Xanax – Are you Addicted? This is How You Can Stop

Xanax is a drug, under the benzodiazepine classification, which is often prescribed for anxiety, depression, and panic disorders. It has a sedative effect, causing relaxation and even euphoria in those who take it.

Xanax Addiction

Xanax and its Effects

Xanax works by suppressing the inhibitory receptor, which is what causes excitability in the brain related to anxiety. It is highly effective, but it can also be dangerous. For this reason, doctors traditionally prescribe other medications for long-term treatment when available.

While Xanax is commonly abused by those looking to take advantage of its sedative effects, anyone can become addicted. Some patients who take Xanax long-term become addicted without even knowing it. Symptoms of addiction may only become noticeable when they attempt to stop taking the drug, or when their bodies build up a tolerance and more is needed to elicit the same physical effects.

What are the side effects of Xanax?

Side effects of Xanax may include:

  • Headache
  • Elation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Memory lapses
  • Light-headedness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Swollen extremities
  • Dry mouth
  • Tremors
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation

When taking Xanax, patients may also experience:

  • Headache
  • Elation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Excessive sleepiness or sleeping for long periods of time
  • Memory lapses
  • Light-headedness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Swollen extremities
  • Dry mouth
  • Tremors
  • Decreased sex drive

Xanax may also cause slurred speech, confusion, and disorientation. When overdose occurs, patients may experience extremely slowed bodily functions, including respiration. They may also experience lower blood pressure, severe confusion, seizures, coma, and even death.

How to Tell if There is a Problem

xanaxSometimes patients will become addicted to Xanax without even realizing it until it’s too late. This happens most frequently in those who abuse it, especially when taking it for prolonged periods or taking more than recommended at a time. As the body becomes accustomed to Xanax, it will develop a tolerance for it. Over time, more medication is needed at once in order to achieve the same effects. This spirals into addiction in many cases.

Patients may not realize they have developed a tolerance until they require more medication in order to maintain the results they are accustomed to, or when they try to stop taking it and withdrawal symptoms become apparent.

In many cases, whether they recognize there is an addiction or not, patients may experience several warning signs alerting them to the fact that there may be something wrong.

For instance, users often:

  • Have trouble at work or school, with performance suffering due to constant drowsiness or feeling unwell due to withdrawal symptoms
  • Experience stained family and friend relations as symptoms become more prevalent
  • Suffer the loss of employment for missing days due to feeling sick or not being able to get out of bed
  • Experience isolation due to being too tired to go out and socialize like they once did

Xanax Addiction Warning Signs

If you are the loved one of someone who may be suffering from Xanax abuse and addiction, then there are additional warning signs you should look out for:

  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Secretive behavior
  • Spending money or asking to borrow money
  • High Risk Groups, spending time around a crowd that uses

Certain individuals are more likely to succumb to Xanax abuse and addiction than others, and various factors may also play into the likelihood that a given person in these groups will wind up addicted.

Anxiety and mental illness – Since Xanax is prescribed mainly for anxiety and panic disorders, oftentimes severe cases, having anxiety is a risk factor for becoming addicted. As patients begin to feel better on the drug, and then develop a tolerance, they are tempted to take more than recommended to keep their anxiety under control for longer periods. Drug dependency isn’t far behind when this occurs.

Drug use – Many people who abuse Xanax also abuse other drugs. Heroin users often use benzodiazepine medications to offset some of the negative effects. Alcoholics may also mix sedatives like Xanax with alcohol to enhance the sedative effects of both. This is especially dangerous, as in some cases respiration can slow down so much with the combination of chemicals that the person stops breathing entirely and dies.

Family ties – Those with family members who are taking Xanax, especially teens, may be more likely to experiment with the drug themselves. When it is easily accessible, kids are more likely to try drugs that are readily available. Teens who live in dysfunctional homes or who lack supervision are often even more likely to experiment with drug use.

Not all people who fall into these categories will become addicted, and some addicts fall under no known at-risk groups. Anyone who takes benzodiazepine medications are susceptible, even if they follow all doctor’s instructions and take medications at all recommended dosages.

