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Xanax Addiction Treatment

Xanax addiction is common because the drug is readily available as a medicine. People get hooked on Xanax because of its euphoric effects.  When overused, Xanax can have dangerous side effects on the user.

Why are so many people addicted to Xanax and what are the treatment options?

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What Is Xanax?

Xanax is the brand name of Alprazolam, a fast-acting tranquilizer. It was patented in 1971 and cleared in the US for medicinal purposes in 1981. Xanax is taken orally as an anti-anxiety medication.

As a Schedule IV drug, it is available in stores as an over-the-counter medication. In the US, doctors prescribe Xanax to more than 17 million patients.

Why Do People Take Xanax?

Doctors have prescribed Xanax for panic disorders and generalized anxiety disorder for the following reasons:

  • Anxiety disorder – Xanax can reduce symptoms of depression that stem from anxiety disorders. However, the drug is only effective for about four months of treatment. If used long-term at high doses, Xanax can cause the paradoxical effect of reversible depression.
  • Panic disorder – Xanax can lower panic symptoms, such as fear, social inhibition and agoraphobia. However, the drug is only effective as an anti-anxiety medication for between four and ten weeks. The effectiveness of Xanax as a treatment for panic disorders has been disputed in Australia.
  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea – Xanax is sometimes used to treat the side effects of chemotherapy, like nausea and vomiting.

Xanax loses its benefits if people exceed the recommended dosage.

Side Effects of Xanax

People who take Xanax as a prescription medication for anxiety and panic disorders may experience mild or moderate side effects. As with other benzodiazepines, these are symptoms typical of “downer” medications, including:

  • Sleepiness – Some people feel drowsy while taking prescription Xanax.
  • Depression – When Xanax suppresses anxiety and, in doing so, fatigues the user, feelings of lethargy may trigger depression.
  • Headaches – Some users may experience headaches on the medication.
  • Dry mouth – People should drink lots of water while on Xanax.
  • Memory problems – Short-term forgetfulness or memory fog, which often comes with drowsiness.

Symptoms like fatigue usually pass after a few days. Patients should ask their doctors which remedies they should use, if necessary, to relieve headaches while on Xanax.

Serious Effects of Xanax Abuse

People who abuse Xanax run the risk of serious side effects, including:

  • Seizures – Too much Xanax can cause abrupt interruptions of the brain transmitters, causing bodily jerks and momentary lapses in consciousness. The advent of two seizures in the same day is called epilepsy, which can lead to permanent brain damage.
  • Hallucinations – Downer drug abuse causes people to see and hear things that aren’t there. People who suffer hallucinations could be in grave danger in certain situations (in the woods, on a boat, at grand heights, etc).
  • Jaundice – A yellowing of the skin caused by liver damage and/or the breakdown of red blood cells.
  • Suicidal ideation or suicide – People who abuse downer drugs may fall into states of lethargy, depression and catatonia. This can lead to thoughts of suicide and suicidal urges.
  • Paradoxical reactions – In extreme cases of Xanax abuse, the user might have polar symptoms (aggression, mania) not associated with normal Xanax use.

As with all substance abuse, Xanax loses its medicinal benefits when people overuse the drug.

Why Do People Abuse Xanax?

Roughly one in five Xanax users has no condition that would warrant medicinal use of the drug. For these people, it’s all about the downer effects. At parties and in private, people engage in recreational Xanax use for:

  • Euphoria – The feeling of bliss and body-numbing tranquility. As with heroin, people get hooked on Xanax for the physical effects.
  • Mood – People who suffer constant depression might abuse Xanax to tranquilize their mood. Through constant abuse, Xanax can have the paradoxical effect of increased depression.

Some people buy over-the-counter Xanax to deal with situational anxiety and other fears. Those who exceed the recommended daily dose can get hooked on Xanax and suffer adverse effects.

Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms

People with Xanax addiction who suddenly stop all use of the drug are bound to suffer withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms generally last 3-7 days and may include:

  • Double anxiety – People use Xanax to treat anxiety, which can return twofold when people go off the drug.
  • Paranoia – Another symptom remedied by medicinal Xanax. Once a person grows accustomed to Xanax as a mood stabilizer, the symptoms usually come back stronger.
  • Tremors – As with most drug and alcohol detoxes, people often cope with physical stress and shakes when they go off Xanax.

To come off Xanax safely, it’s often best to gradually decrease dosage levels over several weeks or months.

Treatment for Xanax Addiction

Throughout the US, rehab treatment centers offer programs for people who struggle with addiction to alcohol, illicit drugs and prescription medications, including Xanax. Drug addiction treatment generally goes in the following order:

  • Medical detox – The first step toward overcoming drug dependence is medical detox. It begins when the patient halts all drug abuse and commits to the withdrawal process. During the second and third days of Xanax withdrawal, symptoms peak. Detox should only be done under 24/7 supervision at a drug treatment center.
  • Residential inpatient treatment – The next step in addiction treatment is recovery, which is best done at a residential treatment center. Inpatient treatment for Xanax addiction typically lasts between 30 and 90 days. Residential programs include mental health counseling, group therapy, wellness activities, healthy meals and drug education.
  • Outpatient treatment programs – Xanax treatment options also include outpatient programs, where the patient lives at home and comes to the treatment center in the daytime. Outpatient programs range from full-time (20-40 hours per week) to part-time (9-19 hours).
  • Aftercare – For people who need help landing after Xanax addiction, the best treatment centers offer continued support and sober living programs. They can link you with affordable-housing openings and job-placement programs.

Outpatient treatment programs cover the same ground as residential treatment for Xanax addiction. It’s a good option for people with work commitments and supportive home environments.

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Don't go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you're facing. Get in touch with one today.

Make a Call

Get Help

Xanax addiction is dangerous, especially when people mix the medicine with alcohol, hallucinates and other drugs. If someone you know struggles with Xanax addiction, call a nearby treatment provider and ask about their program options. Your actions could save the life of your loved one.

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