Xanax is one of the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines for the treatment of anxiety and other mental health disorders. However, Xanax is often prescribed for short-term use because of its risk of abuse and addiction.
Substance abuse is dangerous and increases the risk of experiencing a potentially life-threatening overdose. If you or a loved one struggles with Xanax use and abuse, a treatment center can help you learn to manage cravings and improve overall well-being.
Effects Of Xanax
Xanax, the brand name for alprazolam, is a benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety and panic disorders.
Other benzodiazepines include:
- Ativan (lorazepam)
- Klonopin (clonazepam)
- Halcion (triazolam)
- Valium (diazepam)
Benzodiazepines, also called “benzos,” are central nervous system (CNS) depressant drugs that slow brain activity.
Specifically, benzos increase activity of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
Increasing GABA can have a relaxing effect, which helps to improve anxiety and sleep problems.
Dosage & Side Effects
Xanax comes in several different strengths, including 0.25mg, 0.5mg, 1mg, and 2mg. The higher the dose, the greater the risk of experiencing serious side-effects. Some people may experience drowsiness and dizziness when they first start taking Xanax, until the body adjusts.
Side-effects of Xanax may include:
- memory impairment
- dry mouth
Xanax is a schedule IV controlled substance in the United States, which means it poses a risk of abuse and physical dependence. Xanax tablets and oral solution should be taken by mouth, exactly as prescribed.
Benzodiazepine abuse includes:
- taking more than the prescribed dose
- taking someone else’s medication
- crushing or snorting tablets
- taking Xanax to experience a high
Overdose & Polysubstance Abuse
Misusing prescription drugs like Xanax increases the risk of becoming dependent, addicted, or experiencing a potentially fatal overdose.
Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants that slow breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. Taking too much can cause severe and life-threatening symptoms, especially if Xanax is mixed with other CNS depressants.
Mixing Xanax with opioids or alcohol increases the risk of respiratory depression, including slow or stopped breathing. If you suspect a loved one is experiencing respiratory depression, seek emergency medical attention.
Signs of Xanax overdose may include:
- excessive drowsiness
- motor impairment
Signs Of Xanax Addiction
Continuing to misuse Xanax or other benzodiazepines can eventually lead to a substance use disorder (SUD), also known as addiction. Benzodiazepine addiction is characterized by uncontrollable use despite negative consequences.
If you or a loved one is prescribed a benzodiazepine, like Xanax, understanding the signs of addiction is important.
Someone struggling with Xanax addiction may:
- experience intense cravings
- need increasingly higher doses to achieve the same effect (tolerance)
- miss work, school, and other important obligations
- spend a majority of the time using Xanax or thinking about getting more of the drug
- use Xanax in a way other than how it was prescribed
- continue to use Xanax despite harmful consequences
Long-term use of benzodiazepines increases the risk of developing tolerance and/or dependence. If you become dependent on a benzodiazepine, you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking the medication.
It can be dangerous to quit Xanax “cold-turkey” because you may experience seizures and other serious symptoms.
Xanax withdrawal symptoms may include:
- trouble sleeping
- increased heart rate
- increased blood pressure
- raised body temperature
After stopping benzodiazepines, symptoms of a sleep disorder or anxiety disorder may temporarily reappear. According to a study reported by the National Library of Medicine, panic attacks increased in people with panic disorder who stopped taking Xanax.
To avoid severe withdrawal symptoms, the prescribing doctor can begin a benzodiazepine taper. Tapering the dose means gradually decreasing the amount you take, while monitoring potential withdrawal symptoms.
Xanax Addiction Treatment
Addiction causes changes in the brain that can make it very challenging to overcome without professional treatment. Professional treatment centers combine evidence-based strategies and personalized care to help you learn to maintain long-term recovery.
Addiction treatment options include:
Withdrawal from benzodiazepines can cause dangerous symptoms, like seizures. Inpatient medical detox can safely taper you off of benzodiazepines and prepare you for an inpatient/outpatient treatment program.
Trained medical professionals provide support and monitor your symptoms around the clock to ensure your safety and comfort.
Inpatient drug rehab, also known as residential treatment, is the most intensive type of addiction treatment. You live on campus and participate in a structured daily schedule of therapies, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and individual counseling.
Outpatient treatment programs are less restrictive than inpatient programs but offer many similar services. You typically attend several treatment sessions per week, depending on your individual needs.
It’s important to maintain the skills you gain during a long-term treatment program. Aftercare services provide the necessary support to help you safely transition back into your community.
You may be referred to 12-step support groups, given job or educational assistance, and discuss relapse prevention strategies.
If you or a loved one struggles with benzodiazepine addiction, please contact us today to learn about our treatment options.
Northeast Addition Editorial Team
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This page does not provide medical advice.