Last updated: 04/22/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Xanax belongs to the benzodiazepine class of drugs, best known for their sedative-like effects. For people struggling with ongoing feelings of anxiety and tension, Xanax works well at restoring feelings of calm and well-being.
Unfortunately, Xanax’s therapeutic benefits only work for so long before the more harmful effects of this drug start to take shape. If you or someone you know is taking Xanax, keep a lookout for the following red flags that may well indicate a developing Xanax addiction is in the works.
Xanax’s Mechanism of Action
The use of Xanax as an anti-anxiety treatment relies on its ability to alter certain chemical processes in the brain. When ingested, Xanax targets GABA-producing brain cells, forcing the release of large amounts of GABA neurotransmitter chemicals.
According to the University of Maryland, GABA’s role works to slow brain and central nervous system (CNS) activity. When released in large amounts, this has an overall calming effect that naturally translates into reduced anxiety levels. Since GABA receptors exist throughout the brain and CNS, this level of interference comes with a high potential for dependence, abuse and eventual addiction.
Red Flags Associated with Xanax Addiction
Tolerance Level Effects
As a general rule, benzodiazepines should only be used on a short-term basis to prevent the more harmful effects of these drugs from developing. In cases where a person uses Xanax for three months or longer, the brain develops a tolerance to the drug’s effects. When this happens, increasing dosage levels must be ingested in order to produce the desired sense of calm and well-being.
In effect, tolerance level increases become the first red flag of a developing Xanax addiction.
Once the cycle of tolerance level increases begins, the brain has essentially become physically dependent on Xanax effects. According to City Vision University, physical dependence can develop even when taking low doses of the drug, causing uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms to develop along the way.
Withdrawal symptoms to watch out for include:
- Excess sweating
- Blurred vision
- Hypersensitivity to touch and noise
- Prickly sensations along skin surfaces
- Feeling detached from reality
- Heart pounding
Psychological dependence occurs when a person feels as if he or she needs a drug in order to cope with daily life pressures. In essence, a psychological dependence indicates a full-blown Xanax addiction is at work.
According to leading experts, the ongoing use or abuse of Xanax makes users highly susceptible to psychological dependence because of its expected anxiety-relieving effects. Ultimately users can reach a point where intense rebound anxiety symptoms develop as repeated withdrawal episodes become more and more severe.
Ultimately, anyone who uses Xanax on an ongoing basis stands to experience its “two-edged sword” effect in terms of its therapeutic benefits versus its potential for abuse and addiction. Once the above red flags start to develop, there’s a very real need for some form of treatment help as Xanax addiction will only grow more severe with time.