Xanax is one of the most popular anti-anxiety drugs in the United States — and also one of the most commonly abused. Xanax is part of the drug class “benzodiazepines,” which are prescribed to treat anxiety disorders.
However, Xanax is often abused because it produces feelings of calmness and sedation. The calm is described as similar to the buzz from alcohol and can be psychologically and physically addictive. If you think you or someone you’re close to may be living with a Xanax addiction, there are Xanax rehabilitation options available.
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Xanax Abuse and Addiction
Anxiety and panic disorders may be caused by an imbalance in certain neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that brain cells use to speak with each other.
Xanax works by mimicking the effects of the neurotransmitter GABA. Typically, GABA slows or stops messages in the brain. By mimicking GABA, Xanax slows specific signals and stabilizes brain activity. The brain and body interpret these as feelings of calmness, lethargy and pleasure.
Regular Xanax use leads the brain cells becoming accustomed to its presence. In response, brain cells will decrease GABA receptors and react less to the same amount of stimulus. This effect is called dependence.
When someone is dependent on Xanax, they must take it to feel normal and avoid uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. When this behavior begins to have harmful impacts on everyday life, substance use disorder (SUD) is the result. A change in usage could result in extreme withdrawal symptoms.
- Common Withdrawal Symptoms Include:
- hand tremor
- Increased anxiety
- Intense anxiety and fear
- Muscle pain
- Panic attacks
- Racing heart rate
- Shaking or twitching
- Trouble concentrating
- Trouble sleeping
- Weight loss
While Xanax abuse and addiction can have a significant negative effect on a person’s life, it can be managed with the appropriate treatment. With the proper care and program, a path to recovery is possible.
What Does Xanax Treat?
Xanax belongs to the class of medications called benzodiazepines. Other drugs in this class can treat seizures, but Xanax is not prescribed for this reason because it is too short-acting to be effective. However, this short-acting property is what makes it useful as an as-needed treatment for panic and anxiety.
Why Do People Take Xanax?
People are prescribed Xanax to treat anxiety and panic conditions. Those without a prescription may take it for the calming and sedating effects. It produces a euphoric buzz that feels good to some people.
- Common or possible effects of Xanax include:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Relaxed, at-ease feelings
- Slow reaction time
- Trouble with coordination
Xanax can be a dangerous drug when not used as directed. Xanax addiction is a common issue in the United States and dependency on the drug often starts with a prescription to treat anxiety or fear.
Since Xanax is a scheduled medication, using or possessing it without a prescription is a federal crime.
Xanax Addiction Treatment Options
If you or a loved one is suffering from Xanax addiction and abuse, The Recovery Village can help you make the changes necessary to begin the path to recovery. While Xanax treatment options vary from center to center, there are a few common elements. They help the individual:
- Work through initial withdrawal symptoms
- Address any co-occurring mental health disorders, such as anxiety or panic attacks
- Understand the roots of their substance use disorder
- Learn coping strategies needed to continue recovery after leaving a professional Xanax rehabilitation setting
At The Recovery Village, rehabilitation begins with an assessment from a well-trained medical professional. A person living with a Xanax addiction will then undergo medically supervised detoxification. Detoxification includes the withdrawal process, which can be a temporarily unpleasant but necessary part of the process. Our medical staff closely monitors patients during this time to ensure a safe and secure withdrawal from Xanax.
Following detoxification, patients may participate in varying levels of care and specialized therapy for a Xanax addiction, including: Inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient rehabilitation and group therapy.
- Inpatient Rehabilitation:
Once detoxification is complete and Xanax is cleared from the body, patients have the option to begin the treatment phase. Inpatient rehabilitation is recommended for people with severe Xanax addiction, or those entering a rehabilitation program for the first time.
Patients undergoing inpatient Xanax rehab treatment participate in therapy and counseling in individual and group settings. These activities help people gain the skills and knowledge needed to address their physical and psychological dependence on the drug.
Rehab programs are entirely confidential, allowing clients to focus solely on recovery. Living on campus at one of several inpatient centers across the country is helpful to many program participants, even those who live locally. Full-time care provides an encouraging environment for the drug rehab process and 24-hour access to medical professionals.
- Outpatient Rehabilitation:
There are many differences between inpatient and outpatient treatment programs. During outpatient treatment, patients do not reside at the center but commute to the treatment center. Outpatient treatment is either the second step after inpatient treatment or the first step for those who have less severe addictions or varying circumstances.
Outpatient rehabilitation can include a return to daily life and activities, a helpful step in a person’s recovery after completing inpatient treatment. Outpatient care may include:
- Individual counseling
- Group therapy
- Psychiatric care for co-occurring disorders such as anxiety or depression
- Nutritional counseling for co-occurring eating disorders
This step in the recovery process offers patients more independence and autonomy than inpatient treatment. It provides clients with the ability to maintain their employment and family responsibilities while attending treatment. Outpatient care is recommended for people with a strong support system at home. Family therapy is also offered by The Recovery Village during this step, helping patients reconcile with family for effective healing.
Those with a deeply rooted substance use disorder who live in a potentially triggering environment might need to enroll in an inpatient program first and then transition to sober living housing to maintain long-term recovery.
- Group Therapy:
Group therapy is a central part of substance use disorder treatment at many facilities, including The Recovery Village. In group therapy, a skilled counselor leads a conversation with a group of patients, fostering openness and encouraging them to share their experiences with substance use disorder. Group therapy often continues beyond a rehabilitation center as those in recovery can find solidarity in group meetings and continued support even after Xanax rehabilitation.
Many centers use numerous recreational therapies in addition to traditional group therapy, including:
- Art therapy
- Massage therapy
- Equine Therapy
At many treatment centers, after inpatient or outpatient treatment, the treatment team will help to prepare an aftercare plan for each patient. Aftercare is a plan for future sober living and helps to prevent relapse and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Aftercare is a critical final phase of treatment and is ongoing. Many people find that recovery is a lifelong process that requires daily commitment.
Find Help for Xanax Abuse
The Recovery Village has rehabilitation centers throughout the country that offer Xanax treatment, including detoxification, inpatient, intensive outpatient, outpatient and aftercare programs.
If you or a loved one is living with Xanax addiction, help and healing are closer than you think. Call The Recovery Village to speak with a representative who can answer your questions about treatment and help begin the path to recovery.
Brett, Jonathan; Bridin Murnion. “Management of Benzodiazepine Misuse and Dependence.” Australian Prescriber, Oct. 2015.. Accessed October 12, 2019.
Grohol, John M. “Top 25 Psychiatric Medications for 2016.” July 8, 2018. Accessed September 28, 2019.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.