Xanax has quickly become a major problem in the world of addiction and treatment over the last several years. It has gained a lot of popularity among users due to its potency, and the means of acquisition have not been closely regulated until somewhat recently. This has resulted in many deaths, overdoses, and cases of addiction transference.
If you are concerned about someone you love who is abusing Xanax, please call New Life House right away at 888-357-7577 or email us at [email protected]. We can help you to find the resources necessary in order to help your loved one discover a path out of addiction.
Is Xanax Addictive?
Xanax is a drug that falls under the benzodiazepine category, under the generic name Alprazolam. Alprazolam is meant to treat unbalanced chemicals in the brain to help mitigate or completely avoid anxiety or anxiety attacks. Unfortunately, despite any health benefits it may have, it is often abused recreationally by young people due to the euphoric and calming effects that are produced.
The potential for abuse with Alprazolam is high. When used, Xanax creates a very strong sense of relaxation, social comfort and mental ease. That said, the use of Xanax is coupled by many side effects. Furthermore, Xanax is highly addictive, and can require higher and more frequent doses the longer its used.
Xanax can also promote drug-seeking addictive behavior. Because prolonged use of the drug prevents the brain from naturally producing enough neurochemicals that provide pleasure, users will ultimately only be able to derive any sense of well-being if they are using the drug, causing them to become physically and mentally dependent.
Why is Xanax So Addictive and Dangerous?
Xanax can bring an abuser’s whole life into shambles by hijacking not only their physical state but also their mental and emotional state. When someone starts to take Xanax, they usually start at a low dosage, but tolerance to Xanax builds very quickly and will eventually necesitate the user taking more each day to achieve the desired effect. Someone with a Xanax addiction may take up to 20 to 30 pills per day.
The danger arises when Xanax is mixed with other depressants such as alcohol and opiates like heroin or oxycodone. Because all of these substances act by slowing down the central nervous system, it is much more common to see drug related deaths when two or more of these substances are combined. Xanax also causes short-term memory loss, which can result in forgetting how much has already been taken and accidentally ingesting more than intended. Furthermore, this temporary amnesia coupled with the lowered inhibitions produced by Xanax can lead to all sorts of dangerous behaviors, posing the risk of legal consequences, or even death.
According to the Center for Disease Control, at least 95% of all Xanax-related overdoses involved another drug. The most common combinations found by the CDC were oxycodone and heroin, which are both opioid depressants.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 8,000 people died of a drug overdose involving benzodiazepines in 2015, and each year this number continues to rise. Since 2002, overdose deaths involving alprazolam and other benzos increased by an astonishing four times the amount.
It should be reiterated that under no circumstance could Xanax be used safely in addition to other depressant substances without risk of serious physical harm and possibly death.
Why Are Some People Prescribed Xanax?
“Xanax is used to treat anxiety disorders, such as general panic disorder. It’s also used for the short-term relief of anxiety, to relieve anxiety associated with depression, and for panic disorder with or without agoraphobia (fear of open spaces),” as defined by everydayhealth.com.
In an article written at thehuffingtonpost.com, they state, “Xanax…is America’s most (over) prescribed psychiatric drug, outpacing even the antidepressants that made us, ‘The Prozac Nation.’ Every year, doctors write more than 50 million ‘benzo scripts’ — more than one per second — and 11 percent to 15 percent of all adult Americans have a bottle in their medicine cabinet, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA).” This drug isn’t your everyday over-the-counter medication however, as it can have dire consequences if not taken properly.
How Does Someone Abuse Xanax?
Xanax is classified as a Schedule II drug due to its high potential for abuse and the possibility of leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. Xanax is highly addictive, and users often develop a tolerance for the drug. Xanax is meant to only be prescribed by a doctor, but addicts utilize various illicit channels to attain the drug.
Doctor Shopping: Many addicts frequent different physicians and are dishonest about their medical history in order to obtain multiple prescriptions for Xanax, which is referred to as doctor shopping.
