Their families
  • Friends
  • Broader societal circles
Understanding Xanax addiction is the first step toward prevention and recovery. This understanding starts with being able to recognize the signs of Xanax addiction.

Physical Signs of Xanax Addiction

Physical signs of Xanax addiction are observable changes that occur when someone is misusing or has developed a dependence on this drug. The physical signs of Xanax addiction can either be short-term or long-term.

Short-Term Signs of Xanax Addiction

These immediate signs of Xanax addiction may surface even at the early stages of misuse or dependency. They are the body’s initial reactions to the drug and can be indicators of over-reliance or abuse.
They include the following:
  • Drowsiness and fatigue: One of the foremost signs of Xanax addiction is excessive drowsiness. People who are dependent on Xanax often appear unusually tired and lethargic and may sleep for extended periods. This is a direct consequence of the drug’s sedative effect.
  • Slurred speech: Similar to the effects of alcohol, one of the significant signs of Xanax addiction is slurred speech. This impairment is due to the slowing down of brain activity, affecting basic functions like speech.
  • Loss of coordination: Those dependent on Xamax may stumble, appear dizzy, or have trouble walking straight.
  • Nausea or vomiting: As the body reacts to the presence of the drug, especially in high quantities, people might experience nausea. This sometimes leads to vomiting that can’t be traced back to other physical conditions.
  • Respiratory depression: This is one of the more dangerous short-term signs of Xanax addiction. Respiratory depression is life-threatening and needs immediate medical attention.
  • Blurred vision: Difficulty in seeing clearly is also among the short-term signs of Xanax addiction. It results from the drug’s immediate impact on the brain and nervous system.

Long-Term Signs of Xanax Addiction

As misuse continues over a more extended period, the physical signs of Xanax addiction evolve. They begin to manifest as more persistent and sometimes irreversible physical health conditions.
These symptoms include:
  • Tolerance: This is one of the principal long-term signs of Xanax addiction. It refers to when the body grows used to Xanax, necessitating larger doses to achieve the desired effect. This, in turn, contributes to the cycle of addiction.
  • Withdrawal symptoms: Once addicted, if the person attempts to reduce the dose or quit altogether, they experience withdrawal symptoms. These can range from shaking, sweating, and irritability to more severe symptoms like seizures.
  • Weight fluctuations: Significant weight changes, either loss or gain, are common physical signs of Xanax addiction. These changes may stem from altered metabolism or changes in eating habits.
  • Gastrointestinal issues: Long-term Xanax abuse might lead to persistent gastrointestinal problems. This includes chronic constipation or diarrhea.
  • Chronic respiratory issues: This includes long-standing difficulties with breathing, shortness of breath, and other respiratory issues.

Psychological Signs of Xanax Addiction

Just like the physical signs, psychological signs of Xanax addiction can also be divided into short-term and long-term.

Short-Term Psychological Signs of Xanax Addiction

The short-term psychological indicators of Xanax addiction may include:
  • Increased anxiety: Ironically, one of the initial signs of Xanax addiction is an increase in the anxiety levels that the drug is supposed to suppress. This heightened anxiety often occurs between doses.3 
  • Mood swings: Those struggling with Xanax addiction can quickly shift from a state of euphoria to showing signs of irritability or agitation. The euphoria occurs just after taking the drug.
  • Preoccupation with the drug: This refers to an obsession with getting, consuming, and maintaining a supply of Xanax.
  • Social withdrawal: If someone starts retreating from social activities they once enjoyed or begins distancing themselves from family and friends, it could be one of the signs of Xanax addiction taking hold.
  • Memory issues: Psychological signs of Xanax addiction often include short-term memory problems. This is because the drug can interfere with the formation of new memories, leading to forgetfulness or “blackouts” for extended periods.

Long-Term Psychological Signs of Xanax Addiction

Below are some of the common long-term psychological signs of Xanax addiction.
  • Depression: Over time, the short-term signs of Xanax addiction can evolve into depression. The euphoria Xanax can initially provide can disrupt the brain’s natural chemistry, leading to depressive symptoms.
  • Psychotic experiences: In more severe cases, signs of Xanax addiction may manifest as psychotic experiences. These can include hallucinations or delusional thinking.
  • Cognitive decline: Chronic Xanax misuse affects cognitive function. It may cause difficulties with concentration, problem-solving, and forming new memories. These effects may not be fully reversible even after stopping the drug.
  • Personality changes: One of the most troubling signs of Xanax addiction is a noticeable personality change. Over time, a person may become unrecognizable from their former self. They may start exhibiting behaviors such as aggression, impulsiveness, or apathy.

Co-Occurring Mental Health Conditions that May Accompany Xanax Addiction

Xanax addiction often doesn’t occur in isolation. Many people who struggle with it also face co-occurring mental health conditions. Addressing both the addiction and the mental health condition is crucial for successful recovery.

