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Xanax is a powerful prescription drug most commonly used to treat anxiety, panic disorder, and insomnia. As the number one prescribed psychiatric medication in the U.S., Xanax has gained popularity with its users because of its calming effects and general ability to alleviate severe anxiety and sleep disturbances. To do this, Xanax works on the brain and central nervous system by boosting a brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). When GABA is elevated, the brain activity level decreases, making the user feel more relaxed and calm. As a result, the user may gravitate toward taking more Xanax to reach this desired relaxation state more intensely and frequently. Unfortunately, the need to take more Xanax to achieve these effects can throw even innocent users straight into the devastating grips of addiction. 

Tolerance to Xanax can happen quickly, meaning the user must use more of the drug to feel the original effects. Furthermore, this benzodiazepine is extremely addictive, making it one of the most abused drugs on the market today. As such, if a user suddenly stops taking the prescription without being tapered off with the help of a medical professional, extreme withdrawal symptoms may arise, causing the user to hopelessly cling to the drug to avoid feeling these uncomfortable symptoms. This further perpetuates the cycle of addiction.

Signs of Xanax Abuse and Overdose

Addiction to Xanax can happen quickly, and, as such, the user needs to be on the lookout for the behavioral signs of Xanax abuse before addiction becomes all-consuming.

Some signs of an addiction to Xanax include:

  • Inability to stop taking Xanax despite wanting to
  • Obsession with consuming and obtaining more Xanax
  • Keeping one’s dosage of Xanax secret from friends, family, or doctors
  • Losing interest in things that one used to enjoy
  • Becoming more of a risk-taker, such as driving under the influence of Xanax or other drugs
  • Denying or even becoming defensive when asked about a possible addiction at hand
  • Isolating from friends and family
  • Taking less care of oneself, including one’s hygiene
  • Having legal problems as a result of taking Xanax
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As this is not an all-inclusive list, it is imperative that if one feels they are either headed towards a Xanax addiction or already on the path of addiction that they seek help from either a medical professional or an intensive outpatient/inpatient drug rehab facility that can help guide the individual towards recovery. Furthermore, it is highly advised that one does not try to stop taking Xanax “cold turkey” or without being under the aid of medical supervision. Xanax withdrawal symptoms can be severe, if not deadly. 

Symptoms of an overdose of Xanax include: 

  • Confusion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Fainting
  • Loss of balance
  • Muscle weakness
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Coma

Overdose on Xanax can be fatal and needs to be monitored closely. If the user is experiencing any of these overdose symptoms or any other alarming side effects, immediate medical attention is needed. If any of these symptoms occur, the individual suffering from the overdose must be extremely honest with emergency medical personnel about the substances taken and the dosage of each substance. This is imperative to get the help one needs without risking the health and safety of the individual.

Xanax Withdrawal From Overdose

Xanax is meant to be a temporary fix for acute distress, not as a long-term treatment plan. Unfortunately, taking Xanax long-term can create problems with dependence on the drug and intense, even severe, withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the level of abuse, withdrawal from Xanax can range anywhere from being uncomfortable to unpleasant. Typically speaking, most people that start detoxing off Xanax experience an increase in anxiety, causing them to feel more nervous, jumpy, on-edge, irritable, or agitated. Insomnia is another common withdrawal symptom experienced, which can cause further increased feelings of anxiety and agitation.

Some other physical signs of withdrawal include:

  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Muscle spasms
  • Racing pulse
  • Hyperventilation
  • Seizures

Some psychological withdrawal side effects may include: 

  • Depression
  • Restlessness
  • Delirium
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hallucinations
  • Panic attacks

Withdrawal symptoms generally occur within 8 to 12 hours of an individual’s last dose, with symptoms typically being most intense on the second day and improving by the fourth or fifth day. However, depending on the individual, acute symptoms of detox can last significantly longer. Furthermore, if the individual improperly tapers their dosage of Xanax, withdrawal symptoms can be much more intense. Therefore, one must seek proper medical guidance on how to most safely and effectively detox off Xanax. 

How to Get Help Before a Xanax Overdose Happens

Treatment for a Xanax overdose or addiction depends on a variety of factors that can be unique to the user, such as how much of the drug was taken, if other drugs were used with Xanax, the individuals chemical and genetic makeup, and if the user has any co-occurring disorders (having both a mental health disorder and a substance abuse disorder). Because withdrawal from Xanax can be intense, even fatal, to the user, one must seek the help of a trained medical professional or go to an intensive outpatient/inpatient drug rehab.

Drug rehab facilities are particularly beneficial for someone seeking help with addiction because they help the individual get to the root of the addiction and why one was seeking Xanax to begin with. In addition, if an individual is suffering from a co-occurring disorder that causes them to seek Xanax, then both disorders will be addressed to seek a healthier alternative. Furthermore, through the help of trained clinical therapists and counselors, an individual can find other methods of coping that benefit their well-being instead of causing harm. 

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The time to get help from an addiction to Xanax is now. Even if you are unsure if addiction is at hand, it is better to seek help before addiction becomes all-consuming. So reach out today and get on the path to a better, more fulfilling life free from drugs immediately.

Sources:

Infinite Recovery has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for our references. We avoid using tertiary references as our sources. You can learn more about how we source our references by reading our editorial guidelines and medical review policy.

  1. WebMD. Xanax Oral: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Pictures, Warnings & Dosing – WebMD. Accessed June 25, 2022. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-9824/xanax-oral/details
  2. Ogbru A. Benzodiazepines Drug Class: Uses, Side Effects, Types, Interactions, Addition & Withdrawal. RxList. Published May 24, 2022. Accessed June 25, 2022. https://www.rxlist.com/benzodiazepines/drug-class.htm
  3. Osborn CO. How Long Does Withdrawal From Xanax Last? Verywell Mind. Published January 2, 2022. Accessed June 25, 2022. https://www.verywellmind.com/xanax-withdrawal-4685921
Amanda Stevens, BS

Medical Content Writer

Amanda Stevens, BS

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magnum Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. As a person in recovery from disordered eating, she is passionate about seeing people heal and transform. She writes for popular treatment centers such as Ocean Recovery, Ascendant NY, The Heights Treatment, Epiphany Wellness, New Waters Recovery and adolescent mental health treatment center BasePoint Academy. In her spare time she loves learning about health, nutrition, meditation, spiritual practices, and enjoys being the a mother of a beautiful daughter.

Last medically reviewed June 25, 2022

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