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Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam, a benzodiazepine. It creates an increase in gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) that has a calming effect on the brain and central nervous system. Xanax is prescribed to help treat anxiety, insomnia, or panic disorders. Due to its relaxing effects, it easy to abuse and has increased in popularity as a street drug.

Xanax tolerance and dependency can develop quickly as more of the drug is needed to achieve the same effects. Dependence can affect anyone, yet, it is more common for women to become addicted to benzodiazepines like Xanax. This might be directly related to prescribing habits where twice the number of women are prescribed Xanax or another benzodiazepine.

Methods of Xanax Consumption

Xanax can be taken in a variety of ways, including:

  • Pill form
  • Injection
  • Snorting
  • Mixing with other drugs and alcohol
  • Consuming via blotter paper

Once taken in tablet form, Xanax usually affects the body within 1-2 hours and remains in the body for 12-15 hours. Other methods of taking Xanax might mean that effects appear more quickly.

Side Effects of Xanax Abuse

When someone misuses Xanax or takes more than the prescribed dosage, they will often experience:

  • Slurred speech
  • Feelings of elation
  • Loss of coordination
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Light-headedness
  • Excessive sleep patterns
  • Memory issues

Is a Xanax Addiction Present?

Here are some signs that can help determine if you or a loved has been misusing Xanax:

  • Obsession with the use of Xanax
  • Lack of ability to stop taking Xanax
  • Loss of interest in regular lifestyle activities
  • Continued use despite negative consequences in an individual’s personal and professional life
  • Resumed use each time withdrawal symptoms appear
  • Increased usage is necessary to achieve the same effects

Xanax Treatment and Withdrawal

Stopping the use of Xanax cold turkey can be dangerous. Connecting with a medical professional or facility is the safest method for a person to stop using Xanax. In a medical detox facility, an individual will typically be given a decreasing dose of Xanax until they have been weaned off. Tapering the drug can help avoid possible deadly symptoms while detoxing.

Outpatientinpatient, and 12 step programs are offered to combat Xanax addiction. Depending upon the length and frequency of use and level of dependency, an inpatient program might be the best course of action. This treatment method offers an environment that will likely be free of any triggers. An average day in an inpatient program will likely include mental health therapy, substance use education, and tools to prevent relapse.

Once an individual commits to a program or decides to discontinue Xanax’s use, they will experience a period of withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms can be compared to alcohol or barbiturate withdrawal and can include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Body convulsions
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors
  • Muscle pain
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Seizures
  • Paranoia
  • Panic attacks

Overdosing on Xanax

Overdosing on Xanax can be deadly. As pills are time-released, crushing or chewing them creates a greater likelihood of an overdose. Potential side effects of an overdose include:

  • Coma
  • Slow heart rate
  • Trouble breathing
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fainting
  • Loss of balance

Depending upon how much of the drug has been taken, an individual may need immediate medical intervention to counteract the overdose’s effects.

Why is Xanax Use Common?

Xanax is appealing due to the euphoric and relaxing effect it provides. Because it is a common, though controlled, medication for mental health disorders, it is readily available in American households. The possibility to access and misuse Xanax is very real, not only by the person pres/addiction-cooccurring-disorders/cribed the medication but also by other household members. Many adolescents to begin using Xanax as a result of access to it in their homes.

Since Xanax helps create a short-term reprieve from mental health symptoms, users can quickly become reliant on that feeling, becoming obsessed with taking more once use begins. Often, when Xanax use is stopped, mental health symptoms can return even more intensely. This can create a desire to self-medicate and a greater probability of addiction. The National Alliance of Mental Illness reports that around 50% of those who have mental illnesses also suffer from co-occurring substance use addictions and disorders.

If Xanax is prescribed for medical use, it is vital to understand the risks associated with taking it due to its highly addictive nature. If you or a loved one is addicted to Xanax, do not wait to get help.