For those who are not aware, the number of people taking benzodiazepines has been on the rise for the last few years. And this is especially true when it comes to Xanax. According to an article published by Medical News Today, Xanax, like valium and other benzodiazepine medications, is commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, epilepsy, and even alcohol dependence. Because of its proven track record in resolving these various health problems, more physicians across America have been prescribing Xanax to their patients. For context, the prescribing rate for Xanax has increased by more than 9 percent since 2008, even in the face of increased addiction rates and emergency room visits. To put this into perspective, Xanax addiction and abuse contributed to 67,483 hospital emergency room visits in America between 2005 and 2010. And even in 2020, overdoses resulting from Xanax addiction and abuse continue to keep hospital emergency rooms across America busy.

Why Are So Many People Becoming Addicted to Xanax?

Ironically, the same things that make Xanax effective in resolving insomnia, anxiety, and the like are the very things that make it highly addictive, according to most pharmacologists. Studies show that Xanax has a profound impact on both the brain and central nervous system (CNS) in that it triggers a boost in a brain chemical known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). For those not familiar with this brain chemical, GABA is a naturally-occurring amino acid that serves as a neurotransmitter in the brain. When individuals take Xanax as prescribed, the medication is said to slow down the brain’s nerve cell activity, which leads to feelings of calmness and relaxation. These actions make Xanax effective in resolving anxiety and insomnia and also explains why it is a go-to treatment to combat epilepsy and alcohol dependence. However, many people enjoy the seemingly euphoric high associated with Xanax and will take more of the medication than prescribed, which invariably leads to addiction.

What Happens When Individuals Suddenly Stop Taking Xanax?

Because of how Xanax interacts with the brain and central nervous system, most physicians will warn patients against the abrupt cessation of the drug as it can trigger a variety of unpleasant symptoms, some of which include the following:

  • Muscle pain
  • Blurry vision
  • Increased insomnia
  • Increased feelings of anxiety
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Profuse sweating
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Tremors

It is also worth noting that the onset of these symptoms can occur within a matter of hours after an individual takes their final dose of Xanax and can reach peak severity in as little as 1 to 4 days, according to most addiction specialists. To prevent these symptoms from occurring or, at the very least, minimize their severity, many physicians will encourage individuals to slowly wean themselves off of Xanax rather than quitting it abruptly.  Also, for those who are addicted to Xanax and want to break the cycle of addiction once and for all, slowly tapering off of the medication can reduce the risk of suffering a relapse.

Bottom Line

In summary, Xanax is an excellent medication for those struggling with insomnia and certain mental health disorders; however, to prevent addiction, it is important for individuals to take the medication as prescribed by a licensed physician.