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What Are Signs of Xanax Addiction?

Xanax, commonly prescribed for anxiety relief, can become dangerously addictive when misused. Taking it in ways not prescribed, like higher doses or for non-anxiety reasons, puts users at risk. Recognizing the signs of addiction early is crucial, as it allows for intervention and a better chance of successful recovery. This article will delve into the tell-tale signs of Xanax addiction, both physical and behavioral, to help you identify the problem in yourself or someone you care about. 

Understanding Xanax Abuse

Xanax abuse goes beyond simply taking the medication. It involves using it in ways your doctor didn’t prescribe. This could mean exceeding the recommended dosage, taking it more frequently than directed, or using it for reasons other than anxiety relief. Some people misuse Xanax to self-medicate for sleep problems or even to heighten the effects of alcohol or other drugs. This risky behavior can lead to a dangerous dependence and potentially life-threatening consequences. 

If you feel that you or someone you know is struggling with Xanax abuse, there are a few common signs that you can watch out for.  

Physical and Behavioral Signs of Xanax Addiction

The symptoms of Xanax use disorder will vary from person to person depending on frequency of use, dosage, and more. Some of the physical signs may include:  

  • Drowsiness 
  • Dizziness 
  • Impaired coordination 
  • Slurred speech 
  • Headaches 
  • Digestive issues 
  • Changes in appetite 
  • Tremors 
  • Dry mouth 

In severe cases, Xanax withdrawal can trigger seizures and heart palpitations. Long-term Xanax use can cause several changes in behavior and personality. Individuals may engage in “doctor shopping,” seeking multiple prescriptions from different physicians, or resort to borrowing or theft to fuel their dependency. Reckless actions such as driving while under the influence also escalate in frequency. 

Some of these changes can make you or the addict seem unrecognizable, however, it’s vital to recognize that the essence of the person remains intact; rather, it’s the influence of addiction that prompts these transformations. 

Psychological Signs of Xanax Addiction

Beyond the initial relief it provides, Xanax addiction wreaks havoc on a person’s mental and emotional well-being. Here’s a closer look at some key psychological signs: 

  • Anxiety Paradox: While Xanax is prescribed for anxiety, addiction can create a paradoxical effect. As the body develops tolerance, the anxiety that Xanax once managed may return stronger than before. This can lead to a constant feeling of needing the drug just to feel “normal,” intensifying the underlying anxiety. 
  • Depression and Mood Swings: Regular Xanax use can disrupt the brain’s natural chemistry, leading to depression and mood swings. The emotional numbing effect of Xanax can mask underlying depression, only for it to resurface more intensely during withdrawal or with reduced use.  
  • Cognitive Decline: Xanax abuse can impair memory, concentration, and decision-making abilities. The drug can slow down brain function, making it difficult to focus on tasks, learn new things, or retain information. This decline in cognitive function can significantly impact a person’s career, relationships, and daily activities. 
  • Isolation and Social Withdrawal: Addiction can be a lonely experience. Due to the secrecy surrounding substance abuse and the negative impacts on behavior, people struggling with Xanax addiction may withdraw from social interactions. This isolation can worsen their mental state and make it more difficult to seek help. 

Impact of Xanax Addiction

The psychological and physical effects of Xanax addiction can affect the person using the drug and their family members as well.   

Physical health suffers as the body becomes dependent on the drug, potentially leading to impaired coordination, weakened immune system, and even organ damage. Mental health takes a significant hit with increased anxiety, depression, and cognitive decline.  

Secrecy and withdrawing from people around you can harm relationships along with borrowing money to continue buying Xanax. Work or school performance drops as focus, memory, and decision-making abilities deteriorate. Seeking professional help is crucial to break the cycle of addiction and reclaim a healthy and fulfilling life. 

Getting Help for Xanax Addiction

While everyone’s healing journey from Xanax abuse can start at different places, there are certain steps you can take to begin the process.  

Detoxification: This medically supervised process helps your body safely eliminate Xanax and manage withdrawal symptoms. A doctor will develop a tapering plan to gradually reduce your dosage, minimizing discomfort. 

Therapy: Individual and group therapy sessions are essential for addressing the underlying causes of your addiction and developing healthy coping mechanisms. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is particularly effective in helping you identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors related to Xanax use. 

Support Groups: Connecting with others who understand the struggles of Xanax addiction can be incredibly empowering. Support groups provide a safe space to share experiences, receive encouragement, and learn from others in recovery. Mountainside has several free virtual and in-person support groups.  

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