Xanax is the most popular brand of benzodiazepine medications, specifically, alprazolam, and is prescribed to tens of millions of Americans annually. Since its initial introduction to the U.S. medical market in the early 1980s, it’s been used to treat panic disorders, insomnia, chemotherapy side-effects, and anxiety. Xanax is a fast-acting depressant whose effects typically last up to six hours. Being categorized under benzodiazepine medications, it acts as a muscle relaxant and sleep aid, sedating the user by targeting the central nervous system and the brain.
Although the United States government classifies it as a Schedule IV drug (meaning it has a very low potential of abuse) there is irrefutable evidence that negates that. Xanax abuse is a major public health concern in the U.S.
Xanax is regarded as being one of the most dangerous benzodiazepines on the market today, due to its highly addictive nature. As a result, the majority of doctors will not give out prescriptions that last longer than six weeks, but this has not stopped thousands of people to developing a Xanax dependence. In fact, according to a study published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, there were over 17,000 people admitted into treatment for Xanax addictions in 2012 alone.
A Xanax addiction often starts with a user being prescribed and then taking higher and higher doses for a longer period of time. The drug is available as a tablet, liquid, or extended-release tablet and comes in dosages of 0.25 mg, 0.50 mg, 1 mg, and 2 mgs. Most prescriptions require it to be taken multiple times a day.
Anyone can become addicted to this medication, but there are two types of people who are at a greater risk. The first are those struggling with alcoholism. Research shows that around 40% of alcoholics who begin taking Xanax will develop a dependency. It is a dangerous combination, since both alcohol and Xanax are sedatives. Together, they can induce a coma, respiratory arrest, or even death. The other group with a high risk of Xanax addiction are prescribed users who take at least 4 milligrams for more than 6 weeks.
Signs Of Xanax Abuse
As a depressant, the signs of Xanax abuse are not difficult to spot. Addicts will appear constantly exhausted and have difficulty moving their body at a normal pace. Their work, home, and social life will be neglected as they lose interest in things they once found enjoyable and isolate themselves. A few other signs of Xanax abuse include:
- Dry mouth
- Nausea and vomiting
- Physical weakness
- Impaired motor skills
- Slurred speech
Doctor shopping is a term used for when people visit multiple doctors in the hopes of getting more and more prescriptions and is a common practice in Xanax addiction.
Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms
Users who have taken this medication in high doses or for an extended period of time will go through Xanax withdrawals much quicker than others and it may be extremely painful. The first wave of Xanax withdrawal symptoms can arrive only a few hours after the last dose. That is why doctors who prescribe this medication will have their patients slowly decrease the dosage over a few days, rather than quitting cold-turkey.
Symptoms of Xanax withdrawal include:
- Suicidal thoughts
- Extreme anxiety or paranoia
- Bodily aches and tremors
- Muscle spasms
- Mood swings
- Weight loss
- Heart palpitations or tachycardia
The withdrawals may be amplified for people with mental or mood disorders, or for people who are simultaneously addicted to other drugs, such as alcohol or cocaine. More than half of the people admitted to the emergency room for Xanax overdoses are also under the influence of other drugs or alcohol, and, unfortunately, those will be the people who experience the most intense Xanax withdrawal symptoms.
Xanax addiction is painful and difficult to overcome, but with medically-assisted treatment, it can be easier. Regular psychological therapy, exercise, and healthy eating will also speed up the process. But having a loving support team that provides you with the right resources and tools is quite possibly the best thing you can do to get over your Xanax dependence. As mentioned before, the longer the drug is taken, the more extreme the addiction becomes. So If you notice signs of Xanax abuse in yourself or a loved one, please call Treatment Centers XL in Lone Tree, Colorado immediately.