If you are in an immediate emergency, call 911. If you are looking for more information on substance abuse treatment and it is not a medical emergency, call our 24/7 Xanax Helpline at 844-897-9118.

Benzodiazepines like Xanax (alprazolam) have many medical uses, but they can easily lead to abuse, dependence and addiction. More than 20 million Xanax prescriptions were written in the U.S. in 2018, making the drug one of the most prescribed anxiety medications in the country. However, one study found that over 17% of people with benzodiazepine prescriptions misuse them.

Given the sheer number of prescriptions and the high rate of benzo misuse, it is no surprise that Xanax addiction is a serious problem for many people. Fortunately, help is available through professional addiction treatment programs.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax is a benzodiazepine, a type of drug that interacts with GABA receptors in the brain. GABA receptors create a feeling of relaxation when stimulated, which plays an important role in calming the body. Xanax is often used to treat anxiety by acting on GABA receptors and causing relaxation. 

Street Names for Xanax

Xanax is a potentially addictive substance that can only be legally sold to people who have a prescription. Someone who is addicted to Xanax but unable to purchase it legally may turn to illicit methods of acquiring the drug.

As a street drug, Xanax has many street names used by those who sell or use it illegally. These names include:

  • Bars
  • Benzos
  • Blue Footballs
  • Bricks
  • Upjohn
  • Zanbars
  • Z-Bars

Xanax Dosages

Xanax comes in several different forms and doses that are prescribed based on the needs of the individual and how they are able to take medications. 

Xanax can come as a solid tablet or an orally disintegrating tablet, with doses that range from 0.25 mg to 2 mg. The drug may also come in an extended-release form, where the drug slowly releases over several hours instead of being immediately absorbed. Extended-release doses range between 0.5 mg and 3 mg. Xanax can also come as a solution that contains 5 mg per teaspoon.

What Does Xanax Look Like?

Xanax can have many different appearances. One tablet may vary from another based on: 

  • The dosage
  • Whether it is immediate-release or extended-release
  • Who the manufacturer of the pill is

Because Xanax manufacturers and the types of pills used can change, it is best to look up specific pills using a pill identifier to determine if they are Xanax. It’s also important to note that taking a drug you are uncertain of can be incredibly dangerous. Those who sell drugs illicitly can use readily available references to make a substance look like Xanax. If you are not purchasing medication from a pharmacy, there is always a risk that you may be taking something more dangerous than Xanax.

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System? 

Xanax has a half-life of 11.2 hours, meaning it takes 11.2 hours for the amount of Xanax in an average person’s bloodstream to be reduced by half. Two half-lives (22.4 hours) would reduce the Xanax amount to 25% of the initial dose. It takes multiple half-lives to bring the amount of Xanax down to a negligible level.

The half-life of Xanax will be different for everyone based on individual factors like: 

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Weight
  • Health
  • Other medications used

It’s important to note that extended-release Xanax will slowly raise the levels of Xanax in your bloodstream for several hours, making it remain in your system longer.

While a single dose of Xanax will stop affecting you within several hours, it can be detectable in urine for several days and detected in hair for up to 90 days.

Xanax Addiction

While Xanax is used for many medical purposes, it can also be misused. Xanax causes chemicals called endorphins to be released in the brain. Endorphins are used by the brain as a reward to reinforce beneficial behaviors. When endorphins are artificially released by using a chemical, it can lead to changes in the brain that encourage you to continue the behaviors that released the endorphins. This is how a Xanax addiction develops.

Xanax addiction is potentially dangerous because the drug can cause a fatal overdose when too much is used. Excessive Xanax use can cause a person’s body to relax so much that the person stops breathing adequately, leading to a fatal overdose.

While there are dangers to using Xanax, the drug can also lead to dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Many recreational drugs cause unpleasant withdrawal effects, but Xanax withdrawal can actually lead to seizures because it reduces the brain’s ability to suppress them. Seizures can be fatal in some cases or lead to brain damage, making Xanax addiction particularly dangerous.

Xanax Addiction Symptoms

Xanax addiction symptoms can involve general signs of addiction as well as symptoms specific to Xanax use.

Signs of addiction are typically related to behavior changes and may include:

  • Thinking or obsessing about Xanax constantly
  • Declining performance at work, home or school
  • Changing appetite or sleep patterns
  • Unexplained behavioral changes
  • Neglect of appearance, hygiene or responsibilities
  • Secretive or dishonest behaviors
  • New legal or financial problems

Symptoms of Xanax use itself can include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue or excessive sleepiness
  • Sluggishness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Constricted pupils
  • Dry mouth
  • Confusion
  • Cognitive changes
  • Difficulty holding a conversation

Signs of Xanax use may also include Xanax withdrawal symptoms like irritability, flu-like symptoms and seizures.

When too much Xanax is used, a person can experience an overdose. This can result in severe fatigue and inhibit the ability to breathe correctly. If you suspect someone is overdosing on Xanax, you should immediately call 911.

Xanax and Alcohol 

The GABA receptors that Xanax acts on are also affected by alcohol, another commonly abused substance. While the effect that Xanax and alcohol have on GABA receptors differs somewhat, there are some similarities that make combining these two substances dangerous. Each can potentiate the effect of the other and slow the body’s ability to eliminate the two substances combined. This can increase the risk of overdose or other serious health problems that occur when using alcohol or Xanax.

Xanax Addiction Treatment

Xanax addiction doesn’t have to control your life, as there are many options for treatment available. A professional Xanax addiction treatment center can help you safely clear the drug from your system through a process called detox. Afterward, you can transition into a rehabilitation program that helps you learn how to live a healthier, Xanax-free life.

The Orlando Recovery Center has extensive experience in helping those with Xanax addiction achieve lasting sobriety. If you or someone you love is ready to take the next step toward recovery, contact us today to learn about treatment programs that can work well for you. 

Editor – Jonathan Strum
Jonathan Strum graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a Bachelor's in Communication in 2017 and has been writing professionally ever since. Read more
Medically Reviewed By – Benjamin Caleb Williams, RN
Benjamin Caleb Williams is a board-certified Emergency Nurse with several years of clinical experience, including supervisory roles within the ICU and ER settings. Read more

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American Psychiatric Association. “Study Finds Increasing Use, and Misuse, of Benzodiazepines.” December 17, 2018. Accessed December 9, 2021.

Olsen, Richard W.; DeLorey, Timothy M. “GABA Receptor Physiology and Pharmacology.” Basic Neurochemistry: Molecular, Cellular and Medical Aspects, 1999. Accessed December 9, 2021.

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Drugs.com. “Pill Identifier.” 2021. Accessed December 9, 2021.

Pharmacia & Upjohn Co. “XANAX.” June 2011. Accessed December 9, 2021.

Haldeman-Englert, Chad; Foley, Maryann; Turley, Raymond. “Benzodiazepines (Urine).” University of Rochester Medical Center, 2021. Accessed December 9, 2021.

O’Malley, Gerald; O’Malley, Rika. “Anxiolytics and Sedatives.” Merck Manuals, May 2020. Accessed December 9, 2021.

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.