Xanax treats anxiety and panic attacks, which is helpful to many. Yet, Xanax is an addictive drug.
Mention the name Xanax and most people know exactly what you’re talking about. It’s a pill that treats anxiety and panic attacks, which is helpful to many. Yet, Xanax is an addictive drug, and the number of people who abuse Xanax is growing.
Here is a comprehensive guide to Xanax addiction. This includes what Xanax does, its use, and why it is addictive.
In its generic form, Xanax is the drug alprazolam. This drug is the most psychiatric drug prescribed in the United States for a couple of reasons. Not only is it potent, but it works quickly to relieve symptoms and produce a state of calm in its users.
Coming from the drug family of benzodiazepine, Xanax works on the GABA neurotransmitter in the brain. GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is an inhibitory neurotransmitter distributed in the neurons of the cortex. GABA contributes to motor control, vision, and many other cortical functions.
In relation to Xanax, GABA also controls anxiety and Xanax works to relieve anxiety. In fact, it is most often used to treat panic disorders and anxiety.
Along with anxiety, Xanax works to relieve other symptoms. These include: agitation, seizures, mania, muscle spasms, alcohol withdrawal, and insomnia.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that 6 million Americans suffer from panic disorder. Xanax has been proven effective at relieving panic symptoms when they begin to occur, allowing millions of individuals to successfully handle situations that might otherwise trigger severe anxiety.
Xanax is a Schedule IV controlled substance according to the U.S. government, meaning there’s a low likelihood of abuse. Yet, as people increasingly rely on Xanax, medical providers are seeing there is actually more of a risk than first thought. In fact, there is a significant risk of addiction.
The problem with Xanax is that it is addictive. Xanax use can result in addiction, tolerance, or dependence whether it’s taken for recreational use or for its sedative effects.
According to Health Research Funding, doctors write 50 million prescriptions for the family of drugs to which Xanax belongs and it is the fifth most prescribed drug in the United States. And while many users of Xanax take it on a long-term basis, it is not recommended for more than eight months of use.
And therein lies the problem; Xanax was never intended as a long-term treatment method. In fact, doctors prescribe it for panic attacks and anxiety, but only for short-term use like for rapid-onset anxiety.
There are many signs of Xanax addiction. These include both mental and social signs and symptoms.
Those with Xanax addiction will tend to build up a tolerance. This means that you need more of the drug to achieve the same effects.
Withdrawal also becomes a problem for those addicted to Xanax and the symptoms of withdrawal can mirror the signs of addiction. This includes headaches, blurred vision, anxiety, panic, tremors, muscle pain, seizures, insomnia, loss of appetite, paranoia, and heart palpitations.
Since addiction does not happen instantly, here are the stages of Xanax addiction and how each stage affects the user.
Initiation: This stage as an introduction to the drug. This is usually through a doctor’s prescription but some are through recreational use. For example, you are at a party and a friend gives you Xanax. Or you are feeling anxious and someone offers to let you take one of their prescription pills.
Experimentation: This stage represents the misuse of Xanax and is where the drug dosage is tweaked. For instance, you might use more than what is prescribed to you or take the dosage more often than needed.
Regular Misuse: This stage is pretty self-explanatory. It is like experimentation but instead of misusing the drug once in a while, it becomes a regular pattern.
Dependence: This is the last stage of addiction where you have developed a tolerance to Xanax and now are dependent on it. The level of tolerance differs between people. Some may need the drug more often or in shorter frequencies due to the tolerance buildup.
One of the dangers of Xanax is that it has a risk of overdose, especially when combined with alcohol or opioids. Xanax works as a depressant to the central nervous system. Other drugs used with Xanax may also be depressants, which multiplies the effects. When combined, this can lead to overdose, coma, or other detrimental health issues.
While it may seem like addiction has control of you, there is help for Xanax dependence. If you’ve used Xanax recently, you’re not alone. One in 20 Americans has used a medication like Xanax in the last month, and over two million Americans have used them in a medically unintended fashion.
There is treatment available to help with Xanax addiction. Medical detoxification may be the first stage and this can take place in a rehabilitation facility or hospital if the withdrawal symptoms are severe.
The best option for problematic use of sedatives or Xanax is with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This option allows you to be able to change your behavior. It shows you how to adapt your emotions and the thought process that leads to addictive behavior.
The important thing to know is that help is available. You do not have to be tethered to a Xanax dependency.