Facts About Xanax Addiction and Treatment
Xanax, or alprazolam, is a powerfully addictive sedative drug. Xanax is a benzodiazepine depressant, putting it in the same family as Valium. Xanax affects the central nervous system, suppressing anxiety and treating panic disorders. Patients also rely on Xanax to treat social anxiety disorders. While Xanax has helped several patients overcome a variety of ailments, it has also caused a massive wave of harmful benzodiazepine addictions, overdoses, and deaths. Learn more about Xanax addictions and methods of treatment.
What Does Xanax Treat?
Xanax is one of the most commonly prescribed psychoactive drugs in the country. Like other benzodiazepines, doctors prescribe Xanax mainly to treat anxiety disorders. Xanax is a muscle relaxant and sedative, ideal for treating symptoms of many different anxiety and panic disorders. It acts on the brain and nerves to produce a soothing, calming effect, adhering to the GABA receptor. It is this same effect that makes Xanax a high-risk drug for misuse, abuse, and addiction.
Xanax’s Growing Popularity
Xanax entered the market in 1981, right on the cusp of Valium’s loss in popularity due to controversy regarding its risk for dependency. Xanax offered vast improvements to Valium, leaving the system faster and preventing the hung-over feeling that Valium often produced in patients. Unlike Valium, which can remain in the system for approximately 100 hours, the effects of Xanax disappear in just a few hours. Soon patients who would have turned to therapy for minor mental illnesses, depression, and anxiety were instead turning to Xanax to solve their problems.
In recent years, Xanax has again gained popularity. Along with the rising rates of prescription opioid and heroin use, benzodiazepine use and abuse have increased across America. Several factors may contribute to the sudden prevalence of benzo addiction in the U.S. It may be that people experience more stress and pressure in today’s fast-paced digital world and turn to Xanax for relief. It may also have to do with liberal prescribing practices and ease of availability. The increase in Xanax prescription rates has come with an increase in addiction rates.
Symptoms of Xanax Use and Abuse
The psychological effects of Xanax lead thousands of people to abuse the drug and consume it non-medically. People who abuse Xanax often take multiple pills at once and mix the drug with other substances to heighten its effects. Someone who takes Xanax recreationally, becoming dependent on its effects, may experience physical and psychological symptoms of use such as:
- Compulsive need to take the drug
- Impaired coordination
- Slurred speech
- Irritability, aggression, hostility, and rage
- Memory problems
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Tremors or twitches
These effects are in addition to possible personal consequences of a Xanax addiction, such as loss of personal relationships with friends and family, losing a job, struggling with finances, and avoiding favorite hobbies and activities. Xanax has unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, often leading patients to take more and more of the drug. It is possible to overdose on Xanax, especially if mixed with other drugs or alcohol. An overdose can slow respiration and heart rate. Breathing may stop completely, leading to death.
Xanax Addiction in the U.S.
Xanax addiction is a disease that plagues thousands of Americans. A SAMHSA report from 2014 showed a rise in Xanax-related emergency department (ED) visits in the previous six years. The report showed 123,744 Xanax-related ED visits in 2011, compared to just 57,419 in 2005. In 2011, Xanax was responsible for about 10 percent of all prescription drug-related ED visits. One can track the rise of Xanax abuse in the U.S. through other statistics as well. Here are some recent numbers for alprazolam abuse in the country:
- There were 46,713 ED visits for Xanax and alcohol taken together in 2011.
- 9 percent of all ED visits related to non-medical use of pharmaceuticals in 2011 were for alprazolam.
- 25,252 ED visits for suicide attempts related to alprazolam (11.1 percent of all benzodiazepine-related suicide attempts) in 2011.
- There were 30,052 alprazolam-related admissions to substance abuse treatment services in 2014.
Between 2004 and 2011, the number of ED visits involving drugs to treat anxiety increased by 138 percent. Benzodiazepines such as Xanax increased 148 percent in the same time frame. Benzos were involved in about 215,000 more ED visits in 2011 than in 2004. These statistics show how bad the Xanax addiction problem has become.
Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms
A patient may initially receive a Xanax prescription because of a legitimate ailment, such as high anxiety. Over time, however, Xanax can be habit forming. While not everyone who takes Xanax becomes addicted, thousands of people do begin to use the drug recreationally instead of as prescribed. Some people try and stop taking Xanax on their own and must fight debilitating withdrawal symptoms, such as:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Intense sweat
- Anxiety and nervous feelings
- Loss of appetite/weight loss
- Tingling in feet and hands
Sometimes, Xanax withdrawals can cause intense emotions that lead to suicidal thoughts. If you or a loved one are trying to detox off Xanax, professional help can make the transition much safer and easier.
Hope for the Future: Xanax Addiction Treatment
When taken with alcohol, heroin, LSD, or other depressants, Xanax creates a euphoric feeling, or high. This encourages people to abuse the drug, doctor shop to feed an addiction, steal pills from friends and family, and shop for alprazolam on the black market.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a Xanax addiction, seek a professionally supervised detoxification process. Treatment center professionals can help mitigate withdrawal symptoms and create a personalized plan for recovery moving forward. Contact The Treatment Center by The Recovery Village for more information.
Don’t Let Prescription Drug Abuse Take Control of Your Life! NOW Is the Time to Receive Professional Treatment You Deserve. Reach Out to The Treatment Center by The Recovery Village Today.