Xanax (Alprazolam): What do you know about it?

By Efosa Airuehia | 167 Comments | Drugs and Alcohol,

Xanax (Alprazolam): What do you know about it?



Xanax (Alprazolam): What do you know about it?

Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam. It belongs to a class of medications known as benzodiazepines. Panic disorder and anxiety are conditions treated with alprazolam.
The most highly prescribed benzodiazepine in the United States is Xanax. Medical professionals write over 50 million scripts of Xanax every year. Sixty-two percent of individuals who took a benzodiazepine used Xanax. These statistics show the popularity of this medication.
Xanax addiction is a growing problem in the United States. Prescription drugs like Xanax, are the most commonly abused drugs other than alcohol and marijuana among people over the age of 14. This fact is, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Also, women and adolescents are more at risk for developing an addiction.
Most people get alprazolam from their healthcare professional. Family and friends may provide Xanax to some individuals. Also, some people may get this medication from parties and drug dealers. Xanax is a controlled medication classified as a Schedule IV substance.

Common Street Names for Xanax

Xanax is a popular prescription medication. It is also sold illegally on the streets. People abuse this medication because of its calming effect. Some people mix Xanax with alcohol and other depressants. This combination is risky and can lead to death. Xanax has several popular street names such as:
  • Ladders
  • Xannies
  • Bars
  • Blue footballs
  • Handlebars
  • Zannies
  • Benzos
  • Sticks
  • French fries
  • Z-Bars
  • Zanbars
  • Bricks
  • Upjohn
  • White girls
  • White boys
  • Yellow boys
  • School bus
  • Bicycle parts
  • Planks


Doses of Xanax

Xanax tablets come in different dosages. The smallest dose is 0.25 mg, and the largest dose is 2 mg. Healthcare professionals almost always start with lower doses and slowly increase if needed. This gradual increase is because of the potential for side effects and addiction.
alprazolamXanax prescription can be as high as 4 mg a day to help with anxiety. When possible, it is advisable to avoid doses above 4 mg daily. The avoidance of high doses is because of the possibility of tolerance. Some people take even higher doses of alprazolam. These high doses may be because their panic attacks are very severe. Talk to your physician if you are on high doses of Xanax, so you do not develop an addiction.
Many people are on low doses of benzodiazepines for sleep. I do not recommend Xanax as a sleep aid. First of all, there is the issue of tolerance, withdrawal, and dependence. Also, this medication can lower the quality of sleep and cause fatigue in the morning. There are safer medications that help with insomnia.
Furthermore, Xanax is dangerous when mixed with other depressants like alcohol. Several people drink alcohol before bedtime as a nightcap. This mixture of alprazolam and alcohol causes a harmful combined effect.

How Quickly does Xanax work?

Xanax is a fast-acting medication. It begins to work within one hour. Some people may experience its action within 10-15 minutes. Peak effects may take 30 minutes.
Alprazolam can last up to 6 hours. It is a short-acting benzodiazepine that works quickly. This fast action increases the potential of abuse. Hence, the need for cautious prescribing by medical providers.
Benzodiazepines like Xanax produce a calming effect. They work by enhancing brain chemicals called GABA. This effect on GABA creates a relaxing state in people who take Xanax.
Consumption of Xanax is by mouth. Some individuals also crush the tablets and snort the powder. This technique is probably done to get high faster. Some individuals are known to take it via blotter paper. Also, injecting alprazolam is quite common. Complications can, however, arise as a result. It is, therefore, essential to avoid abusing this medication. 

How to safely take Xanax

Xanax is safe for most individuals when taken in low doses as prescribed. Medical professionals prescribe Xanax to help with anxiety for two main reasons. The first reason is that it acts quickly. Secondly, it has a short half-life, meaning its effects wear off quickly. Rather than taking benzodiazepines for long periods, it is advisable to use it for short term treatment.

This medication is unlikely to cause a fatal overdose if taken alone. Most of the deaths from benzodiazepines occur when mixed with other drugs like opioids, alcohol, and some herbal supplements. It is unfortunate that a lot of people who misuse Xanax mix it with other substances. As a result of such combinations, difficulty breathing, passing out, and death can occur.

Another concern with misusing Xanax is the dosing. When you buy this medication on the street, it is unlikely you will know how much Xanax the pill contains. It may have a higher dose or even a different drug. Some of these drugs bought on the street contain other dangerous ingredients. Consequently, terrible side effects and even death may occur.

