Xanax, a brand-name prescription depressant, is a medication most often prescribed to treat anxiety disorders, panic disorders, and sleep disorders. Commonly classified as a sedative or tranquilizer, Xanax is most known for its calming effects: it reduces anxiety, eases muscle tension, and promotes relaxation.
Many young adults today feel that tranquilizers such as Xanax are harmless. It helps to ease worries, to prevent panic attacks, and to help users achieve a good night’s sleep. As a result, many Xanax users today are students, or young adults just beginning their careers in the professional world. These teens and young adults believe that the drug can only benefit them—and they can fall asleep at night without the burden of stress.
What Xanax users often do not realize is that the drug has an extremely high potential for both physical and psychological dependence. A prescribed patient, even when taking their medication exactly as prescribed by their doctor, can easily become addicted to Xanax.
Xanax is a type of benzodiazepine (often referred to by young adults as “benzos”), a central nervous system depressant that poses great risk for addiction. Commonly called a “downer,” Xanax slows down brain activity by blocking brain receptors and inhibiting communication between neurons. It does so by hyperpolarizing these brain cells so that they become less active—making a user feel calm, drowsy, less agitated, and less anxious.
When a person initiates Xanax use, most commonly in pill form, the drug’s effects usually take over within a 15-90 minute span depending on the dosage. Benzos like Xanax work quickly and effectively, making them all the more appealing and psychologically addictive. Yet Xanax also has a “half-life,” meaning that its effects are short-lived, and only last about six hours. Xanax users, as a result, often experience lows in between doses. When these lows become severe, it is likely a result of Xanax withdrawal symptoms.
When a tolerant user takes a Xanax prescription regularly, and then stops taking it (for a short period of time or altogether), the brain will “overshoot” what was once normal activity. This is commonly referred to as a “rebound effect,” which can result in seizures, increased blood pressure, and elevated anxiety levels. Benzodiazepines are usually not prescribed for long-term use because of these risks.
Warning Signs of Xanax Addiction
Anyone can become addicted to Xanax; you do not have to intentionally abuse the drug to develop a Xanax dependency. Xanax addiction can occur after prolonged usage or large dosages. If you or your teen has been prescribed Xanax, it is extremely important to monitor and limit usage. While the prescription drug does not seem harmless at first, it does bear the risk of serious medical implications down the road.
During the first few days of taking a Xanax prescription, a user may feel especially drowsy and experience a loss of coordination. But as the body grows more accustomed to the drug and its effects, these side effects begin to disappear. When they do, it is likely that a Xanax tolerance has already developed. Users with a tolerance or dependency will need to take more Xanax to achieve its calming effects, and will struggle to function throughout the day without its aid.
Short-term side effects of Xanax abuse include:
- Sleepiness / drowsiness
- Lack of coordination
- Slurred speech
- Poor concentration
- Slowed brain function
- Slowed pulse and breathing
- Dizziness or fatigue
Long-term effects of chronic Xanax use include:
- Cognitive deficits: impairment of memory, judgment, and coordination
- Aggressive or impulsive behavior
- Delirious states / out-of-body experiences
- Breathing difficulties
When a Xanax addiction develops, a user will experience severe drug cravings and increased anxiety or panic when the drug is not directly obtainable. Xanax withdrawal symptoms also can include insomnia, body weakness, nausea, hallucinations, high body temperature, and convulsions.
Xanax Addiction Treatment
Unlike withdrawal from most addictive drugs, withdrawal from depressants like benzodiazepines can be life-threatening for tolerant users. As a result, young adults addicted to CNS depressants like Xanax should not attempt to stop use on their own. If you believe your teen is reliant on Xanax, it is important to seek professional help. He may need to undergo detoxification, and should do so in a medically supervised treatment facility. In treating a benzo addiction, dosages must be gradually tapered so that a patient does not experience the onset of withdrawal symptoms all at once.
It is recommended that those receiving for treatment for Xanax addiction should go through a series of cognitive-behavioral therapies. By doing so, addicted persons can better cope with their withdrawal symptoms as well as the various life stressors that could potentially trigger drug use again in the future. Behavioral therapy for Xanax addiction can successfully modify a user’s thinking and diminish a psychological addiction where it is present.
More and more people today are realizing that Xanax addiction is a serious problem, and many are seeking treatment as a result. While only 197,000 people received treatment for a tranquilizer addiction in 2002, 376,000 people over the age of 12 sought treatment for depressant addiction in 2013. If you know someone you love is suffering a Xanax addiction, you are not alone. Get him the help that he deserves by calling Turning Point at 877-581-1793.