We’ve mentioned that Xanax can block excessive electrical brain activity. It’s the secondary calming effect that is enticing to recreational users. As they escalate use, their Xanax habit moves from a choice to a necessity. Brain cell damage is to blame.
Among benzodiazepine drugs, Xanax is remarkably powerful. Since it’s designed to assist with sudden mental health issues, like panic attacks, it takes hold quickly and wears off fast.
Drugs like this are often considered “rewarding” for recreational users. When they take the substance, they can feel it working right away. When it’s gone, they want more.
Brain cells can grow accustomed to the presence of Xanax, and when they do, users need to take more of the substance to feel the same impact. Xanax manufacturers suggest that therapeutic drug doses range from 0.75 mg to 4 mg per day, and that the risk of abuse rises as the amount taken climbs.
As the body becomes immune to the impact of the drug, people might begin to take much larger doses. The amount they once took doesn’t seem to work, so they pop in more of the substance or take amounts very close together.
Researchers say it’s relatively uncommon for people to develop Xanax addictions. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says, for example, that only 0.2 percent of benzodiazepine abusers meet the criteria for abuse or addiction disorders. That’s an incredibly small number.
But people can develop an abuse habit that pairs benzodiazepines with opioid drugs, such as Vicodin or OxyContin. When used in combination, they can lead to:
In 2015 alone, says NIDA, 23 percent of people who died due to opioid overdoses also took benzodiazepines like Xanax. This isn’t a rare issue. It’s something that happens relatively frequently.