26 Jul Am I Addicted to Xanax?
Xanax is quickly becoming one of the most widely abused prescription drugs in the United States. It is a commonly prescribed benzodiazepine medication used to treat anxiety and other mental disorders, such as schizophrenia or paranoia. Due to its availability, it has found its way into the illegal drug market and is flooding into the counter culture of drug abusers and addicts alike. Its’ sedative and euphoric qualities have also made it into a very popular party drug.
Xanax Abuse is Skyrocketing
When combined with other drugs such as alcohol or opiates, its effects are maximized making it not only a very powerful high but a very dangerous habit as well. As deaths attributed to Xanax-related overdoses are skyrocketing, general awareness of the problem we are all facing is improving, albeit at a snails pace. That being said, in terms of truly eradicating Xanax addiction, the surface of the problem has only barely been scratched. This blog articles’ intention is to highlight how people who use Xanax prescribed for relief from mental disease or casual drug users alike can quickly become full-blown addicts, and just how easily that sad fate is attained.
Also, we will discuss the signs, symptoms and dangers of being both physically as well as psychologically addicted to the drug. Lastly, we will discuss withdrawal, and how that biological mechanism keeps addicts trapped within the awful benzodiazepine cycle long after they realize their use has become problematic.
Physical Dependence of Xanax
After prolonged usage of any substance, Xanax included, the human body experiences something called dependence. What happens when a person has become dependent upon a substance? The answer is that normal day-to-day life is altered in the absence of the drug. Functioning like a normal human being becomes impossible unless the person ingests whatever substance it is that they are dependent upon. Physically, there are a number of things that separate Xanax from other substances. Some common signs and symptoms of Xanax dependence are as follows:
- Collapsed or weakened muscles
- Heavy Sedation and Drowsiness
- Loss of Coordination
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Slurred Speech and Sluggish Behavior
- Addictive Behavior (i.e. theft, criminal activity, lying to cover up use)
When physical dependence occurs, it is very common to see users of Xanax experiencing most or all of these symptoms. Another very troubling result is the fact that even though the user is experiencing an addiction to the substance they are unable to stop. Even when confronted with the facts that it is negatively affecting them or those around them or that they are endangering themselves or others, they still continue their use. This happens because physically they have become so adjusted to life on Xanax, life without Xanax is miserable and almost always requires professional intervention to be achieved.
Psychological and Mental Dependence of Xanax
Along with physical dependence, frequent users of Xanax will also experience the phenomenon of being addicted psychologically and mentally. Xanax is a psychoactive drug that interacts with the GABA and serotonin levels of the brain, which are the “feel good” neurotransmitters the brain releases to send messages throughout the body. Once the brain has become adjusted to this constant supply of “feel good” it becomes quite difficult to stop. And, if attempts to stop do occur, the user will most likely experience an increase in the issues they were trying to solve by taking the Xanax. This is an issue we will discuss in further detail later on when we talk about withdrawal.
Xanax is prescribed to treat social anxieties of various types, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder as well as many other mental health disorders and when it is stopped abruptly it is not uncommon to see these issues come back to light. That is why other forms of treatment in addition to medication are imperative for a return to normalcy. If you are worried that someone you know may be addicted to Xanax but are not sure, look out for some of the signs and symptoms of psychological or mental dependency. Some are as follows:
- Cognitive Issues
- Inability to Think Rationally
- Mood Swings
- Short Term Memory Loss
- Cravings for More Xanax
Withdrawal from Xanax
Another major telltale sign of dependency upon any substance, Xanax included, is feeling the effects of what is known as withdrawal. This is the biological response to removal of any substance upon which a user has become dependent, and is seen with most if not all drugs of abuse. To become dependent, consistent use over a period of time must occur. For each different substance the length of time and dosage required varies.
But for Xanax, withdrawal will almost always be experienced in some form or another if the user has been taking it consistently for as little as two weeks and in dosages of at least two milligrams. That being said, over a short period of time the user will develop what is known as a tolerance, meaning they will need to either a; take a higher dose of the drug or b; take the same dose but more frequently to feel the same effects that they did in the past. As this occurs, and the user begins taking more and more, the level of dependence increases and as a result so does the severity of withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal for Xanax include:
- Hallucinations or Psychosis
- Loss of Appetite
- Sensitivity to Light and Sound
- Seizures and Tremors
It should be noted that the symptoms listed above are not all inclusive, and there may be others that some individuals experience. The most important thing to realize about Xanax withdrawal is that in some cases it can be fatal if not done under the proper supervision of a medical professional. Always consult a doctor who is trained to taper drug users off of psychoactive chemicals if complete abstinence is the goal. “Tapering” refers to the gradual lowering of doses over a long period of time, usually done with a different, less intense benzodiazepine so as to reduce the risk of fatality and minimize withdrawal discomfort.
Xanax Addiction is an Epidemic
Xanax addiction is a very serious topic of discussion and will continue to be until more credit is given to the dangers of it. If you have read this article and think you may have an addiction to Xanax, or you know someone who might, please seek professional help from a doctor or psychiatrist. Recovery from all substances is possible with the correct help and guidance.