Xanax Addiction

Xanax is at the heart of the issues involving prescription drug addiction in the United States. The drug is taken to relieve people from anxiety and panic disorders, although it is often misused due to the calming effects and tranquil high it can provide.

If you or someone you know is addicted to Xanax, seek help before the addiction worsens. The Recovery Village has trained teams of medical experts who understand the difficulties of living with Xanax addiction. Enrolling in a rehabilitation program helps many people remove Xanax addiction from their lives while also treating any mental illnesses or disorders that they might have, including panic attacks or anxiety.

Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam, a drug which helps people with anxiety and panic disorders manage their symptoms. Alprazolam and Xanax are classified as a benzodiazepine, which are psychoactive drugs that produce a calming effect for the brain and central nervous system. Benzodiazepines enhances the effects of GABA, a chemical in the body that helps people experience a tranquil state.

Xanax should be taken orally. The dosage is based on a patient’s medical condition, age and response to treatment. If the dose is small but the drug’s effects are not strong enough, doctors might increase the dose to produce the desired outcome.

However, regular Xanax consumption might cause withdrawal symptoms, especially if the drug is taken for a long time or in high doses. Withdrawal symptoms are one of the most common signs that a person is addicted to a drug, and Xanax is no exception. Since the drug has the potential to be addictive and cause a dependence for people, it should only be taken as prescribed by a doctor. Even if a person follows their doctor’s orders, addiction is still possible, although it is less likely to occur than when the drug is misused.

To prevent severe withdrawal symptoms, doctors often gradually reduce the dosage until a person’s body completely readjusts to no longer needing Xanax.

Since Xanax is an extremely popular prescription drug, it is often sold and taken illegally. Since the main effect is calming the central nervous system, many people utilize Xanax to experience a high commonly associated with alcohol or other depressants.

Non-prescription, recreational use of the drug is most popular among young men between the ages of 18 and 25, according to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. More than 10 percent of people in the same age bracket and demographic misused the medication, and some people even mixed it with alcohol, opiates or painkillers.

Many people take Xanax with a doctor’s prescription, but the most common way to take the drug recreationally is by obtaining the drug from someone who has a prescription. This person is known as an intermediary, and they sometimes obtain the drug through a prescription or through a private link to a pharmaceutical supplier and then they resell the medication at a higher price.

Because Xanax is common for recreational use, the drug has quite a few popular street names, including:

  • Xannies
  • Bars
  • Z-Bars
  • Zanbars
  • Handlebars
  • Planks
  • Bricks
  • Benzos
  • Blue footballs
  • Upjohn
  • School Bus
  • Bicycle parts
  • Yellow boys
  • White boys
  • White girls

Xanax also makes a number of pop culture appearances, from song lyrics to movie references. Sadly, the drug is linked to a number of celebrity deaths, including Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Heath Ledger.

Xanax pills come in a variety of doses, from 0.25 mg to 2 mg. Doctors typically start patients with the smallest dose to avoid the potential for addiction and withdrawal symptoms when the prescription ends. If the drug has little or no effect in treating a patient’s psychological disorder, the dosage may slightly increase.

Many medical experts do not recommend exceeding 4 mg in a 24-hour period, though some panic disorder patients who suffer from extreme issues are prescribed 10 mg per day to control their attacks. Some people take a very low dosage, between 0.25 mg and 0.5 mg, as a sleep aid, but this is not recommended because it lowers the quality of sleep and often leaves people feeling fatigue when they wake up. Xanax is not a drug people often overdose from on its own, but it can be dangerous if mixed with other depressants, such as alcohol.

xanax pills
“Is Xanax addictive?” is one of the most common questions asked regarding this prescription drug. Whether it’s a question searched on Google or an inquiry made to a primary physician or friend, the answer should always be that Xanax is addictive.

Xanax releases and receives an increased amount of dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that controls the reward and pleasure centers in the brain. Taking Xanax decreases the amount of GABA in the brain, which means there is less of a barrier between dopamine producers and receptors. The brain receives more dopamine, increasing the feelings of pleasure and decreasing feelings of panic, anxiety and other negative mental states. This surge in dopamine can cause a euphoric feeling for some people, and that effect is what some seek out when they misuse Xanax.

Xanax is prescribed most often for generalized anxiety and panic disorder, a connection that can help explain part of the high Xanax addiction rates. People with anxiety tend to have a higher chance of addiction than the general population because it is easier for them to rely on a prescription drug to ease their suffering. It is possible for Xanax addiction to occur even when used as prescribed. The time it takes for Xanax addiction to develop varies from person to person and depends on other substance habits, personal brain chemistry, frequency and quantity of use, and environmental factors. Xanax addiction is unlikely if it is used in low doses.

