Xanax Bars Addiction

Xanax Bars Addiction | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Xanax (alprazolam) is among the most popular anti-anxiety medications prescribed in the U.S. The drug has several legitimate medical uses, but many people misuse Xanax to feel relaxed or euphoric. Repeated and prolonged abuse can lead to dependence and addiction that requires professional treatment. Discontinuing use of Xanax abruptly or “cold-turkey” can induce seizures and other dangerous complications.

Doctors primarily prescribe Xanax to treat anxiety and panic disorders, but it is sometimes also used for insomnia or seizures. Xanax is a benzodiazepine (benzo) and central nervous system depressant that reduces brain activity, causing feelings of relaxation and drowsiness. These effects are why many people abuse Xanax—seeking relief from anxiety and feelings of intoxication, not unlike alcohol.

But, like excessive alcohol consumption, Xanax abuse can be dangerous. It can hinder a person’s ability to make rational decisions and impair motor skills and response time required for safe driving, among other things.

Xanax Bars and What the Colors Mean

A Xanax bar contains 2-4 times the dose of medication typically required to treat anxiety. Bars allow users to save money as they are less expensive than purchasing multiple pills at a lower dose. Authentic Xanax bars have a characteristic scored appearance. Users who wish to take a smaller dose can easily break the bar into the desired portions. Individuals who want to take a full 2 mg dose can consume the entire bar.
Alprazolam is available in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. By prescription, the medication is available in the following forms.

  • Green three-sided pill – 3mg
  • White rectangle – 2 mg
  • Blue round – 2 mg
  • Blue oval – 1 mg
  • Yellow four-sided pill – 1 mg
  • Orange oval – 0.5 mg
  • White five-sided pill – 0.5 mg
  • Peach round  – 0.5 mg
  • White oval – 0.25 mg

Is Xanax Addictive?

Xanax is one of the most addictive benzos when not used appropriately. People who misuse this drug can become addicted and experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when they discontinue use. They can experience rebound anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and dysphoria—effects that make quitting difficult.

Withdrawal from the prolonged abuse of Xanax can be life-threatening. To recover from Xanax dependence, people should taper off the prescription drug by administering lower doses over the course of several weeks. Physicians or addiction professionals should supervise this weaning process to ensure safety.

How Xanax Is Used as Directed

Doctors may prescribe Xanax bars because the drug has a relatively short half-life, meaning its effects subside more rapidly than longer-acting benzos such as Valium (diazepam). People who use Xanax usually begin to feel effects within 10-15 minutes. Peak effects onset after about 30 minutes, and the overall effects typically abate after six hours.

When Xanax is taken as directed, common side effects may include the following:

  • Memory problems
  • Clumsiness
  • Reduced appetite
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Poor concentrating
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Drowsiness and lethargy
  • Slurred speech

Xanax is considered safe for most adults to use. Benzos rarely result in life-threatening overdoses when taken alone, but can cause dangerous side effects when used with other CNS depressants, such as alcohol or opioids. Using Xanax without a prescription can be hazardous.

Those who take it recreationally often combine it with alcohol, marijuana, or other intoxicants. Mixing alcohol or drugs such as opioids and Xanax is dangerous because these substances can interact unpredictably and compound the effects of one another. When combined, these substances can make people pass out and breathe at a perilously slow rate.

How Xanax Causes Dependency and Addiction

Xanax Bars Addiction | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Doctors usually initiate patients who are not experienced with benzos with low doses of Xanax, such as 0.25-0.5 mg. Of note, everyone who uses this drug regularly will develop a tolerance, meaning that over time, they will require higher doses to achieve the same therapeutic effects. Patients who have developed a high tolerance to Xanax may require doses higher than 4mg per day, thus increasing their risk of dependence.

Dependence occurs after the prolonged use of a substance results in the body’s adaptation to its presence. When the drug is absent, the body can no longer function normally, and the person experiences unpleasant withdrawal symptoms as a result of this imbalance.

Xanax withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Increased anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Uncontrollable shakiness
  • High blood pressure

Being dependent on Xanax is not always dangerous—people who need medication to control anxiety or panic disorders may become dependent on Xanax and experience few or no adverse effects. Physical dependency is one aspect of addiction, but not addiction itself. Addiction has an intense psychological component that results in compulsive drug-seeking behavior and uncontrolled use despite the incurrence of negative consequences.

Moreover, in many cases, people who are truly addicted to Xanax begin to assume they need it to relieve anxiety. However, the anxiety that they are encountering when they discontinue using the drug is actually a symptom of withdrawal referred to as rebound anxiety.