Online: There are hundreds of illegitimate websites that sell prescription drugs without requiring a prescription.
Drug Dealers: Other addicts purchase Xanax on the streets from local drug dealers.
When used properly and as prescribed, the patient will typically take their prescription in small doses once or twice a day. Even patients who take the drug as prescribed are at risk for psychological and physical dependence. For an addict, this amount can quadruple, and, in time, require more simply to achieve the same ‘high’ they had once gotten from a smaller amount.
The onset of Xanax is typically 25 minutes, with effects lasting for 4-6 hours. Because of this short half-life, abusers can close this window by even half the amount of time in order to stay high.
Addicts often use alternative routes of administration to get high. Some users take the tablet orally, some crush the tablets and snort them, and others dilute the tablet in water to inject the drug. While all methods can lead to serious health risks and overdose, users that inject drugs are at a higher risk of accidental overdose and other health complications.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Xanax Abuse?
Much of how Xanax affects the body is directly related to how it affects the brain. When someone begins to take Xanax, many of the signs noticeable on the body will be very similar to what one would experience if they were to drink alcohol. The user will feel calmer, yet their body will also feel more relaxed, since Xanax has the same properties of a muscle relaxant. For example, one may have problems with staying on their feet or speaking clearly.
The effects on the body are also relevant to how dependent the user becomes. While taking Xanax, even for a short period, there is a high chance the user’s body will be building a physical tolerance to the drug. This is because the brain’s GABA production slows even more as use is continued, eventually leading the user to feel the need to start taking more of the drug to achieve that same high.
When Xanax abuse leads to withdrawal, some of the symptoms can include:
- Amplified anxiety
- Panic disorder
- Sleep problems
- Nervousness and aggression
- Suicidal thoughts
Xanax is a drug that works on GABA receptors. The GABA receptor is the natural way the brain creates a feeling of calmness, and it has its natural sedative and muscle relaxant capabilities. When someone begins to take Xanax—these effects are maximized.
Just as an example, if someone is experiencing a stressful situation, such as a rapid heart rate and tingling scalp and they took Xanax, it would relieve these symptoms. Xanax affects the body by making the user feel not just calm and relaxed, but in many cases tired as well, which is why so many people take the drug for insomnia. Xanax begins to start working very quickly after administration, and it has an even shorter lifespan.
Xanax tends to lose some of its effectiveness and show diminished benefits in as little as two weeks after taking an initial dose. A doctor may increase the dose as a result, or people may do this on their own, which is dangerous and will lead to dependency even quicker. When someone takes Xanax, their brain to make even less GABA naturally than it did before, contributing to the feeling that they need to take Xanax at higher doses.
It is very common for people with Xanax problems to have strained relationships with family, friends and anyone who may be close to them. Finances typically suffer because the person is spending more and more money on the drug and dedicates more time to get that drug, which in turn takes away from that person earning money. Also, someone who is overusing Xanax will usually appear extra tired while lacking motivation to do in normal activities in their day-to-day life.
What Should I Know and Do About Someone Addicted to Xanax?
To properly treat an addiction, we must first be convinced that the individual is in fact addicted. Warning signs of active addiction to substances include erratic or criminal behavior, unusual sleeping and eating patterns, drug seeking behavior, irritability and frustration (especially in the absence of their drug of choice) to name a few. When looking for the specific signs of Xanax abuse, look for abnormal sedation, drowsiness, loss of coordination, memory loss and kleptomania as red flags.
Also, be aware of falling grades and delinquent behavior as well, as in a lot of cases these signs start to show up first.
Addicts often begin to change their routines drastically, hanging out with new sets of friends and placing less importance on things they used to love. Though these changes may be subtle at first, slowly but the drug will become the main focus of their lifestyle with everything else taking a back seat.
Obviously, if the individual in question has struggled with substance abuse in the past then they are at a higher risk of becoming addicted to Xanax as well, and people should be on high alert if these individuals decide to start using again.
