Xanax, the brand name for the benzodiazepine alprazolam, is a short-acting anxiolytic drug prescribed for the treatment of panic disorder, insomnia, and anxiety caused by depression. As the most prescribed and misused benzodiazepine in the United States market, Xanax has a sedative-hypnotic effect that can take effect in as little as 8-25 minutes.
Those who become addicted to Xanax can do so in a fast and easy manner as a result of the drug’s sedative effects. Because Xanax enhances GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, it is a CNS (central nervous system) depressant. Xanax is short acting, and has a high potency, thereby making it particularly enticing for those susceptible to addiction. Frequently abused with other drugs, Xanax addiction is dangerous, and can lead to serious medical complications. Some of the ways in which Xanax is abused are specifically related to other drugs of abuse and the effects Xanax has on a user in conjunction with those drugs.
Xanax and Depressant Drugs
Any two or more depressant drugs create an intensified and enhanced effect on the user. Many addicts who abuse any combination of depressant drugs, whether it is alcohol, benzodiazepines, heroin, or painkillers do so in attempts to enhance the high they get from their drug abuse.
Additionally, many addicts who cannot get their drug of choice may use Xanax to stave off withdrawal symptoms. Since the effects of Xanax can take effect in a few short minutes, it is the preferred choice of addicts who may be suffering from initial withdrawal symptoms from other depressant drugs.
Xanax and Stimulant Drugs
- Regulate speedy effects of stimulant drugs
Most stimulants produce a hyperactivity in users that can feel “speedy”, and create a situation in which the individual is unable to sit still or abstain from compulsive behaviors, and/or experience adverse health effects like rapid heart beat and high blood pressure. Xanax has potent and almost immediate effects that can regulate these symptoms in stimulant drug users. Additionally, individuals who have been abusing ecstasy and other club drugs may use Xanax to come down from their high, and try to get sleep.
While the effects of Xanax are almost opposite those of stimulant drugs, individuals who abuse stimulants often use it to regulate themselves and try to achieve some sense of normalcy.
- Avoidance of withdrawal from stimulant drugs
Xanax is often used by those addicted to stimulant drugs in an effort to avoid withdrawal symptoms if they cannot obtain more of their drug of choice. The withdrawal symptoms from stimulant drugs usually do not involve any physical symptoms, but the psychological effects can be devastating and lead to suicidal ideations. It is not uncommon for individuals going through withdrawal from stimulant drugs to seek some form of relief, and the fast acting and potent effects of Xanax are a preferred choice for attaining a sense of sedation until withdrawal subsides or until more drugs are available.
Effects of Xanax
Xanax produces a number of side effects, and they can vary depending on the individual, his or her tolerance to the drug, and the relative use or misuse of it. Some of the less serious and more common side effects of Xanax are:
- Blurred vision
- Swelling in the extremities (hands and feet)
- Appetite and/or weight fluctuations
- Increased sweating
- Muscle weakness
- Lack of coordination
- Decreased libido
- Dry mouth
- Slurred speech
- Memory problems
- Difficulty concentrating
While many of these effects are common, and most often experienced early in Xanax use, some of them can be indicative of Xanax abuse. In addition to side effects like slurred speech, dizziness, irritability, lack of coordination, and muscle weakness, additional effects of Xanax are often paradoxical to its intended effects, and can include:
- Aggression and/or hostility
- Uncontrolled muscle movements
- Chest pain
- Decreased inhibition
- Suicidal ideations
Although these effects may occur in someone who has just begun taking Xanax, many are related to Xanax abuse and overdose. When an individual has abused Xanax, and taken far more than medically justified, he or she will appear in such a way that gives clear indicators of being high on Xanax.
- An individual will appear to be drunk, but may lack the smell of alcohol on his or her breath
- Severe lack of coordination, inability to walk and perform basic motor tasks
- Slurred speech and inability to put together a cohesive sentence
- Forgetfulness, almost immediately after the fact. He or she may answer a question with a comment about an entirely unrelated topic
- Heavy or droopy eyelids, and apparent inability to keep eyes open
- Lack of facial expression, due to extreme muscle relaxation throughout the body
- Lack of visual focus, double or blurred vision, thereby missing tables and dropping things, or falling while trying to sit in a chair
Like most benzodiazepines, Xanax produces a physical and psychological dependence that can result in excruciating withdrawal symptoms that can range from moderate to severe and life-threatening. Many individuals addicted to Xanax remain in the cycle of addiction from fear of withdrawal symptoms. Some of the symptoms of Xanax withdrawal are:
- Severe anxiety
- Intense cravings
- Suicidal ideations
- Seizures or convulsions
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Mild to moderate fever
- Severe headache
It is important to note that one should not stop taking Xanax abruptly or drastically reduce dosages without medical consultation and supervision. Most detox methods for Xanax involve tapering an individual off the drug by slowly reducing the dosage in small gradients over time. A traditional Xanax detox may take up to two weeks, possibly longer depending on the amount an individual has been taking and the severity of his or her addiction.
Xanax Addiction Can Be Treated
Xanax addiction is dangerous, especially when one uses it in conjunction with other depressant drugs. The effects of multiple drugs within this class can result in respiratory depression, coma, and death.
If you, or someone you know is addicted to Xanax, there is no time to waste, as addiction is progressive with no end, until such time that professional help is received. Whether Xanax addiction is the result of a legitimate prescription or recreational use, continued misuse of this drug can have devastating consequences on the addict and his or loved ones. Additionally, long-term abuse of Xanax can lead to memory loss for an extended period of time. Some recovering addicts have reported an inability to recall events from several years past, as a result of abusing Xanax.
At addiction-resource.com, we understand the hardships of Xanax addiction and the fears associated with it. There is hope in addiction treatment, and recovery is possible. The key is to find the addiction treatment program that best relates to the addicted individual. There are a number of options that offer a variety of treatment methodologies and therapies that are individualized based on needs, preferences, and spiritual belief systems.
Please call us now to speak with a trained counselor about your situation and concerns. We will work with you to determine the best level and type of treatment for the most effective addiction rehabilitation based on your unique situation. Xanax addiction has claimed too many lives. Please don’t wait for it to claim another. Call now.