Dependence becomes problematic when people use Xanax bars for nonmedical reasons or when they misuse the medication and don’t communicate with their doctor. People with a valid prescription may, in some cases, develop an addiction to Xanax because they use the drug more frequently or in higher doses than directed. As tolerance increases and dependence develops, they become more desperate and are clueless as to how they can curb this behavior.

Excessive doses or misuse of Xanax can result in dangerous side effects, including the following:

  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Loss of coordination
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia

What Is the Timeline for Xanax Bars Addiction?

Some people become addicted to Xanax bars faster than others. Those who routinely take excessive doses of Xanax are more likely to develop a substance use disorder than those who take low doses of the drug less frequently.

Using a benzo such as Xanax for longer than 3-4 weeks can result in physiological dependence, a condition that, as noted, turns into addiction when a person begins obsessing over drug use and keeps using the drug despite the incurrence of negative consequences. For this reason, many doctors have opted to limit alprazolam prescriptions to a one or two week supply to prevent patients from developing dependence.

People addicted to Xanax will compulsively seek the drug, and may visit multiple doctors or pharmacies to obtain prescriptions or buy it illicitly on the street. They may also resort to the abuse of alcohol or other depressants when Xanax isn’t available.

Detoxing From Xanax

Xanax Addiction | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Alprazolam has a half-life of about 12 hours, which means it takes this length of time for half of the dose to be cleared from the bloodstream. Withdrawal symptoms can be experienced within six hours of the last dose, and peak after about 12 hours. Intense withdrawal symptoms persist for about four days, and withdrawal from a prolonged Xanax addiction can last for up to two weeks, with improvement seen after the first few days.

As mentioned, tapering off Xanax without medical direction can be dangerous. Detox facilities and treatment centers have medication and other resources that can help ease withdrawal symptoms and make the process safer and more comfortable.

While supervising clients, treatment centers can slowly wean them off Xanax by gradually reducing daily dosages. Xanax may be replaced by long-acting benzos, such as Klonopin or Librium, during tapering. Also, Buspirone and Flumazenil can be used to treat symptoms of withdrawal.

Treatment for Xanax Bars Addiction

Detox or a tapering process is followed by evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, counseling, group support, and aftercare planning. Therapy can also help people develop healthier ways of relieving anxiety and lessen a person’s need for anti-anxiety medications.

Midwood Addiction Treatment is a specialized addiction treatment facility that offers therapeutic services facilitated by addiction professionals. Our staff is dedicated to ensuring every client receives the tools and support they need to achieve abstinence and sustain long-lasting wellness and sobriety.

If you or someone you know is addicted to Xanax, other benzos, opioids, or illicit drugs or alcohol, please contact us today. Discover how we help people free themselves from the powerful grip of addiction and begin to experience the healthy and satisfying lives they deserve!

Xanax Effects, Side Effects, and Withdrawal Symptoms

Xanax Effects and Symptoms | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Xanax (alprazolam) is a potent benzodiazepine (benzo) that is found in tablet form or as an extended-release capsule. Xanax is among the most prescribed and most often abused benzo drugs in the United States.

When used as directed, it is very effective at relieving various forms of anxiety, preventing seizures, and treating insomnia. All benzos share similar properties, the main differences being the rate of onset and the duration of the effects. Xanax is a prescription depressant that acts rapidly in the central nervous system (CNS), and most of the desired effects occur within an hour.

Short-Term Xanax Effects

When taken as prescribed, short-term Xanax effects can be beneficial to many people. It has the potential to ease physical tension, restlessness, fear, and feelings of unease that are commonly found with anxiety and panic disorders.

As with any medication, adverse side effects may occur. If Xanax is being abused, these effects may be dramatic and include impaired concentration and memory, confusion, and fatigue.

Some of the most common side effects of Xanax include the following:

  • Drowsiness and fatigue
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Impaired concentration
  • Changes in libido
  • Increased salivation
  • Incontinence
  • Weight changes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Joint pain
  • Seizures
  • Shortness of breath
  • Impaired memory
  • Depression
  • Erratic mood changes


Overdose can occur when a person uses more than the recommended dose, takes the prescribed dose too frequently, or combines the drug with other CNS depressants, such as opioids or alcohol. Signs of an overdose related to Xanax may include the following:

  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Confusion
  • Impaired coordination
  • Impaired reflexes
  • Respiratory depression
  • Coma

Also, the chronic use or abuse of sedatives such as Xanax has been associated with cognitive deficits, psychomotor impairment, tolerance, dependence, and addiction.

The combined effects of multiple depressants compound each other and significantly increase the risk of adverse effects and overdose. For this reason, concurrent use of alcohol or other psychoactive drugs (unless directed by a doctor) is never recommended.

Xanax Tolerance and Dependence

People who use or abuse Xanax for a prolonged period may develop a tolerance to the substance. When this occurs, the body requires a higher dose or an increased frequency of use to achieve the effects once experienced when the drug was first introduced.

