Veteran Xanax Addiction Treatment & Rehab Options

Xanax Addiction and Veterans

Many veterans, unfortunately, struggle with substance use issues. The use of alcohol, cigarettes, illegal drugs, prescription medications and other substances is problematic for many veterans. Additionally, drug and alcohol addiction problems are such severe mental diseases that they can interfere with veteran and current-duty military activities.

You might wonder what impact drug misuse has on military personnel. The Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and military physicians concur that drug addiction has numerous negative impacts and causes. Veterans and active-duty service individuals are more likely to experience anxiety, panic, despair and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when encountering traumatic incidents during military combat deployments. As a result, they frequently turn to medication to help them cope. Xanax is a drug used to alleviate anxiety and panic attacks in veterans but can also be addictive.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax is a type of benzodiazepine. Alprazolam, the generic name, works by affecting the brain’s neurotransmitter activity. It increases the functioning of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter, which is a natural chemical in the brain.

What Is Xanax Used For?

Anxiety and panic disorders (unexpected, sporadic bouts of intense dread and worry over these occurrences) are treated with alprazolam (Xanax), which slows down the body since it depresses the central nervous system. The body slows down because Xanax boosts the effects of GABA, which naturally causes feelings of serenity, resulting in a relaxed or sedated condition.

A short to moderate benzo, Xanax starts working immediately and swiftly exits the body. Xanax’s effects last for about 11 to 20 hours, on average. Although these quick-acting anti-anxiety drugs have the advantage of working rapidly, withdrawal symptoms are far more frequently reported when this kind of prescription is used.

Xanax can be extremely addictive. As such, the Food and Drug Administration has issued significant warnings. In addition, a boxed warning informs doctors and clients about its potentially harmful medication side effects. These dangers are discussed in the boxed warnings for this medication.

These warnings include:

  • Dependency and withdrawal risk
  • Addiction and misuse risk
  • If used with opioids, there is a risk of severe harm or death

Why Do Veterans Misuse Xanax?

Men and women across several walks of life choose to sacrifice their time and lives for the safety of our nation. Even a modest proportion of your life dedicated to protecting your nation is a significant commitment. However, it is a challenging position full of risk and discomfort. Many valuable, life-changing experiences will result for some people due to their decision. Some may experience long-lasting, chronic pain as a result of their service in the U.S. military.

Though encountering potentially fatal scenarios could appear to be the most challenging aspect of joining the U.S. military, returning to civilian life is often the most difficult. For example, veterans’ problems with addiction to benzodiazepines, a.k.a. benzos, are an increasing issue. Additionally, after departing the active-duty area, troops may still face danger due to the demands of job-related behavior, obedience, social contacts, peak performance and overall PTSD.

This can exacerbate the symptoms of veterans with anxiety disorders and increase their sense of isolation. The issue with veterans and benzodiazepines begins here. Due to various sedative properties, benzodiazepines are most often prescribed. Doctors would typically give benzos to clients with seizures, sleeplessness or anxiety-related symptoms. When veterans suffer similar problems after returning home, benzos have essentially taken the role of barbiturates as their preferred medication.

Side Effects of Xanax Misuse

Side effects of Alprazolam may include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Changes in sex drive or ability
  • Changes in appetite
  • Nausea
  • Increased salivation

What Are the Signs of Xanax Addiction?

Panic disorders and anxiety are two conditions that Xanax is commonly used to treat. This is because it has a tranquil, calming and soothing effect, due to its increasing GABA. However, the drug is highly addictive, even though it can relieve symptoms.

Xanax is a fast-acting benzodiazepine, which causes rapid and profound modifications in the brain. It is one of the most addictive drugs available today due to this property. There are signs of Xanax addiction to look out for if you think your or your loved one’s Xanax use is getting out of hand.

Xanax-related thoughts are keeping you awake at night

Despite its ability to become a daily regimen, Xanax assists in managing panic attacks and severe anxiety. However, increasing your need for the drug can indicate an addiction. Sometimes, these cravings might be so powerful that they occupy all your attention.

You need to consume more Xanax than you initially did

When you start taking Xanax, you feel at ease, your muscles loosen up, your heart rate and blood pressure drop, and falling asleep is more manageable. But, after using the medication consistently for a few weeks, you could start to experience a resurgence of your anxiety and sleep issues.

These eventually become irritating enough to make you consider talking to your doctor about boosting your dose, or you could feel compelled to just take more Xanax than your doctor recommended. Tolerance is the process through which the body adjusts to repeated drug exposure and starts to depend on Xanax to operate correctly. One of the initial symptoms of Xanax addiction is tolerance.

You’ve grown more distant from your loved ones

People who struggle with substance misuse, dependence and addiction feel increasingly guilty and humiliated, reveals a 2021 research published in Addictive Behaviors. Additionally, studies show that shame may cause antisocial behaviors, like a tendency to stop interacting with others and increased hostility, aiming to shift blame for humiliating occurrences.

It’s advisable to seek professional assistance if you have unfavorable feelings toward your Xanax usage or if disputes and disagreements with family members have increased, particularly if the subject is connected to your Xanax use.

