Xanax (alprazolam) addiction

Xanax, reported to be just as addictive as heroin, is a drug that we hear much about in popular culture as a casual reference, in association with crime scenes, or in mental health discussions. For this reason, it is important to keep an open discussion flowing about drugs. Unfortunately, someone you love may have been exposed to Xanax in a positive capacity without being informed of the dangers that accompany this relief drug. Below, we explain how addictive Xanax is, how to recognise Xanax addiction, and what to do to combat this addiction.

What is Xanax addiction?

Just like any other addiction, Xanax addiction is the abuse and misuse of, in this case, a short-acting benzodiazepine that is often prescribed as a tranquiliser. Xanax, the brand name for alprazolam, works by increasing the quantity of the GABA brain chemical and enhancing the ability of its receptors, which results in inhibited brain function. Xanax is quick to act, taking effect in under sixty minutes and lasting for eleven hours.

Xanax is not inherently bad; taken responsibly when prescribed, it can help with Insomnia and anxiety. However, as it is surrounded by positive imagery, is very effective, and is left to be regulated at the discretion of the person taking it, it is easy to abuse and develop an addiction to Xanax. Outside of legal prescriptions, it remains simple to acquire Xanax in the UK for as low as £1 through illegitimate sources or online pharmacies.

How does Xanax addiction develop?

Once subject to misuse, Xanax can easily rouse an addiction. Science has been able to narrow this down to four possible causes: genetic predisposition, brain chemistry, psychological factors and environmental influence.

Genetic predisposition

Studies have shown that benzodiazepine addiction tends to run in families; it could be that something in the family’s genetic makeup that makes some members more predisposed to abusing Xanax in order to enjoy the pleasurable effects it produces.

Brain chemistry

Scientists say that brain chemistry cannot be ignored as a possible cause either. GABA has a naturally tranquillising effect on both the mind and body. It is speculated that in some people, levels of naturally occurring GABA never return to normal after taking the drug; once a single Xanax prescription is completed, another prescription is necessary to avoid feeling worse again.

Psychological factors

Xanax addiction and abuse do have a psychological component to them. In some individuals, psychological dependence develops more quickly than physical dependence. This could initiate an abuse or addiction scenario more readily.

Environmental influence

It has been observed in the addiction recovery community that environmental factors can contribute to the misuse and abuse of all sorts of substances. This is not exclusive to Xanax. Nonetheless, people who live in unstable environments may be more vulnerable to the euphoric feelings Xanax is capable of producing.

Carl, a resident at our Primrose Lodge centre, confirms this:

“I first picked up a drink at fourteen and started using drugs at the age of seventeen. What began as meeting with friends at the pub quickly escalated into a weekend thing, then crept into the full week. Before I knew it, I was using drugs every day and alcohol was a problem.”

While we cannot be sure what the one true cause of Xanax addiction is, we can only know that some people are more likely to develop an addiction than others due to genetic and natural factors. At its core, addiction is the same. The substance can change, but the core of addiction lies within the underlying, unaddressed issues that have manifested and materialised as a substance abuse problem. Xanax addiction is just one example of this manifestation.

Physical and psychological symptoms of Xanax abuse

Taking Xanax is a risky endeavour and should continuously be assessed to ensure that you or your loved one are in the clear and steering clear of Xanax addiction and abuse.

Short-term effects of Xanax abuse

  • drowsiness and fatigue
  • dizziness and light-headedness
  • loss of concentration and motor skills
  • shortness of breath
  • headaches
  • mood swings
  • changes in sexual performance and desire
  • weight change (either loss or gain)

These are all effects that can range from mild to severe in their intensity. In the most severe cases, Xanax can produce seizures, trouble urinating, weight changes and additional symptoms.

Long-term effects of Xanax abuse

  • substantial cognitive loss
  • delirium (episodes of acute confusion)
  • chronic depression
  • psychotic episodes
  • aggression and impulsive behaviour
  • impaired memory

The long-term effects of Xanax abuse are not always reversible. Some people develop one or more of these long-term issues only to have to deal with them for the rest of their lives.