Continually using Xanax, especially in large amounts, can contribute to physiological dependence. When this occurs, the body becomes less able to function properly without it. Abusing Xanax increases the risk of dependence, but Xanax has this potential even when used as directed.

Users who are dependent will experience withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to discontinue use. In fact, some users may continue using Xanax primarily to avoid the onset of these unpleasant, potentially life-threatening symptoms. Due to the dangers of Xanax withdrawal, a tapering schedule or a medical detox is required to facilitate abstinence.

Xanax Effects and Symptoms | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Xanax withdrawal symptoms may include the following:

  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Sweating
  • Muscle cramps
  • Digestive problems
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

Physical dependence and tolerance are hallmark signs of addiction, but they do not fully reflect addiction in and of themselves. Addiction is characterized by an overpowering desire to obtain and consume a substance despite the adverse consequences associated with doing so. Like most benzos, Xanax has a significant potential for tolerance, dependence, and addiction when used or abused for an extended period.

Despite its many benefits, long-term Xanax use and misuse can be risky and also result in a myriad of physical, emotional, mental, and social problems. And unfortunately, people who misuse Xanax are at a heightened risk of abusing other prescription drugs and/or alcohol. Polysubstance abuse is far more dangerous than the abuse of one substance alone, and can rapidly result in unpredictable and life-threatening complications.

Treatment for Xanax Addiction

Discontinuing the use of Xanax abruptly or “cold turkey” is not recommended because this can result in life-threatening seizures and a condition similar to that experienced by alcoholics (delirium tremens) who attempt to do the same.

For this reason, most people who are dependent on Xanax undergo a tapering schedule directed by a physician or a medical detox. During a medical detox, a patient is supervised by health or addiction professionals around-the-clock for several days to ensure that life-threatening complications are prevented from occurring.

Midwood Addiction Treatment offers comprehensive treatment programs in both partial hospitalization and outpatient formats. We employ a modern, evidence-based approach to addiction treatment that includes services vital to the recovery process, such as psychotherapy, counseling, group support, health and wellness programs, and aftercare planning.

If you or someone you love is addicted to Xanax, other prescription medications, illicit drugs, or alcohol, please contact us today. Discover how we help people free themselves from the crushing jaws of addiction and begin to experience the healthy and fulfilling lives they deserve!

Xanax and Alcohol

Xanax and Alcohol | Midwood Addiction Treatment

A Deadly Combination

Both Xanax and alcohol are central nervous system (CNS) depressants, meaning that they decrease neurological activity in the body and brain. This depressant effect can result in life-threatening complications such as coma, respiratory failure, and death.

Alcoholism (or alcohol use disorder) is a condition characterized by excessive alcohol consumption despite the presence of adverse effects on one’s life and relationships. Similarly, Xanax use disorder is an addiction in which the user becomes dependent upon the anti-anxiety benzodiazepine (benzo) alprazolam.

Using alcohol in addition to Xanax dramatically increases these risks and is far more dangerous than the overuse of either substance alone. Many overdoses related to benzodiazepines also involve other drugs or alcohol and continue to be one of the leading causes of accidental death in the United States.

Long-Term Effects of Xanax and Alcohol Abuse

Those who abuse Xanax and alcohol concurrently for an extended period of time increase their risk of serious adverse effects, such as the following:

  • Mood disorders such as anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts
  • Accidents and injuries
  • Aggression
  • Interpersonal problems
  • Poor school or work performance
  • Legal problems such as drinking and driving events
  • Memory loss
  • Shallow breathing
  • Anoxic brain injury due to repeated episodes of respiratory arrest
  • Chronically low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Liver cancer and/or cirrhosis
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Cardiomyopathy (heart disease)
  • Arrhythmia (irregular heart rate)
  • Stroke
  • Cancers of the mouth, throat, and breast
  • Pancreatitis

Xanax Dependency


Xanax is indicated to treat health conditions such as anxiety, panic disorder, and insomnia. Due to its high potential for addiction, however, it is frequently abused. In fact, the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) reported that in 2011, nearly 1 in 10 of all emergency department visits involving pharmaceutical abuse included the use of Xanax.

Xanax can be very dangerous when taken in large/frequent doses or in conjunction with alcohol or other drugs. When combined with alcohol, even a small dose can be life-threatening. Persons who become dependent on Xanax and other benzodiazepines exhibit symptoms which may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Light-headedness and vertigo
  • Sleeping for extended periods of time
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Sluggishness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Delirium
  • Slurred speech
  • Seizures
  • Impaired motor skills
    Profound weakness
Tolerance and Dependency
The development of tolerance and dependency also characterizes Xanax dependency. Tolerance occurs when the user is forced to use increasing amounts of the drug in order to achieve the desired effects.

