Xanax belongs to a larger class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. As such, its effects make it one of the best drugs to use in the treatment of insomnia and anxiety. However, this drug is also extremely addictive. For this reason, you should only use it if you have a valid and legal prescription from a doctor.
If you abuse Xanax in any way, there is a high risk that you could become addicted to it. The drug could also start affecting your life in many negative ways. When this happens, you will only be able to stop using it after going through an addiction treatment and rehabilitation program.
What Is It?
Xanax is a trade name drug for alprazolam, a prescription medication that falls into the benzodiazepine class of drugs. It is typically prescribed in the clinical setting for the treatment of panic, anxiety, and sleep disorder.
The drug works through its interactions with certain brain receptors. After that, it will increase the level of inhibitory activity in the brain. As a result, Xanax will temper all problematic excitement that might be causing your insomnia, anxiety, and panic.
Xanax is also classified as a fast-acting drug. This means that you will experience most of its benefits about a hour after you use it. After that, the drug will work for about 6 more hours before its effects start waning.
Although you might start using this drug because a doctor recommended that you take it, there is also a possibility that you may find yourself abusing it - either due to this prescription or simply because you want its pleasurable and sedative effects.
When this happens, you will soon develop tolerance to it. As a result, you would have to take the drug in higher doses or more frequently than you used to before you can experience its pleasurable effects.
Tolerance will later give rise to the development of physical and psychological dependence. At this point, you could be said to be struggling with a substance use disorder, or an addiction involving Xanax.
As a fast-acting benzo, Xanax will cause you to experience changes in your brain within a relatively short time period. It is for this reason that the drug is considered to be among the most addictive of all benzodiazepines.
The risk of addiction, however, is higher if you take more than 4 mg of it every day for more than 12 weeks, or if you start abusing it. It is for this reason that the DEA - the Drug Enforcement Administration classifies Xanax as a schedule IV drug under the Controlled Substances Act passed by the federal government.
What Are The Effects?
When you use this drug for a prolonged period of time, it can lead to the development of a wide variety of negative physical effects. It acts as to depress the CNS - central nervous system. As a result, it can slow down certain aspects of your physical and mental health.
That said, the following are some of the common effects of using Xanax:
- Lack of coordination
- Slurred speech
The drug can also slow down your respiratory rates especially if you abuse it. This is a troubling situation but it could be even more dangerous if you mix Xanax with other substances like alcohol or any other depressant substance. This is because the combination of depressant effects could cause you to suffer significant harm, such as coma, serious injury, or even death.
You may also suffer memory impairment as a result of your Xanax abuse. However, this problem will only affect your short term memory. Another thing that you should be wary of is sedation. In particular, you may suffer severe sedation lasting anywhere between 3 and 4 days as a result of abusing this drug.
Signs to Look For If Someone Is Abusing Xanax
But how can you tell whether someone has been abusing this medication? Essentially, there are some signs that you should look out for:
a) Physical Signs
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feelings of elation
- Light headedness
- Problems with memory
- Sleeping for extended time periods
b) Social and Psychological Signs
- Cognitive problems
- Difficulty articulating words
- Financial problems
- Lacking in motivation
- Lowered interest in any task that requires sustained attention.
- Marital problems
- Professional issues
- Strained relationships with family and close friends
- Tolerance to Xanax
Short and Long Term Symptoms of Xanax Addiction
Xanax is one of the most habit-forming of all benzodiazepine drugs. You may, therefore, develop dependence on and addiction to it. This is particularly true when you get to a point in your substance abuse when you start believing that you are no longer able to manage your stress without taking this drug.
Even if you have been using this medication exactly as your doctor prescribed, there is still a high risk that you might become addicted to it. This is primarily because your tolerance to its effects will grow quickly - leading to larger and more frequent dosing.
If you are addicted to Xanax, you are going to exhibit some, most, or all of the following symptoms of a substance use disorder. The number of symptoms that you display will largely depend on the extent, duration, and severity of your benzo addiction:
- Avoiding some of the tasks that once required your sustained attention
- Concentration problems
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms whenever you go for long without the drug
- Financial problems
- Impaired coordination
- Lack of motivation
- Losing interest in the daily activities that you used to enjoy
- Manic type moods
- Memory problems
- Requiring more Xanax to feel its pleasurable effects
- Slurred speech
- Strained family and social relationships
- Strong Xanax cravings
However, you should keep in mind that there is a difference between Xanax abuse and addiction. If you have been using this drug recreationally, then you would only be using it during particular events like parties.
In these situations, however, there is a high risk that you could combine the drug with other substances like alcohol. This would allow you to achieve the pleasurable effects that you desire from this drug combination.
In general, you may be able to stop using Xanax if you have been taking it in this way. This is because you would still have some level of control over your substance abuse and your life.
However, chronic benzodiazepine use will cause you to develop tolerance. This will quickly be followed by the development of psychological and physical dependence. When this happens, you could be said to be addicted to the drug.
Once your addiction has taken root, you will increasingly find that you have to take Xanax to be able to function normally. Further, you will no longer be able to control your use of the drug. This will be seen in close to every other aspect of your life.
Xanax Overdose Risks
Since Xanax is such a fast acting substance, there is a high risk that you could suffer an overdose. When this happens, the overdose will typically display the signs and symptoms that you experience while using this on a regular basis. These signs include:
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in sexual ability and sex drive
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty passing urine
- Dry mouth
- Increased salivation
- Joint pain
- Unusual talkativeness
Although the presence of these signs could indicate that you might be suffering a drug overdose, this might not always be the case. It is for this reason that you need to check how you feel during the next couple of hours that follow the onset of these symptoms.
That said, it is recommended that you do not consume any more Xanax - however small - if you suffer any of the symptoms listed above. You should also avoid alcohol and any other drug. In case they worsen, you should also seek emergency medical attention.
Apart from the above symptoms, there is also a risk that you could suffer more severe effects. These include such warning signs of an adverse drug overdose as:
- Symptoms of depression, such as depressed mood
- Difficulties annunciating
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty speaking
- Hallucinations (such as feeling, seeing, or hearing things that are evidently not there)
- Labored breathing
- Loss of balance
- Loss of coordination
- Memory problems
- Suicidal ideation or actions
- Unusual behavior
- Unusual mood changes
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes
If you suffer any of these symptoms, you should seek emergency medical attention. This is because they could lead to more adverse effects, including coma and sudden death unless they are reversed immediately.
Best Options for Recovery
The best way to recover from your Xanax abuse and addiction is to stop taking the drug. However, this is often accompanied by various withdrawal symptoms that require medical attention.
It is for this reason that you should only stop using this substance after enrolling in an accredited addiction treatment and rehabilitation program. This way, you will receive various treatment and rehabilitation services. These include medical detox, evidence based therapy, counseling, aftercare planning, addiction education, and relapse prevention - among many other services. All these services can help you overcome your Xanax addiction.
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