Xanax (Alprazolam) is a sedative drug that falls under the umbrella of benzodiazepines, others of which include Valium (Diazepam) and Klonopin (Clonazepam).
Xanax is a highly addictive drug. It is short-acting, which gives it a high potential for abuse. When taken, its effects begin within an hour and may last for up to six.
For medical purposes, a course is usually prescribed for a period of two to six weeks. Xanax prescriptions are short to reduce the risk of addiction.
While effective as a form of relief from anxiety and other related issues, Xanax is often misused, and many of those who misuse it go on to develop a dependency and later an addiction.
Tolerance to the drug builds quickly, so those who misuse Xanax may take the drug more than recommended to achieve its desired effects. Misuse of Xanax is dangerous and in some circumstances can be fatal.2
Abuse of Xanax will leave a person appearing constantly tired, unmotivated, and socially distant. The following are some of the major signs of Xanax abuse:3
Drowsiness and low energy
Slowed cognitive function
Reduced interest in work or study
Reduced interest in previously enjoyed activities
Xanax abuse can be situational, such as at a party. This constitutes recreational use and counts as abuse, as users often take multiple pills and combine them with other drugs such as alcohol or marijuana. Users who abuse Xanax in these settings may be able to quit use without suffering the more severe symptoms of addiction.
A person suffering from an addiction to Xanax will need the drug to feel normal and function in daily life. Xanax addiction takes away an individual’s sense of control, which is reflected in multiple areas of their life.
Xanax addiction is dangerous not only due to the physical and psychological symptoms, but because its onset can be subtle. Very often, those addicted to Xanax are not fully aware of their addiction until a friend or family member suggest addiction as a possibility. Even then, the individual may be in denial about their situation.
One of the greatest and most common dangers associated with Xanax is polydrug use.4 When combined with other substances, such as opioids or alcohol, individuals are subject to seriously harmful side effects, including respiratory failure, coma, and potentially death.5 This is because Xanax is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. Alcohol and opiates are also CNS depressants. When combined, depression of the nervous system can become too much and cease to function.
As it is a sedative, Xanax can impair coordination. If a person drives after taking Xanax, the likelihood that they will get into an accident is significantly increased.
In larger doses, Xanax misuse can result in severe sedation, which can last for days.
Dangerous side effects of long term Xanax use include6:
Xanax addiction affects not only those who abuse the drug. People who have been prescribed a course of Xanax can develop an addiction if the course is longer than generally recommended.
Understanding the signs and symptoms of Xanax addiction is important for all individuals and families. The onset of dependence and addiction can be subtle, so it may take some time before the individual or their loved ones notice that something is not right.
Addiction to Xanax leads to a range of physical, behavioral and psychological symptoms, such as7:
Taking more Xanax to feel the desired effects
Suffering from withdrawal symptoms
Memory and concentration problems
Xanax withdrawal symptoms can be severe, so it’s important that those addicted do not quit cold turkey. Cessation of use should be carefully supervised by a medical professional and supported by psychotherapy to address the underlying causes of the addiction.
The following withdrawal symptoms are strong indicators that a person has become addicted.8
If you believe that your loved one is abusing or is addicted to Xanax, be careful about how you approach them. Any approach about drug use can seem confrontational and result in strained relationships and unresponsiveness, even when a suspected user is asked with loving concern.
The most appropriate step to take if you are worried is to contact an addiction specialist. This entire profession is dedicated to helping people and their families safely approach drug addiction while keeping everyone’s well-being in mind.
1 “Benzodiazepines (And The Alternatives) – Harvard Health”. Harvard Health, 2014, https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/benzodiazepines_and_the_alternatives. Accessed 14 Oct 2020.
2 Ait-Daoud, Nassima et al. “A Review of Alprazolam Use, Misuse, and Withdrawal.” Journal of addiction medicine vol. 12,1 (2018): 4-10. doi:10.1097/ADM.0000000000000350
3 Schmitz, Allison. “Benzodiazepine use, misuse, and abuse: A review.” The mental health clinician vol. 6,3 120-126. 6 May. 2016, doi:10.9740/mhc.2016.05.120
4 Schmitz, Allison. “Benzodiazepine use, misuse, and abuse: A review.” The mental health clinician vol. 6,3 120-126. 6 May. 2016, doi:10.9740/mhc.2016.05.120
5 “XANAX®, CIV Warnings And Precautions (Alprazolam) | Pfizer Medical Information – US”. Pfizermedicalinformation.Com, https://www.pfizermedicalinformation.com/en-us/xanax/warnings. Accessed 14 Oct 2020.
6 Ait-Daoud, Nassima et al. “A Review of Alprazolam Use, Misuse, and Withdrawal.” Journal of addiction medicine vol. 12,1 (2018): 4-10. doi:10.1097/ADM.0000000000000350
7 Ait-Daoud, Nassima et al. “A Review of Alprazolam Use, Misuse, and Withdrawal.” Journal of addiction medicine vol. 12,1 (2018): 4-10. doi:10.1097/ADM.0000000000000350
8 Ait-Daoud, Nassima et al. “A Review of Alprazolam Use, Misuse, and Withdrawal.” Journal of addiction medicine vol. 12,1 (2018): 4-10. doi:10.1097/ADM.0000000000000350
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