Everything You Need to Know About Xanax

Learn more about what Xanax is used for, its potential side effects, and addiction treatment options here.

What is Xanax?

Xanax, also known as Alprazolam, is a prescription medication that belongs to the class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. It is a potent central nervous system depressant that works by increasing the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain.

This results in a sedative effect, which can help to relieve symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks. While it can be an effective treatment for certain medical conditions, Xanax is also a drug that is frequently abused and can lead to addiction.1


What Is It Prescribed For?

Xanax is FDA-approved to treat many disorders, including:

  • Anxiety: Anxiety is a common mental health condition that can cause excessive worry, fear, and nervousness, and can interfere with daily activities.
  • Panic disorder: This is characterized by sudden and repeated panic attacks, which can cause intense fear and physical symptoms such as a rapid heartbeat, sweating, and shaking.2
  • Insomnia: It may be prescribed off-label to treat insomnia because of its sedative effects.3
  • Premenstrual syndrome: Alprazolam can reduce the severity of premenstrual symptoms such as nervous tension, mood swings, anxiety, and headaches.4

How Does It Work?

Alprazolam works by enhancing the effects of a neurotransmitter in the brain, which helps to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. However, it should only be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional. It can be habit-forming and may have serious side effects if not taken as directed.

Is It Addictive?

Yes, Xanax can be addictive, especially when it is used for an extended period of time or in higher doses than prescribed. Addiction can develop as the brain becomes accustomed to the drug’s effects and requires higher doses to achieve the same level of relief from anxiety or other symptoms.

Risk factors that can increase the likelihood of someone developing a substance use disorder (SUD) include a history of substance abuse, a family history of addiction, and using it for an extended period of time or in higher doses than prescribed.

Recreational Use and Abuse of Alprazolam​

While Xanax is a prescription medication, it is also a drug that is frequently abused for its sedative and calming effects. Recreational use can lead to addiction and other serious health consequences.

Recreational use refers to taking a drug for non-medical purposes, such as to get high or to enhance the effects of other drugs.

How It Is Used Recreationally

Recreational users of Alprazolam may take higher doses than prescribed. They may crush and snort the pills to enhance their effects. They may also mix it with alcohol or other drugs to amplify the sedative effects.

Risks of Recreational Use

Recreational Xanax use can lead to addiction, as well as other health consequences such as respiratory depression, seizures, and overdose.

Misuse and Abuse

Xanax misuse refers to taking the medication in a way that is not consistent with the prescribed instructions or using it without a prescription. This can include taking it in larger doses, taking it more frequently, or taking it for a longer period of time than prescribed. Misuse can also involve taking the drug for non-medical purposes, such as disinhibition, euphoria, and anxiolytic effects.5

Misuse can lead to a range of negative effects, including dependence, addiction, overdose, and even death. It is important to take Xanax only as directed by a healthcare professional and to be aware of the potential risks associated with its use.

Symptoms of Misuse

Misuse of Alprazolam can lead to various physical and psychological symptoms, including:

  • Drowsiness or sedation
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Poor coordination and balance
  • Slurred speech
  • Blurred vision
  • Impaired memory or concentration
  • Impaired judgment or decision-making
  • Agitation or irritability
  • Mood swings or emotional instability
  • Respiratory depression (slow or shallow breathing)
  • Increased risk of falls and accidents
  • Dependence and addiction.
  • Coma

If you are concerned about Alprazolam misuse, seek help from a healthcare provider or addiction specialist.6

Withdrawal and Overdose

Yes, it is possible to overdose on Alprazolam, especially when it is taken in large doses or mixed with other drugs. Overdose symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Mild Symptoms of Overdose

Mild symptoms of an overdose may include confusion, impaired coordination, drowsiness, slurred speech, tremors, shallow breathing, rapid heartbeat, and slow reflexes. 

Severe Symptoms of Overdose

Severe symptoms of overdose may include hallucinations, seizures, chest pain, difficulty breathing, abnormal heart rhythm, and loss of consciousness. If left untreated, these symptoms can be fatal.

Treatment for Overdose

Treatment for an overdose may include supportive care, such as monitoring vital signs, administering activated charcoal to absorb any remaining drugs in the stomach, and providing oxygen and intravenous fluids. In severe cases, medications such as flumazenil may be used to reverse the effects of Xanax.7

Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal can be uncomfortable and even dangerous, especially for those who have been using the drug for a long time or who have a history of seizures or other medical conditions.

Alprazolam withdrawal symptoms typically start within 24 hours after the last dose and can last for several weeks or even months. Common withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

In some cases, withdrawal can lead to seizures, hallucinations, and other serious health problems.


Xanax Addiction Treatment at Essence Healthcare

If you or someone you know is struggling with Xanax addiction, you don’t have to do it alone. Essence Healthcare is here to help. Addiction treatment can help individuals overcome addiction and rebuild their lives by providing them with the tools and support they need to achieve and maintain sobriety. Essence Healthcare is a facility that specializes in addiction treatment, including Xanax addiction.

Available Treatment Options

Our treatment options for addiction include detoxification, medication-assisted treatment, individual and group therapy, aftercare support, and other effective and evidence-based therapies. Our team of compassionate mental health and medical professionals will be with you every step of the way during your recovery. We know that every person’s recovery journey is different, so we will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your unique needs.

Contact Essence Healthcare Today

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, contact Essence Healthcare to learn more about our addiction treatment programs.

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Questions About Treatment?

We are a patient-first substance abuse and mental health treatment facility located in Los Angeles, California. At Essence Healthcare, we provide different levels of care from detoxification to drug rehab aftercare. Our team is standing by to address your questions. Your call is confidential and no obligation is required.