Some common co-occurring mental health conditions that may accompany Xanax addiction include:

Panic Disorders

People with panic disorders may become reliant on Xanax to prevent or alleviate panic attacks. This can lead to increased tolerance and subsequent addiction.

Bipolar Disorder

People with bipolar disorder may attempt to manage their symptoms with Xanax. This is especially true if they’re undiagnosed or untreated. They might use Xanax to calm manic episodes or elevate their mood during depressive periods.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

People who have PTSD may use Xanax to numb their emotional pain. They may also use Xanax to reduce flashbacks or help with sleep.
This pattern can quickly lead to dependence and addiction. This is particularly true given the calming effect that Xanax has on the brain and nervous system.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Some people with OCD may use Xanax to control their symptoms. But, this leads to a reliance on the drug to perform daily routines and rituals without distress.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

It is characterized by persistent patterns of volatile emotional states. BPD is also marked by impulsive behaviors and issues with self-image. People with BPD might use Xanax to manage these symptoms.4 

Insomnia and Other Sleep Disorders

Xanax is sometimes used to treat insomnia because of its sedative properties. But, this can lead to dependence and increased difficulties with sleep, particularly during withdrawal.

Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders

On rare occasions, schizophrenia also occurs with Xanax addiction.

How To Approach Loved Ones Showing Signs of Xanax Addiction

Approaching family members or loved ones about suspected Xanax addiction can be difficult. As such, it must be handled with empathy, concern, and support to encourage them to seek help. Here are some tips on navigating this challenging situation:

Educate Yourself

Before approaching the person, learn about Xanax addiction, its signs, and the complexities of addiction. Understanding the struggle this loved one is facing can provide people with the perspective they need to approach them with empathy and compassion.

Choose the Right Time and Place

Find a private, quiet, and safe space to discuss your concerns. Ensure everyone is calm and not rushed, and avoid starting this conversation in the heat of an argument or immediately after drug use.

Use "I" Statements

One effective strategy is to communicate concerns using “I” statements to express how their behavior affects the person speaking. This reduces the likelihood of them becoming defensive.
For example, saying, “I feel worried when I see you taking pills frequently” instead of “You are always taking pills” is less accusatory.

Express Concern and Empathy

Approach the conversation with genuine concern rather than accusations. The speaker should make it clear that they are coming from a place of love.
It’s also important to make it clear that they are worried about the person’s health and well-being and that they understand their struggle without judgment.

Avoid Confrontation

Keep in mind that defensive or angry reactions are possible and try to remain calm. Avoid arguments, stay composed, and understand that this is a result of their current state and fear of change, not a personal attack.

Offer Support

The speaker should let the person know that they are not alone and that they have people to support them. Find a professional treatment program and attend counseling sessions with them. They can also help in other ways as their loved one works toward recovery.

Encourage Professional Help

Stress the importance of professional assessment and treatment. Offer to help them research treatment options, schedule appointments, or accompany them to see a healthcare provider.

Set Boundaries

If they resist help, it’s important to communicate clearly about the necessary boundaries to set for everyone’s well-being. Make sure they understand these boundaries are for everyone’s health and are not punitive.

Take Care of Yourself

Supporting someone with an addiction can be emotionally taxing, so it’s crucial to also take care of your own mental health and well-being. Seek support from others, whether it’s through friends, family, or support groups.
Remember, the goal is to make this loved one feel supported and understood, not attacked or isolated. The journey toward acknowledging addiction and seeking help can be long and fraught with challenges, but persistent care, empathy, and encouragement can make a profound difference.
signs of xanax addiction

Find Help for Xanax Addiction at Ripple Ranch

Are you or your loved one struggling with xanax addiction? You’re not alone.
At Ripple Ranch, we understand the complex nature of Xanax addiction and the immense courage it takes to seek change. This is why we offer a unique, holistic approach that is designed to heal the whole person and not just treat the addiction.
We do this by combining the latest evidence-based practices with a serene, supportive environment that allows for peaceful healing, reflection, and growth.

What We Offer

Some of the many treatment options we offer for Xanax addiction include:

A Patient-Centered Approach

Here, amidst the tranquil beauty of Ripple Ranch, you’ll find professional care attuned to your personal journey. We operate a patient-first approach that provides you with the tools and guidance necessary to navigate away from the shadows of Xanax addiction and toward a renewed, vibrant life.
We understand that every person’s recovery journey is different. That’s why we offer a holistic and individualized approach to addiction treatment.

Contact Ripple Ranch Today

In the journey toward recovery from Xanax addiction, choosing the right environment for rehabilitation and support is an important decision. It can shape the entire course of your healing process.

With Ripple Ranch, you’re giving yourself the best medical intervention possible for Xanax addiction. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you heal and recover from the signs of Xanax addiction.