Relaxation is a hard thing to come by these days, but people are able to find ways of making it happen. Some people try and take time for mental relaxation through activities like walks, yoga, meditation, listening to music, doing art, etc. However, not everyone develops healthy habits like these. Some people develop extremely unhealthy ways of relaxing, like substance abuse. For some, using a substance is their method for relaxation. Obviously, this is not a healthy way of achieving tranquility, but those who are stuck in this habit do not realize how destructive this it can be. One substance that has risen in popularity for its relaxing effects is Xanax. Today, we’re going to answer the question “What is Xanax?” and help you understand what this drug can do to you if used outside of it’s intended use. 

Xanax 101

So what is Xanax? Well, Xanax is a prescription drug used to treat anxiety and symptoms that lead to panic attacks. It is the branded name for the drug alprazolam. This drug belongs to the group of drugs known as benzodiazepines. It is the single most prescribed psychiatric medication in the U.S. This comes as no surprise considering the fact that over 40 million Americans (or 18% of the population) are affected by anxiety disorders. 

The way the drug works is it decreases the amount of excitement going on in the brain. For people suffering from anxiety, they experience abnormal amounts of excitement in the brain, but not good excitement. The drug affects the brain’s central nervous system to calm the abnormal amount of excitement that is occurring. Xanax boosts the amount of a natural chemical released in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This drug, as we previously mentioned, is used to fight against anxiety disorders. However, it has become a very popular drug for people to abuse in the last few years.

Xanax Abuse

Unfortunately, the abuse of Xanax has become a very popular trend. People like to abuse this prescription drug for its fast-acting, relaxing effects. People who often abuse this drug are teenagers, college students, or young adults. Since these groups of individuals are still developing, they have a higher risk of being susceptible to anxiety than people older than them. Now, this doesn’t mean all people who abuse this drug are diagnosed with anxiety disorders. Some individuals are able to steal the drug from their parents or even lie to doctors about having anxiety. The ironic thing is that if you abuse this drug long enough, you could develop an anxiety disorder because of the way this drug has an effect on your brain.

One scary fact about Xanax abuse is that the number of individuals abusing this drug nearly tripled between the years of 1998 and 2008. Another alarming statistic on Xanax abuse is that there were over 1.2 million ER visits related to prescription drug abuse, 10% of those incidents were related to Xanax abuse. In 2011, there were over 123,744 ER visits related to Xanax abuse, which was nearly double the amount 5 years prior. When someone develops an addiction to Xanax, they can expect to see at least one or even all of these symptoms:

  1. Depression
  2. Anxiety
  3. Aggressiveness
  4. Impulsiveness 
  5. Psychotic Experiences

How does the abuse of this drug start? It can be quite simple actually. A person can steal it from their parent’s medicine cabinet if they have been prescribed the medication. Some college students even mix this drug with alcohol to create an intense euphoric experience. Another way is by simply taking more than the intended dose. Sometimes, a person may start to rely too heavily on the drug to cope with their anxiety. Though this drug is meant to suppress anxiety disorders and symptoms, the doses have their limits. Even taking one pill over the recommended amount can be considered abuse. Leaning on this drug as a crutch any time you start to feel even a little anxious can lead to addiction.

Xanax Overdose

As we mentioned previously, Xanax not a drug to be trifled with. It is meant to treat serious anxiety disorders and it should not be a medication that people abuse for recreational purposes. If a person abuses this drug enough, they could develop a tolerance to it. The higher a person’s tolerance is, the higher the dose they’ll need to get the desired effects. The scary part is that the higher the doses, the higher the chance of an overdose is. When someone overdoses on Xanax, look for these signs:

  1. Extreme fatigue
  2. Confusion
  3. Impaired Coordination
  4. Slurred Speech
  5. Poor Hand-Eye Coordination
  6. Coma

These are tell-tale signs of whether or not someone has overdosed from Xanax abuse. Now, what about signs of withdrawal? Let’s discuss it!

Xanax Withdrawal

When someone stops abusing a substance, they’ll experience something called withdrawal. This is an extremely uncomfortable thing to deal with and can even be unbearable for people. It’s the body’s final effort in trying to coax the individual to use drugs/alcohol again. When a person withdraws from using Xanax, they can expect to see one or more of these symptoms:

  1. Anxiety
  2. Twitching
  3. Sweating
  4. Nausea/Vomiting
  5. Weight Loss
  6. Migraines
  7. Impaired Vision
  8. Mood Swings
  9. Depression
  10. Memory Loss
  11. Weakness/Fatigue
  12. Lack of Appetite

Xanax addiction is no joke, and it has no bias when it comes to demographics. This drug can be abused by pretty much anyone. Though it is often used recreationally in younger demographics, anyone, young or old, diagnosed with anxiety disorders is extremely susceptible to Xanax abuse. If you or someone you know is suffering from an addiction to Xanax, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. The first step in addiction recovery is admitting that you have a problem. There is nothing wrong with admitting that because at the end of the day addiction is a disease, not a choice. Though the first decision to use is a decision, substances have a way of manipulating the brain and controlling what a person does, almost like a disease. So don’t be afraid to reach out for help, it’s okay to not be okay. 

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