25 Jun Signs of Xanax Abuse
Xanax refers to a prescription benzodiazepine drug known as alprazolam, which doctors prescribe to treat anxiety and panic disorders. When someone takes this drug, it interacts with a receptor in the brain that increases inhibitory brain activity, resulting in less anxiety and nervousness. Since Xanax is a fast-acting drug, patients can feel the effects of the substance within an hour of taking it and feel the overall effects of the drug for at least six hours. For these reasons, doctors often prescribe Xanax to help patients overcome severe anxiety.
However, due to its sedative effect and fast-acting nature, it is easy for people to become addicted to Xanax. An addiction to Xanax occurs when someone uses the drug for a long period of time or takes it in large quantities, resulting in dependency and tolerance. In some cases, patients become addicted to Xanax while taking the medication as prescribed by their doctor. People in this group may not even realize that they have a drug problem at first. In other cases, individuals may gain access to someone else’s Xanax prescription in order to take advantage of its calming effects.
Addiction to Xanax and other benzodiazepine drugs is a very common and growing problem. In fact, the 2011 Treatment Episode Data Set Report found that 60,200 people received treatment for an addiction to benzodiazepines that year. This was a dramatic increase from 22,400 people who sought treatment for a benzodiazepine addiction in 1998. The reason for this increase is due in part to the growing number of prescriptions that doctors are writing for these highly-addictive drugs.
Watching a friend or loved one struggle with addiction can make you feel helpless, but there are steps you can take to help them. Recognizing the signs of Xanax abuse is one of the best ways to help someone who is struggling with an addiction to the drug. By being able to identify Xanax abuse, you can take steps to help your loved one receive the treatment they need to free themselves from dependence on Xanax.
Signs of Xanax Abuse
Xanax goes by multiple clinical and street names. Pharmacies may refer to the drug as Alprazolam, the chemical name for Xanax, or Niravam, a form of alprazolam that dissolves on the tongue. Street names for Xanax include bars, benzos, blue footballs, handlebars, Xannies, and Zannies. Be sure to listen for these code names for Xanax. If you hear someone you know use any of these terms regularly, they may be abusing Xanax.
If someone has a prescription for Xanax to treat anxiety or panic disorder, it is possible for them to begin abusing the substance. There are several signs that legitimate Xanax use has crossed over into abuse. The two key signs are tolerance and dependency. Tolerance means that a person needs to take more of a drug over time to achieve the same effect, while dependency means that a person will experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking the drug. These two components work together to create a vicious cycle of addiction.
When someone is addicted to Xanax, their physical and mental health, relationships, and finances tend to suffer. In fact, there are some specific signs of Xanax abuse that you should be aware of. Some signs of Xanax abuse are easy to spot right away, but others may take some time to notice. However, knowing what to look for is half the battle in protecting your loved ones from Xanax addiction.
The physical and mental symptoms of Xanax abuse tend to manifest as drowsiness or absent-mindedness since the drug produces a sedative effect. However, other symptoms can include headaches and gastrointestinal problems.
Some of the most common signs of Xanax abuse include:
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Lack of Interest
- Lack of Motivation
- Memory Problems
- Sleeping Excessively
Much like other forms of drug abuse and addiction, Xanax abuse tends to impact every aspect of a person’s life. For example, it is common for people who abuse Xanax to have strained relationships with their friends, family, and spouses. Marital problems also tend to be present when one partner in a relationship is addicted to Xanax. It is simply difficult to maintain meaningful relationships when someone’s primary focus is on finding and taking the drug that they have come to depend on. Additionally, many people may find it hard to maintain a relationship with someone who is forgetful, inattentive, and lethargic due to Xanax abuse.
Personal relationships aren’t the only aspect of a person’s life that suffers when someone is addicted to Xanax. People who are dependent on the drug tend to have issues in their professional lives. The absent-mindedness, inability to concentrate, and lethargy that Xanax can cause often have a negative impact on a person’s work performance. People may also miss work repeatedly due to not feeling well if they are unable to take Xanax on the job. Over time, someone who is addicted to Xanax may lose their job due to absences or poor work performance.
When someone’s professional life suffers, so do their finances. Some people with an addiction to Xanax are unable to hold down a job, which can result in periods of lost income. Their finances may also suffer, because people with a Xanax addiction may spend excessive amounts of money to obtain the drug that they have come to rely on. A lack of income and the need to purchase drugs may cause someone to stop paying their other bills or go into debt.
People who are addicted to Xanax spend a great deal of time thinking about when and how they will get their next high. If they don’t have access to Xanax when they need a high, they might start taking other drugs that mimic the effect of Xanax. As a result, their life begins to revolve around drug use and ultimately becomes ruled by addiction.
