As part of the benzodiazepine drug group, Xanax is one of the most highly addictive prescription drugs on the market and can lead to addiction if used long-term or excessively. If you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction, there are signs to be aware of that can help you seek the treatment you or your loved one needs. It is always advised to seek advice from addiction specialists who can make the appropriate treatment recommendations after assessing your situation. 

What is Xanax?

Xanax is a powerful benzodiazepine that produces calming effects through the release of a chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which slows down brain activity. Xanax is the brand name of a drug called Alprazolam which is the active ingredient in Xanax, one of the most commonly prescribed psychiatric medications. It is extremely dangerous when combined with alcohol or other drugs and can lead to sudden death.

Other street names for Xanax:

  • Xannies/Zannies
  • Handlebars
  • Blue footballs
  • Benzos.

What is Xanax prescribed for?

Doctors usually prescribe Xanax for the treatment of anxiety disorders, depression, panic attacks, and insomnia. For cancer patients who have undergone chemotherapy, Xanax can be used to ease the pain they may suffer in the first few weeks after their treatment.

Side Effects

There are many possible side effects that can result from Xanax abuse. Since Xanax is a central-nervous-system depressant, common side effects of abuse include:

  • Decreased alertness and response time
  • Slurred speech
  • Blurred vision
  • Manic moods
  • Headaches
  • Memory problems
  • Impaired coordination
  • Heart palpitations 
  • Swelling in hands and feet.

Signs of Xanax abuse

Often people who begin abusing Xanax and develop an addiction will have been given a legitimate prescription. Unfortunately, a person may increase their Xanax dose beyond the recommendations of a doctor and find themselves misusing the drug which can quickly lead to dependence and addiction. Indications that a harmful Xanax addiction is present in a family member or loved one include physical, psychological and/or behavioural signs and symptoms. 

Physical

Physical signs are predominately observable. These include: 

  • Sleepiness
  • A relaxed mood
  • Extreme drowsiness and lethargy
  • Lack of coordination
  • Decreased reflexes
  • Slowed breathing
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision

Psychological

People abusing Xanax or other benzodiazepines can show different psychological symptoms. Many of these symptoms are changes in mood that include:

  • Amnesia
  • Hostility
  • Irritability
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Vivid or disturbing dreams

Behavioural

A person may notice changes in the behaviour of someone struggling with a Xanax addiction. Signs may appear rapidly or over an extended period of time.  Some of these signs include:

  • Avoiding responsibilities: This may present as a sudden or gradual loss of interest in daily activities, a sudden drop in grades or performance, and/or missing days of school or work.
  • Secrecy and deception: Often an individual addicted to drugs will go to great lengths to keep people out of their business. 
  • Relationship changes: A person may shift friend groups as they seek the companionship of others who also abuse substances. They may also begin to have interpersonal relationship issues with family and loved ones. 
  • Doctor shopping: A person may visit several physicians to obtain more Xanax prescriptions.
  • Erratic behaviour: By pushing away friends and loved ones, a person may be trying to avoid the detection of their addiction. If a formerly outgoing person has suddenly begun keeping to themselves, it may be a sign of drug abuse.
  • Paraphernalia: An individual may crush and/or snort the medication to increase its effects. Materials may include a mortar and pestle, razor blades, credit cards, rolled-up notes, and straws. Multiple empty pill bottles should also raise a red flag.
  • Financial issues: A person struggling with addiction usually searches for more of the drug, leading to changes in their financial situation. Frequent and sudden requests for money are often a sign of secretive spending. They may also borrow funds from friends and family with empty promises of paying them back. 
  • Legal issues: Run-ins with the law may occur if someone’s addiction has got out of control. Many people do not realise that redistributing or reselling prescription medication from one individual to another is illegal. It carries similar consequences to dealing illicit drugs like heroin or cocaine.

Xanax Addiction

Addiction, substance use or behavioural disorder, is when a person continues to use a pleasurable substance or perform a pleasurable action despite negative consequences. Consequences can be financial, occupational, or interpersonal. Substance use disorder (SUD) develops over months and years, and may not be easy to identify at first. Xanax dependence can be a trigger that encourages addiction. The time it may take for a Xanax addiction to develop depends on a variety of factors. These include the brain chemistry of the individual, how regularly the drug is used, and how much of the drug is ingested. Other substance habits and environmental aspects can be determining factors.

Xanax Addiction Treatment at CATCH Recovery

Xanax addiction is on the rise as more individuals are walking out of doctors offices with a prescription. However, treatment for Xanax addiction will depend on a person’s individual circumstances.  

At CATCH Recovery, our team of addiction specialists have many years of experience treating Xanax addiction. If you’re looking for rehab in the South East of England, you can call our admissions team for your free addiction assessment, and they will be able to advise you on the next steps, better assess your situation and make the appropriate treatment recommendations

With a combination of individual counselling, peer group support, and family counselling at CATCH, we can give you the strength you need to continue your recovery journey in spite of the challenges you face.

Our clinic is based in South West London, which is accessible from anywhere in the UK. However, if you need additional support but don’t live in the South East of England, you may benefit from some of the outpatient services we offer. If you require residential rehab and are unable to travel to London, we also provide referrals to rehabs in other areas in the UK and Ireland.