Xanax Statistics

  • Most people who have sought treatment for drug abuse reported having used a benzodiazepine class drug secondary to initial illicit drug use.
  • The total number of emergency department admissions for Xanax abuse doubled between 2005 and 2010. It rose from over 57 thousand to nearly 125 thousand visits.
  • Since 2008, prescriptions for Xanax has increased steadily at a 9% rate of growth.

Risk Groups

anxietyXanax is highly addictive, and anyone who takes this medication is at risk of becoming addicted. Those who abuse Xanax are most likely to become dependent on it. Certain groups are at a higher risk for drug abuse than others.

Veterans and others with post-traumatic stress or anxiety issues are an example, as they often have severe symptoms and seek relief.

Those who are in highly stressful occupations are also at risk, as they may suffer from severe insomnia, stress, and anxiety.

Teens and college students are a risk group because Xanax tends to circulate as a drug that relaxes the body. At the end of a party, or to ease the symptoms of taking other drugs or alcohol, some turn to Xanax.

Certain individuals are more likely to succumb to Xanax abuse and addiction than others, and various factors may also play into the likelihood that a given person in these groups will wind up addicted.

Anxiety and mental illness – Since Xanax is prescribed mainly for anxiety and panic disorders, oftentimes severe cases, having anxiety is a risk factor for becoming addicted. As patients begin to feel better on the drug, and then develop a tolerance, they are tempted to take more than recommended to keep their anxiety under control for longer periods. Drug dependency isn’t far behind when this occurs.

Drug use – Many people who abuse Xanax also abuse other drugs. Heroin users often use benzodiazepine medications to offset some of the negative effects. Alcoholics may also mix sedatives like Xanax with alcohol to enhance the sedative effects of both. This is especially dangerous, as in some cases respiration can slow down so much with the combination of chemicals that the person stops breathing entirely and dies.

Family ties – Those with family members who are taking Xanax, especially teens, may be more likely to experiment with the drug themselves. When it is easily accessible, kids are more likely to try drugs that are readily available. Teens who live in dysfunctional homes or who lack supervision are often even more likely to experiment with drug use.

Not all people who fall into these categories will become addicted, and some addicts fall under no known at-risk groups. Anyone who takes benzodiazepine medications are susceptible, even if they follow all doctor’s instructions and take medications at all recommended dosages.

Recognizing Addiction

You may have trouble recognizing addiction, even in yourself. There are a few questions you should ask yourself if you believe you might have a problem.

  • Do you use Xanax every day?
  • Do you feel like you need to use it?
  • Have you tried to stop using it, but were unsuccessful?
  • Do you continue using even if it affects your job and family life?
  • Do you feel sick or unwell if you miss a dose or take less than usual?
  • Have you had to increase your dosage in order to maintain the same effects?

If the answer to any of these questions was “yes,” then you probably have a drug problem. If you are using the drug intentionally to get high, or in combination with other drugs, it is time to seek professional help with a trained drug abuse counselor.

Treatment Options

Because withdrawal symptoms for benzodiazepine medications can be highly dangerous, it is important that you get off the drugs slowly, and under the supervision of a trained medical professional. Sometimes withdrawal symptoms can be so severe, death can occur. The weaning process can be undergone best at an inpatient facility with staff trained specially in helping addicts overcome their addictions.

What is the best treatment for Xanax addiction?

The best treatment option for Xanax addiction is enrollment in an inpatient facility. The withdrawal symptoms from this type of drug can be very harmful, and the best way to manage this is with the help of trained professionals.

In 2011, over 60,000 people who sought help in rehabilitation centers were there for benzodiazepine addiction. This is a stark increase from the last available data in 1998, which saw just under 22,500 people seeking help for benzodiazepine use. As drug abuse becomes a bigger problem, inpatient rehabilitative facilities offer the best chance of hope for addicts who want to get clean for good. They combine medical supervision with counseling and peer support, and are often followed by more conventional one on one outpatient counseling and support groups.