Across the United States, many patients that have been prescribed Xanax are developing a Xanax addiction. These Xanax addicts are requiring drug interventions and drug addiction treatment for Xanax withdrawal. The short-acting tranquilizer alprazolam, better known by the familiar brand name Xanax (manufactured by Pfizer), is generally prescribed by doctors in the short-term to treat moderate cases of anxiety, panic attacks, and panic disorder. From the benzodiazepine class of drugs, its effect is to lower excitement levels in the brain. This medication has been around since the 1970s.
Xanax is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States. Xanax addiction is not uncommon among those who use or abuse this medication over long periods of time. In the United States, the FDA lists alprazolam as a schedule IV drug, meaning it believes, relative to schedule III drugs, that Xanax has a low potential for abuse.
Xanax addiction is on the rise, but there are help and support available. Among prescription tranquilizers, only diazepam (Valium) has higher abuse rates than Xanax, although it is more common for first-timers to misuse Xanax. Furthermore, between 1995 and 2002, drug abuse-related trips to United States Emergency Rooms involving benzodiazepines increased by 41%, from over 71,000 to over 100,000. No benzodiazepine was reported in these cases more often than Xanax, which increased 62% during that time.
Xanax is typically abused in oral pill form, but it is sometimes injected (which is particularly dangerous) and is often abused in conjunction with alcohol. The Xanax and alcohol combination is very dangerous since both are central nervous system depressants. Additionally, the user’s body can build up a tolerance to the drug and require larger doses if taken for long periods of time. With these increases in Xanax, abuse come physical and psychological dependencies.
A two-year treatment outcome study shows that 15 percent of heroin users also used benzodiazepines daily for more than one year, and 73 percent used benzodiazepines more often than weekly. Studies also indicate that from 5 percent to as many as 90 percents of methadone users are also regular users of benzodiazepines.
Like many prescription drugs, not everyone will develop a Xanax addiction problem, and a patient should always follow their doctor’s prescription. However, if you suspect you or a loved one of having a problem with this medication, here are Xanax Addiction Symptoms to watch for:
- Tolerance: taking more Xanax to achieve the same effects, typically doing so in defiance of how the prescription was written
- Withdrawals: they start when Xanax is discontinued
- Compulsion: experiencing an inability to stop taking Xanax
- Preoccupation: growing increasingly concerned with acquiring more Xanax, including doctor-shopping, buying it illegally, or attempting to find it through any means
- Lifestyle changes: dramatic changes in habit or lifestyle, which might include ignoring responsibilities or social engagements
Xanax is not a drug to quit cold turkey. The Journal of Postgraduate Medicine stated that up to 25 percent of patients who stop taking their medication experienced withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, chills, lethargy, fatigue, moodiness, crying, dystonia, paresthesia, tremor, vivid dreams, and myalgias.
There are various treatment methodologies for Xanax addiction. These range from simple detoxification to rehab treatment programs. Xanax addiction treatment involves careful monitoring and counseling in an inpatient or outpatient treatment facility.
Xanax addiction treatment encompasses a patient’s thought process, behavior, and helps them to cope with everyday life. There are basic outpatient plans available for discontinuation of the drug including gradual discontinuance over a six to 12-week schedule, monitoring and helping the patient to feel in control of their dosage, and supplying a helpline when the patient needs reassurance. Other plans include inpatient treatment centers and 12-step programs such as Narcotics Anonymous, and drug treatment exchanges such as Clonidine, propranolol, or carbamazepine. Please note that these drug substitutes are dangerous and are not recommended as a healthy way to overcome Xanax addiction.