Xanax (Alprazolam) Addiction

What is Xanax? Alprazolam is a benzodiazepine primarily prescribed to treat panic and anxiety disorders as well as anxiety caused by depression. It’s most commonly known by the brand name Xanax. 

Xanax has a powerful sedative effect and is therefore also categorised as a tranquiliser or anxiolytic. Like any benzo, Xanax works by activating the brain chemical gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This slows brain activity, producing a calming effect and lessening symptoms of anxiety or nervousness. Xanax can also cause you to feel drowsy and light-headed.

Xanax is highly addictive. In fact, roughly one in five people who take benzos (such as Xanax) will misuse them. It’s often only prescribed for short-term use and doctors will decrease your dosage over time.

Some people use Xanax recreationally and become addicted, while others become addicted while taking a prescription. Xanax is often combined with other drugs to increase its sedative effect, which can prove fatal.

Xanax goes by the street names xannies/zannies, z-bars, school bus, and yellow boys.

What Causes Xanax Addiction?

When you take Xanax, you’re likely to experience decreased anxiety and tension, sleepiness, and a sense of contentment. These pleasurable effects can reinforce your desire for repeated use.

Each time you take Xanax, the drug alters the neuron signals in your brain. With repeated use, your brain becomes dependent on Xanax to produce dopamine, the ‘feel good’ chemical that it produces on its own. You’re at especially high risk for addiction if you find yourself taking Xanax for an extended period of time, using it at high doses, or mixing it with other substances.

While Xanax is highly addictive on its own accord, it’s also frequently prescribed to, or recreationally used by, people who struggle with anxiety or panic disorders. If you’re generally an anxious person, the relief that Xanax provides can make it an appealing option for escaping the difficult feelings you experience as part of your anxiety.

The more you take Xanax, the more your body becomes dependent on it as your tolerance builds. And once your brain is dependent on Xanax for normal functioning, you’ve likely become addicted.

 Live a life free of addiction: call 01721 722 763.

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Signs of Xanax Addiction

Because denial is an inherent part of addiction, it can be hard to accurately assess your own behaviours while you’re in the midst of it. If you’re growing concerned that your level of use may be a problem, ask yourself the following:

  • Do you have a hard time controlling how much Xanax you take each day?
  • Have you tried to quit taking Xanax and been unable to?
  • Do you feel anxious, depressed, get headaches or have trouble sleeping when you stop taking it?
  • Have you missed work or cancelled plans with friends when Xanax was involved?
  • Do you engage in risky behaviours like driving while under the influence of Xanax?
  • Do you mix Xanax with alcohol or other substances to increase its effects?

Addiction takes place when we can’t stop using despite the negative consequences in our lives. If you exhibit any of the above signs, it may be time to reach out for help.

Signs of Xanax Addiction in a Loved One

Xanax addictions are – compared to other drugs with more noticeable effects – often easy to hide. If you’re close with your loved one, however, you’ll likely notice changes in their behaviour. Some signs of Xanax abuse to watch out for include:

  • Running out of their prescription sooner than they should
  • Lying or being more secretive than usual
  • Doctor shopping: visiting new doctors to obtain additional prescriptions
  • Engaging in risky behaviours they normally wouldn’t do
  • In partners, lowered sex drive

Xanax abuse is most obvious when people use excessive amounts or start to experience withdrawals from going without it for too long (see Symptoms and Side Effects of Xanax Abuse below). You should also be aware that Xanax addiction looks very similar to other addictions. If you suspect a loved one may be abusing Xanax, you can also contact our admissions team for advice on what you can do. 

Dependence vs Tolerance

Dependence and tolerance are not the same. Typically, tolerance leads to dependence, and dependence leads to addiction.

You can quickly and easily grow a tolerance to Xanax. Over time, your body requires increasingly higher doses to feel the same effects.

Once your tolerance grows and you begin to take more Xanax, you build a dependence on the drug. Eventually, you may find it difficult to function normally without it. And as its effects diminish, it may no longer give you the same pleasurable relief from anxiety or other difficult feelings.

Once you’re dependent on Xanax, you will experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to cut down or stop using. Once addiction takes hold, it can be very hard to quit even when you want to, and even when you experience the negative consequences of Xanax misuse in your life. 

Symptoms and Side Effects

Xanax works by calming down the parts of your brain that handle feelings of anxiety and fear. Over time, your brain becomes accustomed to Xanax and relies on it to regulate the feel-good chemicals that make you feel at ease.

