Prescription drug abuse has climbed significantly over the past two decades. Xanax quickly became a popular choice for illegal recreational use after its introduction in the early 1980’s. The drug’s ability to relax the user was a draw for many to keep wanting to use after their prescriptions ran out. What wasn’t known at the time was just how addictive Xanax would be for millions of people.
What is Xanax?
Xanax is a medication in the benzodiazepine family that is prescribed to ease anxiety and panic attacks. The benzodiazepine family includes drugs such as Xanax, diazepam (Valium), clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), flurazepam (Dalmane) and others. These drugs enhance the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain, acting as a neurotransmitter to inhibit brain activity. It is believed that excessive brain activity might be the cause of anxiety and other psychiatric disorders.
History of Xanax
Alprazolam (Xanax) was approved for use in panic disorders by the FDA and introduced through Upjohn, now part of Pfizer, in 1981. In just two years it became a blockbuster drug in the United States. By the year 2010, it had become the most prescribed and also the most misused benzodiazepine in the United States.
Short-Term Side Effects of Xanax
Most people these days have heard of Xanax. You might have a family member or friend taking it, or perhaps even yourself. You more than likely familiar with its effect, but not its risk.
Side effects (even with short-term use) of the drug are:
- Dry mouth
- Skin rashes
- Speech problems
- Weight fluctuation
- Memory problems
- Increased salivation
- Difficulty urinating
- Changes in sex drive
- Addiction or dependency
- Unusual changes in mood
- Inability to perform sexually
As you can see, the risks are sometimes greater than the problem it tries to solve.
Long-Term Side Effects of Xanax
Short-term side effects can be common among those using Xanax correctly under a prescription as well those using the drug recreationally. However, when users begin to abuse it for extended periods of time, long-term effects can be unavoidable.
Physicians are trained to evaluate both your mental and physical state before prescribing the drug, whereas abusers do not have someone to identify when Xanax’s long-term impact begin to take effect. Unfortunately, the drug’s long-term effects often drive users to increase their dosage or frequency in an attempt to curb withdrawal. Long-term effects include:
- Delirious states
- Cognitive deficits
- Psychotic episodes
- Aggressive and impulsive behavior
Professional medical treatment is necessary for Xanax abusers to recover from the long-term effects of the drug. Relapse for abusers increases when long-term use isn’t battled with a long-term treatment program, including counseling and support group therapy. As with any drug addiction, the sooner treatment can begin, the better the chance for a successful rehabilitation.
Why is Xanax Addictive?
You can develop a chemical dependency on Xanax. If you are taking larger quantities, it can cause the body to become dependent even if you use it as prescribed. This can easily turn into abuse. This chemical dependency causes your body to function improperly without it. Your body develops a tolerance for the drug, which makes you want to take it more frequently or in larger doses.
Changes in the brain occur when you become addicted to Xanax. It can affect the brain stem which controls heart rate, sleeping, and breathing. It can affect the cerebral cortex which controls sensory processing, decision making, and planning. It will also affect the limbic system which controls the body’s pleasure and motivation for survival.
Not only can Xanax create a physical addiction, is can cause an emotion addiction as well. Because it is often prescribed to combat anxiety, abusers begin to rely on it to live in a new normal the drug has created. The drug’s ability to create such strong addictions at both the physical and emotional level that addiction treatment is often found to be the only successful option to get off the drug.
When taken as prescribed and under a doctor’s supervision, the likelihood of the following symptoms appearing are low. If you, or a loved, are thought to be taking Xanax recreationally and exhibit any one of the following, seek help immediately:
- Muscle tension
- Digestive problems
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
Strangely, many of the symptoms of Xanax abuse are the same conditions the drug is prescribed to quell. When symptoms of anxiety appear, users may seek out more of the drug. This creates a vicious cycle difficult to break.
Signs of Xanax Addiction
Many of the symptoms of Xanax abuse can be discarded by abusers as ailments from other illnesses or sickness. However, if you suspect someone is abusing it, the symptoms above will likely be accompanied by the following signs of abuse:
- Lying to others
- Changes in behavior
- Changes in priorities
- Relationship problems
- Avoidance from others
Coupling general changes in behavior with the outside symptoms listed above could lend clues that someone may be abusing Xanax or other drugs. Family or close friends are often able to recognize changes in human behavior from abuse. If caught early enough, many of the dangers of use could be limited or avoided.
Xanax Addiction Treatment
You can get treatment for Xanax addiction. It will begin with a detoxification process that matches the severity of your frequency and doses. It will take at least a week, and you will experience the negative effects previously listed as you are weaned off the drug.
A trained medical staff will help you with Xanax withdrawal symptoms. It might be recommended that you be weaned over a period of several weeks. There are several individual or group therapy sessions available when you are getting treatment. In addition, there are community support groups along with inpatient and outpatient treatment programs.
Once you are no longer addicted to Xanax, investigate the many alternatives to easing anxiety or panic attacks, insomnia or whatever causes you to suffer. There are many natural and very effective methods of treatment with no side effects whatsoever.
If you, or someone you love, is addicted to Xanax, seek help immediately. For more information about Xanax addiction treatment, or to obtain help for you or a loved one, contact Arizoxna Addiction Center Treatment Center today. We provide thorough treatments and services, individualized to fix your addiction.
Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Arizona Addiction Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007. Call 888-512-1705.
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