Xanax Addiction
clock_iconSeptember 19, 2020 clock_icon6 min read

Xanax addiction is a growing problem in the United State. Understanding Xanax addiction and the addictive nature of other benzodiazepines can be an important first step towards treatment and recovery.

Xanax is a powerful benzodiazepine that is often prescribed to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorders, and insomnia. In the case of long-term use, Xanax addiction develops. Xanax is the number one prescribed psychiatric medication in the United States. Today, most teens with Xanax addiction in the United States get the drug from their family’s medicine cabinet.

What is Xanax?

Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam, a prescription sedative in the benzodiazepines family. Benzodiazepines were originally developed as a replacement for barbiturates. Xanax affects the brain and central nervous system. Ir slows down the nerve cell activity in the brain and the result is a calm and relaxed feeling
.Xanax is dispensed in 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg and 2 mg strengths. The pills come in different shapes and colors depending on strength. The 2 mg tablets are white, green, or yellow in color and rectangular in shape. The rest are oval-shaped and colored white (0.25 mg), orange (0.5 mg), or blue (1 mg). Xanax is a regulated schedule IV controlled substance.

On taking Xanax, the peak effects of the drug are usually felt within 1-2 hours. As an intermediate-duration drug, Xanax stays in people’s systems for 12-15 hours.
Common street names for Xanax include:

  • Xannies or zannies
  • Handlebars
  • Bars
  • Blue footballs
  • Benzos
  • French fries
  • Ladders
  • Sticks

Tolerance to Xanax

Similar to Heroin, Cocaine, and other hard drugs, tolerance to Xanax develops very quickly, requiring the user to take more of the dose to have the desired effects. People with a Xanax addiction may take up to 20 to 30 pills every day. Once a user decides to stop taking Xanax, they may experience withdrawal effects, for example, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, as well as tremors. The onset of withdrawal symptoms is a sign that physical dependence has developed. The development of tolerance and withdrawal are indications of addiction.
Below you will see the behavioral signs of Xanax addiction:

  • Continued use of Xanax even though it is contributing to personal difficulties
  • Inability to stop using Xanax 
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Obsessing about obtaining and using Xanax
  • Loss of control over the amount of Xanax being consumed
  • Legal problems that are the result of using Xanax
  • Risk-taking behaviors, such as driving while under the influence of Xanax

If a user wishes to stop taking Xanax after dependence on the drug has formed, it is not recommended to quit “cold turkey” or without medical supervision. The symptoms of Xanax withdrawal are similar to those of alcohol or barbiturate withdrawal, and the severity of the symptoms can vary. If convulsions occur, withdrawal from Xanax can be deadly.

xanax addiction treatment

In general, the withdrawal process includes slowly reducing the dosage of Xanax and eventually switching the user to a long-acting form of the drug for a period of time. The gradual taper of this drug helps to reduce withdrawal symptoms.

How Xanax Affects Your Mind?

Often, people who are abusing Xanax have anxiety disorders they were trying to treat with the drug. Even when used in a medicinal fashion, dependency will generally still occur. The first sign of this is tolerance. With tolerance, Xanax stops working as well, even as a treatment medication. Those with anxiety will see a return of symptoms and may feel inclined to up their dose in order to keep symptoms at bay. Throughout this process, the brain is becoming more reliant upon the drug to feel normal.

When people are mentally addicted to Xanax, they won’t be able to keep their minds off thoughts of the drug. In addition to the health risks associated with detoxing alone, quitting without professional intervention is extremely hard to do since users’ minds are compulsively driving them to use it again.

The mental impact of withdrawing from Xanax can be turbulent. The mind becomes accustomed to the drug and can go through periods of insomnia, depression, paranoia, and irritability while trying to come off it. The majority of withdrawal symptoms can be treated during medical detox to make the process as comfortable as possible for those in detox. Addiction is often due to psychological factors that influence individuals to keep using.

Addiction to Xanax

In this section West Valley Detox will tell more about addiction to Xanax, read on if you are interested. 
Regardless of what substance has been abused, the red flags that signal addiction are the same across the board. They include:

  • Using every time withdrawal symptoms start to appear
  • Tolerance that causes the user to increase the dose
  • Avoiding family functions or hanging out with friends because it takes away from time using the drug
  • Worrying about one’s Xanax supply and thinking about the next time it can be used
  • Continued use despite great conflict due to Xanax use
  • Inability to control how much or how often the drug is used

No one is exempt from drug dependence, but there are certain demographics that are more prone to it. It is thought females account for more benzo addictions than males, but this may merely be due to women being more likely to receive a prescription for the drugs.

Age plays a significant factor in prescribing trends, too. 

Individuals battling mental illness may be on Xanax to treat symptoms or simply abusing it in attempts to self-medicate, and this abuse can often cause mental health conditions to worsen. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports around half of all people with severe mental illness also have co-occurring substance abuse problems, so this issue is a common one.

Dependency is more likely to occur if a person is abusing large amounts of Xanax or using it too frequently. Even prescription users who adhere to a recommended dosing schedule can end up addicted to Xanax though. Poly-drug abusers are far more likely to grow dependent since the other substances they abuse often intensify the effects of benzos like Xanax. For instance, alcohol is commonly abused alongside Xanax and can significantly increase the chance of injury or death, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence states.

fatal overdose from xanax

Treatment at West Valley Detox

At West Valley Detox, our professional team provides care that treats people as a whole, by offering evidence-based care focused on addressing the underlying causes that contribute to addiction, as well as physical and mental health disorders, and readjusting socially without the use of substances.

We offer a full continuum of care that encompasses the primary types of treatment all the way from detox for those initially struggling to aftercare options like sober living, counseling sessions, and support groups for those simply maintaining their recovery.

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