Dependence and abuse of benzodiazepines (also known as benzos) such as Xanax, Valium, Diazepam, or Lorazepam have been of concern since 2002. According to studies, admissions due to primary tranquilizer drug use increased 79% from 1992 to 2002. Between 2004 and 2010, the number of people who visited emergency rooms who were suffering from the effects of Xanax increased from 46,000 to nearly 125,000. Since Xanax - including its generic form, alprazolam - is the most widely-prescribed benzodiazepine, it is also the most widely abused of these drugs.
The risk factors for benzodiazepine dependence are long-term use beyond four weeks, use of high doses, use of potent short-acting benzodiazepines, dependent personalities, and proclivity for drug abuse. Use of short-acting benzodiazepines leads to repeated withdrawal effects that are alleviated by the next dose, which reinforce in the individual the dependence. A physical dependence develops more quickly with higher potency benzodiazepines such as alprazolam (Xanax) than with lower potency benzodiazepines such as chlordiazepoxide (Librium).
One recovering Xanax addict stated: "By the end when I sought help for my addiction, I couldn't even string a proper sentence of words together. I had no memory and also false memories and to this day I still have short-term memory problems."
An Australian woman described her recovery from Xanax addiction: "It's been physically and emotionally painful. I had headaches and migraines, muscle and stomach aches and loss of co-ordination. I had mild paranoia. I had intense flashbacks about stressful events. I've had nausea and vomiting. And sometimes I feel suicidal."
A relative of a benzo addict said: "Having a close family member on Xanax is like trying to talk to someone who is on autopilot all the time. You can never get through. The things you say just don't sink in. They often don't even remember important conversations. It's like they are braindead, but somehow still moving, while on the drug."