Xanax is one of the most prescribed psychiatric medications in the United States. Xanax is the brand name for the generic drug alprazolam. It is a prescription drug that treats anxiety and panic and has a relatively high risk of addiction. Classified as a benzodiazepine, Xanax is a central nervous system depressant.
People who abuse Xanax or those who are addicted are likely to attempt to hide their drug use. There are, however, a variety of signs and symptoms that indicate Xanax abuse and addiction.
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Signs of Xanax Use
Xanax addiction can result in social and behavioral changes. As the drug begins playing a more significant role in a person’s thoughts, their behavior will reflect this shift in priority.
People abusing Xanax will often display unpredictable mood swings, with their emotions altered by their drug use. Mood swings can encompass everything from anxiety to lethargy to anger.
Regularly skipping school or work is also a red flag. It is a good idea to keep an eye out for a sudden drop in grades or performance, school or work involvement, and a sudden loss of interest in daily activities.
Another common Xanax abuse sign is secretive behavior. If a friend or family member goes to great lengths to keep people out of their room, they may be hiding something. Another sign is if they shut doors when someone enters the house or are always closing and locking the bathroom door, even when not using the restroom.
Additionally, relationship changes often accompany addiction. A person may shift friend groups as they seek out the companionship of others who use or are abusing substances.
People abusing Xanax may “doctor shop” — visiting several physicians to obtain more Xanax prescriptions. They may also become somewhat antisocial, hoping to avoid the detection of their addiction by others. If a formerly outgoing person has suddenly begun keeping to themselves, it may be a sign of drug abuse.
People with moderate to severe Xanax additions may crush and snort the medication to speed up the effect. Paraphernalia may include a mortar and pestle, razor blades and credit cards, rolled-up dollar bills, and straws. Multiple empty pill bottles should raise a red flag.
Someone addicted to Xanax usually searches out more of the drug — often extending beyond their prescription. They are likely to exhibit changes in their financial management. Frequent and sudden requests for money are often a sign of secretive spending, which may indicate non-prescription Xanax use. They may also borrow funds from friends and family without paying them back.
Another common sign of Xanax abuse is legal trouble. If a person’s Xanax habit has reached the point at which they are having run-ins with the law and require legal representation, Xanax abuse has become a problem. Many people do not realize that redistributing or reselling prescription medication from one individual to another is illegal. It carries similar consequences to dealing with any number of illicit drugs, such as heroin or cocaine.
Symptoms of Xanax Use
Xanax is a central nervous system depressant. Its generic name is alprazolam and it is classified as a benzodiazepine. Most people who abuse Xanax seek out the drug for its relaxing and occasionally euphoric effect.
Many people with a Xanax addiction started with a legitimate and legal prescription. Those tempted to increase their dose beyond the recommendations of a doctor may find themselves developing a dependence.
There are many possible Xanax Abuse side effects that can result from the abuse of the drug. These signs and symptoms can be an indicator to friends and family that their loved one has a harmful Xanax addiction.
- Physical Side Effects:
- Change in appetite (a sudden increase or decrease in the amount of food consumed)
- Changes in libido (sex drive and sexual performance)
- Drowsiness, fatigue or lethargy
- Dry mouth
- Joint pain or stiffness of movement
- Seizures or convulsions
- Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
- Skin rash
- Weight fluctuation (in accordance with changing appetite)
- Psychological Side Effects:
- Confusion or forgetfulness
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing on the task at hand
- Hallucinations or delusions
- Memory loss
- Mood swings
- Speech issues (including slurred or nonsensical speech)
- Suicidal thoughts
- Talkativeness or an increase in sociability
The Effects of Long-Term Use
Substance use disorder (SUD) will have visible effects on a person over time.
- General symptoms may include changes in:
- Declining performance in work or school
- Grooming habits
- Loss of interest in normal activities
- Relationships with family members and friends
- Sleeping or eating habits
- Social groups
Xanax and other benzodiazepines will have specific symptoms that one can look for. Xanax addiction signs may include:
- Excessive fatigue
- Jitteriness between doses
Xanax and other benzodiazepines are notoriously difficult to stop taking. A person can become dependent on Xanax after just 2–4 weeks of daily use. Even people who receive the drug under the supervision of a doctor are at a high risk of developing a dependence.
Xanax dependence is when someone cannot stop taking the drug without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. A medication taper may be necessary to help treat the symptoms of withdrawal.
Medical detox in a rehab facility like The Recovery Village can help a person who cannot stop taking Xanax by themselves.
Two of the most serious long-term side effects of Xanax are addiction and overdose.
Xanax addiction is when someone continues to use Xanax, despite harmful effects on their relationships, finances and occupation. The second is a situation that many people are familiar with, but not many have seen up close: overdose.
Can You Overdose on Xanax?
Yes, Xanax overdose is a leading contributor to emergency room visits in the United States.
Between 2011 and 2016, Xanax was between the fourth and the sixth most mentioned drug involved in overdose deaths in the United States. In 2016, Xanax was mentioned in about a quarter of overdoses cases that involved prescription opioids.
Learning to recognize the symptoms of a benzodiazepine overdose may help you save a person’s life.
- Some signs of Xanax overdose include:
- Blurred vision
- Problems with coordination
- Slurred speech
- Trouble breathing
If you think you witness an overdose emergency, call 911 immediately.
Xanax overdose may be difficult to spot because symptoms are similar to alcohol and opioids, which are commonly abused in combination with Xanax. However, since these symptoms overlap with overdose symptoms of other depressants, learn to recognize them and call for medical help when necessary.
If you or someone you know needs help stopping Xanax or another drug, The Recovery Village can help. Our addiction professionals are experts in treating addiction to benzodiazepines, other substances and co-occurring mental health conditions. Call today to start the journey to recovery.
Grohol, John M. “Top 25 Psychiatric Medications for 2016.” World of Psychology, 8 July 2018. Accessed September 27, 2019.
Hedegaard, Holly; et al.“Drugs Most Frequently Involved in Drug Overdose Deaths: United States, 2011–2016.” National Vital Statistics Reports, December 12, 2018. Accessed September 27, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What Are Signs of Drug Use in Adolescents, and What Role Can Parents Play in Getting Treatment?” January 2014. Accessed September 27, 2019.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.