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Xanax Addiction

Xanax, generically known as alprazolam, is one of the most widely-abused prescription drugs in this country.  As prescriptions for this highly addictive drug rise, the rates of abuse and dependence increase as well.  As many have discovered, Xanax is highly addictive.

Xanax is a benzodiazepine in the sedative-hypnotic class of drugs.  It is generally prescribed to treat panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, some forms of generalized anxiety or social anxiety disorder and some phobias.  Like other sedative-hynotics, Xanax is also prescribed for difficulty falling asleep.  Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants, and like alcohol, work to slow down the brain’s activity as well as block the “alarm system”, which is responsible for excessive levels of anxiety.

Although Xanax may be prescribed legally by a physician, abuse and dependence can occur.  For many it is a highly addictive drug.

The crushing and snorting of Xanax has recently become more widespread, making the dangers of this drug even higher.  When snorting Xanax, the effects are felt faster.  Xanax abuse among teens is on the rise, as they have easy access to these drugs out of their home medicine cabinet if a family member is prescribed them as a PRN or “as needed”.xanax bar or xannie

Xanax bars (also known as zanies or planks) are 2mg elongated bars that can be split or quartered. People who are abusing Xanax may take multiple bars at a time or combine them with alcohol or other drugs.  One of the effects of a Xanax high is memory loss, causing the user to forget he/she has taken the drug or how much has been ingested.  This can lead to overdose.

Signs Of Xanax Abuse:

Indications of Xanax abuse are: 1) taking Xanax in dosages higher than prescribed, 2) taking Xanax without a prescription, and/or 3) taking Xanax for the sole purpose of getting “high”.  A person abusing Xanax may exhibit slurred speech, decreased motor coordination, impaired memory, sleepiness, lethargy and lightheadedness.  Xanax, especially in larger dosages or combined with alcohol (which can be extremely dangerous) can provide a crippling high that is similar to being drunk.  The high is achieved quickly, within 5-10 minutes of taking it.

Signs Of Xanax Dependence:

Physical dependence on Xanax can occur within just a few weeks of taking the drug regularly, even at prescribed dosages.  According to the DSM IV-TR, tolerance is one of the hallmarks of dependence.  Tolerance develops as the body adjusts to the presence of the substance and requires more of the drug to achieve the similar effects.  Once there is physical dependence, withdrawal effects can be felt when stopping the drug immediately. If you are taking a Benzodiazepine, you must consult a doctor before discontinuing the drug, as stopping the drug abruptly will lead to seizures and potentially death.

Xanax dependence tends to develop slowly over time and without the user or family members noticing.  However, once a dependence or addiction exists, one will begin to appear “checked out” or “zoned out” frequently.  He/she will not be able to be present emotionally for family members, and may have difficulty remembering conversations, etc. and will often deny there is a problem.

Xanax Detox:

Stopping Xanax or any other benzodiazepine once there is physical dependence can result in seizures, suicidal thoughts and even death, so should be done with medical involvement. Xanax addiction often requires a detoxification period which can last 5-10 days and is done in a medical setting under a physician’s care.  Following this, one may, depending on the severity of the addiction, opt to go into a residential treatment facility or intensive outpatient treatment program.  Abstinence from all mood and mind altering drugs will be necessary during this recovery process.  Ideally constructive coping skills will be learned that will aid in handling anxiety so that addictive drugs are no longer needed. 

If you or your loved one is struggling with an addiction to or is abusing prescription drugs, seek help immediately.  Prescription drug abuse is dangerous.  New Hope Recovery Center offers individualized treatment for prescription drugs and for many other addictions.  You can reach us at 888-707-HOPE (4673) or [email protected].

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center