xanax addiction treatment
Xanax, also known by its generic name Alprazolam, is primarily used for the treatment of anxiety and panic disorders. It can also be used in treatment of insomnia and depression. It belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines; central nervous system depressants often referred to as “minor tranquilizers”. Xanax works by increasing the amount of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain, resulting in a relaxing and calming effect.
Benzodiazepines are considered to be effective for short-term treatment of anxiety and sleep problems, but because they tend to produce dependence reactions in all the conditions in which they are used, should only be used for periods of less than 4 weeks.
In the U.S., Xanax can only be legally obtained with a doctor’s prescription, and is produced in the form of a liquid, tablet, dissolving tablet, and extended release tablet.
American Xanax Use
According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, between the years of 1996 and 2013, the number of adults with benzodiazepine prescriptions in the U.S. increased by more than two thirds—from 8.1 million to 13.5 million.
A separate report analyzing data from the 2013 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) showed that Xanax was the third most commonly used psychiatric drug in the U.S. in 2013, following the antidepressants Zoloft and Celexa.
While this data shows that Xanax is one of the most prescribed psychiatric drugs in the U.S. today, other research shows that tranquilizers such as Xanax are also some of the most misused prescription drugs in the country. The 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated that 2.0 million people aged 12 or older in 2016 were current misusers of tranquilizers, and that within that group, an estimated 618,000 people had a tranquilizer use disorder.
Xanax Dependence and Addiction
While Xanax can offer much needed relief to those suffering from a range of anxiety and mood disorders, it can be addicting to both those who misuse it (take it recreationally or not as directed) and to people who medicate exactly as prescribed by their doctor. Taking Xanax in large quantities, as well as prolonged use of the drug, can result in addiction, tolerance, and dependence. As stated by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, approximately 4 out of every 10 people who use benzodiazepines daily for more than six weeks will become addicted.
An addiction to Xanax manifests similarly to other addictions, primarily:
- Feeling poorly if you don’t take them
- Developing a tolerance (having to take an increasing amount to achieve the same effect)
- Experiencing cravings for the drug
- Getting withdrawal symptoms if you don’t take regular doses, or if you try to stop
Xanax withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Feeling agitated
- Sleep issues
- Light sensitivity
- Blurred vision
- Odd metallic taste in mouth
- Feelings of electric shocks in arms and legs
Signs of Xanax dependence can manifest in the form of:
- Spending a lot of time engaging in activities relating to the use of Xanax
- Unsuccessful attempts to cut down on its use
- Continued use despite emotional or physical health problems associated with use
- Waning participation in other activities
- Problems at home, work, and school
- Repeated trouble with the law
- Strain on relationships with family or friends
The use of Xanax can sometimes cause respiratory rates to slow, and can be highly dangerous when mixed with other depressants such as alcohol.
According to the same study in the American Journal of Public Health that noted the rise of benzodiazepine prescriptions, overdose deaths involving these drugs also climbed at an alarming rate during these years.
Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the researchers found that benzodiazepine-related overdose deaths rose from 0.58 per 100,000 people in 1999 to 3.07 per 100,000 in 2013.
This increase may be due to a number of factors, including: treatment spanning more days, higher doses, and people combining their prescriptions with illegally obtained tranquilizers and alcohol or opioids.
Xanax Addiction Treatment and Detox
At Alo House, we understand that addiction treatment for Xanax follows the same protocols used for other benzodiazepines.
It’s imperative that a proper detox regimen takes place first, as benzodiazepine withdrawal can be serious, or fatal if not done correctly under supervision. Benzodiazepine detox also takes longer than alcohol or other drugs and we make the process as comfortable as possible.
After detox is completed, a certified substance use professional performs an evaluation to determine the proper level of care to begin treatment for Xanax addiction. A recovery plan is designed that best fits each individual based on his or her unique circumstances to ensure a success.