Every case is different, just as every person is different. What one addict may require to achieve sobriety from Xanax could be completely different from another. Depending on severity, there are various levels of treatment available to people who are looking for a solution to their drug addiction.
Before treatment should even be considered, have a conversation with the person in question to get an idea about where they’re at in terms of their addiction and whether or not they are in a position to do something about it. Most of the time, addicts do not necessarily want to continue living the way that they do, they just do not believe that any other way of life is possible. Ensure them that this is not true, and that recovery does happen, as long as there is a willingness to do something different and try something new. If a person is willing to receive help for their Xanax addiction, they have a much greater chance at recovery.
Xanax Addiction in USA
Between 2006 and 2011, the number of people prescribed Alprazolam went up from approximately 37 million prescriptions to 47 million prescriptions. That massive increase in a short amount of time means that the drug is more likely to wind up on the streets.
This is a huge contributing factor to why more and more people are using Xanax recreationally or are seeking treatment for Xanax addiction. To put it simply, it has become too easily accessible and too frequently prescribed, causing it to flood the illegal drug market all the while making it cheaper to purchase.
As Xanax has made its way through the illegal drug market, more addicts are turning to the drug as a means of getting high, which in turn has spiked the number of users seeking treatment for Xanax use.
In the same time frame discussed above, 2006 to 2011, admissions of patients in treatment centers seeking relief from addiction to Xanax more than quadrupled, rising from a mere 5,000 cases or so in 2006 to a staggering 29,000 in 2011. This fact alone proves that Xanax along with other Benzodiazepines are being used more and more frequently in an unhealthy, addictive way.
Because of the relatively cheap cost (around $5 for one high) of Xanax, easy accessibility, and likelihood for physical and mental dependence, it has become a major component in the drug crisis of modern America and deserves attention and education on a wide scale.
Xanax Addiction Among Teens and Young Adults
Teen drug abuse is on the rise, but why are teens turning to harder drugs such as Xanax?
The plain and simple truth is that Xanax is a drug that is used to reduce anxiety, stress and fear, so that is the main reason adolescents seek the drug, because of the calming effects produced by it. These include euphoria, muscle relaxation, increased appetite and reduced inhibitions. These are perfect, quick fixes that students struggling with social anxiety and educational stress look for.
Along with these are a myriad of negative side effects associated with Xanax abuse, and these should be signs parents look out for if they suspect their child is abusing Xanax. These include short-term memory loss, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, dizziness, and seizures.
Another reason that Xanax has quickly risen to the most abused prescription drug in the community of young people is that it is quite easily accessible compared to other drugs or even alcohol. Because Alprazolam has become so widely prescribed, it is that much more likely that a drug-seeking teenage addict could stumble across the pills in a parent’s medicine cabinet or friend’s room.
Often, adolescent drug abuse has correlation with absence from school and juvenile delinquency and should always be investigated if other negative behavior patterns are noticed. Unfortunately for the experimental or adventurous teen, what may seem like a harmless high can quickly turn disastrous though, as we have seen massive increases in teenage admissions to treatment facilities for Xanax.
Lastly, Xanax may have become so popular with younger crowds because it can greatly exacerbate the effects of alcohol.
For example, one dose of Xanax might have similar effects on a person as four alcoholic drinks. But combine that Xanax with one or two beers, and it could be like drinking an entire 12-pack or more, with the onset of effects happening in less than an hour and lasting anywhere up to 24 hours.
The power of this drug to magnify other drugs is not only extremely dangerous and misunderstood, but a common attribute that attracts users.
Xanax Detox – What to Consider
When a person becomes physically dependent upon a drug, they experience withdrawal symptoms when the effects of the drug wear off. This often drives the addict to continue using, in order to ease their discomfort. Withdrawal symptoms can range in severity depending upon the duration of the abuse and the amount of the drug that has been used.