Dependency occurs when the brain becomes accustomed to the drug’s presence and can no longer function normally without it. At this stage, withdrawal symptoms manifest when the user tries to quit or cut back.

Xanax withdrawal symptoms can develop within a few hours of the last dose, and tend to peak in severity within 1-4 days. Symptoms of Xanax withdrawal include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Muscle aches and pain
  • Tremors and nervousness
  • Diarrhea
  • Numbness
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia and sleep disturbances
  • Heart palpitations and rapid heartbeat
  • Excessive sweating
  • Anxiety and panic
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures
Xanax Addiction
Those who do not seek treatment for Xanax addiction risk serious injury and illness due to drug-related causes. Xanax use can result in heavy sedation that can result in fainting spells and is especially dangerous when operating a motor vehicle or machinery.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2014, Xanax or alprazolam was the fourth most-commonly involved drug among fatal overdoses, found in the systems of more than 4,200 descendants.

Signs/symptoms of severe CNS depression and overdose include the following:

  • Memory problems
  • Shallow, labored breathing
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Faint heartbeat
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Impaired coordination
  • Loss of consciousness/responsiveness
  • Coma
  • Respiratory arrest

Getting the Right Treatment

Treatment for Xanax addiction may involve a taper down method as directed by a physician to reduce cravings and symptoms of withdrawal.

Severe addictions often require a medical detox and extended participation in inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment as well as long-term aftercare. Treatment, at a minimum, should consist of several weeks of behavioral therapy, individual and group therapy, and individual and family counseling.

Signs and Symptoms Throughout the Stages of Alcohol Addiction

Alcoholism is a lifelong, complex condition and those who do not receive treatment continue to suffer consequences that tend to worsen over time. Chronic alcohol abusers increase their risk of serious illness and death due to alcohol-related causes.

According to the CDC, excessive alcohol use resulted in approximately 88,000 fatalities and 2.5 million years of potential life lost every year between 2006–2010 in the United States, shortening the lives of those affected by an average of 30 years.

Alcoholism results in many of the same mental/physical side effects and withdrawal and overdose symptoms as Xanax addiction. And as noted, combining the two substances can lead to effects that are both compounded and unpredictable.

The Early Stage

The early stage of alcoholism begins with experimentation. Most people first try alcohol in their teens or early adult years. In fact, according to the
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIDA), nearly two-thirds (60%) of teens have consumed alcohol by age 18.

Experimentation often tends to be sporadic, with drinking occasionally occurring at parties, sporting events, or concerts. Some young people, however, move quickly from initial use into regular consumption that can result in negative consequences. Others may never leave this phase, and either continue to drink infrequently or not at all.

The Middle Stage

The middle stage occurs when alcohol use progresses into binge drinking (more than five drinks in one sitting) or daily drinking. Problems begin to happen on a regular basis and may involve legal issues such as drinking and driving or work/school obligations missed due to being intoxicated or hungover. Interpersonal relationships with family and friends may also begin to suffer.

The middle phase is sometimes referring to as high-functioning alcoholism. Moreover, the person is drinking excessively but still manages to function reasonably well in daily life despite some problems that manifest.

But during this phase, however, tolerance can start to develop and drinking patterns may continue to escalate. At this point, some people will attempt to quit or cut back. Some succeed, but those who do not become at risk for long-term mental/physical health issues and other adversities related to alcoholism.

The Late Stage

The late stage of alcoholism occurs when dependency develops, and withdrawal symptoms manifest when the user stops drinking abruptly. He or she has now developed a high tolerance, and increasing amounts of alcohol are needed to achieve a “buzz.” The brain has, at this point, essentially been hijacked by alcohol and can’t function properly without it.

Alcoholics at this stage almost always require intense, professional intervention to recover and maintain long-term sobriety. Those who do choose to seek treatment have the opportunity to undergo a medical detox and engage in either inpatient or outpatient therapy, counseling, and other activities that promote healthy behaviors and decision-making.

Engaging in the combined use of alcohol and Xanax use greatly increases both the short- and long-term risks associated with either substance, as well as the possibility of serious injury, illness, or death.


Getting More Information
We provide a comprehensive, holistic method to treatment, encompassing a wide array of different evidence-based practices in combination. All of Midwood Addiction Treatment’s primary therapists are either licensed or master’s level clinicians; our programs are structured with various components of evidence-based treatment practices and holistic approaches to treatment that provide our patients with the knowledge and tools they need to be successful in their recovery.

If you or your loved one is suffering from substance abuse, please seek help as soon as possible.

Call us now to learn about our treatment options.