Most people have heard of anxiety. Many people have heard of Xanax. Some people know that Xanax is typically prescribed to treat anxiety. Fewer people are aware of the likelihood of becoming addicted to Xanax. Here, we will look at how Xanax affects the body, how Xanax addiction can affect relationships, and how you can become empowered to receive support and step out of the addictive cycle.

What is Xanax?

Xanax is a benzodiazepine that acts as a depressant on the central nervous system and induces sedation, sleep, alleviates anxiety and muscle spasms, and can prevent seizures. Xanax is also a commonly used street drug and is known by the names of benzos or downers.

Xanax was approved for medical use in 1981 and by 1983, it surpassed Valium as the most prescribed benzodiazepine and remains that way today. Along with Valium, Ativan and Klonopin, Xanax is a prescribed benzodiazepine with a high abuse rate due to its tendency to cause tolerance in people. All of these medications are controlled substances classified as schedule IV drugs in the Controlled Substance Act in the U.S.

What are the dangers of Xanax?

Xanax is often associated with abuse among teens and young adults who crush the tablets to snort for a buzz or take the drug by mouth. The “high” of Xanax occurs within an hour and a half of consumption, making it one of the three most powerful benzodiazapines.

Xanax abuse is associated with:

  • increased aggression
  • hostility
  • amnesia
  • irritability
  • elaborate and disturbing dreams

Xanax is usually lumped in with drugs causing similar effects, such as alcohol, sleeping pills, GHB or barbiturates. Overdose signs and symptoms include:

  • shallow, labored respiration
  • sticky skin
  • dilated pupils
  • slow and quick pulse
  • coma
  • death

What are the problems surrounding Xanax?

There are many issues surrounding the prescription medication Xanax. A few concerning statistics regarding this drug include:

  • Treatment facilities disclosed a near-80% elevation in admissions in 2002 as a direct result of benzodiazepine addiction, primarily Xanax addiction
  • The amount of Xanax prescriptions given in 2002 was 29.9 million, and this escalated to 37.5 million by 2007
  • There were more than 64,000 ER admissions for Xanax addiction in 2006
  • There was a 90% escalation in ER visits between 2004 and 2008 due to Xanax addiction
  • The amount of Xanax-related ER admissions approached 125,000 in 2010
  • Xanax is generally referred to as the most lethal benzodiazepine in existence

One thing to remember is that a person with an addictive brain must steer clear of all mood-altering substances, including alcohol and marijuana in order to truly recover. This begins with admitting there is a problem and seeking the right treatment.

Why is Xanax addictive?

Xanax is the most abused benzodiazepine in the U.S. It is both physically and mentally addictive for a number of reasons. Physically, as the body builds a tolerance to its effects and dependence sets in, the person becomes fearful of the uncomfortable withdrawal experiences that can arise. For instance, an addicted person may genuinely see the unhealthiness of the situation and have a desire to stop, but when the body does not have the steady flow of opiates it has become accustom to, withdrawal symptoms can range from moderate discomfort to extreme, or even dangerous,  physical symptoms:

  • headaches
  • irritability
  • tremors
  • concentration difficulties
  • significant sleep interruption
  • anxiety
  • muscle soreness or tension
  • panic attacks
  • nausea
  • heart rhythm disturbances
  • psychotic episodes
  • hallucinations
  • seizures

It is not hard to see why even people with a sincere desire to quit can be foiled in the process. Other reasons why Xanax is so prone to be an addictive drug of choice include these statistics:

  • Xanax is the most frequently prescribed benzodiazepine in the U.S., making it readily available for an addicted person
  • Because a person can feel Xanax’s effects so rapidly, it is extremely psychologically and physically addictive
  • Due to Xanax’s tendency to wear off rapidly, users must consume more, and often, to receive the desired high
  • Physical dependency and tolerance typically happens within three weeks of use
  • Once dependent and tolerant, users must use more and more to achieve the same effects

What are the best treatment options for Xanax addiction?

The best treatment options for Xanax addiction is an initial medically supervised detoxification from the substance, as withdrawal from opiates can be life-threatening. This is best when performed at a treatment facility where the staff can prepare the patient for 30-90 days of in-patient treatment immediately following detox. This stay is crucial to the success of the addicted person because it allows time for the person’s brain to heal from the damage done by the drug and for the person to begin to build skills for living a life of sobriety.

After the full in-patient stay at a residential treatment facility, it is important for the patient to step down into either a Sober Living placement, where he/she can receive continued support in living sober, or an out-patient program. Sober Living is ideal because it provides a community support atmosphere with regular AA/NA group participation to help keep the addicted person focused on recovery.

Who can help me Find Xanax Rehab?

If you are ready to take that next step towards healing, is here for you. Our free 24/7 national helpline is staffed with licensed counselors and other mental health professionals ready to answer your questions and concerns. We can help you understand your treatment options and support you in choosing the treatment that works best for you. Let us empower you to take back control of your sense of wellbeing!