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Xanax Addiction: Signs, Effects and Detox

Xanax is a central nervous system depressant belonging to the benzodiazepine class of drugs. Typically, benzodiazepines are safe for short-term use, with doctors prescribing Xanax for the treatment of anxiety and panic disorders. In the United States, Xanax is the most commonly utilized treatment for these disorders. Unfortunately, the widespread use of the drug puts a more significant number of people at risk for misuse, abuse, and Xanax addiction. 

Xanax Addiction: An Ongoing Problem

The ongoing problem in the United States is that, according to The World Health Organization, every one in eight people had a generalized anxiety disorder in 2019. The Food and Drug Administration approved Xanax for the short-term treatment of this disorder, but the best treatment option is to include therapy with the medication. Xanax is the most commonly prescribed benzo, with more than 92 million prescriptions in 2019. 

In 2020, more than 3.4 million people over the age of 12 were misusing alprazolam. A contributing factor to using Xanax to treat an ongoing mental health condition is that long-term use can lead to misuse of the medication. Long-term use of Xanax can lead to abuse, tolerance, and dependence. Xanax addiction is challenging to end without a professional detox program and treatment plan that includes cognitive-behavioral therapy, which can address substance use and mental health issues. 

Signs of Xanax Addiction

As with all substance use disorders, the signs and symptoms of addiction are profoundly obvious. Xanax addiction can be unintentional and begins out of simple misuse of the drug. Once the addiction ball starts rolling, it gains speed and can move out of control in a short period. It is essential to reach out if any of these signs are present in a loved one’s life.

The following are signs of Xanax addiction:

  • Taking more than the prescription dosage or more frequently than the orders permit
  • Developing cravings or intense urges for the drug
  • Spending time and thought to find more drugs or get additional prescriptions
  • Creating an inability to maintain responsibilities, relationships, and lifestyle because of drug use
  • Developing a tolerance for the drug, which requires a higher dosage to achieve the desired effect
  • Developing withdrawal symptoms if the dosage is less than usual or stopped
  • Continuing to use Xanax no matter how many problems are present

Short-Term Effects of Xanax Abuse

Xanax (alprazolam) strengthens the effects of the GABA neurotransmitter, which controls sleep functions, feeling calm, muscle relaxation, and reduced brain activity. Prescriptions for benzodiazepines are a standard treatment for generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder. Short-term use is relatively safe, with fast-acting relief. Mixing Xanax with alcohol is dangerous, and this drug is not recommended for those with suicidal ideation. 

Short-term non-life-threatening side effects of Xanax include any of the following:

  • Drowsiness and fatigue
  • Confusion and trouble concentrating
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Worsening depression
  • Impaired Coordination and poor balance
  • Vision Problems, including blurred vision
  • Nausea, vomiting and upset stomach
  • Decrease in mental alertness and memory impairment
  • Muscle weakness and slurred speech

Long-Term Effects of Xanax Abuse

Xanax is not intended for long-term use. Some severe side effects can occur if taken with opioids, alcohol, or other central nervous system depressants. Using Xanax with any of these substances can cause extreme drowsiness, breathing problems, coma, and death. When developing tolerance of the drug, a higher dosage is needed to produce the same effect, which is a stepping stone to dependence and addiction. 

The central nervous system is directly affected by long-term Xanax use. Depressing the production of GABA, the action driving force in the brain, Xanax causes drowsiness, calm, and relaxation. This makes withdrawal from Xanax intense and dangerous. Withdrawal can occur once dependence is present within just a few hours.

The withdrawal symptoms from Xanax withdrawal include:

  • Increasing heart rate, escalation in blood pressure, body temperature and sweating
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Shakiness and overactive reflexes
  • Hallucinations
  • Severe cravings
  • Insomnia

More severe and life-threatening Xanax withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Seizures and convulsions
  • Psychosis and catatonia (a state of immobility)
  • Depression with suicidal ideation
  • Delirium tremens
  • Mania
  • Hallucinations

Xanax and Polydrug Abuse

Polydrug use involving Xanax increases the risk of overdose and respiratory depression. Depressed breathing can result in a coma and can even be fatal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that in 2020, more than 92% of all deadly benzodiazepine overdoses involved an opioid as well. Mixing opioids with Xanax increases the risk of overdose toxicity, damage to the brain and other organs, as well as death. 

Mixing stimulants with Xanax can also deceive the user into believing that the drugs are not producing the effects the user expects. Consuming additional dosages can lead to an overdose. Xanax, taken in combination with alcohol, presents an increasing risk for respiratory depression as they are both central nervous system depressants. Combining substances, in any case, causes challenges and complications when detoxification efforts begin. 

Xanax Detox

Xanax detox can be medically managed for a safe and effective withdrawal from Xanax. Professional detox programs are safer than trying to detox at home or without help. Withdrawal side effects from Xanax can be uncomfortable and dangerous without medical management. Safe detox from Xanax and possibly other substances includes education, medication-assisted treatment, and multiple therapies. 

Inpatient or outpatient treatment is beneficial in learning new coping mechanisms for a sober lifestyle and finding the root of the addiction. Identifying triggers, managing stress, and relapse prevention are essential factors in learning to live without addiction. Every person has their own needs and expectations for treatment. Finding flexibility and a supportive and safe environment in a trusted treatment center is the best chance of longevity for sobriety. 

Discover the Benefits of Treatment for Xanax Addiction in Georgia

It is essential to determine each addiction program’s unique services to contribute to the recovery of Xanax addiction. The Retreat of Atlanta in Georgia offers many detox services to begin recovery. Those looking for gender-specific detox or evidence-based therapies can find their needs met with The Retreat of Atlanta. Contact us today for more information and answers to your valuable questions. 

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