Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Xanax has become a commonly used drug, to the extent that many people have started developing a dependence on the drug. Xanax is a popularly used anti-anxiety medication. It is generically known as alprazolam and it is now the fifth-most commonly prescribed drug in the US itself. It is more common to hear about people who have become addicted to Xanax than about the kind of disorders it helps to treat. This has reached an extent where Xanax has become an epidemic. Belonging to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines, Xanax is generally taken on the doctor's recommendation. However, Xanax can also be obtained illegally. So, how do you recognize and treat Xanax addiction?

About Xanax:

Xanax is generically known as alprazolam and it is known to be extremely addictive. It is commonly prescribed for the treatment of stress, generalized anxiety, and also panic disorder. While Xanax is generally available only on a doctor's prescription, it has become fairly easy to buy Xanax illegally without any prescription. This has led to excessive use of this drug, leading to addiction. How do you recognize and treat Xanax addiction? Let us understand this in detail.

When used for short-term, Xanax helps in relaxing the muscles and also eases anxiety and restlessness. The biggest problem of using it, however, lies in the fact that it can cause 'rebound' symptoms. This means that once you stop taking the medication, your symptoms tend to reappear in greater severity.

Some of the other side effects of Xanax include euphoria, relaxation, mood swings and irritability. The physical effects include erectile dysfunction, dry mouth, vomiting/nausea, dizziness, poor coordination, shortness of breath, seizures, slurred speech and tremors.. Other effects include loss of interest in sexual activity, confusion, lack of inhibition, lack of focus and memory problems. You should note that similar to other benzodiazepines, Xanax also impairs the ability to drive. Xanax is also known to increase the risk of traffic accidents, broken bones, and a risk of falls.

These problems are more if one has Xanax addiction. Hence it is necessary to know how to recognize and treat Xanax addiction.

How To Recognize & Treat Xanax Addiction?

Xanax is used for managing anxiety disorders and panic attacks. However, more often than not, people end up becoming addicted to Xanax. This is because benzodiazepines are typically and notoriously known to be addictive. Many users end up becoming addicted as they seek help for dealing with their anxiety and panic disorders.

In the beginning, Xanax helps the patient by offering relief from anxiety and panic disorders, allowing the person some breathing space and they start to relax in life. As the patient starts feeling comfortable because of Xanax's effects, they soon end up craving the medication in order to experience the same high and for the high to last longer. When your body starts becoming habituated to taking Xanax, it starts to have an effect on your brain, allowing for drug addiction to set in easily. Soon, the user starts fearing to even imagine a life without Xanax and often have it pre-emptively, hoping to avoid having panic attacks altogether. This further increases the anxiety that was originally not present. Then, in turn to beat these anxiety symptoms, the user has one more Xanax. The vicious cycle keeps continuing and before you know it, addiction has truly set in. Owing to its side effects Xanax addiction can be dangerous and must be treated at once.

Xanax is dangerous not only for users who are fighting anxiety disorders, but also for those who are engaging in substance abuse.

How To Recognize Xanax Addiction in Yourself?

With the awareness regarding the possible risks of Xanax addiction, the next question is how to recognize Xanax addiction? Some signs of addiction that are common across all drug users, regardless of what the substance is being used. If you suspect that you are getting addicted to Xanax, then knowing these warning signs can help.

Here are some of the important signs to recognize Xanax addiction in yourself.

  • You want to use or you are already using the drug on a regular basis, even when you don't need it
  • The urge to use the drug is so intense that you are unable to focus on anything else
  • You start developing a tolerance to the drug so you start needing more of Xanax to reach the same high
  • You take more than the prescribed amount of the drug or you take it for longer periods of time than what you intended
  • You always have a steady supply of Xanax on hand
  • Even when you have limited money and you need to pay important bills, you choose to spend that amount on buying Xanax instead
  • You start developing dangerous behaviors such as violence or stealing to obtain Xanax
  • While under the influence of Xanax, you engage in risky behaviors such as driving rash, having unprotected sex, etc.
  • In spite of knowing the side effects of the drug, you still continue to use it
  • You try and fail to stop using Xanax
  • You start to experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using Xanax

How to Recognize Xanax Addiction in Others?

Someone you know, maybe a friend, family member or a loved one, might try and conceal their Xanax addiction from you. You may start to wonder whether they are doing drugs or if it is a stressful change in their lives. Here are some of the commonest signs to guide you how to recognize Xanax addiction in others.

  • Changes in Behavior - acting more aggressively or being secretive
  • Frequent Mood Changes - the person seems irritable in general or seems very happy and tends to fluctuate between depression, anxiety, and bouts of euphoria
  • Changes in Appearance - they seem to have either gained weight or lost weight recently
  • Health Issues- the user may appear to sleep a lot, appear sluggish, have vomiting or nausea, and/or have frequent headaches
  • Poor Work Or School Performance - you may observe a sudden lack of interest in their work or a fall in attendance at work or study. They may receive poor grades or work review and you will sense that they do not have an interest in the activities they once loved doing.
  • Social Changes - they seem withdrawn and lack interest in social activities and also have trouble maintaining social relationships
  • Financial Troubles - they may be experiencing problems in paying bills or other financial issues without any apparent reason.

While these signs may appear similar to any substance abuse, keeping your eyes open for such signals can help recognize Xanax addiction. Recognizing it on time can help in planning proper treatment.

How To Treat Xanax Addiction?

Like all addictions, following a step by step program for de-addiction is the only treatment available for Xanax addiction. Here are some of the basic steps on how to treat Xanax addiction.

The first step, of course, is to recognize Xanax addiction. It is important to remember here that the chronic use of drugs tends to change the chemical structure of the brain, making it more difficult to stop taking the drug. This is true for any drug that a person may be addicted to, not just Xanax.

Once you have identified that either you or your near one has Xanax addiction, you should research more about the side effects and risks of using Xanax, including the signs of overdose. You can also research for potential treatment centers near your home to try and enroll yourself in a de-addiction program.

You have to be prepared for all possible outcomes. If you have a loved one who is facing Xanax addiction, then be prepared that they may simply refuse to undergo any treatment for stopping Xanax use. An intervention through family members or friends or finding a support group for people with addiction may help in this case. If you want to find a treatment center, then you can ask your family physician or any mental health professional for a recommendation.

While there are various ways to treat Xanax addiction, constant support and patience is important. Psychotherapy, cognitive behavior therapy and counselling helps to a great extent. Some medications too may be helpful and can be used, if advised by your doctor. The treatment of Xanax addiction also includes Xanax detox, which may cause withdrawal symptoms. So knowing about it helps manage the condition better.

What Happens When You Undergo Xanax Detox?

Symptoms of Xanax withdrawal tend to be more severe than the withdrawal symptoms of other benzodiazepines. Detoxification is an effective process used to treat Xanax addiction. The detox process for Xanax also lasts longer than other drugs because Xanax has to be tapered off slowly over a period of time. You may experience withdrawal symptoms even if you have just been taking the drug for only a week.

Some symptoms of Xanax withdrawal may include:

Detoxification helps you stop taking Xanax in a safe manner, while also reducing your withdrawal symptoms. The process of detoxification is generally done in either a rehabilitation facility or in a hospital under medical supervision.

Conclusion

The condition of being addicted to Xanax is very much treatable; if you know how to recognize and treat Xanax addiction. While the outcomes of treatment can be comparable to other chronic conditions or addictions, the pace of recovery from Xanax addiction usually takes longer than other drugs. Patience is critical in this process along with reaching out for help when you need it. Having the support of your family during this difficult phase can help to a great extent.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: August 28, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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