This is how it changes your brain function over time. If you’ve taken Xanax for an extended period of time, or at higher doses than prescribed, you may be starting to notice its effects on how you think, feel, and act. Some side effects of Xanax use include:

  • mood swings
  • violent or aggressive episodes uncharacteristic of your personality
  • taking risks you normally wouldn’t
  • forgetfulness
  • withdrawing from social activities
  • poor coordination
  • slurred speech
  • difficult concentrating
  • decreased appetite or bingeing episodes

Withdrawals and Detox

Xanax withdrawal symptoms are often more severe than those of other benzos. Detoxing from Xanax on your own is not only uncomfortable but can also be dangerous. When withdrawing from Xanax, you may experience:

  • heart palpitations or increased heart rate
  • difficulty sleeping, nightmares
  • aches and pains, numbness and or tingling sensations in the body
  • excessive sweating
  • nausea or vomiting. aggressiveness
  • mood swings/increased anxiety or panic
  • depression
  • suicidal ideation

Due to the severity of Xanax withdrawal symptoms, we recommend a medically assisted detox programme. Here at Castle Craig, we operate our own medical detox centre to help you through the detox process as safely and comfortably as possible. Nurses are close by and can be reached at the press of a button if you need medical attention.

Our detox programme isn’t an isolated experience, but rather a part of your overall care plan. You’ll begin to take part in individual therapy sessions and connect with others healing their addiction while still in detox. This is when the journey towards lasting recovery truly begins. 

When detoxing from Xanax, the dosage is typically tapered down and discontinued over time. This eases the discomfort you may experience during withdrawal. Sometimes, you may also be prescribed other medications to ease the withdrawal symptoms.


Xanax Addiction Treatment & Rehab

While detox (for those who require it) is a necessary first step in the recovery process, comprehensive therapy is needed to sustainably recover from addiction. At Castle Craig, Xanax detox is followed by intensive therapeutic care to address the root causes of addiction and establish healthy, long-lasting lifestyle changes.

Xanax addiction treatment can take place in either an inpatient or outpatient setting, depending on what’s most appropriate for your needs. A qualified clinician can help you determine which treatment option is best for you during your initial assessment.

Inpatient Rehab

Xanax addiction often begins when someone takes the drug to ease uncomfortable feelings like anxiety and panic. As such, our residential treatment programme is designed to help you address the underlying issues that may have caused or exacerbated your addiction.

While in residential rehab, you’ll follow a structured daily routine of individual therapy, group therapy, 12-Step support group meetings, and experiential and complementary therapies designed to treat the symptoms of Xanax addiction and its underlying causes.

At Castle Craig, we combine cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) with other evidence-based treatment methods to help you identify what changes you need to make in your life to stay sober and feel well. We also assist you in planning for how you’ll implement those changes in your life after treatment.

Inpatient rehab can be highly beneficial for those struggling with prescription medication addiction. By removing yourself from your regular environment where Xanax has become part of your daily routine, you give yourself a chance to establish new, healthier routines without relying on Xanax to get through the day.

At Castle Craig, you’ll be surrounded by a community of recovery peers in a safe and beautiful environment. Located in the Scottish Borders on an expansive, private estate, Castle Craig offers a reprieve from the daily stresses of life and a chance to focus entirely on getting well.

Outpatient Rehab

Another option, for those whose situation allows, is outpatient treatment.

Outpatient care differs from inpatient care in that you continue living at home for the duration of care and attend an intensive schedule of group and individual therapy. This is often a good option for people who don’t have the opportunity to step away from their responsibilities for an extended amount of time.

Outpatient care is best for those who have access to a safe and supportive living environment and who are able to function on a day-to-day basis while in the early stages of recovery.

Online Rehab via PRO Pathway

If you’re interested in outpatient rehab for Xanax addiction, a hybrid course of care may be something you want to consider. At Castle Craig, we offer online rehab. In this program, you’ll receive three weeks of inpatient rehab care (including detox) followed by three weeks of online therapy from home.

You’ll still receive the same effective combination of CBT-based individual and group counselling, as well as other evidence-based and complementary therapies, to holistically address the causes of addiction in your life. All you need is a stable internet connection and a camera and microphone function on your computer or mobile device.

A qualified addictions specialist can help you determine which course of action best fits your needs. Contact us to talk with admissions today.


Whether you choose to take part in inpatient, outpatient, or online treatment for Xanax addiction, aftercare is a vital part of successful recovery. Addiction recovery is a lifelong process, which is why we offer a comprehensive two-year aftercare plan for each of our programme graduates.

As part of our continuing care programme, you’ll have access to several telehealth options that are designed to help you manage the triggers you’re sure to face once you return to normal life.

If you think you may be struggling with Xanax addiction, get in touch today. Our dedicated admissions staff are here to help you take the first step on the road to healing with confidentiality and care.

Get in touch today

To find out how we can help you, please telephone Castle Craig on our 24-Hour Helpline: 01721 728118 or click here to arrange a free addiction assessment or here for more information.

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