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Introduced to the U.S. market in 1981, Xanax was designed as a safer, less addictive alternative to the more traditional “tranquilizer” drugs that were already on the market such as alcohol and barbiturates. As compared to other benzodiazepines like Valium, Xanax (known by its generic name alprazolam) differentiates itself by having a short half-life, meaning it rids itself from the body quicker. The drug is usually in a person’s system from 12-15 hours. In addition, the drug shows quick symptom relief (typically within one to two hours after ingestion).
Like other benzodiazepines (benzos), Xanax is used to treat anxiety and panic attacks as it enhances the effects of GABA, a chemical in the brain that creates a calming effect. Xanax is an addictive drug not only because of the chemical reaction it affects the brain, but simply because it creates a calming feeling that those who suffer from anxiety enjoy. It’s a “quick fix” to help relieve the suffering associated with a generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks. In addition, those who take a high dosage of it may experience a high.
When properly prescribed, used properly, and used with the appropriate medical supervision, Xanax has a meaningful use in therapy. However, the medication is often used by those without a prescription, used in ways other than directed, and/or used with other potentially deadly substances.
Signs of Xanax Abuse
Both those with and without a prescription can still become addicted to Xanax. Here are some common ways Xanax is abused:
- You have a prescription for the drug but take more than the prescribed dosage.
- You require more and more of the drug to feel the effects (i.e. you’ve developed a tolerance to the drug).
- After developing a tolerance to the drug, you continue to use the drug in order to “act normal.” At this stage, you’ve developed a dependence on the drug.
- You use Xanax with other drugs and/or alcohol to feel the “calming” effect.
- You inject or snort the medication.
- It’s taken recreationally, often obtained by someone without a prescription.
Whether someone develops an addiction to Xanax depends on the individual. Not everyone who uses the medication develops an issue with misuse. The time it takes for a Xanax addiction to develop varies from person to person and depends on a variety of factors such as frequency of use, personal brain chemistry, dependency/use of other drugs, and quantity of use.
Drinkers and former drug abusers experience significantly greater mental impairment when taking alprazolam compared to others. These individuals are at greater risk of abusing Xanax (alprazolam) and may experience more severe adverse reactions if they do.
In addition, it’s especially important to keep your eye on adolescents ages 18-25. According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the rate of Xanax abuse for that group (10.3%) is almost double that of those 26+ (5.7%).
Symptoms of Xanax Abuse: How To Tell If Someone Is Addicted
Over 49 million prescriptions for alprazolam were written in 2012, making this drug the second-most prescribed psychoactive drug that year (hydrocodone was number one). Not only is it widely prescribed, but it’s also one of the top three prescription drugs to make its way to the black market. Although legal prescriptions for benzos have slightly decreased in the past few years due to increased regulations, illegal drugs like Xanax imposters are increasing on the streets.
In addition to a general lack of interest toward work, school, family, hobbies, and/or basic daily responsibilities, other behavioral symptoms to look out for include:
- Risk-taking behaviors, like driving while using Xanax
- Obsession over taking Xanax
- Inability to stop taking the drug despite a desire to
- Need to take an increased dosage
- General loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities
Physical symptoms to look for in regards to Xanax abuse include:
- Hyperactivity, agitation, heart palpitations, mania
- Dry mouth, slurred speech
- Tremors, dizziness
Overdose symptoms to look out for, especially when taken with other drugs and/or alcohol, or if the Xanax was taken crushed or chewed as opposed to swallowed whole:
- Confusion, extreme drowsiness
- Slowed heart rate, difficulty breathing
- Fainting, loss of balance, muscle weakness
*If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 or take them to your nearest emergency room. An overdose on Xanax CAN BE fatal.
Seeking Treatment for a Xanax Addiction
Just as Xanax is an addictive drug, treatment for this addiction is available. Many of those addicted to Xanax is able to successfully rehabilitate and live a healthy, sober life with the assistance of professional, medical guidance.
Since Xanax is frequently misused with a combination of other drugs such as opioids and/or alcohol, it is best advised to seek treatment for the addiction while under medical supervision.
If Xanax is the only drug abused, it is still recommended that treatment involve a medically-trained professional. Going “cold turkey” is not recommended. The symptoms of withdrawal are uncomfortable and their severity can vary. Convulsions are possible, and in that case, withdrawal from Xanax can be deadly. With the help of trained staff, the withdrawal process typically involves reducing the dosage of Xanax, gradually tapering off the drug, and other combined therapy to help address the situation long-term.
Overall, medical detox combined with an individualized treatment plan is the best option for someone looking to recover from a Xanax addiction. If you or a loved is looking for more information about getting treatment for a Xanax addiction, you can speak with a Beach House treatment expert confidentially today. Contact us now.