top of page
  • Writer's pictureThe Paladins

Do not self-treat drug addiction with Xanax

Xanax, a US manufacturer's name for the benzodiazapene anxiolytic psychiatric medicine with the generic name alprazolam, has a distinctive ellipsoid form to its tablets (see the picture above). In its most common form it is sold in 0.5mg tablets, which are traditionally pink.

Xanax has been banned or blacklisted in most countries in Europe, Switzerland and Serbia being two exceptions, not because it is a bad pharmaceutical medicine (on the contrary, it is an excellent one) but by reason of the danger of abuse through self-administration by drug addicts. In other words, drug addicts either (a) go to see doctors or psychiatrists faking psychiatric symptoms that are treatable with Xanax in order to obtain Xanax prescriptions to self-treat their concealed drug addictions; (b) steal the medications legitimately belonging to others by virtue of doctor:s prescription (this has happened to this author); or (c) bribe corrupt pharmacists to obtain the medication illegally. In all cases they do this to self-treat drug addictions, mostly recreational narcotics in the stimulants category. The problems with treating drug addictions in this way are that (a) alprazolam may not be the most effective treatment; and (b) self-treating with Xanax without medical supervision may result in increased consumption both of the recreational narcotic and of the medication, and increased addiction to both.

First let us set out what Xanax is a good psychiatric medicine for. As a medium onset benzodiazepene, it can be used to treat the following conditions amongst others:

  1. Generalized anxiety disorder

  2. Panic attacks

  3. Insomnia (particularly of the kind in which the problem is getting to sleep, rather than staying asleep - an atypical anti-psychotic may be preferable for the latter)

  4. Depression (Xanax has an anti-depressive effect in many patients that nobody quite understands)

  5. Irrational fear and paranoia

  6. Hypertension caused by stress

  7. Some forms of Bipolar II Disorder (particularly those associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Xanax has an onset of between 30 minutes and one hour and tends to last two to four hours depending on dosage and patient. The appropriate level of the dosage depends upon the weight of the patient and the nature of condition it is being used to treat. For a smaller person with occasional panic attacks, 0.25mg no more than twice a day may be appropriate. For a person of 100kg using the medication as a soporific, 2mg per evening may be appropriate. These are the typical dosage level ranges for Xanax.

Xanax is physically addictive and the patient becomes physically addicted after two to four weeks of constant usage. Physical addiction entails that if the medicine is suddenly withdrawn, the patient will likely suffer one or more of the following side effects:

  1. Arbitrary panic attacks

  2. Insomnia

  3. Shivering throughout the body

  4. Irrational weeping

  5. Loss of concentration

  6. Palpitations

  7. Quivering of the lip

  8. Sexual dysfunction (loss of erection / moistness)

Xanax withdrawal side effects are extremely unpleasant and in some cases have been fatal. That is why one should never take Xanax other than under medical supervision and with significant personal knowledge of the medication's effects. The way to withdraw from Xanax (and some people take it all their lives) is to taper down gradually the dosage; and there are different theories about the most effective forms of tapering (linear versus non-linear). possibly tapering up with a replacement (such as less potent benzodiazepene like diazepam). If you are a recreational drug addict, illicitly acquiring Xanax to self-treat your addiction to recreational stimulants, then you will not know how to taper Xanax dosages and other substitutes up and down and therefore you will not be able to stop taking Xanax and therefore if you suddenly find a shortage of it then you will experience some extremely painful and unpleasant physical side-effects upon withdrawal and your life may even be at risk.

Having made these observations, we would like now to observe that Xanax can be used as a treatment for drug addictions, specifically for stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamine. Xanax can also be used as a 'kill switch' for certain other sorts of psychoactive narcotics, in particular euphorics and hallucinogenics. But the effect Xanax has in each case of recreational narcotic overdose is different. It is not a general drug for all drug addictions and its effects in each case are different. We now explain a few of the effects of Xanax upon a person with a recreational narcotic high in more detail.

  1. MDMA (a euphoric). 1-2mg of Xanax is generally a 'kill switch' for any MDMA consumption. The person will stop feeling high within 15 to 30 minutes. So if a 'trip' goes bad, this is how to stop it immediately. The patient may well then fall asleep, and wake up feeling fine.

