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Page medically reviewed by Dr Paul McLaren (MBBS, FRCPsych, MA, BA, MSc), Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory Hospital Hayes Grove

Xanax is a brand name for alprazolam. It is a tranquiliser designed to calm or relieve tension that can be prescribed to treat anxiety disorders, panic disorders and anxiety caused by depression. Xanax is a controlled drug, meaning that it is illegal to take without a prescription from a medical doctor.

A growing number of people are making the decision to buy Xanax online and through street dealers in order to relieve stress, reduce their inhibitions, 'get high' and self-medicate their anxiety, often resulting in a Xanax addiction. It is important for people to be aware of the dangers of Xanax abuse, and understand the short and long term repercussions that misusing the drug can have.

The dangers of Xanax misuse

Buying Xanax from illicit sources

When someone chooses to buy Xanax online or from a street dealer, the drug is unlikely to be pharmaceutical grade and the dangers of Xanax become more significant. These counterfeits can contain potentially dangerous substances and higher, more lethal strengths of alprazolam, which can lead to an overdose or even death.

This unpredictability can make counterfeit Xanax very dangerous to take, as a person is completely unaware of the strength or potential effects of taking the drug.

Taking pharmaceutical grade Xanax without a prescription

If a person is sourcing pharmaceutical grade Xanax, but is taking it without a prescription, this can also leave them open to a number of physical and psychological side effects.

When determining the correct medication for a patient, a doctor will assess their mental and psychical health to provide them with access to safe and effective treatment. When using Xanax without this medical consultation, a person puts themselves at risk of experiencing health complications as well as developing a dependency.

Combining Xanax with other substances

Mixing Xanax with other substances can lead to extreme drowsiness, weakness and clumsiness, increasing the risk of dangerous accidents and falls.  

If Xanax is combined with other substances that also depress the central nervous system, and affect cardiac and respiratory activities, it can also increase the risk of breathing difficulties, loss of consciousness and unintentional death.

Becoming dependent on Xanax

People misusing the highly addictive Xanax may find that they have to start taking higher doses of the drug at more regular intervals as they build up a tolerance.

Continued use can then lead to a person becoming physically and psychologically dependent on the drug, and developing a harmful Xanax addiction.

The dangers of Xanax addiction

The effects of Xanax addiction

When a person has an addiction, it can have a damaging effect on their health and quality of life, while also impacting on the lives of those closest to them.

Relationships with family and friends can start to fracture and break down as the person addicted to Xanax spends their time getting, taking and recovering from the drug. The addiction can also cause a person and those closest to them to face financial hardships, as the misuse can lead to the individual losing their job but still requiring money.

Long-term use of Xanax also comes with health dangers such as depression, psychotic episodes, aggression and hallucinations. When a person has a tolerance to Xanax and takes more of the drug to feel the effects or prevent withdrawal, these higher doses can leave the person more at risk of overdoses and accidental death.

Getting treatment for Xanax abuse and addiction

If you are worried about your own or someone else’s Xanax use, it is important to seek treatment.

The first step on any recovery journey should be to get professional help. At Priory, we have a network of hospitals and wellbeing centres that can provide comprehensive and bespoke treatment. Following a free initial addictions assessment, where we talk to a person about their Xanax use and the impact that it is having on their life, we can then determine the best course of action, which can include the following:

  • A medically managed withdrawal to help rid the body of the drug in safe and discreet environment
  • A residential treatment programme, where a person can learn about the triggers for their addictive behaviours and become aware of strategies to help with life in recovery
  • Day care and outpatient treatment that is flexible according to a person’s commitments
  • Free aftercare for a year (or a lifetime when attending Priory Hospital Roehampton)
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