You have withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop using Xanax or decrease your dosage

The body conveys your intentions to quit using Xanax or reduce your dosage by exhibiting withdrawal symptoms, which act as a yearning for the medication. These symptoms, such as anxiousness or sleeplessness, usually prompt you to start taking the medicine all over again, at the original dosage.

Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Nightmares or insomnia
  • Depression
  • Being restless and upset
  • A panic attack’s signs (chest pain, shortness of breath, trembling and excessive fear)

Drug/Xanax Use Statistics

Seven percent of veterans struggle with illegal drug use compared to 5.3% of the general population in the U.S. over age 18.

More than two out of every 10 veterans who suffer from PTSD also have substance use disorder (SUD).

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse Study in 2020, there was a 16% rise in opioid overdose deaths that also contained benzodiazepines, a class of prescription sedatives often used to treat insomnia or anxiety.

Veterans with PTSD are strongly discouraged from utilizing benzodiazepines regularly as recommended by the VA/DoD 2017 Practice Guideline for the Management of PTSD. The guidance was based on the documented dangers of misuse and dependency linked with benzodiazepines and their uncertain effectiveness.

Chronic pain is an issue for 30% of Americans, but it affects 60% of Middle East-returning veterans and more than 50% of aging veterans receiving care from the VA system. Long-term moderate to severe pain can commonly follow battlefield injuries. Sometimes strong, efficient medications are used to relieve chronic pain. If used appropriately, they can reduce pain and enhance the quality of life, but, if misused, they can culminate in addiction and, occasionally, in a dependency on illicit substances, like heroin.

Being subjected to battle or other potentially deadly situations may be highly traumatic and can result in psychological (PTSD) and physical injuries. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, PTSD affects one in three veterans seeking drug-addiction treatment.

What Is Veterans Xanax Addiction Treatment?

Whatever you are experiencing, there are resources and solutions accessible. In addition, many different veteran rehab specialists may support the treatment of substance misuse, and veteran facilities offer treatment strategies that are very helpful for most vets.

Evidence-Based Therapy

One of the best ways to treat substance use disorder is through “Evidence-Based Therapy.” The following are examples of what they may be, many of which are accessible at a veterans rehabilitation facility.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)

MET assists veterans with substance misuse problems by emphasizing interactions between the veteran and the clinician to identify and create personal reasons for change. This treatment addresses your motivation for wanting to change and any advantages of doing so.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT encourages the development of more logical and constructive thinking in substance-dependent veterans about themselves, others and the future. It can enable veterans to control the need to drink or take drugs, reject opportunities to do so and cope with substance use by taking a problem-solving approach and achieving individual goals.

Motivational Interviewing (MI)

MI is a concise, evidence-based (i.e., well-researched) therapy intended to elicit and reaffirm one’s desire to make a change. As veterans think about improving their lives, these therapies give them acceptance and compassion. They emphasize the veteran’s motivation for resolving troublesome habits and truthfully tackle the conflicting emotions that are a normal part of changing.


As with other diseases, like diabetes and high blood pressure, substance use disorder is a sickness that necessitates medical attention, prescription medications and often therapy. Therefore, veteran rehabs can provide tried-and-true solutions for managing drug use disorders. Some of these possibilities are medicine that can decrease cravings, prevent relapses and decrease the mortality risk from substance use.

Veteran Xanax Rehab

There are several private treatment facilities that specialize in treating veterans, and Veterans Affairs maintains a list of clinics around the nation that can treat addiction and PTSD. Veterans seeking treatment have a wide range of options available today. Veterans should choose a rehabilitation facility that provides therapeutic services and counseling that may include:

  • Temporary outpatient therapy
  • Intensified outpatient care
  • Therapy for couples and families
  • Self-help groups
  • Live-in residential care
  • Continued support and relapse prevention (ensuring you don’t relapse into the same drug-use issues)
  • Veterans’ special programs for issues of particular significance (like women veterans, returning combat veterans and homeless veterans)

Assistance to Veterans and Their Families

Veterans are certainly not the only ones who endure the negative repercussions of Xanax misuse and addiction; their families also suffer these harmful effects. In the absence of therapy, the user may become aggressive toward themselves and others. The entire family may participate in recovery by seeking assistance at an accredited addiction facility focusing on veteran care.

Addiction rehab centers often provide family therapy and allow families to see their loved ones at the facility since family support is essential during the recovery process. In case of a relapse, families can identify the symptoms of PTSD and the telltale indicators of addiction during counseling. As soon as the person in therapy starts to feel better and learns how to cope with their symptoms without using medicines, then they may begin to live a happy, healthy life with the ones they love.

Speak With Your Physician

Veterans should not quit taking Xanax without discussing it with the doctor to minimize the likelihood of withdrawal symptoms. Your doctor will progressively reduce your dose once you and they both decide you should stop taking Xanax. This may reduce withdrawal symptoms.

Talk to your physician if you are encountering withdrawal symptoms after they have adjusted your dosage or asked you to stop taking Xanax. Your doctor may change your dose once more before being carefully decreased. However, if you experience severe withdrawal symptoms, contact your physician immediately. Furthermore, call 911 or your local emergency number if your symptoms seem life-threatening.