When talking about addiction, it’s helpful to know how certain drugs affect you so that you can better understand how your own addiction works. If you are addicted to benzodiazepines (like Xanax), there is a good chance your addiction began as a treatment for anxiety or panic attacks, and ended up as more of a problem than a solution.
What is Xanax?
Xanax (also known as Alprazolam) is the fifth most prescribed drug overall in the U.S. today, with nearly 37.5 million prescriptions written in 2015 alone. It is used for a variety of medical and psychiatric issues, including (but not limited to):
- Panic attacks
- Seizure disorders
- Nausea from chemotherapy
Xanax is potent and short-acting, meaning that it can quickly calm you down, but only temporarily. For people suffering from a serious anxiety disorder, Xanax can be prescribed for daily use in small doses. Other people may need it only periodically to reduce symptoms of insomnia or panic attacks. It isn’t available over the counter, and is classified as a controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
How Does Xanax Work?
Inside your brain are about 100 million neurons that each have their own jobs to do. In order to communicate with each other, neurons rely on neurotransmitters – chemical messengers that control the interaction between your body and brain. One such neurotransmitter is known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA’s job in your brain is to calm the nerves that it binds to, reducing fear or anxiety.
Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that seem to bind to the same receptors that GABA does, meaning that they can calm overactive nerves. Medications for anxiety, such as Xanax, Ativan and Klonopin are often prescribed to help alleviate anxiety, but if used incorrectly, can result in addiction.
The problem with Xanax is that it is highly addictive. Your body can quickly build up a tolerance to the dosage, requiring more and more to calm you down. Long-term use of Xanax can also diminish the natural amounts of GABA in your brain, making it more difficult for your body to ease your anxiety without the help of drugs. You may also develop a mental attachment to it by feeling like you can’t overcome stress or function properly without the help of your prescription.
Xanax abuse and Xanax addiction are two different things. People who abuse Xanax use it recreationally for a high – they don’t take it regularly, and they may still have some control over their drug use. In fact, one out of eleven high school seniors admitted they had abused Xanax at some point. The danger with this is that they have no idea how their body may react, so the chance of interaction with another medication or even overdose is much greater. Because Xanax has a sedating effect, combining it with alcohol can cause serious problems – even death.
Symptoms of Xanax Addiction and Withdrawal
People seem to think that prescription drugs are somehow safer than recreational drugs, but fail to realize that even prescriptions are dangerous when used improperly. As a result, Xanax addiction can be just as tricky to recognize as other drug dependencies, and sometimes even more so. If you recognize the following symptoms in yourself or a loved one, it might be time to seek treatment at Sound Recovery Solutions.
- Severe mood swings
- Trouble with memory or concentration
- Slurred speech
- Lack of interest in usual activities
- Coordination impairments
- Loss of motivation
- Problems in relationships
- Financial issues
Xanax withdrawal can be extremely difficult and even fatal if attempted without medical supervision. If you recognize the following symptoms of withdrawal in yourself or a loved one, please find a recovery treatment center like Sound Recovery Solutions to help you.
- Increased anxiety or depression
- Blurred vision
- Muscle pain or cramping
- Sensitivity to noise and light
- Uncontrollable shaking
Treatment for Xanax Addiction at Sound Recovery Solutions
At Sound Recovery Solutions, we provide a variety of options for treating your addiction, including partial hospitalization treatment, intensive outpatient treatment and outpatient treatment. We also offer an extended care program and alumni services. We welcome both men and women experiencing all varieties of addictions and chemical dependencies in addition to secondary co-occurring mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression and trauma.