Getting Help for Xanax Addiction

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What is Xanax?

Xanax is a benzodiazepine that comes in either tablet or capsule form. It’s used to manage anxiety and panic disorders. Sometimes called “purple footballs,” “bars” or “Z-bars,” this drug can cause a high that includes feelings of intense relaxation and drowsiness.

If you or someone you care about is fighting an addiction to Xanax – you don’t have to fight the battle alone. Treatment centers provide those suffering from Xanax addiction the support they need to find and maintain recovery.

Is Xanax Addictive?

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Xanax is addictive if it is used over a prolonged period of time. Anyone who takes Xanax can become addicted, even when taking it for legitimate medical need.

For example, you may begin taking the drug and discover you no longer feel the effects as strongly as when you first began taking it. This phenomenon is described as tolerance and, as a result of developing tolerance to Xanax, you may end up taking larger and larger amounts.

The development of tolerance is a major factor that drives a new substance addiction. You may take so much to overcome your tolerance that you quickly become dependent on the effects of the drug—using dangerous amounts in the face of negative health and personal consequences. This is a defining characteristic of addiction.

Xanax abuse and addiction has become a major problem in the U.S., with many people taking it recreationally and sometimes in combination with other drugs.

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Signs of Xanax Addiction

Xanax abusers show signs of addiction in nearly every aspect of their lives. It is common for those struggling with Xanax abuse to miss work. You might also notice that a user sleeps more often than normal, since the drug tends to elicit drowsiness. You might also notice:

  • The user is disoriented.
  • The user appears drunk (but has not been drinking).
  • The user is slurring his speech.
  • The user is especially anxious when not using (rebound anxiety).

Addiction can also affect the person’s personal relationships. Addicted individuals may develop strained relationships with significant others, close friends, and family.

How to Help Someone With Xanax Addiction

Xanax abuse can cause a number of disorienting symptoms in the user, including sleepiness, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, and memory problems. Because of these effects, you want to approach a person abusing it while they are sober.

Try to approach them with the understanding that they are suffering from a disease and not a failure of willpower

When you finally find the right moment to talk with your loved one, make sure you come to them with a compassionate and understanding mindset. You might find them more willing to open up if you approach them one-on-one, as a group intervention can be intimidating.

Express that you are concerned about their substance use, and avoid blaming them; blame the substance instead. Express to them plainly but without judgment how the drug has impacted their life and yours. You can then ask if they’re willing to accept help.

Someone living in active addiction is likely to experience a lot of negative emotions, including denial and anger—your nonjudgmental expression of concern can help to allay hostility and help them to break through their denial.

Try to approach them with the understanding that they are suffering from a disease and not a failure of willpower. As much as you can, try to stay calm and avoid yelling. You can’t force your loved one to accept that they need help—the most you can do is be a steady support who is there for them when they’re ready to take the first step toward getting sober.

Professional guidance can be very helpful in preparing you for this important conversation. One program that has been shown to result in successful treatment enrollment is called Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT).

A therapist will teach you effective coping strategies to deal with the stress that can come with a loved one’s addiction and what kind of language will be the most effective to get the person into treatment.

Overall, you want to approach a person addicted to Xanax with the intention of communicating your support of their sober efforts. Make sure you are not only telling them how you feel but also listening to what they have to say—how they are feeling, why they use it to the extent that they do, and what they need from you to help them maintain abstinence.

If your loved one does not agree to help the first time you speak to them, try again at a later time. While you wait, take care of yourself and keep the boundaries you’ve set for yourself.

Am I Addicted to Xanax?


There are certain questions you can ask yourself to get a sense of whether you have a problem with Xanax use. These include the following:

  • Do you experience withdrawal symptoms when you don’t use Xanax?
  • Do you have an uncontrollable urge to use Xanax?
  • Does your Xanax usage affect other areas of your life—including work, school or interpersonal relationships?
  • Do you hide or disguise your Xanax addiction from other people?

If you answer yes to any of these, it’s time to seek help. If you’re ready to seek out a program, prepare some questions you have about facilities (such as whether they are licensed and what their policies and treatment approaches are) and have your insurance information at hand. In many cases, private insurance will cover some or all of your treatment. You may start by calling your provider to inquire about covered programs or reach out to individual programs to ask whether they accept your coverage.

Xanax Addiction Treatment and Recovery

People successfully recover from Xanax addictions using both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs. However, people with more severe addictions might need the stability of an inpatient treatment center to recover. The detox and withdrawal from Xanax can cause deadly seizures, so professional guidance is vital during this time of treatment. It’s important that you consider all of your options and choose the treatment program that’s right for you.

Outpatient treatment may require a stronger sober resolve because you will be living in the original abuse environment. This type of treatment will involve check-ins at a facility a couple of times per week for therapy and medical health.

Because you don’t live at the treatment facility, it’s common for drug abuse counselors to give you random drug tests to ensure you’re on the right track. Outpatient programs are better suited for those in the early stages of abuse.

Inpatient treatment programs allow you to recover in an environment that is free from temptation.

The centers have medical staff on hand to help you through the detoxification process, as the withdrawal from Xanax can elicit dangerous seizures in severe instances. Close medical supervision will be required for these special cases. After detox, your day revolves around your recovery.

A typical day could include:

  • Group therapy sessions.
  • Individual therapy sessions.
  • Recreational activities that promote socialization and interaction without drugs.
  • Educational lectures about drug abuse.

The main form of therapy that is used to help a person addicted to Xanax is cognitive-behavioral therapy, which teaches the patient how to address their own psychology surrounding their drug abuse. It teaches clients how to cope with relapse temptations and life stress in a productive and abstinence-friendly manner.

The main goal of Xanax addiction treatment is to safely stabilize the person while they transition to sobriety and make sure they have the tools and skill set to prepare them for returning to their day-to-day situations that might challenge their sobriety.

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Lauren Brande, MA, has dedicated her life to psychological research. She started off her career with a scholarship from the Western Psychological Association for her undergraduate work in perceptual processing. In 2014, she achieved her master of arts in psychology from Boston University, harnessing a particular interest in the effects that drugs and trauma have on the functioning brain.

She believes that all research should be accessible and digestible, and her passion fuels her desire to share important scientific findings to improve rehabilitation.

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