Xanax Addiction 

Xanax is the name of a sedative that belongs to the benzodiazepines family of drugs, the original replacement for the even more dangerous and addictive barbiturates. Xanax works by affecting multiple areas and sensors within the brain as well as the central nervous system. It increases the level of a chemical produced by the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is what slows down nerve receptors and responses in the brain which helps to generate a calm and relaxed feeling.

Because Xanax works as a depressant and directly affects the brain and nervous system, common effects of the drug include slurred speech, loss of coordination, and in some cases instances there can be a rebound effect that produces feelings of paranoia and anxiety. Xanax is a highly potent drug that has a direct and powerful effect on the brain and as such, it is a regulated schedule IV controlled substance and is available only with a prescription ad even then it can be difficult to get prescriptions refilled due to the fear over addictions and abuse. When someone takes Xanax, the peak effects typically are felt within a few hour’s time as the mind starts to slow down and the body begins to relax. Since it is an intermediate-duration drug, Xanax stays in a person’s system for 12 to 15 hours, which means when someone is addicted and is abusing the drug, they can be taking pills every 4 hours which drastically increase the level of the drug that is in their brain and their bloodstream.

Symptoms of Xanax Abuse and Addiction

Who is at risk for forming an addiction? This is a common question that has a truly terrifying answer. Anyone has a tendency to become addicted to something. Most people have one or two things that they could easily become addicted to, it is just not always an illegal drug like Meth- sometimes it is a prescribed medication like Xanax. It could be something legal like alcohol or something seemingly innocent like sugar or caffeine. Addiction can even form around something that is not even a substance but rather an activity like shopping or gambling. Addiction is a deeply rooted mental disorder that everyone has the possibility of falling victim to. What varies from person to person is what they become addicted to, why they form an addiction, how fast the addiction takes hold, and how bad the addiction becomes.

Tolerance to potent drugs like Xanax can happen surprisingly quickly, and as the level of tolerance grows, it will mean the individual has to take more of the drug in order to get the same results that they did before. Where it used to take 4 pills a day to get relief, as tolerance builds up it may take 6 pills, then 10 pills, and then 15 pills or more to get the same results that used to be achieved mere months ago with 4 pills. Someone with a Xanax addiction could end up consuming as many as 20 to 30 pills per day just to get a basic level or relief. 

If the user decides to stop taking Xanax, they may experience withdrawal effects which often include severe instances of the symptom they were trying to suppress and treat as well as other painful and even dangerous effects as their body suddenly is deprived of the substance it has come to be dependent upon.

Signs of Xanax Addiction

“The onset of withdrawal symptoms is a sign that physical dependence has developed. The development of tolerance and withdrawal are indications of addiction. Once a Xanax addiction has taken hold, daily responsibilities, such as school, work, or family, are ignored as energy is redirected towards drug-seeking behavior”.

There are many warning signs that can indicate a friend or family member might be in the process of becoming addicted to Xanax or that they may already be addicted to the potent drug. These can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Continued use of Xanax even when symptoms and behaviors derived from the use are shown to be negative or non-beneficial to the individual
  • Inability to stop or cut back on how often they are using Xanax despite the desire to and despite the urging of friends or medical professionals
  • Loss of any and all desired or interest in hobbies and things that they once enjoyed doing and found satisfaction in
  • Obsessing about how they are going to get their next prescription filled and when they can take their next dose of Xanax
  • Loss of control over when and how much Xanax they are using and the consuming need to take more in order to feel better
  • Legal problems, relationship problems, and other issues that are the result of their prolonged and excessive use of the drug
  • Engaging in risky behaviors such as driving under the influence or mixing Xanax with alcohol or other drugs in order to increase the effects

Xanax Addiction Stats and Data

For the vast majority of drugs, especially prescription drugs, reversing an addiction involves a cessation of use. We hear about celebrities going to rehab and giving up their drug use in order to ‘get clean.’ However, for those addicted to Xanax the process of getting off the drug and dealing with the withdrawals is a bit more complicated. “If a user wishes to stop taking Xanax after dependence on the drug has formed, it is not recommended to quit “cold turkey” or without medical supervision. The symptoms of Xanax withdrawal are similar to those of alcohol or barbiturate withdrawal, and the severity of the symptoms can vary. If convulsions occur, withdrawal from Xanax can be deadly” 

Under close medical supervision and at the direction of their doctor, someone who has been abusing Xanax will need to work on slowly reducing the dosage of Xanax that they take each day. The goal is to eventually switch to a long-acting form so doses can be cut down and then a new medication can be used to get them off Xanax completely. The gradual tapering process of getting someone off Xanax can greatly reduce the severity and duration of side effects and withdrawal symptoms that they endure. It also ensures they remain under close supervision and care in the event of any serious or life-threatening symptoms emerge during the detox.