Medical professionals should prescribe Xanax only when needed. Taking this medication to control your anxiety is not necessarily a bad thing. While many people take Xanax without any issues, addiction is always a possibility. It is vital to work with your healthcare professional, so you do not develop problems with Xanax.


Is Xanax addictive? Yes, it is!

Misuse of Xanax can lead to addiction. Anyone can become addicted to benzodiazepines. Tolerance, dependence, and addiction can occur with Xanax. This development is even more so if taken in large amounts and for long periods. People who take Xanax as prescribed can become addicted without realizing it. As a result, it is essential to exercise caution with this medication.
Some individuals get addicted to benzodiazepines faster than others. Xanax users are at high risk for addiction when:
1. taking this medication in high doses
2. taking Xanax for an extended period
3. mixing it with other drugs
4. snorting or injecting Xanax, rather than taking it by mouth
Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants. Think of them as medications that slow down the brain. Xanax enhances the activity of a brain chemical called GABA. This effect can cause the following:
  • sleepiness
  • reduced tension
  • decreased anxiety
  • impaired judgment
  • loss of coordination
Because doctors prescribe alprazolam routinely for anxiety, it is relatively easy to get. This medication is also readily available on the street. Depending on the dose and region, a bar of Xanax sells for about $3 – $10 each. Because it is easy to get, alprazolam addiction remains an issue.

The effect of dopamine

Xanax increases a brain chemical called dopamine. This chemical causes feelings of relaxation and pleasure. Abuse of drugs can cause significant increases in dopamine in the brain. This increase, in turn, can trigger an intense, pleasurable high in the individual. As a result, this effect can increase the desire for the individual to use repeatedly.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) classifies mental disorders. The DSM-5 term for people with Xanax addiction is Sedative, Hypnotic, or Anxiolytic Use Disorder. This disorder can be mild, moderate, or severe.
There are many symptoms of addiction to Xanax. One of these is tolerance. The definition of tolerance is either of the following:
1. a need to take increased amounts of the drug to achieve the desired effect
2. a decreased effect of the drug with the same amount
Taking Xanax at the prescribed dose can also lead to tolerance. High doses and long periods of use make tolerance more likely. Consequently, physical dependence and withdrawals can occur. This situation can, therefore, make quitting a struggle.
Narconon describes the experience of a college student. This student with a relative taking Xanax said: “Having a close family member on Xanax is like trying to talk to someone who is on autopilot all of the time. You can never get through. They don’t remember important conversations. It’s like they are dead, but somehow still moving while on the drug. It tears things apart. Not to mention having to worry about whether or not they will wake up the next morning.”
It is so sad to hear an account like that!

DSM-5 Criteria

According to the DSM-5, there must be a problematic use of Xanax, causing significant impairment or distress. The DSM-5 requires at least two of such of impairments that occur within 12 months. These impairments or difficulty include:
1. Taking alprazolam in more significant amounts. Or over a more extended period than was intended.
2. A persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control use.
3. Spending a great deal of time in activities necessary to get, use, or recover from alprazolam.
4. Craving for alprazolam. Or also a strong desire or urge to use alprazolam.
5. The recurrent use of alprazolam causing a failure to fulfill significant role obligations. This failure may be at work, school, or home.
6. Continued use of alprazolam despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems. These issues are caused or made worse by the effects of alprazolam.
7. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities stopped or reduced because of alprazolam.
8. Recurrent alprazolam use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
9. Continued use of alprazolam even with having a physical or psychological problem. This problem is likely due to or exacerbated by alprazolam.
10. Tolerance to alprazolam. Tolerance may manifest as a need for markedly increased amounts to achieve intoxication or the desired effect. It may also present as a significantly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alprazolam.
11. Withdrawal from alprazolam.

Withdrawal can be dangerous!

Abruptly stopping Xanax can be dangerous. It is never advisable to stop this medication, “cold turkey.” The reason for this is because seizures and even death may occur. Detox must, thus, be done in a detox center or under very close outpatient supervision.
Xanax withdrawal symptoms begin to peak after 12 hours. Some of the symptoms that occur during withdrawal are:
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Depression
  • Tremors
  • Nightmares
  • Sweating
  • Fast heart rate
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Hearing or seeing things that are not there
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle pain
  • Crawling sensation on the skin
  • Confusion
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Seizures

How does Xanax overdose present?

