Xanax is a medication that belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. These drugs are some of the most commonly abused substances in the world. They're also responsible for a high number of emergency rooms visit across the United States. Benzodiazepines slow down the nervous system and have a calming effect on the user. Xanax is typically prescribed to treat medical conditions like anxiety and panic disorders, but it is also commonly abused for its calming and relaxation effects.
Warning Signs of Xanax Abuse
Many people use Xanax as directed by their doctor to treat anxiety or panic disorders. However, some people misuse or abuse Xanax, which can lead to serious consequences. Warning signs of Xanax addiction:
- Taking more of the drug than prescribed.
- Taking it more often than prescribed and continuing to use it even when it is no longer needed.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, excessive fear, insomnia, muscle pain, depression, etc. when trying to stop taking Xanax or cut back.
- Having all sorts of emotions - like mood swings, anxiety, depression, aggression, or suicidal thoughts.
- Becoming more withdrawn, even from friends and family members.
- Financial problems.
People who abuse prescription drugs like Xanax may crush and snort the pills or mix them with alcohol or other drugs. Mixing Xanax with other drugs can be dangerous as it increases the risk of overdose and other serious side effects.
Side Effects of Xanax Abuse
Xanax abuse can lead to physical, mental, and behavioral health problems. Some of the most common side effects of Xanax abuse include:
- Slowed reflexes
- Increased sweating
- Impaired judgment
- Slurred speech
- Impaired coordination
- Nausea vomiting
- Memory problems
- Sleep problems
- Poor balance
- Difficulty concentrating
- Upset stomach
- Muscle weakness
- Dry mouth
- Blurred vision
- Appetite or weight changes
- Stuffy nose
- Swelling in hands or feet
- Loss of interest in sex
Xanax can also cause severe or rare side effects like:
- Trouble speaking
- Extreme tiredness
- Shortness of breath
- Increased heart rate
- Harmful or suicidal thoughts
- Depression or low mood, lack of interest in life
- Severe allergic reaction, including facial swelling
- Performing tasks, such as preparing food or driving or while not fully awake
How Addiction to Xanax Happens
People who abuse Xanax may start taking the drug as prescribed by their doctor. However, over time they may begin to take more of the drug than prescribed, or take it more often. They may continue to use the drug even when it is no longer needed. This can lead to addiction.
Xanax binds to the brain's GABA receptors and increases the level of the neurotransmitter GABA. This results in feelings of calm and relaxation. However, when people take Xanax regularly, they build up a tolerance for the drug. This means they need to take larger and larger doses to achieve the same effect.
As their tolerance builds, so does their dependence on the drug. And as their dependence grows, so does their risk of developing an addiction. Withdrawal symptoms can occur when someone dependent on Xanax stops taking the medication cold turkey.
These symptoms can include anxiety, irritability, insomnia, sweating, shaking, and seizures. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to Xanax, help is available.
Xanax Addiction Treatment Options
For those seeking treatment there are different Xanax addiction treatment options available. These treatments can be tailored to the individual's needs. Some of the most common options include:
Therapy and Group Support
Therapy provides a safe space for people to process their feelings and work through any underlying mental health issues contributing to their addiction. There are different types of therapies available, such as:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) - helps people identify and change any negative thinking patterns contributing to their addiction. CBT has been shown to increase abstinence success to 70-80% in patients addicted to Xanax.
- Acceptance and commitment therapy - focuses on helping people to accept their thoughts and feelings without judgment and to commit to making changes in their lives. This type of therapy can be helpful for people who are struggling to accept their addiction and make changes in their lives. It centers around mindfulness, acceptance, defusion, values, committed action, and context.
- Group therapy - involves meeting with other people who are also struggling with addiction and working together to recover. Group therapy can provide support and accountability and help people feel less alone in their struggles.
Many other medications can be used for the treatment of Xanax addiction. These include antipsychotics, antidepressants, and mood stabilizers. Each of these medications can help to ease the symptoms of Xanax addiction and allow the person to better cope with withdrawal.
Antipsychotics can help to reduce paranoia and delusions, while antidepressants can help to ease depression and anxiety. Mood stabilizers can help to even out mood swings and reduce irritability. These medications can be used with therapy and counseling to provide the most effective treatment for Xanax addiction.
Medication tapering is a process whereby the dosage of a medication is slowly reduced over time, helping to minimize withdrawal symptoms. This approach can be used for Xanax addiction and has been shown to be effective in helping people overcome their dependence on the drug. The first step is to work with a doctor or other professional to create a tapering schedule.
This schedule will start with a high dose of Xanax and gradually reduce the amount over time. The goal is to eventually reach a point where the person is no longer taking any Xanax at all. The process can be difficult, but it is often successful in helping people break free from their addiction.
Get Help for your Xanax Addiction
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to Xanax, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. Many treatment options are available, and the sooner you seek help, the better. Don't wait to get help. Start your journey to recovery from addiction today.