Xanax Addiction and Recovery Facts

Overview of Xanax Use and Abuse

  • Xanax (alprazolam) is a sedative medication that acts as a central nervous system depressant.
  • Xanax’s short-term effects include muscle relaxation, anxiety relief, drowsiness, and sleep induction.
  • The risk of becoming addicted to Xanax increases the longer it is used and when doses of 4mg or more are taken daily.
  • People who have a history of substance abuse are at a higher risk of developing an addiction.
  • Long-term abuse of Xanax can lead to depression, impulsive behavior, aggression, speech problems, persistent disorientation and confusion, and social isolation.
  • Withdrawal symptoms include sweating, nausea, vomiting, rapid heart rate, tremors, and hallucinations.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax is a prescription drug that is used to treat generalized anxiety, social anxiety disorder, as well as panic disorder.

It belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines, which slow down the central nervous system and cause sedation.15 Other branded formulations include Xanax XR, and it is available generically as alprazolam.

Taking Xanax non-medically for extended periods of time may lead to an addiction. In some cases of chronic Xanax abuse, it can take more than 6 months to fully overcome some of the cognitive impairments from addiction. Some of these may even become permanent.1, 7

Street Names

  • Xannies (Zannies)
  • Zanbars (Xanbars)
  • Planks
  • Benzos
  • Upjohn
  • Blue Footballs

How Xanax Is Used?

People who abuse Xanax may take several pills at the same time to get high. They may take the pills orally or crush them into a powder that can be snorted in an effort to increase its effects or the speed of onset of its effects.

Attempts to circumvent the intended route of administration can actually minimize efficacy, shorten the therapeutic window and, especially in the case of the XR formulation, be quite dangerous (as a bypassed built-in controlled release mechanism might result in delivery of a large dose instantaneously).

Misuse of Xanax is fairly common among people who also abuse cocaine, alcohol, and heroin. They may co-abuse Xanax either to intensify the effects of these drugs or to ease withdrawal symptoms.9

Xanax Effects

Xanax’s effects may last anywhere from 4-8 hours.21 Effects include:

  • Drowsiness.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Muscle relaxation.
  • Dizziness.
  • Anxiety relief.

Learn more about Xanax effects.

Signs and Symptoms of Xanax Addiction

The risk of becoming addicted to Xanax increases the longer a person uses it and when he or she takes doses of 4mg or more daily.22 People who have a history of drug or alcohol abuse also have a higher risk of becoming addicted to Xanax.

Signs of Xanax addiction include:

  • Taking Xanax in larger amounts and for a longer period than planned.
  • Failure to cut down or quit using Xanax.
  • Spending an excessive amount of time acquiring the drug, using the drug, and recovering from its effects.
  • Intense craving for Xanax.

Learn more about Xanax addiction.

American Addiction Centers has helped thousands recover from addiction and we can help you or your loved one too. Check your insurance to find out instantly if your insurance provider may be able to cover all or part of the cost of rehab and associated therapies. You can also sign up 24/7 text support for addiction questions at your convenience.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Due to the presence of severe, potentially life-threatening withdrawal effects such as seizures, people attempting to quit abusing Xanax may require a period of medically supervised detoxification and withdrawal.

Xanax withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Rebound insomnia.
  • Sweating.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Tremors.
  • Seizure. 22,23

Learn more about Xanax withdrawal.

Overdose Symptoms


Taking larger doses of Xanax to experience a high can lead to an overdose and even death, especially if Xanax is combined with alcohol or other depressants (e.g., opioids). 15

Signs of Xanax overdose include:

  • Muscle weakness.
  • Irregular heartbeat.
  • Intense confusion.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Trouble walking.

Learn more about Xanax overdose.

Rehabilitation Options

Xanax addiction treatment doesn’t have a set price. The cost of treatment will depend on many things, including the type of program, how long it is, where it’s located, its features and your insurance coverage.

Learn more about insurance options below:

If you’re ready to seek treatment for Xanax addiction, explore the different treatment options and think about which factors matter most to you in a recovery center.

By focusing on what’s important to you and having a good sense of what you’re looking for, you’re more likely to get something out of the program and stay sober when you leave.

Learn more about Xanax addiction treatment.

Xanax Statistics

  • Use: More than 4,000 people reported misusing or abusing alprazolam (Xanax) in 2015.14
  • Gender: Males show slightly higher rates of benzodiazepine abuse, with 3,148 men reporting past-year use and 974 reporting past-month use, compared to 2,903 women reporting past-year use and 900 reporting past-month use.14
  • Addiction rate: Almost 700,000 people age 12 or older struggled with a tranquilizer use disorder in 2015.14
  • Teen Xanax abuse: In 2015, 4.7% of 12th graders reported past-year use of tranquilizers such as Xanax, a slight drop from previous years. Use among 8th graders is at the lowest level since 1991, with only 1.7% of reporting past-year use. All in all, tranquilizer use has declined since 2001 in 8th, 10th, and 12th grade populations.17
  • Emergencies: In 2011, nearly 10% of all emergency department visits related to nonmedical use of any pharmaceutical involved the abuse of alprazolam (Xanax).18
  • Overdose: Nearly 8,000 benzodiazepine overdose deaths were reported in 2014 alone, the highest number since 2011.19

Find Treatment for Addiction

Xanax and other benzodiazepine addictions can be challenging to overcome and frequently require closely supervised detoxification.

Call to speak with one of our treatment support specialists about finding a rehabilitation program that can accommodate your needs.