In our increasingly fast-paced and ever-changing society, it’s no surprise that anxiety is the most common mental illness affecting adults and children today. In fact, an estimated 40 million American adults are suffering from some sort of anxiety disorder.
Thankfully, anxiety disorders are highly treatable. Although there are a number of medications on the market to treat this disease, Xanax is one of the most common drugs prescribed to help those suffering from an anxiety disorder. Each year, around 44 million prescriptions for Xanax are written.
Xanax is frequently prescribed because of its high-potency, which helps treat symptoms of anxiety quickly and effectively. Unfortunately, this is also what makes Xanax highly addictive.
What Is Xanax Used For?
Xanax is often prescribed by doctors to help treat anxiety disorders. However, it can also be used to treat a range of other health problems such as
- Involuntary muscle spasms
- Panic disorders
- Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal
When used as directed by a doctor, Xanax can alleviate a lot of the crippling symptoms associated with these health problems.
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Physicians will rarely prescribe Xanax as the sole source of treatment for someone suffering from an anxiety or panic disorder unless they feel like there is no better option. Due to its highly potent nature, Xanax is often prescribed to patients to take intermittently as needed and only for a short period of time.
How Does Xanax Work?
Xanax falls into a class of drugs called benzodiazepines– more commonly called benzos. Benzos work by actively slowing down brain activity to reduce levels of excitement and create a calming, almost tranquilizing, effect on your brain and body. This is what makes it so effective at alleviating symptoms of anxiety disorders.
The full effect of Xanax can be felt in as little as one to two hours after being administered and can stay in the body for several hours. If you are experiencing an extreme sense of panic, the relief that Xanax can provide is immeasurable.
However, the calming effects of Xanax are still only temporary. Meaning, the more you rely on it as your only treatment plan for an anxiety disorder, the more your body and brain will depend on the substance to function- and it doesn’t take long for this dependency to develop. Xanax dependency can form in as little as one to two weeks of taking the drug regularly.
The longer this cycle of abuse continues, the deeper and more destructive it will become.
Xanax Dependency And Addiction
Unfortunately, a dependency on Xanax, or a substance like it, will often start as a means of self-medication.
While around 18 percent of the American adult population is suffering from an anxiety disorder, less than half of them will seek help for it. Those that do not seek professional help for anxiety will often turn to a substance, like Xanax, as a means to cope with the debilitating symptoms of an anxiety or panic disorder.
Even if you are prescribed Xanax by a doctor, you are at risk for a Xanax addiction. If you are using this drug regularly to cope with feelings of anxiety or panic, it doesn’t matter whether the drug was prescribed by a doctor or not, you could unknowingly fall into addiction.
If one small pill can help ease the pain for those suffering with an anxiety disorder, it can seem like the most effective and simplistic form of treatment. However, this mindset is incredibly dangerous. If Xanax use is not thoroughly managed, this simple solution will slip into dependency. From there, the Xanax dependency can easily slip into addiction. Gradually and without even realizing it, you can become trapped in your own solution.
Symptoms Of Xanax Abuse
Due to its sedative qualities, those suffering from a Xanax addiction may lack their usual energy or motivation to engage in the things they used to love. After a long period of Xanax abuse, the user will start to lack the motivation to even participate in everyday activities. Other outward signs of Xanax addiction include:
- Sleeping for extended periods of time
- Decline in cognitive skills
Over time, as the dependency deepens, those abusing Xanax will need to take increasing quantities of the drug to get the same euphoric effects as before. The more Xanax that is taken, the longer these symptoms will prevail and can lead to permanent damage.
How Is Xanax Addiction Treated?
As a central nervous system depressant, Xanax will slow down your heart rate, lower your blood pressure and reduce your body’s temperature to help cope with symptoms of anxiety. If you’re abusing Xanax, your body will inherently begin to adjust to these conditions and accept them as the new normal. If you were to suddenly remove the drug from your brain and body, these functions would quickly rebound. This makes quitting Xanax cold turkey incredibly risky.
Detoxing from Xanax, or any drug in the benzo family, should only be done under medical supervision. Your body’s vital signs must be closely monitored during the detox process to help avoid and treat withdrawal symptoms including:
- Heart palpitations
- Impaired respiration
- Sweating or fever
- Tingling in arms and legs
- Blurred vision
If detox from Xanax is done without medical supervision, some of the more dangerous withdrawal symptoms, such as hypertension or heart palpitations, can be deadly.
Once Xanax has been completely detoxed from your body, the true mental and physical healing can begin in treatment. Throughout treatment, patients will work with professionals to recognize the root cause of their addiction, identify their triggers and set up boundaries in order to maintain their sobriety and thrive without Xanax.
While the cravings for Xanax may never truly disappear, it’s important to recognize that these compulsions are manageable with the right tools and support. A life free from addiction is possible for anyone and there is a large network of people willing to help make this a reality for those currently struggling with a Xanax addiction.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to Xanax or another substance, call to speak with one of our treatment specialists today at 888-512-3326.