How to Tell Someone on Xanax?

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Xanax is a highly addictive drug and should only be used under the guidance of a medical professional. Xanax use can be difficult to detect, but there are some signs and symptoms that may indicate a person is misusing it or has become dependent. For example, physical signs include drowsiness and impaired coordination, while behavioral signs may include social withdrawal and neglecting responsibilities. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these signs, it is vital to seek help immediately.

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Signs of Someone Misusing Xanax

Xanax is a prescription drug in the benzodiazepine (benzo) drug class. (1) It is indicated for the treatment of anxiety and panic disorders. Xanax is considered safe and effective when used in accordance with a prescription under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Still, Xanax has a high potential for misuse, dependence, and addiction, like other benzos.

Signs of Xanax Misuse May Include:

  • Taking it without a legitimate prescription.
  • Taking it more frequently or in higher doses than prescribed.
  • Taking it in combination with other substances, such as alcohol.

Visiting multiple doctors to obtain more than one Xanax prescription, i.e., doctor shopping. (2)

Common Physical Signs & Symptoms of Xanax Use

Xanax is a powerful sedative and central nervous system (CNS) depressant that can produce certain obvious physical symptoms when taken in high doses.

Physical Signs & Symptoms of Xanax Misuse Include:

  • Uncharacteristic drowsiness or excessive sedation, often in the middle of the day, and an inability to stay awake when roused.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Constricted or pinpoint pupils.
  • Impaired motor coordination, including unsteady gait and movement, poor balance, and clumsiness.
  • Reduced reaction time and impaired reflexes.
  • Slurred, garbled, or incoherent speech.
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness.
  • Confusion and disorientation.
  • Appetite changes, leading to weight loss or gain.

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Behavioral Signs & Withdrawal Symptoms of Xanax Use

Xanax addiction comes along with several telltale behavioral manifestations. Likewise, Xanax dependence will lead to the onset of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if the individual tries to quit or cut back. Note, however, that the extent and severity of these symptoms will depend upon several factors, including the intensity and duration of Xanax misuse.

Behavioral Signs of Xanax Addiction May Include:

  • Impaired Cognition—Individuals addicted to Xanax may exhibit impaired cognitive functions, such as poor reasoning, judgment, and decision-making. These impairments can lead to risky and dangerous behaviors, such as driving while high. Xanax use can also impair a person’s ability to form new memories.
  • Neglect of Responsibilities—Xanax addiction often leads a person to spend significant amounts of time acquiring, using, or recovering from the use of Xanax. As such, individuals who are addicted to Xanax may neglect important everyday responsibilities, such as work, school, or taking care of their children or family, in favor of using and getting high.
  • Mood Swings—Individuals with a Xanax addiction may exhibit poor emotional control and mood swings, including increased hostility, irritability, and agitation. They may likewise become highly defensive when their use of Xanax is brought up in conversation.
  • Social Isolation and Withdrawal—Individuals with an active addiction may isolate themselves from their friends and family to conceal the extent of their use. They may also refuse to participate in activities they once enjoyed.
  • Changes in Social Group—Those with an addiction to Xanax may suddenly start hanging out or spending time with new friends or acquaintances.

Withdrawal Symptoms Associated With Xanax Dependence Include:

  • A sense of uneasiness or nervousness.
  • Extreme rebound anxiety and panic attacks.
  • Depression and feelings of sadness.
  • Intense drug cravings.
  • Uncontrollable muscle tremors and tics.
  • Akathisia, or extreme restlessness and agitation.
  • Increased muscle tension and rigidity.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Stomach aches.
  • Insomnia.
  • Rapid heart rate and heart palpitations.
  • Seizures.

It is crucial to note that Xanax withdrawal symptoms can be fatal. For this reason, detox from Xanax should only be attempted under medical supervision.

Mental & Psychological Effects of Xanax Misuse

Xanax misuse can cause numerous mental and psychological effects. These symptoms can vary between individuals depending on factors such as the person’s overall physiology and the dosage consumed.

Mental & Psychological Effects of Xanax Misuse May Include:

  • Elevated mood, a sense of well-being, and euphoria.
  • Impaired cognition, leading to poor judgment, difficulty concentrating, and memory issues.
  • Blunted emotional affect, such as an appearance of indifference, numbness, apathy, detachment, or dissociation.
  • Mood swings, or abrupt and unpredictable changes in mood from calm to irritated or angry.
  • Depression and anxiety, which may occur as the individual comes down from a Xanax high.
  • The need for ever-increasing doses of Xanax to achieve desired effects as the body develops a tolerance. (3)
  • Psychological dependence, or the need for Xanax in order to feel normal or cope with everyday stress, anxiety, or emotions.

Treatment Options for Xanax Addiction

Successfully treating addiction to benzos such as Xanax may require participation in a combination of treatment options across multiple levels of care, including detox, rehab programs, individualized therapy, and ongoing support.

Treatment Options for Xanax Addiction Include:

  • Medical Detox—Detox is usually the first step in Xanax addiction treatment. Individuals in detox will be continuously monitored by healthcare professionals while they rid their bodies of Xanax. Patients may receive medications to minimize unpleasant, painful, and dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
  • Residential Treatment—Residential or inpatient treatment is the most intensive level of care. Inpatients will reside at the treatment center, enjoy around-the-clock medical supervision, and participate in daily therapy and support group sessions.
  • Outpatient Treatment—Outpatient treatment can vary in intensity depending on the needs of the individual. These programs typically involve regular therapy and counseling sessions and support group participation. A typical outpatient schedule can range from multiple sessions per week to only a few sessions per month. Unlike inpatient treatment, outpatients will still live at home and commute to treatment sessions.
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)—CBT is a frequently used therapy with proven efficacy for substance addiction. Through CBT, individuals will work with a therapist to identify and alter negative beliefs and patterns of thought that bring about self-destructive behaviors like Xanax misuse. CBT aims to help individuals develop techniques and strategies to cope with and manage stress and other relapse triggers.
  • Dual Diagnosis—Substance use disorders often co-occur with another mental health condition, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or PTSD. Through dual diagnosis, Xanax addiction can be treated simultaneously with any underlying mental health issues that could contribute to and reinforce substance misuse.
  • Peer Group Support—Participation in support groups and 12-step programs, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA), can provide those in recovery with a sense of community as well as invaluable insight into the nature of addiction. (4)

Holistic Activities—Certain holistic approaches provide unique benefits to recovery as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. These activities can reduce stress and promote relaxation and well-being and may include mindfulness meditation, yoga, art and music therapy, and more.

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Recovery from dependence can be a long and sometimes challenging process, but with the right care and support, individuals can overcome addiction and dramatically improve the quality of their lives. Participation in intensive, evidence-based recovery programs and behavioral therapies can increase the likelihood of success and provide individuals with the tools they need to maintain long-lasting sobriety.

Countless individuals have found lasting sobriety as a result of our comprehensive approach to addiction treatment. We are dedicated to helping our clients establish a foundation for lifelong wellness by focusing on individualized care and holistic strategies and practices. If you would like to speak to a skilled Treatment Advisor and receive a free, no-obligation assessment and health insurance benefits check, reach out to Guardian Recovery today.


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

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Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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