Can You Develop A Tolerance To Xanax (Alprazolam)?

It is easy to develop a tolerance to Xanax, a benzodiazepine. This prescription medication is generally prescribed to treat anxiety, panic disorders, and sleep disorders. With misuse, a person can develop tolerance, which may contribute to addiction.

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Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


Yes, you can develop a tolerance to Xanax and, more specifically, to alprazolam — its active ingredient.

If your body develops a tolerance to Xanax, you won’t experience the same effects from the medication as before.

In some cases, you may even notice that the symptoms you are trying to treat can resurface, leading to cravings for an increased dosage. This can result in a Xanax addiction.

How Fast Do You Build A Benzo Tolerance?

Tolerance to any kind of prescription drug is usually inevitable, and the same is the case for benzodiazepines.

However, tolerance develops at completely relative rates, meaning that it is different for each person.

For some persons, tolerance may develop quickly — and for others, it may take some time.

Among many other factors, genetics and other behavioral elements can have an effect on the development of the central nervous system’s (CNS) tolerance to the drug.

What Causes A Xanax Tolerance?

Xanax tolerance is usually caused by consistent use or abuse of the drug.

The severity of the anxiety disorder or whichever other disorder Xanax is being used to treat also plays a role in the development of an alprazolam tolerance.

However, it is important to note the distinction between dependence and tolerance to any particular drug.

When taking medication, certain neurotransmitters are operated on. The more an addictive medication is used, the less effective it becomes. The effect of the medication is then felt at increasingly lowered levels.

Dependence occurs when the body gets used to the presence of any given medication or substance, so cessation of the drug results in withdrawal symptoms and other unpleasant side effects.

Changes To Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid Receptors

Xanax belongs to a family of chemicals which are designed to interact with the CNS.

Specifically, alprazolam binds to the benzodiazepine receptors in the brain, regulating sleep, memory, motor coordination, and other processes. These are called BNZ1 and BNZ2 receptors.

These two receptors are bound to the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors — and when both are bound together, GABA activity is increased.

GABA is an inhibitory transmitter, meaning that it excites neuron activity and decreases the signals emitted by the nerve endings in the brain.

By enhancing GABA activity, Xanax produces sedative effects that reduce anxiety and muscle tremors but can also result in short-term drowsiness.

Taking Xanax Recreationally

People who take Xanax recreationally are susceptible to developing dependence and potential addiction to the antidepressant.

Additionally, benzodiazepine abuse can inflame the symptoms of certain mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.

While many people use benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam and diazepam, as legitimate anticonvulsants, the use of Xanax without a prescription can lead to drug addiction.

This is because people use Xanax to achieve its sedative and calming effects, as opposed to the aggressive euphoric feeling that many other drugs give.

This can increase the risk of Xanax addiction.

Symptoms Of A Xanax Tolerance

Drug tolerance can be difficult to notice when it is not an illicit substance, but a prescription medication that is in question.

However, if long-term use results in feeling as if you need higher doses of the drug to achieve the desired effect, this can be a sign of tolerance.

Xanax tolerance symptoms can include:

  • being indifferent to the effects of Xanax
  • feeling as if the effects wear off too quickly
  • having symptoms return even after taking a dose of Xanax
  • craving Xanax in between doses

Risks Of Xanax Tolerance

There are a number of potentially life-threatening risks associated with Xanax tolerance, including mental and physical dependence, addiction, benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms, and more.

Physical Dependence

The body can become so acclimated to Xanax use to manage anxiety and sleep problems that it can experience Xanax withdrawal if the medication is not frequently ingested.

This is known as a physical dependence on the medication, and is characterized by the rewiring cycle of the CNS.

Mixing Xanax With Other Substances

Mixing a depressant with any other substance can be very dangerous. Alprazolam use alongside other medications can also create a cross-dependency and cross-tolerance.

This co-occurring acclimation to multiple drugs can speed up the development of tolerance and increase the risk of developing an addiction.

Mixing benzodiazepines like Valium and Xanax with alcohol or opioids can lead to addiction, as the euphoric effects of such substance combinations can increase as a result of co-exposure.

Changing Method Of Administration

Changing how you ingest any type of medication can be potentially dangerous as the body attempts to abruptly adjust to the new method of ingestion.

For instance, taking a consistent Xanax dose in pill form, then switching to injecting Xanax, will have very different effects on the CNS.

How Long Does A Xanax Tolerance Last?

Tolerance lasts and continues to build as you use the medication. However, taking a break from the prescription can reduce tolerance levels in the CNS.

The half-life of Xanax is roughly two days, so taking a short break can rebalance your tolerance.

Treatment Programs For Xanax Addiction

There are a number of treatment options for Xanax addiction that are available at most drug and alcohol rehab centers.

Addiction treatment programs available at rehab centers include:

  • behavioral therapy
  • detox
  • outpatient and inpatient treatment
  • psychiatry services
  • counseling and therapy programs
  • residential treatment options

Find Drug Rehab Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

If you or a loved one is in search of recovery services from an accredited rehab center, give our helpline a call today to discuss the proven-effective treatment programs at Bedrock Recovery Center.

  1. Food and Drug Administration (FDA),premedication%20before%20some%20medical%20procedures.
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA),addition%20to%20impairing%20cognitive%20functions.

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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