A man zonked out on Xanax, possibly addicted?

Can You Be Addicted to Xanax for Sleep?

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Learn More about Xanax and If It’s Possible to Get Addicted to It.

Doctors prescribe Xanax (the brand name for alprazolam) as a short-term treatment for anxiety and panic disorders. But taking Xanax long-term or at higher doses can cause harm and could lead to addiction. Because it has a calming effect, people may begin to use it to fight insomnia. But there are better solutions for getting a good night’s sleep that is not habit-forming. Learn how this drug impacts the central nervous system and why you should be cautious while using it. Uncover alternative remedies for insomnia, and learn which symptoms may indicate that you’re addicted to Xanax for sleep.

What Kind of Drug Is Xanax and What Happens When you Take it?

Xanax is included in a class of Benzodiazepines, often referred to as “benzos.” These mimic receptors that increase the brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA slows down the activity of neurons, resulting in a relaxing, calming effect. Xanax is available in tablets, taken by mouth as 0.25, 0.5, 1, and 2 milligrams.

Xanax is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, and you can feel its effects within an hour.[1]  Those who have a Xanax prescription for a panic disorder know how effective it is for inducing relaxation. They may decide to take it before bed if they’re having a problem falling asleep. But the reason Xanax (and the other benzos) are prescribed short-term is because they can be habit-forming.

They are especially addictive if they’re taken in higher doses than prescribed or used over a long period of time. Your brain develops a tolerance to the drug, and you’ll require more of it to feel the same effects you experienced when you first began using it. 

Can You be Addicted to Xanax for Sleep? What are the Signs?

Dr. John Mendelson, an expert in addiction and clinical psychopharmacology, warns that tolerance to Xanax can build up within a week or two if you take it every night. You may become dependent on the drug to fall asleep, and you could develop withdrawal symptoms if you stop. Ironically, one of the withdrawal symptoms is insomnia, which may lead you to take even more of the drug and eventually become addicted to it.

Some of the warning signs that you may be addicted to Xanax for sleep include:

  • You need to take more of the drug to achieve the kind of effect it gave you when you first started taking it.
  • You take it for a longer period of time than was originally intended.
  • You’re experiencing withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, irritability, aches and pains, headaches, sensitivity to light and sound, blurred vision, nausea, shakiness, nightmares, paranoia, or suicidal thoughts.
  • You always need to have a supply of the drug and feel panicky if you begin to run out.
  • Engage in risky or dangerous behaviors to get a bigger supply of the drug.
  • You feel such an urge to use it that you can’t focus on anything else.
  • Much of your time is spent trying to get the drug or recover from side effects/withdrawal symptoms.
  • You use it even though it’s leading to health problems and other difficulties managing your life.
  • Participation in high-risk behaviors while using the drug, such as driving or having unprotected sex.
  • You try to stop using it but can’t.

Safer Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

It is safe to take Xanax once in a while. But if you’re regularly having trouble falling asleep, you may want to try safer alternative methods for curing your insomnia.

There are other medications prescribed specifically for insomnia that will not lead to tolerance or cause side-effects. But even an OTC medication like diphenhydramine (the active ingredient in Benadryl) may be safe to use for occasional sleeplessness. Natural remedies include yoga, and meditation, may provide good results. Some people find that drinking green tea or using CBD products helps them to relax.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) may lead you to discover the source of your sleeping issues and help you to change thoughts and behaviors that were thwarting your efforts to relax. You can also try to establish a bedtime routine, avoid caffeine or alcohol products too close to bedtime, and get more exercise daily.

Help for People who are Addicted to Xanax for Sleep

If you recognize yourself in any of the above warning signs for Xanax addiction, help is available. Ocean Hills Recovery treats individuals to address their unique experiences with drug misuse and abuse. We’ll help you to identify the underlying reasons that led you to become addicted to Xanax. Our staff can teach you important tools to help you manage and cope once you’ve conquered your physical addiction. Please get in touch with us if you’re struggling, and we can work together to find a rehab program that will work best for you.



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