Xanax is one of the most popular Benzodiazepine drugs in America, with over 50 million prescriptions written in 2013 alone. Originally developed as a replacement for barbiturates, Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.
Xanax works by slowing activity in the central nervous system to produce a calming effect. While effective for many, it can be highly addictive and lead to dependence if misused or over time. Tolerance can build quickly, requiring more frequent doses to achieve the same results.
If you’ve been on Xanax for a while, you’ve probably noticed your regular dose just isn’t cutting it anymore. You may need to take an extra pill here and there or have switched to a higher dosage. This is known as tolerance, and it’s one of the biggest risks of long-term Xanax use.
What Is Xanax Tolerance and How Does It Develop?
You’ve been taking Xanax for a while now and notice it’s not working as well as it used to. That’s tolerance, and it’s very common with benzodiazepines like Xanax. Your body adapts to the effects of the drug, so you need higher and higher doses to feel relief from anxiety and stress.
Tolerance to Xanax builds up quickly. Within a few weeks of use, you may find that your usual dose isn’t cutting it anymore. You take an extra pill here and there to take the edge off. Before you know it, you’re taking the drug at doses much higher than your doctor prescribed.
Xanax works by increasing GABA, a calming neurotransmitter in your brain. But as tolerance develops, your brain makes less GABA and becomes less responsive to its effects. So, Xanax stops working, even for legitimate medical needs. Your anxiety, panic, and insomnia creep back in until you pop another pill.
Signs You May Have Developed a Tolerance to Xanax
Tolerance to Xanax can develop over time, even when taken as prescribed. Some signs you may have built up a tolerance include:
- Xanax no longer reduces your anxiety or promotes a sense of calm the way it used to. The effects seem to wear off faster, and you must take more pills to achieve the same results.
- You experience cravings or withdrawal symptoms like increased anxiety, irritability, and restlessness between doses or even when taking your normal amount. This can make it feel like you need higher doses more often.
- You find yourself changing how you take Xanax to get it into your system quicker, such as chewing or crushing the tablets and injecting, snorting, or smoking the powder. These methods are extremely dangerous and can lead to overdose or addiction.
- Your normal dose of Xanax no longer controls your anxiety symptoms. You might need to take higher amounts to relieve feelings of worry, panic, and unease. This is a sign your body has adapted to the drug and needs more of it to function properly.
- It takes longer for the effects of Xanax to kick in when you take it. What used to start working within 30-60 minutes now takes 2 hours or more. This indicates your body is becoming less sensitive to the drug.
Talk to your doctor immediately if you notice these signs in yourself or a loved one. They may switch you to a different medication or adjust your treatment plan to avoid dependence and ensure maximum benefit from anxiety treatment. Tolerance is often a stepping stone to addiction, so close monitoring and intervention is key.
Dangers of Xanax Tolerance
As your body builds up a tolerance to Xanax, the dangers increase significantly. It’s important to be aware of these risks and take steps to prevent dependence or addiction.
- Addiction: As your body adapts to the effects of Xanax, you may find yourself needing to take higher doses to get the same results, a sign that addiction and dependence are developing. This can lead to harmful behaviors like compulsively seeking out the drug or doctor shopping to get multiple prescriptions. Addiction to Xanax can have devastating consequences on relationships, work or school performance, and health.
- Overdose: A Xanax overdose can be life-threatening, especially when combined with other drugs or alcohol. An overdose may cause extreme drowsiness, confusion, impaired coordination, dangerously slowed breathing, coma, and even death. Seek immediate medical help if you experience these symptoms in yourself or someone else after taking Xanax.
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How to Deal With A Xanax Tolerance
When you’ve built up a tolerance to Xanax, it’s time to make some changes. The medication is no longer working as intended, and continuing to increase your dose is dangerous.
The best approach is to switch to a longer-acting benzodiazepine, like Klonopin, Valium, or Librium. These medications stay in your system longer to get by on a lower dose. Your doctor can create a tapering schedule to slowly transition you to the new medication while lowering your Xanax dose. This helps avoid withdrawal symptoms, which can be severe if Xanax is stopped abruptly.
You should also look at alternative treatments to manage your anxiety or insomnia. Counseling or therapy, relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga, and lifestyle changes can all help. The more tools you have to promote health and well-being, the less you’ll rely on medications alone.
When it’s time to stop Xanax completely, do it under medical supervision. Quitting “cold turkey” is dangerous and can lead to life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Your doctor will gradually reduce your dose over weeks or months to allow your body and brain to adjust slowly. They may switch you to longer-acting benzo initially, then taper that dose.
Read more: What Is MAT And How Does It Work?
Seeking Help for Xanax Tolerance Or Addiction
The longer you use Xanax, the more your body adapts to it and builds tolerance. This means the effects feel less strong over time, and you need higher or more frequent doses to get the same results. Building up a tolerance to Xanax is dangerous and can lead to addiction.
If you’ve built up a tolerance to Xanax and want to stop using it, the best way is to seek help from medical professionals. Quitting Xanax after long-term use can lead to withdrawal symptoms, so having medical guidance and support will increase your chances of a successful detox.
The most important first step is accepting you need help to break free from Xanax dependence or addiction. Overcoming an addiction or dependency to Xanax isn’t easy, but people do it daily. Contact Launch Centers today for help finding a Xanax addiction treatment program that works for you.