Xanax: How Much is Too Much?
When taken as prescribed after a thorough assessment, Xanax can be very helpful to people who are managing anxiety-related disorders. That said, like most medications, when it’s not taken as prescribed or closely monitored by a doctor, it can become highly addictive and potentially dangerous.
Is Xanax Really That Addictive?
Xanax is a benzodiazepine (commonly called benzo) and is considered a Schedule IV controlled substance. This means that the government has determined it has a low potential for abuse. However, the statistics on Xanax abuse and addiction tell a different story.
In 2014, 14,851 people were admitted to treatment facilities in the United States citing addiction to benzos like Xanax as their primary reason for seeking treatment.1
Benzos like Xanax are so addictive that, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 4 in 10 users can become physically and psychologically addicted in as little as 6 weeks of daily use.2
This may seem shocking to you, considering that it is a widely prescribed medication. Some may even say it’s simple to get a Xanax prescription from your doctor.
What Makes Xanax So Addictive?
Typically, patients taking regular doses of Xanax are doing so to manage an anxiety disorder. Shortly after taking a dose of the drug, you will generally feel more calm and relaxed because benzos depress the central nervous system, which is activated during times of high anxiety.3
Due to its fast-acting calming effects, many users feel compelled to take more than prescribed, resulting in physical and mental dependence. This can ultimately exacerbate the illness or disorder the user was originally trying to treat.
Is Xanax Addiction Dangerous?
Short answer, yes—Xanax addiction can be extremely dangerous, and at times, fatal. While it’s difficult to overdose on Xanax alone, when taken in conjunction with other drugs, particularly alcohol, the effects of the drug are intensified, which can result in severe injury and death.4
Not only that, but both physical and psychological dependence on Xanax can be extremely detrimental to your health and quality of life.
You can become physically dependent on the drug in just a short amount of time and you’ll experience highly uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms such as seizures, nervousness, and insomnia when you try to stop taking it.4
If you’re psychologically addicted, you will find yourself preoccupied with taking Xanax and begin to believe that you can’t function in normal daily activities without it. This can result in social withdrawal, financial hardships, and severe isolation.
How Do I Know If I’m Addicted?
Signs and symptoms of Xanax abuse and addiction typically span over many facets of your life, and vary depending on whether you are physically or psychologically addicted.
Physical signs and symptoms of a Xanax addiction include:4
- Increased tolerance to the drug (you have to take more to feel the same effects).
- Prolonged sleep.
- Dizziness and light-headedness.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Memory problems.
- Lethargy and fatigue.
- Persistent headaches.
Mental signs and symptoms include :5
- Marital problems.
- Withdrawal from friends and family.
- Missed work.
- Lack of interest in social activities.
- Preoccupation with taking the drug.
- Unsuccessful attempts to stop taking the drug.
- Inability to cope with stress without taking the drug.
Looking at the lists above, do you think you may be addicted to Xanax? If you think you may be addicted, consult your health care provider. Call a treatment center to get help for your addiction before it’s too late.
What Treatment Do I Need for Xanax Addiction?
If you or your loved one is experiencing symptoms of Xanax abuse or addiction, your best option is to seek professional treatment, which can come in several forms, such as short-term or long-term inpatient or outpatient rehab, depending on the level of dependence.6
If your addiction is quite severe you’ll want to find yourself an inpatient treatment program. It will provide you with a safe space to withdraw from the drug in a temptation-free environment. You’ll get round-the-clock care and support, a structured schedule, and individual and group therapy sessions designed to help you recalibrate and plan the next steps in your life.
If you don’t think you’ll be tempted to take Xanax while still living at home, outpatient treatment options may be an option for you. You’ll like this option if you still need to go to work or live at home.
Depending on your program and your individual situation, you’ll visit the treatment center for treatment—this could be every day for a quick check in, to a few hours a day, or for several days a week.
Regardless of the specific structure, all outpatient treatment programs offer various forms of therapy to assist you with ongoing recovery, as well as addiction education and life planning.
Another option you may want to look into is community-based treatment, such as 12-step programs. These groups are free and offered all over the U.S. They can be highly effective when it comes to recovery and helping you maintain a Xanax-free life.
However, if your addiction is quite severe, you’ll need to get inpatient care, as withdrawal can be dangerous if doing it alone.
For help finding treatment options in your area, please give us a call at 1-888-744-0069. Our treatment support specialists are here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist you in your journey to recovery.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2014). Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) 2004 – 2014.
- Board, J. (2013). Benzodiazepines – Royal College of Psychiatrists.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). What are CNS depressants?
- Long, L. Addiction: Part I. Benzodiazepines – Side Effects, Abuse Risk and Alternatives. Am Fam Physician 2000; 61(7): 2121-2128.
- Mayo Clinic. (2014). Drug Addiction: Symptoms.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide.