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Xanax Addiction

Xanax Addiction: What You Need to Know

Xanax is a sedative and anti-anxiety medication prescribed to millions of people each year. It is also one of the most abused prescription medications in the United States. If you or someone you know is struggling with Xanax addiction, it’s important to understand the risks and symptoms associated with this type of dependency. Learn more about Xanax addiction, including the common signs and symptoms to look out for and available treatment options.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam, a short-acting benzodiazepine anxiolytic drug (benzo). Doctors sometimes prescribe benzodiazepines like Xanax to treat:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Insomnia

Benzos like Xanax were first marketed as a better alternative to barbiturates, which are a class of drugs tied to substance abuse, overdose, and death in the 1950s and 1960s. In the 2010s it became increasingly apparent that benzos were a drug of abuse, just like barbiturates. The FDA began requiring a black box warning on benzos detailing their high potential for abuse and dependency. Though Xanax is still prescribed and can be safe and effective when monitored by a doctor, the medical community is much more restrictive when prescribing the drug.

Xanax addiction

Xanax Facts

As of this writing, the latest addiction statistics by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on benzodiazepines like Xanax show that in one year:

  • 8 million Americans over age 12 abused benzodiazepines.
  • Americans aged 18 to 25 abused benzos the most (1.1. million).
  • 2 million Americans met the DSM-5 criteria for a sedative addiction or tranquilizer addiction.

The highest tranquilizer or sedative addiction rates were seen in Americans aged 18 to 25.

What Are the Effects of Xanax?

There are many different types of medications available to people who suffer from anxiety and panic disorders. Xanax is a fast-acting benzo that can provide relief from symptoms within minutes. While Xanax can be helpful for some people, it can also have negative effects. Taking Xanax over a long period of time or abusing Xanax puts you at greater risk for these effects.

How Xanax Affects Your Brain

Xanax can have a number of negative effects on the brain. One of the most common is memory loss. Xanax can cause you to forget important information or events. It can also make it difficult to focus and pay attention. Xanax can also cause changes in mood and behavior. You may become more anxious, irritable, or depressed. In some cases, Xanax users experience hallucinations or delusions. These side effects can be extremely distressing and make it difficult to function in daily life.

These effects of Xanax are tied to brain chemicals. When you take Xanax, it increases the levels of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in your brain. GABA helps keep your nerve cells from firing too quickly. This calming effect can help reduce anxiety. Xanax also affects another neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin is involved in mood and emotion. By binding to serotonin receptors, Xanax might make you feel calmer and happier, but you eventually need increasing amounts of the drug to get the same effects.

How Xanax Affects Your Behavior

Even though Xanax is sedating, you may become more talkative or impulsive while under the influence of this drug. You may also notice that your memory is affected, and you may have trouble making decisions. Xanax can also cause you to become more emotionally reactive, which can lead to outbursts of anger or sadness. Xanax can also cause side effects like:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Impaired coordination
  • Slurred speech

How Xanax Affects Your Emotions

When Xanax increases (GABA), it inhibits nerve activity in the central nervous system. This increase in GABA activity leads to feelings of calm and relaxation, but Xanax can also blunt your emotions. This is a condition that reduces the intensity of both positive and negative emotions. It can make you feel emotionally numb.

Additionally, because Xanax slows down nerve activity in the brain, it can also cause drowsiness and impair cognition. You may find it more difficult to experience positive emotions or express yourself clearly. For some people, these effects can be desirable. Others find them problematic.

How Does Xanax Addiction Develop?

Many people who struggle with Xanax addiction and abuse started out using the drug as prescribed by doctors. When used as directed, it can effectively manage anxiety symptoms. But Xanax can also be addictive. Over time, the body builds up a tolerance to the drug. You require larger and larger doses to achieve the same effects. This can lead to physical dependence and eventually addiction.

People who are addicted to Xanax may start to feel like they cannot function without the drug. They may miss work or school, isolate themselves from friends and family, and engage in risky behaviors in order to get more of the drug.

Signs and Symptoms of Xanax Addiction

Signs of Xanax addiction are similar to those of other substance use disorders. Xanax abuse signs may include:

  • Taking Xanax without a prescription
  • Using Xanax other than as prescribed by a doctor
  • Feeling you need Xanax to function or cope with life
  • Feeling the need to take Xanax to feel normal
  • Needing more and more Xanax to get the desired effects
  • Experiencing benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking Xanax
  • Becoming agitated or irritable when you cannot get Xanax
  • Paranoia or anxiety
  • Appearance changes, such as weight loss and paleness
  • Becoming more secretive and isolating from friends and family
  • Spending a lot of time thinking about Xanax or acquiring it
  • Continuing to use Xanax despite negative consequences to relationships, work, school, or health

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these signs of addiction, it’s important to get professional help.

Treatment for Xanax Addiction

Xanax addiction is a very real problem. If you are addicted to Xanax, you are not alone. While many people struggle with Xanax addiction every day, there is help available. Treatment for Xanax addiction can help you overcome substance abuse and get your life back on track.

The course of treatment for Xanax depends on:

The route to recovery for many people includes:

Xanax Detox and Withdrawal

Going through withdrawal and detox from Xanax can be a difficult and uncomfortable experience, so it’s important to do it in a safe and controlled setting. When you have a Xanax dependence, your body becomes used to having the drug in its system. If you suddenly stop taking it, your body will go through withdrawal as it adjusts to functioning without Xanax.

Symptoms of Xanax withdrawal can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Dizziness
  • Panic attacks
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sweating
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache

Detoxing from Xanax in a medically supervised setting can help minimize these symptoms and make the process as comfortable as possible. In addition, being in a drug rehab facility like Vogue Recovery Center during detox can provide you with support and resources to help you through a difficult time and ensure you are medically safe.

Xanax Addiction Treatment

The different levels of care for Xanax addiction can be broken into residential treatment and outpatient treatment programs. Inpatient treatment is the most intensive and usually takes place in a hospital or drug rehab center. Outpatient rehab is less intensive and allows you to live at home or in a sober living residence while attending treatment.

Inpatient Rehab

Residential treatment for Xanax addiction is typically a 28-day program but can be longer. You’ll receive around-the-clock care and treatment for addiction. The rehab program will probably include:

Some treatment centers, like Vogue Recovery Center, also offer holistic approaches and experiential therapies.

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs)

PHPs for Xanax addiction are typically 9 to 10 weeks long. You’ll attend the program five days a week during the day and go home in the evenings. Partial hospitalization usually includes the same types of treatments and therapies as a residential program.

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs)

IOPs are typically three to four months long. You’ll attend the program three days a week for a few hours. An intensive outpatient program will likely include:

  • Group therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Family therapy

IOPs provide regular support and structure as you transition back into everyday life.

Outpatient Programs (OPs)

Outpatient programs are typically 6 to 12 months long. They usually meet once a week for one to three hours. OPs mainly involve group therapy, with individual therapy as needed or once a month.

Therapies to Treat Xanax Addiction

Common therapies and approaches used to treat Xanax addiction are:

  • Behavioral therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Contingency management interventions (CM)
  • Pharmacological therapies like benzodiazepine receptor agonists (i.e., diazepam, alprazolam) and antidepressants (i.e., selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors [SSRIs], and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors [SNRIs])

Behavioral therapies and approaches for Xanax addiction treatment include:

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) A type of psychotherapy that emphasizes the role of thoughts in shaping emotions and behavior. CBT is based on the idea that thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all interconnected, and that dysfunctional patterns of thinking can lead to negative emotions and problematic behaviors. By identifying and changing distorted thought patterns, CBT can help reduce anxiety, depression, and other psychological distress.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) A type of cognitive behavioral therapy that teaches you to regulate emotions and improve interpersonal skills. You’ll learn about mindfulness, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. You’ll practice these skills to develop healthier coping mechanisms. The therapist will support and guide you as you work through challenges.

Motivational interviewing (MI) A counseling approach that helps explore and resolve ambivalence around behavior change. It is a collaborative, goal-oriented style of communication that helps you address the barriers that prevent you from making positive changes in your life. MI has been shown to help people change a wide variety of health-related behaviors, including smoking, diet, physical activity, and addiction.

Family therapy A type of counseling that helps families resolve conflicts and improve communication. The therapist works with the entire family to identify and understand the issues that cause problems. Family therapy can help families heal old wounds, learn new ways of dealing with stress, and build stronger relationships.

Group therapy Addiction can be extremely isolating. One of the most effective ways to treat it is through group therapy. Group therapy provides a safe, supportive environment where you can share experiences with others and begin to heal. The therapist facilitates the group and helps members explore the root causes of their addictions. You’ll also learn coping skills and strategies for recovery. Group therapy is an effective treatment for addiction because it helps people feel less alone, provides support and encouragement, and offers practical tools for recovery.

Individual therapy You meet one-on-one with a therapist to discuss your unique experience with addiction. This type of therapy allows you to openly share feelings and thoughts without judgment or interruption. Additionally, individual therapy gives you the chance to receive tailored support and advice that can help you overcome Xanax addiction. Often, individual therapy is used in conjunction with other treatment methods like group therapy and medication to create a comprehensive treatment plan.

Holistic approaches – Holistic approaches for addiction treatment are based on the idea that addiction is a disease that affects the whole person. This includes the mind, body, and spirit. Treatment focuses on healing all aspects of the person, not just the physical symptoms of addiction. Holistic therapies are often used along with traditional medical treatment. They can help address the root causes of addiction and provide strategies to cope with triggers and cravings. Common holistic therapies for addiction include:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage therapy

These therapies can help reduce stress, improve mental health, and promote overall wellness.

Support groups Addiction support groups provide spaces for people in recovery to share their experiences and offer peer-to-peer support. They groups can be incredibly helpful in early recovery when you’re learning how to cope with triggers and cravings without turning to substance abuse. Support groups also provide a sense of community and belonging. There are a variety of different types of addiction treatment support groups, including 12-step programs, SMART Recovery, and Women for Sobriety. While there are some differences between these programs, they all share the common goal of helping people in recovery achieve and maintain sobriety.

How Long Is Xanax Addiction Treatment?

Xanax addiction treatment can take many forms, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how long it will take. The length of Xanax treatment depends on a number of factors, including:

  • How severe your addiction is
  • Your history of drug and alcohol abuse
  • Your mental and physical health
  • Your support system

The treatment process typically takes months. After medical detox, most people enter rehabilitation programs, which may last for several weeks or months. After completing treatment, many people find it helpful to attend support groups or therapy sessions on an ongoing basis. The level of care and length of treatment is determined by your progress in recovery. There is no set timeframe for recovery, and everyone progresses at their own pace.

Ready to Get Help for Xanax Addiction?

At Vogue Recovery Center, we understand how difficult it can be to overcome an addiction to Xanax. This powerful drug can cause physical and psychological dependence, making it hard to quit without professional help. Our experienced and compassionate behavioral health team will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan that meets your unique needs. We offer a variety of evidence-based therapies and treatments for underlying trauma and co-occurring disorders. We also provide 24/7 support so you can always reach out if you need help. If you’re struggling with an addiction to Xanax, we’re here to help.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538165/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2424120/
  3. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-requiring-boxed-warning-updated-improve-safe-use-benzodiazepine-drug-class
  4. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/reports/rpt35325/NSDUHFFRPDFWHTMLFiles2020/
    2020NSDUHFFR1PDFW102121.pdf

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