The New England Journal of Medicine looked at the use of benzodiazepines in the U.S. This analysis showed that the number of deaths involving benzodiazepines has risen seven-fold in the last 20 years.
The Washington Post wrote a similar report. This article found that a growing number of Caucasian females are dying prematurely of overdoses involving anti-anxiety medications and opioids.
Overdosing on Xanax alone is often not fatal. But mixing it with other drugs may be lethal. Taking too much Xanax can cause the following:
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Lack of coordination
  • Sleepiness


Dangerous drug combinations

xanaxOne of the hazardous interactions of Xanax is with alcohol. This reaction is because both of these substances are central nervous system depressants. For this reason, the combination can lead to overdose and difficulty breathing. Similarly, combining alprazolam with Nyquil, Benadryl, or ibuprofen can be dangerous.
The mixture of benzodiazepines with opioids is also hazardous. Furthermore, it is advisable not to combine Xanax with herbal supplements. Such herbs include St. John’s wort, Kava, and Valerian. Some people are also known to combine Xanax with other drugs like cocaine, marijuana, and meth. 

Medical Detox and Treatment

Detox is the first step towards recovery. Never stop alprazolam without medical supervision. The length of detox will probably depend on several factors. Some of these factors include how long you have been using Xanax and the dose of Xanax. Your current circumstances and general health are also relevant.
During detox and early recovery, you may experience some issues. Depression, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and poor concentration are probably some of them. These can make quitting hard. An inpatient residential treatment facility makes this process more manageable. Depending on the severity, outpatient treatment is also an option.
There are several advantages to inpatient residential treatment. A stable environment free of temptation is one of them. Treatment centers also provide 24-hour medical supervision. Supervised medication management will help make the withdrawal process safer and more comfortable. Gradually weaning off Xanax helps with withdrawals. In some cases, a longer-acting benzodiazepine (like Klonopin) is used to replace Xanax. Similarly, this longer-acting medication is then slowly taken off. There are no specific medications used to treat Xanax addiction following detox. In addition to prescribed drugs, therapy also helps with recovery. Some types of behavioral therapy which may be helpful are:
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Contingency management
  • Couples therapy
  • Family therapy
Therapy helps with identifying triggers of drug use. Avoiding triggers and finding healthy coping styles are goals of treatment. Also, learning to manage emotions without drugs is yet another benefit of therapy. In addition, counseling helps with building back relationships. Finally, counseling also helps with functioning in school, work, and other environments.


Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam, a benzodiazepine. It is a prescription medication used to treat panic disorder and anxiety.
Alprazolam is the most prescribed benzodiazepine in the United States. This high level of prescription is probably the same in several other countries. Xanax is short-acting and works quickly.

Some people experience the effects of Xanax in 10-15 minutes. These effects can last up to 6 hours. Xanax works by enhancing a brain chemical called GABA. This effect creates a calm relaxing state. Xanax can be safely taken, especially in low doses for short periods and under medical supervision.

Abusing or misusing benzodiazepines can quickly lead to addiction. It is commonly abused by individuals who take it by mouth or snort it. Also, Xanax is injected by some people because they want it to act quicker. Mixing Xanax with alcohol, opioids, and other drugs can be hazardous. It is important to note that not everyone who uses Xanax becomes addicted to it. People who use it regularly certainly risk becoming physically dependent on it.

Withdrawal from Xanax is dangerous because it can cause seizures and even death. Rather than stop Xanax “cold turkey,” slowly weaning off is a better option. This slow taper is better under medical supervision. This gradual taper helps because withdrawals can be otherwise severe. There may be seizures and probably even death from abruptly stopping this medication.

Treatment involves medical detox and also behavioral therapy. It is certainly recommended to have medical detox done in an inpatient facility. This detox is warranted even more so if you have been using high doses for prolonged periods. In contrast, outpatient treatment is an option for some people. This option is usually for people who take alprazolam in low doses over short periods.

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The entire content of AddictionBlueprint, including content on drugs and alcohol, medications, therapies, facilities, spotlights, recommendations, and other features is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This does not constitute a physician-patient relationship. Please seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers regarding your addiction, mental and medical issues.


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