Xanax addiction occurs when a person becomes physically and psychologically dependant on the drug to properly operate. If a person attempts to no longer take the drug, the body reacts negatively since it is accustomed to the presence and relies on Xanax for certain things, including the release of dopamine and feelings of calmness. The dependence is so strong that going a day without taking Xanax could result in withdrawal symptoms, including severe anxiety or panic attacks.

Addiction to Xanax does not happen immediately. Most people acquire a tolerance first, increase their dosage or frequency, and then build a dependence over time. The stages of Xanax addiction are:

  • Initiation: Most people who misuse Xanax are introduced to the medication through a doctor’s prescription. When a non-prescription initiation takes place, it’s usually at a party or nightclub and involves acquiring the drug from a friend or acquaintance who has a prescription.
  • Experimentation: Having misusing Xanax a few times, some people might attempt to take the drug under different circumstances or at different times. They also might tweak the dosage — usually increasing it — to experience new effects.
  • Regular Misuse: A person might not take the drug daily, but a pattern often develops during this stage. People either take the drug at a certain time of the day, specific day of the week, or as a reaction to a negative feeling.
  • Dependence: This stage begins with tolerance, which involves an increase in frequency or dosage of the drug that the person’s body is able to readily process without experiencing strong effects. Once the tolerance is high enough, people may develop a dependence. Some people will need a shorter amount of time and lower dosage to become dependent. The experience of becoming addicted to Xanax is different for each person.
  • Substance Use Disorder: During this stage, attempting to stop taking the drug seems like an unbearable challenge. People often recognize they are dependent on Xanax but cannot stop taking the drug due to the severe withdrawal symptoms, which they can experience, if they don’t take the drug, over a longer amount of time than usual. The time varies for each person and withdrawal symptoms vary depending on numerous factors, including the level of addiction. At this point, drug rehabilitation is the safest method for someone attempting to overcome their addiction.
xanax addiction
Recognizing the Xanax addiction signs and symptoms is vital to knowing when to seek treatment. Xanax addiction can be extremely serious and affect a person’s mood, behavior and physical characteristics. Some of the most common signs of Xanax addiction include:

  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Hyperactivity
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Diarrhea
  • Slurred speech
  • Seizures
  • Agitation
  • Mania
  • Dry mouth
  • Heart palpitations

While Xanax addiction cannot be completely cured — nor can any dependency on drugs or alcohol — treatment can help affected individuals address their behavior and return to a healthy lifestyle.

Many people combine Xanax with other substances, and some of these pairings can cause severe injury or death. One of the most common and dangerous interactions for Xanax occurs with alcohol. Both of these substances are central nervous system depressants, slowing down the body and causing fatigue. Their combination can slow the body to such a pace that certain necessary functions may completely stop.

A similar dangerous outcome can occur if Xanax is combined with ibuprofen or Nyquil, which both are central nervous system depressants like alcohol. Some herbal supplements such as Valerian, St. John’s Wort and Kava can increase the depressant potency of Xanax to a dangerous effect. When Xanax is combined with benadryl, people often experience dizziness and confusion.

Consuming caffeine while taking Xanax can be dangerous to a person’s health. This interaction increases the potency of the drug and causes cellular destruction in the brain. This also can work as a direct contrast to Xanax as the caffeine can cause overlapping symptoms, possibly leading to a person taking more Xanax in an attempt to curb negative emotions and achieve the desired effects. This can cause people to take a larger dosage of Xanax than prescribed by a doctor and increase the likelihood of addiction to the drug.

While overdosing on Xanax alone is difficult, mixing it with other drugs can be lethal. Some routine daily activities people should avoid if taking a large dose of Xanax or combining it with another drug include:

  • Driving
  • Operating heavy machinery
  • Exercising

If you are taking Xanax as prescribed, check with your doctor before taking another drug. Checking with a medical expert can reveal any potentially dangerous effects from mixing the two substances, and this could protect you against severe injury and dependence on Xanax.

Xanax is a popular drug in the United States and is commonly prescribed to people who suffer from anxiety or depression. While the medication can help many people, addiction to prescription drugs is a big issue currently looming over the country.

American prescriptions for Xanax have grown by 9 percent each year, from 2006 – 2013, and in 2013 more than 50 million prescriptions were written for alprazolam. From 2005 – 2010, emergency room visits attributed to Xanax and other benzodiazepines doubled in frequency.

Is Xanax addictive? Absolutely, but help with addiction treatment is available. Many people who became addicted to the drug also successfully completed rehabilitation and now live a healthier life, free from Xanax misuse. The Recovery Village can help people find a solution to their substance use disorder and treat for any co-occurring disorders, such as anxiety or depression, that may help cause their Xanax addiction.

The Recovery Village has several specialized treatment programs, each with the ability to be individualized for the specific patient’s needs. Call today if you or someone you love is suffering from Xanax addiction and needs help.

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