Xanax’s popularity is hard to understate. At one time, this medication was among the most prescribed drugs on the market. Today, it remains one of the most popular drugs in the class of central nervous system depressants known as benzodiazepines. Xanax’s addictive nature often remains under the radar for those who use the drug, whether illicitly or under a doctor’s prescription.
Over time, users experience a range of addiction and withdrawal symptoms. While benzodiazepines like Xanax have not been widely considered “epidemic” drugs when compared to opioids and stimulants, the popularity of Xanax and its addictive properties has led to the purchase of illicit versions of Xanax on the street, often at the expense of taking counterfeit pills laced with deadly amounts of fentanyl or other drug combinations. Sometimes this is done by mixing Xanax with other drugs, and sometimes Xanax isn’t even in the counterfeit pills sold by its name.
Worst of all, since some people use Xanax to combat anxiety or insomnia symptoms, the thought of dealing with addiction can feel overwhelming and even crippling for those who live with these conditions. Where to start and what to do may not seem clear, so many do not take the necessary first step toward recovery. That is why it is vital to understand what Xanax is, how Xanax addiction affects the body, and how to recover from a Xanax addiction with an effective, professional treatment plan.
Benzodiazepines (benzos) came onto the scene as a safe replacement for barbiturate drugs; at least, that was the marketing strategy. Like benzodiazepines, barbiturate drugs commonly treat anxiety and insomnia, but they come with a strong potential for abuse and a sad history of overdose deaths. Alprazolam, the generic name for Xanax, was introduced in the 1970s. Its effectiveness as a treatment option for anxiety, panic disorders, insomnia, and many applications made it instantly popular.
But how does Xanax work? To put it simply, Xanax, like other benzos, decreases the brain’s excitement levels. Specifically, Xanax is a short-acting, high-potency benzo, meaning the drug’s potency lasts for a shorter time compared to other benzodiazepines. This makes the drug popular because it can be used for various symptoms without the drug remaining in the body for a long time. However, since Xanax has a short elimination half-life, it often leads to rebound anxiety when people stop using it too soon. For many people, stopping the drug abruptly leads to an endless cycle of ongoing use, increasing the risk of addiction.
Signs of Xanax Addiction
There are various signs and symptoms related to Xanax addiction. However, one thing to consider if we are concerned about ourselves or our loved ones is the behavioral signs often accompanying benzodiazepine dependence.
Changes in Demeanor
Sometimes the behavioral signs affect how someone addicted to Xanax interacts with the world. Examples include a lack of personal hygiene, a deceptive or hostile attitude when talking about their Xanax usage, or a noticeable decline in financial responsibilities, including being a reliable employee or business owner. While these behavioral signs can also company addiction related to other drugs beyond Xanax, they are important to consider as common signs of substance abuse.
Changes in Xanax Use
Other signs that accompany Xanax addiction might not be as clear to anyone except the person using the drug, especially if it is being hidden from others intentionally. Because of the addictive nature of Xanax, what starts as a drug taken only circumstantially can turn into a drug that is used more and more frequently. Eventually, the effects of Xanax are only experienced if the drug is used at high doses or taken in unintended ways to experience a more intense high, such as snorting or smoking Xanax.
Symptoms of Xanax Addiction
Xanax addiction can have a wide range of symptoms that signal Xanax addiction, such as:
- Chronic drowsiness
- Impaired coordination
It is important to know that many of the signs and symptoms of Xanax addiction are also Xanax withdrawal symptoms. This has to do with the changing brain chemistry accompanying ongoing drug abuse. Over time, Xanax rewires the brain’s reward center. As Xanax tolerance increases, the body craves more and more of the substance to experience euphoria. When users don’t reward this dependence with more Xanax, they can experience serious and life-threatening symptoms, such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Low blood pressure
- Low heart rate
When central nervous system depressants like Xanax are used, they can break down the brain’s communication with the rest of the body, especially the vital organs like the lungs and heart. These symptoms should never be taken lightly. It is vital to seek immediate medical attention if you or someone you know has experienced these symptoms. They can become life-threatening without the help of professional intervention.
Xanax Addiction Statistics
The annual amount of prescription Xanax in the United States has consistently topped 16 million, peaking at almost 29 million in 2014. While it is true that Xanax prescriptions have been slowly trending downward since 2014, this does not necessarily mean that the drug has fallen out of popularity. Instead, the decrease is likely because of the rise in public awareness of Xanax and the growing hesitancy of doctors to prescribe the drug in light of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s ongoing drug warnings. Since 2020, Xanax has carried a black box warning from the FDA, signaling its widespread potential for addiction, overdose, and death.
According to the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), about 4.8 million Americans over the age of 12 reported misusing prescription benzodiazepines. The largest percentage of abuse was reported in adults between the age of 18 and 25, and these troubling numbers do not even include the illicit drug market of Xanax.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Various questions may come to mind when it comes to Xanax, including concerns about drug overdose, dealing with addiction, and seeking treatment from medical professionals. Here are some answers to help address those concerns:
What Are the Overdose Risks of Xanax Addiction?
Overdosing on Xanax is a serious medical condition that requires immediate medical attention. If untreated, a Xanax overdose can be fatal. Some of the more common overdose risks of Xanax include:
- Loss of muscle control
Users can also experience these overdose risks when they combine Xanax with other CNS depressant medications. It is worth mentioning that alcohol is a CNS depressant, meaning users can experience overdose symptoms when they use alcohol alongside a normal Xanax dosage.
What Should You Do If You or Someone You Love Is Addicted to Xanax?
Because of the life-threatening condition of Xanax abuse, you or a loved one needs to seek professional medical treatment. The overdose risks and withdrawal symptoms associated with Xanax can differ for each person. Still, the serious consequences of trying to detox at home or quit cold turkey can be more easily avoided under the guidance and supervision of a treatment center.
How You Can Get Help With Xanax Addiction
The best way to get help with Xanax addiction is to reach out to a dedicated facility that can help you on the road to recovery. Selecting a facility with proven treatments and trained professionals committed to helping you every step of the way is important. Reach out to a dedicated treatment facility today for a tailored treatment plan that’s right for you.
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