  2. Amphetamine (a stimulant). Xanax will calm the patient who is feeling unduly nervous, again within 15-30 minutes; but it will not knock them out or prevent the amphetamine from continuing to have an underlying effect. You may find a patient who, having calmed themselves from a panic attack using Xanax, goes on to consume more amphetamine. Obviously this sort of cycle is extremely bad for a person's neurological chemical balance.

  3. Cocaine (a stimulant). Because cocaine can be extremely addictive, Xanax may be effective in serving as a 'kill switch' for a new user but may be wholly ineffective for a sustained user. It may take 5mg or more for Xanax to serve as a sedative for a habituated cocaine user. So the patient finds they are addicted to two substances: cocaine to get them up; and very substantial quantities of Xanax to get them down. An atypical anti-psychotic may be a better treatment, without or without Xanax, to treat heavy cocaine addiction. A totally clean result can actually be achieved within 48-72 hours even for heavy cocaine addiction. But it involves a lot of trial and error in experimenting with different medications suitable to the specific patient. An addict can't do it on their own; they need to be supervised by a qualified medical practitioner. Moreover Xanax should not be used to 'manage' a cocaine addiction or both addictions will just get worse. It should only be used to stop it.

  4. Depressants (marijuana, heroin): Xanax is not an appropriate treatment save insofar as it is a replacement for anxiety attacks occurring without recreational narcotics and for which recreational narcotics are a form of self-treatment. Again this requires medical supervision.

  5. Alcohol. If the digestive tract is inclining towards reverse peristalsis, Xanax is not indicated as it may retard the process of reverse peristalsis and thus inhibit the body's natural mechanism for expulsion of the excess toxin. In lower quantities of intoxication Xanax may help calm a panic attack induced by alcohol intoxication.

  6. 'Designer drugs' (by which we mean various industrial chemicals posing as recreational narcotics and being potentially very harmful indeed upon human ingestion). It is impossible to issue a universal prescription for all such substances, as each one is different and should you consume one with substantial adverse effects, you will need to look up the antidote in a textbook. However we just observe in passing that Xanax may serve as a 'kill switch' for a number of such substances such as '2CP' (a powerful, long-acting hallucinogen) bringing the patient immediately down to ground. But you should not try to use of Xanax in this way unless you are an expert. And you are not an expert if you are just a casual drug user.

Hence while we recognise that Xanax may be a suitable treatment for overdoses of or addictions to a number of recreational narcotics, that treatment needs to be supervised by a medical professional with expertise in drug addiction. Otherwise all that is going to happen is that the Xanax will alleviate some of the more intense effects of a recreational narcotic, potentially leaning the self-administrating patient towards still greater doses of the narcotic in order to stimulate the original effect; and creating a physical addiction towards Xanax, that can be even more acute than the drug addiction it is intended to treat. In other words the self-administrating drug addicted patient compounds his or her problems by taking Xanax other than under medical supervision.

For these reasons it is totally foolish to try to self-administer Xanax to treat your own drug addiction. If you have a drug addiction such that you are contemplating self-administering with Xanax, then you have a problem that mandates the seeking of medical attention and that is what you should do, not just make yourself worse by incompetent consumption of a different powerful psychoactive substance.

We also remind the reader that there is a host of other psychoactive medicines that may be more appropriate than Xanax to treat an addiction. Amongst them are:

  1. Lorazepam, a short-acting potent benzodiazepene particularly suitable for acute cocaine overdose

  2. Diazepam, a longer-acting benzodiazepene that is less addictive than Xanax

  3. Quetiapine, an atypical anti-psychotic

  4. Other seratonine-dopamine antagonists

  5. SSRI inhibitors, where the underlying cause of the recreational narcotic craving is depression

You as a patient cannot see the woods from the trees as it is very difficult to make a self-assessment where your own capacity for mental assessment is affected by use of psychoactive substances. Do not self-medicate on Xanax, or you will just increase the global movement towards the legal restriction of what is a very effective medicine if used in the right way. Instead, go and see a sympathetic and knowledgeable doctor and receive supervised treatment.

This way, you leave Xanax available amongst a range of treatments available for psychoactive disorders properly treated with medical supervision. Thank you for your consideration of others.

Finally, this article is not a substitute for expert medical advice if you have a drug habit. Rather it emphatically reminds you of the need to see a sympathetic expert rather than to attempt to self-medicate. The reasons why people self-medicate are stigma; and lack of available non-judgmental medical expertise. We are trying to disspell both of those. Feel free to contact us, even anonymously, on our usual coordinates at, if you feel it might help you.

bottom of page