Xanax (alprazolam), like other prescription benzodiazepines (benzos), has the potential to be abused. This abuse can ultimately lead to dependence and addiction. This is why Xanax is one of the most commonly abused medications in the United States today.
What Is Xanax (or Alprazolam)?
Xanax has several uses, but is predominantly utilized by medical professionals to treat anxiety. Aside from this, it’s used to medicate concerns of panic disorders, depression and premenstrual syndrome. Used these ways, as noted by MedLine Plus, it is most often a safe medication.
Xanax’s primary therapeutic value is due to the way it creates sedation and a reduction of anxiety. Its primary mechanisms of action result in central nervous system (CNS) depression, actions which, under prescribed use are generally safe.
However, when a person abuses this drug, and especially when they use the high dosages seen frequently within patterns of addiction, this action can become dangerous, and in certain cases, deadly.
Why And How Do People Abuse Alprazolam Medications?
While prescribed Xanax use offers a therapeutic, maintainable dosage that is overseen by a doctor, recreational abuse is widely variable, and in turn, extremely dangerous. The sedated and relaxed states heighten as dosages spiral out of control within patterns of abuse and addiction.
While Xanax is abused alone, as explained by American Family Physician (AFP) it is more often abuse with another drug (polydrug abuse). The user’s primary purposes here is to increase (in regards to desired, pleasurable feelings), level out or reduce (negative) symptoms of a certain drug. A benzo may be used to magnify the pleasurable effect a person seeks or to self-treat withdrawal.
What About Self-Medication for Stress and Other Conditions, Is That Okay?
Some individuals don’t even realize they are abusing Xanax. You might wonder how this is possible. This form of abuse takes a more easily disguised form at times: self-medication. These drug abusers may actually have a prescription for Xanax, while others may not (these individuals may buy or receive the drug illegally).
In these cases, a person may be struggling with a valid medical need which was/is, or they think could be, treated with Valium. The difference here is that they are not using the medication as directed by a doctor either because they’re:
- Taking it in amounts greater and/or more frequent than prescribed
- Seeking out someone else’s prescription when they themselves do not have one.
Either of these cases qualifies as drug abuse.
A medical professional has had many years of education to direct their prescribing choices. You (or your loved one) on the other hand are making decisions on your own which could jeopardize your health and life.
Even if you’re taking the drug to treat something Valium is prescribed for, you are still at risk of forming a physical dependence and addiction when you use it in this way.
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Signs, Side Effects, And Symptoms Of Xanax Drug Addiction
Any drug abuse can be difficult to spot at various points in its progression, but as it accelerates to addiction, it becomes increasingly difficult for a person to hide. Being aware of the following signs can make it easier for you to spot it in a loved one, earlier, so that you can reach out to us for help and treatment.
Whether a person is self-medicating or using the drug to create pleasurable feelings, they first have to obtain the drug. In both of these situations a person may:
- Feign an illness, or exaggerate the extent of one they already have.
- “Doctor shop” or go doctor-to-doctor in an attempt to get a prescription for the drug.
- Claim they’ve lost their medication or their prescription.
- Steal medication from you or someone else.
- Resort to purchasing the drug on the street (these pills may come in baggies or other unmarked containers).
As a person becomes addicted, their self-image and perception of reality often changes. As this occurs they may:
- Claim they need the drug to function.
- Say they need to drug “to feel good,” “relax,” “calm down,” etc.
- Say they don’t like themselves when they don’t take the drug.
- Claim they’re a better person or more enjoyable to others while on the drug.
- Begin to struggle with their sense of self-worth and self-confidence.
- Begin to believe that finding and using the drug is more important than other aspects of their life, such as family, work or school.
- Alienate their loved ones because they believe they are getting in the way of their drug use.
An addicted individual will also:
- Be extremely preoccupied with thoughts and behaviors surrounding finding and using the drug.
- Experience intense cravings to use the drug.
- Become tolerant to its effects and need more of the drug to “feel good” or reach the desired effect.
- Be physically dependent on the drug.
- Withdrawal if they suddenly stop using it.
In addition to these things, other signs are actually indicative of the damage and danger the drug is imparting on a person’s life.
Side Effects And Dangers Of Xanax Drug Abuse And Addiction
Xanax abuse produces significant physical and mental symptoms, many of which will increase in frequency and severity as the addiction gets worse. These include:
- Emotional blunting
- Impaired memory
- Low blood pressure
- Mood swings
- Nausea and vomiting
- Respiratory depression
- Weakened muscles
Some of these signs actually manifest in a way which appears as moderate to extreme intoxication, depending the amount of drug abused:
- Blurred vision
- Poor coordination
- Slow reflexes
- Slurred words
If you have any other reason to believe your loved one is abusing Xanax, it is important not to write these side effects off to alcohol, a facade some users may try to hide behind.
Xanax abuse can lead a person to engage in risky behaviors, endangering themselves and those around them. When a person abuses Xanax, the CNS depression we spoke of also increases, placing users in danger of respiratory depression, overdose and death.
This holds particularly true when the drug is used in conjunction with others, especially alcohol and opioids, both CNS depressants. These polydrug combinations cause the risk of fatal overdose to skyrocket.
All of these dangers and more can be prevented further by seeking help.
Should Detox Be Part Of My Treatment Plan?
Not all addictions require detox. However, Xanax is surely one which does. A medical detox is a portion of treatment which utilizes various medications to reduce and alleviate painful and uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal. These medications help the process to proceed as smoothly and safely as possible.
As a benzodiazepine, Xanax places users at great risk during this time. Like alcohol, withdrawals from benzos can become so severe that a person could die. Our medical detox helps to protect you from this threat, precautions that you cannot, safely, take on your own at home.
To truly harness sobriety, however, once you cleanse your body of this drug, you should move forward and begin treating the psychological addiction in one of our phenomenal treatment programs.
Individualized Health and Fitness Treatment Is The Key To Success
If we were to treat every addiction and person the same we would be limiting your opportunity for sobriety and a successful recovery. Instead, at Vertava Health, we believe in a multidimensional approach. We craft our programs to address all aspects of your life and health which are impaired by the addiction.
We will help you to build enhanced social, interpersonal, coping and relapse prevention skills, while we strengthen your self-confidence, mental health and physical health. An addiction can pollute your thoughts and emotions, which creates further distress in your life as these things manifest as maladaptive behaviors.
To achieve these issues and address these needs, at Vertava Health we use the following treatment modalities:
- Motivational Interviewing (MI)
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
- Family Therapy And Support
- Mindfulness And Stress Management Practices
- Individual and group therapy and substance abuse counseling
- A Balanced Life Recovery for aftercare support
You shouldn’t have to walk this journey alone. Our caring and expert staff will utilize these methods and more to help you shed the shackles of addiction. With our help, you can embrace the balance and health a sober life offers.
A Sober Life Can Be Yours
If you’d like to find out how our treatment programs can help you or a loved one beat a Xanax addiction, contact us now. Vertava Health believes in new beginnings and our confidential assessment will help you get started on the path to yours, today.