Withdrawal from Xanax can be a serious and life-threatening condition. Because of how it affects the brain, the body becomes dependent on the drug to the point where if it is not in the abuser’s system, they will go into full life-threatening withdrawal. If you or someone you know is addicted to Xanax, it is imperative that they seek help from a medical professional.
A person who is addicted to Xanax must go through the detox process under direct medical supervision. While the withdrawal symptoms from all drugs and alcohol are uncomfortable, death can occur during a Xanax detox. Some of the side effects of withdrawal include:
- Blurred vision
- Trouble sleeping
- Intense sweating
- Nervous feelings
- Aggressive behaviors
- Weight loss
- Tingling sensation in hands and feet
- Suicidal thoughts
- Death resulting from suicide or other health complications
How Long Does It Take to Become Addicted to Xanax?
Xanax is an extremely potent drug, and compared to other drugs, only a small amount is necessary to have a drastic effect on the body. Another important thing to note is that Xanax has a very short half-life and takes effect very quickly, making it a prime target for substance abusers.
The physical effects felt by taking Xanax include drowsiness, euphoria and wellbeing. Someone who is seeking relief from any number of emotional or physical ailments will run towards the false sense of relief brought on by the drug.
What is difficult with Xanax is that because tolerance is built so quickly, after about two weeks of continuous use the dose must be increased to continue feeling the effects of the drug. Though it is often only prescribed in low doses for intermediate use, it is all too easy to become dependent even after just one or two weeks of use.
How Long Does It Take to Leave Your System?
Typically, there is no absolute and certain amount of time that it will take for any drug to leave a user’s system and for the detox process to finish. Signs of Xanax can be found in a person’s system for up to three months after use, depending on several factors such as height, body fat, and metabolism speed, as well as the type of test being utilized. Usually, most withdrawal symptoms tend to subside after a week or so, with potential post-acute symptoms that could last for months afterward.
What’s the Primary Treatment During Detox?
Various forms of treatment exist to help addicts who are seeking a different way of life. One of the most popular and least expensive of these is self-help groups such as alcoholics anonymous or smart recovery, which allow the addict to receive peer to peer support and a community of other people who are struggling with similar things.
These groups usually meet regularly and are easily accessible in almost every town in the United States. Another positive aspect of them is that they are free.
Unfortunately, these kinds of groups can only do so much for addicts who are deep in their addiction, and often are used to supplement inpatient or outpatient programs or help addicts maintain sobriety.. That being said, long-term sobriety can begin in these groups as long as the individual does not require constant supervision or medical care.
In some cases, recovery from Xanax can have a tumultuous beginning. Some people may require a higher level of care than AA meetings can support. In this case, it may be wise to look into outpatient and inpatient treatment centers, which offer a wide range of services designed to aid in the cessation of substance abuse.
Outpatient programs refer to treatment being conducted in a facility that does not house patients overnight, and often consist of a few sessions of group therapy along with individual counseling. After each day of treatment, the patient is sent home with assignments and occasional requirements to attend AA meetings.
Inpatient programs differ in that the patient is required to live at the facility for a period of time and is structured in a way that intensifies the treatment process in an attempt to maximize success rates. Often inpatient programs will help with detoxing individuals who are physically dependent. This becomes necessary with Xanax addiction due to the risk of seizures being much greater in comparison to other drugs and should be considered when choosing treatment programs.
How Can New Life House Help?
New Life House is a highly structured sober living community with a 30-year history of success in treating various types of addiction through addressing the root source of the problem. We have helped thousands of individuals struggling with addiction by creating an environment which is conducive to getting sober in a healthy way, with no quick fixes, a large and involved graduate community, and strong values incorporated into the structure.
We can help to treat Xanax addiction by helping addicts begin a process of self-discovery and accountability to themselves and others. Call us now at (888)357-7577 or email us at [email protected] to find out if New Life House is right for you or your loved one, and we can help you to begin a New Life, clean and sober!