Xanax overdose symptoms

How common is Xanax addiction in the UK?

While Xanax is not as commonly available in the UK as in the US, and while the NHS does not supply Xanax, the drug remains in circulation around the UK through illegitimate street vendors and online pharmacies. Below are some statistics on how much impact Xanax has around the world:

  • US consumers combine to purchase half of all the Xanax sold globally
  • The UK market accounts for 22% of all Xanax sales
  • More than 20% of all Xanax purchases on the dark web occur in the UK
  • Many overdoses occur because people do not realise that Xanax is ten to twenty times stronger than diazepam (Valium)
  • Two-thousand-and-seventeen conversations on the FRANK helpline included one-thousand-and-twenty-five mentions of benzodiazepines.

Clearly, the UK makes use of the non-government approved avenues of acquiring Xanax. Unfortunately, none of us is immune to the effects of drug misuse. This does not make it acceptable, but it is intended to shed some light on how simple it is to access Xanax and how easy it might be to develop a Xanax addiction.

What effects can Xanax addiction have on health?

Tolerance to Xanax develops over time since alprazolam binds to GABA receptors in the brain eventually and makes them less responsive. While some may get the urge to increase the dosage, this is dangerous and inadvisable. Below, we explain the consequences of Xanax addiction and misuse.

Physical health

Long-term Xanax use can harm your physical health. Over time you can lose a significant amount of motor function. You can end up with vision problems, breathing problems, hypertension, and more.

Mental health

The cost of Xanax addiction also includes long-term mental health problems. If you take this drug for long enough, you could develop permanent cognitive impairment, including memory loss and an inability to concentrate. You could also develop long-term depression or anxiety.

Damaged relationships

People addicted to Xanax often struggle in their personal relationships. Not having access to Xanax when they experience a craving can cause pronounced mood swings. One minute they can be calm and relaxed, while the next minute, they may be impulsive or aggressive. This is never good for family relationships.

It should be clear that the cost of Xanax addiction goes well beyond the money you spend on the drug. Addiction could cost you everything that is important to you – from your health to your family and the home you worked so tirelessly to afford.

Symptoms of Xanax addiction in someone else

It’s important to keep in mind that while the symptoms listed on this page are a useful tool to establish the existence of a problem, they could be hidden very well – even by a loved one. They may lie, guilt trip and use distractions in order to manipulate you away from their addiction. However, Xanax addiction is likely to manifest in different behavioural or mental ways that you would have to keep an eye on to identify. It’s also worth keeping an eye out for someone’s inability to stop taking Xanax after their prescription ends.

Can Xanax addiction be cured?

Xanax addiction can be controlled. However, the intensity of the treatment will depend on the severity of the addiction. If you are struggling with the cravings caused by Xanax addiction, you may be unable to tackle this on your own. Seeking medical care would be the most viable step.

What are the next steps?

We understand that the step after recognising the problem is a difficult one. Making the decision to seek help is not easy. Whether it be you or your loved one, the best action you can take for Xanax addiction is to contact a professional to aid you in your journey to recovery. UKAT provides both Xanax detox and programmes for Xanax rehab, both under the supervision and guidance of medically trained staff who understand addiction first-hand. When you feel ready, we’re here to support you through the next stage.

Call us now for help


Frequently Asked Questions

Who gets addicted to Xanax?
Xanax addiction does not discriminate. Anyone who uses the drug for more than six weeks is at substantial risk of developing an addiction. You could become addicted to Xanax regardless of your sex, ethnicity, education level, socioeconomic status, religion or creed.
Is Xanax addictive in low doses?
Yes. Even in low doses, Xanax interferes with how GABA and its associated receptor work. There is significant evidence to show that, in some cases, the body never fully recovers from this drug. As there is no way to know how your body would respond to Xanax, the best precaution is to not take the chance.
How do I help someone who is addicted to Xanax?
You cannot force anyone into addiction treatment. The best thing you can do is offer your support and, in the meantime, look for treatment options so that you’re ready should the person make a decision to seek treatment. If you would like to try to encourage a treatment decision, consider conducting an intervention.