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Xanax

Xanax is a prescription benzodiazepine. Even if taken as prescribed, an addiction to Xanax may develop.

What is Xanax?

Xanax is used to treat anxiety disorder, depression cause anxiety, and panic disorder among other conditions. Xanax works by targeting and increasing the brain’s neurotransmitters located in the central nervous system to help the patient achieve a state of calm relaxation.

Xanax’s generic name is called alprazolam and is classified as a benzodiazepine. Xanax originally entered the US market in 1981 after the popular 70s drug Valium. There are over 2,000 benzodiazepines in existence yet only 15 are FDA-approved (1). Long-term use and abuse of Xanax can lead to Xanax addiction with major side effects including tremors, seizures, and fatal overdoses.

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Dependence vs. Misuse

To understand the difference between dependency and misuse it is also important to know the distinction between dependency and addiction. Addiction is a result of physical changes to your brain whereas dependency is the natural increase of tolerance to a substance to the extent that if stopped one would enter into withdrawal. Dependence can occur without an addiction but is a stepping stone to addiction.

If a patient develops a Xanax dependency it may lead to misuse then a Xanax addiction, but this is not always the case. The majority of patients who are legally prescribed can stop usage without ever establishing a Xanax drug addiction. However, it is still likely for patients who have been using prescribed Xanax for a prolonged period to develop a dependency (high tolerance) which can result in withdrawal if the medication is stopped on short notice. Typically, patients who develop a dependency are eased off the medication through decreased doses avoiding most of the major withdrawal symptoms.

One in five people who use some type of benzodiazepines such as Xanax misuse the medication running the risk of addiction (2). To learn more about the signs of misuse continue reading below

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    Signs of Xanax Misuse

    Xanax is highly addictive and therefore commonly misused. Given one in five people will misuse their prescribed Xanax it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of Xanax misuse. It is also important to note that just because someone has abused Xanax does not mean they have developed a Xanax addiction but run a higher risk of developing an addiction.

    Signs of Xanax misuse:

    • Claiming the drug is no longer effective and requesting a higher dose
    • Taking other’s prescribed medication
    • Buying unregulated Xanax (also known as bars, planks, or zanies)
    • Falsifying a prescription

    Xanax dependency that leads to misuse may also lead to addiction. Knowing the various Xanax addiction signs may help discern if you or someone you know needs treatment.

    Xanax addiction symptoms and signs (1):

    • Slurred speech
    • Confusion
    • Drowsiness
    • Dizziness
    • Weakness
    • Blurred vision
    • Lack of motor coordination
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Coma

    If you or someone you know is misusing or has developed a Xanax addiction and would like help please give us a call now or contact us through our website to learn how we can help.

    Common Drug Combinations

    Despite warning labels and advice from doctors, Xanax is commonly combined with opioids, barbiturates, hypnotic drugs, heroin, methadone, and alcohol. Combining Xanax with any of these drugs can result in respiratory difficulties, fatigue, unconsciousness, and death.

    Xanax has been known as a date rape drug because it can dramatically reduce a body’s natural ability to resist sexual aggression (1). Xanax is often dissolved into drinks that contain alcohol and can be hard to taste. Whether Xanax is combined with alcohol for date rape purposes or other uses the combination can result in severe damage to the body.

    Both Xanax and alcohol are cleared from the body by the liver. Since they are both cleared by the liver both substances will stay in the body for longer and with higher effects as they amplify each other.

    Effects of combining Xanax and alcohol include:

    • Memory problems
    • Depression
    • Sleeplessness
    • Excessive sedation
    • Cardiac problems

    Prolonged use of both Xanax and alcohol may increase symptoms of withdrawal to the point of seizures and delirium if both substances are not gradually reduced.

    Withdrawal Effects of Xanax

    Patients that have developed a Xanax addiction or dependency may experience withdrawal symptoms in between doses or during detox. Withdrawal effects of Xanax can occur within hours of last taking the substance and can peak anywhere from 1 to 4 days. Acute symptoms from withdrawl can last for up to 2 weeks. Roughly 10 percent to 25 percent of long-term users will experience protracted withdrawal (3). Protracted withdrawal is a type of withdrawal where the user experiences similar symptoms to acute withdrawal but the symptoms can last for up to a year (4).

    Physical effects of Xanax withdrawal include:

    • Headaches
    • Blurred vision
    • Muscle pain and spasms
    • Tremors
    • Sweating
    • Hyperventilations
    • Nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting
    • Numb fingers or tingling sensations
    • Sensitivity to light and sound
    • Loss of appetite
    • Sleep troubles
    • Heart palpitations
    • Sweating
    • Anxiety
    • Panic
    • Paranoia
    • Seizures

    Psychological effects of Xanax withdrawal include:

    • Difficulty focusing
    • Short-term memory loss
    • Hallucinations
    • Mood swings
    • Depression
    • Panic attacks
    • Paranoia
    • Delirium
    • Anxiety
    • Suicidal thoughts

    Individuals with a Xanax addiction or dependency should not cease all substance intake at once. Stopping all substance intake at once can cause death due to extreme withdrawal effects. Instead, those with a Xanax addiction should taper themselves off with lower doses over time to reduce the severity of the withdrawal effects. To learn more about withdrawal effects and the safest way to go through detox give us a call now or contact us through our website.

    Statistics of Xanax and Misuse

    The use of benzodiazepine had increased from 8 million to 14 million people from the years 1996 to 2013 (5). In 2014 the CDC reported a 30 percent increase in fatal overdoses from opioids also involving benzodiazepines such as Xanax. According to the NIDA, the combination of benzodiazepine and painkillers increases the user’s risk of death 10 times (5). Whether directly or indirectly affected by Xanax addiction these statistics are here to help you better understand the current climate of Xanax misuse.

    Xanax statistics:

    • 10% of those who have abused benzodiazepine experience withdrawal symptoms years after they stop (5).
    • According to SAMHSA, benzodiazepines are one of the few categories of drugs that produce physiological withdrawal and may require medical intervention (6).
    • Approximately 40% of all benzodiazepine prescriptions are prescribed to elderly people (6).

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    Treatment and Resources for Xanax Misuse

    A Xanax addiction recovery plan can take place either in an inpatient or outpatient treatment program. Individuals with severe Xanax addiction may need to find an inpatient treatment option due to the intense withdrawal symptoms that can result in death. Xanax addiction treatment often begins with medical detox where the patient is weaned off of Xanax with a decrease in dose over time.

    Inpatient treatment such as a Xanax addiction treatment center has 24-hour support and supervision with various types of therapies such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT works to alter one’s feelings and thoughts to establish healthier coping mechanisms.

    Outpatient treatment options are used for patients with less severe Xanax addiction problems. An outpatient option is used for patients who need a part-time program due to other time constraints in their life including work or school among others.

    For more information on Xanax treatment plans please reach out now via phone or through our website.

    Commonly Asked Questions

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