What is Xanax Addiction?
Xanax, also known as Alprazolam, comes from a group of drugs called benzodiazepines which act on the brain to slow down the body’s functions. Xanax works by increasing the effects of a brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) producing sedating and calming effects. It is most commonly used to treat anxiety and panic disorders, but because of its ability to provide fast-acting relief, it can also be highly addictive.
Addiction to medications like Xanax is becoming increasingly common, with many people failing to comprehend the seriousness associated with abusing prescription medication. Those who have been given a Xanax prescription from their doctor may not even consider their use to be excessive because they have obtained it legally. However, it’s important to remember that legally approved medications still carry a high risk of addiction.
Taking more Xanax than the prescribed dosage or using Xanax without a prescription is considered abuse and could lead to addiction and physical dependence if not addressed early.
People using Xanax recreationally do so through various methods. Some of the most common ones include taking multiple pills, crushing and snorting pills and mixing pills with other drugs or alcohol.
Symptoms of Xanax Addiction
Addiction to prescription medications like Xanax has been on the increase for several decades now. It’s common for people to avoid seeking help for Xanax addiction because prescribed medications are often deemed more acceptable within society. However, the reality is that prescription medications have just as much potential for addiction and abuse as illicit drugs and can be just as dangerous.
While using Xanax regularly might provide you with a huge sense of relief at first, after a while you may start to notice various symptoms beginning to manifest the longer you abuse it. If you’re concerned about yourself or someone you know, keeping an eye on symptoms of Xanax addiction may help you identify the problem before it escalates.
Some of the most common behavioural signs and symptoms of Xanax addiction include:
- Using Xanax every day, more than once
- Disregarding family and friends in favour of finding and taking Xanax
- Obsessing about Xanax supply
- Continued Xanax abuse despite any negative consequences
- Engaging in more dangerous or risky behaviours as a result of lowered inhibitions
Physical signs and symptoms of Xanax addiction can include:
- Slurred speech
- Lack of coordination
- Delayed reflexes
- Difficulty focusing
- Sleeping long hours
You may also notice the following:
- Poor school or work performance
- Lack of interest in hobbies or activities previously enjoyed
- Mood swings
- Impaired or delayed cognitive abilities
- Being secretive and dishonest
- Isolating from friends and family
- Poor personal hygiene
Symptoms of Xanax withdrawal
Xanax addiction and Xanax dependence describe two different stages of addiction. While addiction refers to the obsessive and continuous act of obtaining and using Xanax, dependence occurs once your body has developed a physical tolerance to the drug. Once physical dependence occurs, most of the effects of Xanax are lost, meaning that more and more of the drug is required to achieve the same high.
If you've been taking Xanax for long periods, with or without a prescription, then your body will have become accustomed to its presence. Lowering the dosage or stopping it completely can lead to unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. This process is a result of the brain attempting to adjust and function normally without Xanax.
Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms of Xanax include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Stomach cramps
- Muscle cramps
If you’ve been taking Xanax for a long time and wish to withdraw from it, you should speak to a medical professional about safely tapering your dosage.
Effects of Xanax Addiction
There are many long-term effects associated with Xanax abuse because of the way this drug can alter the chemical make-up of the brain over time. Although Xanax is prescribed to treat anxiety, excessive use over a long period can cause this anxiety to return, along with paranoia, mania and depression. Some users have also reported symptoms of delirium. If left untreated, these disorders can increase the risk of you causing harm to yourself or others.
Due to its sedating effects, long-term Xanax abuse can leave you feeling disconnected from the world around you, and in a constant state of drowsiness. It can also slow down your cognitive abilities and reflexes, leaving you feeling underwhelmed and confused.
Chronic Xanax addiction can lead to aggressive behaviour and violent mood swings. This is a result of chemical imbalances that have occurred in the brain over time, however, these imbalances can be treated with the correct form of treatment and therapy.
Impaired motor skills
With normal use, Xanax can have a sedating effect. However, long-term abuse of Xanax can significantly impact normal motor skills which make driving and using heavy equipment extremely dangerous. These effects can worsen the longer Xanax is abused.
Xanax metabolises through the liver and, as a result, can lead to plasma levels increasing. This in turn can cause damage to the liver. If you’ve been prescribed Xanax to treat anxiety, there is still a risk of liver injury in the future. It is important when taking any medication long-term to get regular health screenings.
Some studies into the effects of long-term Xanax use have found the drug linked to seizures. This was most common in people taking high doses or who had been abusing the drug long-term.
Treatment for Xanax addiction
Addiction is a progressive disease and living with a Xanax addiction can be debilitating. It can affect every aspect of your life, leaving you feeling as though you no longer have control. The thought of reaching out and asking for help may seem daunting, however, recovery from Xanax addiction is always possible with the correct treatment.
Ultimately, the best form of treatment for overcoming Xanax addiction is a combination of drug detox and rehab therapy.
Due to the unpleasant and sometimes agonising symptoms of Xanax withdrawal, it is recommended that you undergo a medically supervised detox. You should never stop taking Xanax suddenly, as tapering off is required before full cessation. During a medically assisted detox, you might be prescribed a smaller dose of another benzodiazepine, usually Valium, to help alleviate any withdrawal symptoms you might experience.
Many people assume that detox is the only treatment needed to recover from Xanax addiction, and while the detox process is extremely important for removing toxins from the body, it does not provide you with the tools you need to maintain sobriety.
Once you have completed your detox, you will need a suitable therapy programme to help tackle the psychological aspect of your addiction. Participating in treatment therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), individual counselling and support groups can help you identify any underlying issues that may have contributed to your Xanax addiction.
Is Xanax illegal?
Xanax is not illegal, but it is a controlled substance and only available through prescription in the UK. As is the case with many prescription medications, it can be obtained in other ways by those who wish to use it recreationally.
Why do people abuse Xanax?
People abuse drugs for many reasons, often to numb physical or psychological pain. The sedating effects of Xanax make it an ideal substance for people to self-medicate with. Long-term use can eventually lead to addiction and later, physical dependence.
Can you overdose on Xanax?
Yes, it is possible to overdose on Xanax, and the risk of overdose increases when Xanax is mixed with other depressants such as alcohol or opioid drugs. A lethal dosage of Xanax depends on several factors, such as age, weight, height and whether you have any pre-existing medical conditions.
How long does a Xanax high last?
Xanax is absorbed into the bloodstream quickly and is considered to be fast-acting benzo. When taken orally, the effects of Xanax can be felt within an hour of the first dose. This is because it takes only minutes for Xanax to metabolise and immediately begins regulating GABA throughout the central nervous system. Although a Xanax high doesn't last more than a few hours its ability to provide such quick relief is what appeals to users.
What is counterfeit Xanax and how do I spot it?
The production of counterfeit benzodiazepines like Xanax increases the dangers associated with obtaining the drug illegally and without a prescription. Because Xanax is rarely prescribed in the UK, it becomes difficult for dealers to maintain a regular supply, so many began pressing their pills. These drugs are made to look exactly like the drug they are trying to imitate, in this case, Xanax. However, they often contain the wrong active ingredients and are mixed with unknown chemicals, raising the risk of overdose and even death. Most counterfeit pills look identical to the real thing, making them difficult to spot. The only way to effectively protect against falling victim to counterfeit drugs is to avoid buying Xanax illegally.