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Is Xanax an Opioid?

What is Xanax

Xanax is a type of medication that treats depression, panic disorders and anxiety. It works to balance out the chemicals in the brain to help a person feel at ease and comfortable. It belongs to the group of drugs known as benzodiazepines and it is currently the most prescribed anxiety medication that is used in the United States.

Xanax works by increasing the number of neurotransmitters in the brain and works to help a person to become more relaxed, calm and comfortable. It is completely safe when taken appropriately and can be very effective at treating the symptoms from anxiety or panic attacks. It slows down the amount of movement of your brain chemicals which could be unbalanced, which helps resolve the symptoms of tension and anxiety.

What are Opioids

Opioids are a group of drugs that are classified together because of their naturally found ingredient opium poppy plant. Some of the prescription opioids are made naturally directly from the plant and others are man-made in a lab by scientists. They are used as medications for the calming and relaxing effect that they have on the body.

Traditionally, opioids are used to treat moderate to severe pain, but some can be used for other things such as diarrhea or coughing. The relaxing feeling from the drug can make it attractive for people to use these medications for non-medical reasons. Because opioids can be very addictive, it is not advised to use them frequently due to the chance of overdose or even worse, death. In the United States, Heroin is the most dangerously used opioids and is not prescribed.

Types of Opioids

Some popular terms used to describe opioids are Oxy, Percs or Vikes.

Common prescription opioids:

  • Oxymorphone (Opana)
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin), Oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet)
  • Morphine
  • Methadone


A synthetic opioid that is used for pain relief. It is extremely potent and can be anywhere from 50-100 times stronger than morphine. It is typically used for people who are in extreme pain or have recently had surgery. It also can be used for chronic pain in people who have a life-threatening disease or cancer.


An illegal opioid and is used sharply across the United States among both men and women. It is common in most age groups and all income levels.


A man-made substance used as a medication and can cause side effects such as mild depression of the nerves within the brain and severe drowsiness. When someone suffers from an excessive activity in the brain it may cause them to suffer from anxiety, seizures or other diseases that require benzodiazepines to treat it.

Is Xanax an Opioid

Xanax belongs to a classification of drugs known as benzodiazepines. From the American Addiction Center, “Opioid painkillers and benzodiazepines are two of the most frequently abused prescription drugs in the world, although they are frequently prescribed together. Medical researchers have been concerned about this combination since the 1970s, when the trend began to surface.”

A recent report from the Drug Abuse Warning Network stated that it is extremely dangerous to combine opioid medications with benzodiazepines due to the risk of overdose which can lead to emergency medical care or death. It is common for this to happen among people who are taking too large of a dose and mixing the two in order to get “high” resulting in abuse of the drug.

Opioid Dependence

Xanax can be highly addictive if it is not used for the right reasons or if it is used long-term. A high percentage of teens (around 70%) who have become addicted to Xanax got it from a medicine cabinet in their home; likely from a family member who was taking it.

Because the tolerance to Xanax develops so quickly, people need more and more to feel the same effects of the drug. People who suffer from addiction to Xanax may take anywhere from 20 to 30 pills per day. If they decide to stop taking it, they could suffer from withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, tremors or restlessness. When withdrawal symptoms occur, there is usually a dependency problem.

Signs of Abuse

When someone becomes addicted to Xanax, they no longer are interested in things that they were before such as education, employment, family or personal relationships. Some of the signs can include:

  • Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed
  • Engaging in risky behaviors such as driving under the influence
  • Obsessing about getting Xanax and planning out how to get more
  • Legal problems that arise from using the drug
  • Inability to stop using the drug
  • Continuing to use the drug despite the negative consequences associated with it

Xanax can be abused if the following occur:

  • Taking multiple pills
  • Injecting it
  • Snorting it
  • Taking it via blotter paper
  • Taking it with other drugs or alcohol

When deciding to quit taking Xanax it’s important to slowly taper the amount that you are taking and avoid stopping cold turkey. The severity of withdrawal symptoms will differ from person to person but can be described as a barbiturate or alcohol withdrawal. If severe enough and convulsions happen, then the withdrawal from Xanax could be deadly.

Detox is the Foundation for Recovery

One person’s treatment plan will look different from another person’s because each plan is individualized. When your plans are developed, both you and your case manager will sign them in agreement. A copy will go into your chart and you will be offered a copy to keep. You may also work with a therapist to develop plans for you and your family.

Those who struggle with addiction will find that the detox process can be difficult and can be accompanied by potentially serious withdrawal symptoms such as aches, fever, nausea, and fatigue. Because detox leaves the body and mind vulnerable, it also raises the risk of overdose, which can sometimes prove fatal. This is why home-based detox is not recommended; instead, those with addiction are encouraged to pursue medically supervised detox through Experience Recovery.

We use science-based, clinically proven models that provide a safe, expedient, and fully effective detox process, preparing the client for ongoing treatment and recovery.

Get Help Today!

If you or a loved one needs help getting sober, Experience Recovery can help. Our admissions line is open 24/7.

Get Help Today

If you or a loved one needs help getting sober, Experience Recovery can help. Our admissions line is open 24/7.

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