The Impact of Xanax Abuse
Abusing Xanax for an extended period of time can cause a number of negative effects on the human body and mind. Since the drug is a central nervous system depressant, it slows down a person’s body, impacting both their mental and physical health.
Some of the most common effects of Xanax abuse include:
- Sedation (Which can last three to four days)
- Short-Term Memory Impairment
- Slowed Respiration
- Slurred Speech
Many of these negative effects are amplified by alcohol use because alcohol is also a depressant. When these substances are taken together, it can cause a person’s breathing to slow to a dangerously low rate, which can result in brain damage, coma, or even death. This potentially deadly situation can even occur when someone is taking Xanax as prescribed by their doctor. As a result, people should never drink when taking Xanax, regardless of whether they are taking it for medical-purposes or recreation.
If someone you know stops breathing or passes out while mixing Xanax and alcohol, call 9-1-1 immediately. Prompt medical attention can mean the difference between life and death in some cases.
Treating Xanax Abuse
Due to the addictive nature of Xanax, it is very difficult to stop abusing the drug without medical detoxification and professional treatment. One of the biggest reasons why Xanax users should seek professional help for their drug use is due to the risks of unpleasant and sometimes dangerous withdrawal symptoms that can occur when they stop taking the drug.
Some of the symptoms of Xanax withdrawal include:
- Anxiety and Panic Attacks
- Heart Palpitations
- Lack of Concentration
- Muscle Pain and Stiffness
- Shaking and Trembling
The severity and duration of Xanax withdrawal symptoms varies from person to person, depending on a number of factors, including the duration and amount of Xanax use, physical health, and age. Younger people who are in better overall health tend to experience less severe withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, people who have taken less Xanax for a shorter period of time have less intense symptoms of Xanax withdrawal.
People have the option to attend an outpatient or inpatient drug rehab program. Inpatient treatment tends to be best for patients who are experiencing strong withdrawal symptoms or who have struggled to stop taking Xanax in the past. In an inpatient treatment program, a patient will receive 24/7 medical care in a temptation-free environment to help them manage their withdrawal symptoms during medical detoxification until their body is free of the substance. The most effective approach to detox involves gradually weaning a patient off of the drug, rather than stopping it cold turkey. This approach tends to lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms, which tends to reduce relapse rates.
After completing detox, the next step in the inpatient recovery process includes individual and group therapy sessions. During these sessions, patients examine the root causes of their addiction and learn about the role that Xanax abuse played in their lives. After developing this understanding, the patient begins to learn new stress management and coping strategies to take the place of drug use. They also receive addiction education and relapse prevention training to help them in their recovery journey going forward.
With drug addiction, it is common to see patients who have co-occurring mental disorders, like anxiety and depression. This is especially true with Xanax because many people initially start taking the drug to help them overcome their symptoms of anxiety. Proper diagnosis and treatment of co-occurring mental disorders results in lower relapse rates and better long-term recovery success rates.
As mentioned above, it is possible to receive Xanax addiction treatment on an outpatient basis. Outpatient treatment is best for patients who have a strong support network and a less severe Xanax addiction. Outpatient programs can take many forms. Some programs require daily check-ins with a drug abuse counselor who can provide support, counseling, and education. In contrast, some outpatient programs may require patients to spend a set number of hours each day in a drug treatment center to receive therapy and education. Although the setting for outpatient counseling may be different from inpatient counseling, the therapeutic interventions remain the same.
After completing the initial drug treatment program, patients will receive a relapse prevention plan to help them maintain long-term sobriety. This plan may include recommendations to attend ongoing therapy sessions or join a support group. Although having support from family, friends, and medical professionals is invaluable, there is nothing like attending a support group. Not only do these groups provide tips and tricks for remaining sober, but they also offer support from other people who personally understand addiction and the struggle to remain sober after treatment. Many people find comfort in the fact that they aren’t the only ones who are fighting for their sobriety, and this knowledge can help people find the will to carry on in their recovery journey when the road gets tough.
Recovering from a Xanax addiction is a difficult and not always linear journey. Sometimes, patients face stresses and temptation. Sometimes, they even relapse. When the road to long-term sobriety is filled with roadblocks, patients need to remember why they are striving for sobriety in the first place. As a loved one, you can provide this reminder. Love and support are critically important in helping someone recover from an addiction to Xanax. From noticing the signs of Xanax abuse to helping them during their recovery, your support can save a life.
HARP specializes in treating addiction to a variety of substances, including Xanax and other benzodiazepines. Our team of caring and compassionate medical professionals and addiction treatment specialists provide medically-supervised detox, comprehensive psychological counseling, support services, and long-term recovery resources to give each patient a comfortable and productive stay at our drug rehab center before they reenter their life – clean and sober. With the appropriate help and support, recovery from addiction is possible. HARP can help clients live a life free from Xanax addiction.