22 Mar Why Do People Take Xanax?
Although the heroin epidemic dominates headlines when it comes to the recent spike in drug addiction disorders and drug-related deaths, there is a silent contributor to these tragedies that are often overlooked. Of those who are admitted to emergency rooms and those who die of drug overdoses, there is an alarming trend emerging that does not usually make it to those who are not on the front lines of drug abuse treatment. Recent studies have shown that benzodiazepines contributed to 30 percent of opiate caused deaths. Both opioids and benzodiazepines are classified as depressants, and when used in combination, they produce what is called a synergistic effect, meaning they react nonlinearly, and it becomes increasingly difficult for a user to manage their dose.
What are the effects of Xanax?
There is no mystery as to why these drugs are often connected when you look at the effects produced by each one respectively. As depressants, both drugs slow down the Central Nervous System (CNS), and the user’s heart rate, producing an experience of relaxation, and decreased physical, mental, and emotional stress. This gives users a sense of well-being, which releases endorphins, and leads to addiction. Not only are both drugs abused to avoid stress, but when used in tandem, they increase the effects significantly, which is often a contributing factor to an increase in tolerance and dependency. As users become accustomed to the higher levels of intoxication, doses increase, and so does the risk of all kinds of negative consequences.
Consequences of Xanax Abuse
Aside from death and dependence, there are several adverse consequences to benzodiazepine use. When under the influence, users can experience a sharp decrease in their motor skills which lead to accidents like falls and running into things. Xanax is notorious for decreasing inhibitions, which leads to making impulsive and erratic decisions. Memory can be severely affected, and users often experience what is considered blackouts, meaning when the drugs wear off, they have no recollection of what happened while they were under the influence. When you mix lowered inhibitions with lack of recollection, there usually tends to be a lot of shame that follows.
What this all means is that although there are certainly more glaring dangers in the heroin epidemic of today, Xanax has quietly become one of the deadliest substances affecting us today. Many drug abusers who have run the course of escape through heroin abuse have turned to Xanax as a means of making the high hit harder, and to prolong the feelings of numbness as far as they can. By adding a benzodiazepine to a user’s regular dose of opiates, the effects can be magnified in very intense and unpredictable ways. A regular user who usually can present a sense of normality can often find themselves stumbling, slurring their speech, and making impulsive decisions in that state with only one pill.
Xanax As A Gateway Drug
Another dangerous aspect of abusing Xanax is that prescription drug abuse has begun to reach kids who are starting to experiment with pills more and more regularly. There is less of a stigma to try out a pill that many people are prescribed, as opposed to trying heroin or cocaine.
The fact that it is less scary for first-time users is what leads to more people experimenting with it. The fact that it floods the brain with dopamine and gives users a sense of euphoria is what leads to people getting hooked on it. Even in the drug addict community, there is an idea that Xanax abuse is a safer alternative to opiate abuse and it has gotten many addicts to become cross-addicted in the deadly combination of two sedatives.
Dangers of Xanax Withdrawal
There are many dangers in benzodiazepine addiction that are not apparent if you do not know the problem intimately. One thing you do not hear about often is the fact that withdrawal from Xanax can lead to seizures, and ultimately death if not done in a supervised and medical environment. Once somebody becomes physically dependent on benzodiazepines, quitting them becomes more than just the mental battle that we usually associate with getting clean. Coming off of them usually includes sweating, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, and confusion. There are plenty of ways to identify benzodiazepine abuse if you think that someone you know is battling addiction. You can look for medication bottles with other people’s names on them or small plastic bags that have a powdery residue. These may have held pills when a standard drug test comes back negative for any other major drug.
Many times, people will crush and snort benzodiazepine pills to amplify their effects, and a pill crushing device or makeshift straws known as tooters are a sure indicator of pill abuse. When someone is under the influence, they will exhibit irrational behavior including disorientation, lack of concentration, slurred speech, lack of coordination, and impulsive decision making. It truly is like a pill version of alcohol in many of its effects and has many of the same symptoms when looking for signs of Xanax abuse. When an addict does not have their supply of drugs, they often seem much more irritable and may lash out.
Xanax Use is a Slippery Slope
One interesting thing about benzodiazepines is that they are insidious in the way that they can creep into the lives of anybody, as they are prescribed much more today than they ever were before. They are prescribed to housewives, students, businessmen, and young adults in such high numbers that nearly everyone knows somebody who has a prescription for them. If you are unsure of whether or not they are in your home, they come under brand names of Xanax, Valium, and soma, among others, and include lorazepam, diazepam, benzodiazepine, alprazolam, etc.
If you think you may have found signs of somebody you know abusing these pills but are not sure, you can look up descriptions of any pills on the internet through a simple google search. It may not have the intimidation factor that heroin or meth have, but when looking at the stats of Xanax abuse, it is a very real issue.