Taking more than what your doctor has prescribed for you or if you are taking Xanax without a prescription it is considered to be drug abuse. Using too much of the drug or using it when you should not make you much more likely to develop an addiction to Xanax. However, even if you have been prescribed the drug and follow your dosing instructions precisely, it is possible that you can still become addicted to Xanax. This is because it is such a powerful and potent drug and this is also why it such a closely regulated and controlled substance.

Xanax may be abused in several ways, including:

  • Taking multiple pills in excess of the prescribed dose
  • Injecting it into the body in a liquid form
  • Snorting it by crushing into a powder
  • Taking it via blotter paper or similar method
  • Combining the drug with other drugs or alcohol

An overdose of Xanax has a very high potential to be fatal, especially if the overdone is done in combination with alcohol or other drugs. Overdose can also occur if the pills are crushed or chewed, as the drug is designed to be time-released into the system and high doses can shock the body and flood the brain and nervous system with more of the chemical compound than it can handle.

Xanax overdose symptoms include:

  • Confusion and memory loss
  • Slowed heart rate or skipping beats
  • Extreme drowsiness and inability to wake
  • Difficulty breathing and shallow breaths
  • Fainting and loss of consciousness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of balance, staggering, and falling
  • Muscle weakness and loss of motor control
  • Coma, seizures, and eventual death

Treatment for a Xanax overdose will largely depend on how much of the drug was taken and what other substances or drugs were taken along with the Xanax. In the event of an overdose, the first course of action usually is to pump the individual’s stomach to remove any unabsorbed drug before it can get into the bloodstream. Medications, such as flumazenil, may also be administered as an antidote to fight the effects Xanax has on the nervous system to keep the brain from shutting down. Doctors may insert an IV to provide fluids to keep the body hydrated and to try and help flush the drugs and other substances out of the body.

Treatment for Xanax Abuse and Addiction

What makes treating Xanax overdoses so difficult is that the effects on their own can be deadly and difficult to recover from. But when they are combined with the effects of severe alcohol consumption or the effects of an overdose of other drugs, it can be extremely difficult for medical professionals to treat all the symptoms that can present themselves. They have a lot to work against when they are dealing with multiple drug combinations or when they do not know what all was mixed with the Xanax.

This is why it is so very important for anyone being treated for a Xanax overdose to not hide details from those trying to treat them. If you are conscious and able to speak you need to be honest with the emergency medical personnel about how much Xanax you took, when you took it, how you took it, and what else you took along with it. It will greatly increase your odds of surviving the overdose.

One of the aspects of drug abuse and addiction is that while it may start as a single drug or substance that is being abused, it usually does not stay that way for long. Addicts often blend one drug with another or add in other substances in order to enhance the high and achieve the euphoria that they are chasing after. “Xanax is commonly used in combination with alcohol or other pills—particularly opiates—to get a better high. Heroin users regularly consume Xanax, as do methadone users. In addition, approximately 40 percent of alcoholics regularly abuse Xanax. Alcohol is particularly dangerous when mixed with Xanax because they are both depressants, which can lead to overdose and respiratory failure”.It is this cocktail mix that can make overdose so easy and so deadly.

Recovery Prognosis for Addicts

Overcoming an addiction to Xanax isn’t easy, but people do it every day. It can be a long and difficult road but it is one many have successfully walked and successfully maintained for years after they get clean. Medical detox and a treatment program offer many addicts their best chance at kicking the habit and getting clean so they can get back to living life on their terms. Doctors and health care providers can help you find the rehab center, counselor, support group, and any other assistance program that may be available and of benefit to you.

Because Xanax is so commonly mixed with other drugs and substances such as alcohol, treatment and rehab often will touch on more than just the Xanax addiction. Counseling and therapies will often focus on other behaviors and actions that lead to the addiction in the first place. It is important to take this all-encompassing approach. Treating the Xanax addiction but failing to work on the underlying depression and anxiety or mental disorder that lead to the addiction in the first place is just setting the patient up for failure. Someone who is an alcoholic will need to also tackle their alcoholism as well as their Xanax addiction before they can truly be free of the addiction and be sober and clean.

It is possible to kick the habit and overcome your addiction. It will take time and can be difficult. But with the right support and assistance and with a full commitment on your part, it is possible to get clean and take back your life. 

You can find more information about Xanax or other substances of abuse and available treatments and programs at Transformations Treatment Center.

Don’t wait to get help! Contact Transformation Treatment Centers now or as soon as you discover you or your loved one has a substance abuse problem with Xanax. There is hope and it is waiting for you or your loved ones.

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