Dependence or Addiction: What You Should Know about Xanax December 6th, 2019 The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake
Blog & News Dependence or Addiction: What You Should Know about Xanax

Dependence or Addiction: What You Should Know about Xanax

Xanax can help you relax and deal with anxiety and stress.

Xanax is the brand name of alprazolam, a benzodiazepine drug mainly used to treat severe anxiety such as agoraphobia, social anxiety and panic disorders. Xanax works by slowing down nervous system activity and activating the GABA receptors in the brain, which helps people feel more relaxed and able to handle stress better.

Like many other benzodiazepines, Xanax use commonly contributes to both physical dependence and addiction. What is the difference between Xanax dependence and addiction to the drug? The distinction may be difficult to understand, but it does help to explain when addiction treatment may be needed as opposed to when it might not be necessary.

Dependence on Xanax Is Different From Addiction

Dependence on Xanax is a physical symptom that occurs with long-term use of the drug. Withdrawal symptoms including nausea, vomiting, headaches, insomnia, and the return of anxiety or panic may occur when the use of the drug is stopped.

It is rare, but seizures can also occur during Xanax withdrawal, and they may be life-threatening. If you plan to stop using Xanax or any other benzodiazepine, you should consult a physician or treatment professional to see whether you can undergo medical detox that may help ease symptoms and keep you safe throughout the process.

Because withdrawal symptoms occur, however, does not indicate a Xanax addiction, which has other symptoms that are distinct from withdrawal. Addiction to Xanax or any drug is indicated by one or more of the following:

  • Using the drug more frequently or at a higher dosage than prescribed
  • Secrecy about using the drug
  • Avoiding friends or family members
  • Changes in work or school performance
  • Continuing to use the drug even though it causes negative life changes
  • Driving while using the drug
  • Continuing to buy the drug even though money is tight
  • Using the drug for reasons other than why it was prescribed

Someone who continues to use Xanax as prescribed may not be addicted to the drug, even if withdrawal symptoms occur when its use is stopped. If there is a legitimate reason to use the drug, it may be entirely appropriate to continue to use it even when physical dependence is present.

There can be a fine line between Xanax dependence and addiction.

The line between Xanax dependence and addiction is not always well-defined. The fear of symptoms returning can turn into using Xanax to cope with uncomfortable emotions. Someone who is physically dependent on Xanax may take dangerously high dosages of the drug to get the same effects over time.

It is difficult at times to know when that line from dependence to Xanax addiction has been crossed and when the drug is needed to treat ongoing symptoms. If you aren’t sure whether your Xanax use or that of a loved one has crossed from physical dependence into addiction, call our Xanax hotline or contact The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake today.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.