Drug and Alcohol

Xanax Abuse: How to Recognize Benzodiazepine Abuse … and What to Do

Xanax Abuse: How to Recognize Benzodiazepine Abuse … and What to Do

Xanax is a powerful, fast-acting benzodiazepine. It’s also highly addictive … and often abuse. Learn more about prescription drug abuse in our blog!

Xanax, a strong benzodiazepine, is a CNS (Central Nervous System) depressant that medical professionals generally prescribe to treat stress, depression, generalized anxiety, and panic attacks. These sedatives alter the balance of Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid (GABA), slowing down brain and body activity.

While Xanax can help people live happier, productive lives, the effects of this prescription drug make it highly addictive and limit its clinical significance. To prevent oneself from Xanax abuse, one must be acquainted with the symptoms they might develop over time.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax, the brand name of Alprazolam, is a commonly prescribed medication. These sedatives produce a feeling of drowsiness and calmness and are predominantly used to treat anxiety disorders, agoraphobia, and seizure disorders. Xanax and other benzos are occasionally used to treat sleep disorders, but in recent years doctors have preferred "Z-drugs" like Ambien to treat insomnia and other problems.

Though Xanax is commonly prescribed, it is also used recreationally in prescription drug abuse.

As this benzodiazepine drug (commonly called "benzos") carries a high potential for addiction, it is generally prescribed for a short span. In addition, Xanax is highly tolerable, indicating that an individual can consume up to 30 Xanax tablets without the risk of overdosing on benzos. Since this medicine comes with high tolerability, it becomes difficult to identify an individual who has fallen into the vicious trap of Xanax abuse.

What Is Xanax Addiction?

Xanax addiction is a form of substance use disorder (SUD) that occurs due to long-term consumption. Such a disorder alters the brain's chemical balance and impairs the body's average functional ability.

Xanax addiction takes over when an individual consumes it in larger doses and more frequently than the prescribed limit. Then, either they buy the drug illicitly or use others' prescriptions to buy it.

Continuous drug usage will naturally increase one's dependency on the drug to such an extent that one might undergo Xanax withdrawal symptoms. To escape facing such symptoms, individuals fall into the never-ending loop of Xanax addiction.

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What Are the Dangers of Xanax?

Overconsumption of Xanax can have fatal outcomes. It could prove to be even more fatal if it is consumed with alcohol or any other drugs. Combining two CNS depressants often results in heart attack and coma.

Long-term usage of Xanax can also leave some permanent health effects. Some severe health effects include depression, aggression, a higher risk of dementia, delirium, psychosis, etc. Xanax, like any other benzodiazepine, also affects an individual's driving ability, increasing the chances of traffic accidents.

Signs That Indicate an Individual Is Addicted to Xanax

Xanax is a habit-forming drug, and it is not easy to detect in the initial stage whether an individual has become addicted to it. However, when an individual starts to abuse Xanax, apparent changes will be seen in their behavior. Medical professionals have listed the following signs of benzo addiction that indicate that one is addicted to Xanax:

  • Physical dependence and addiction to the drug

  • Stockpiling Xanax

  • Increased distance from friends and family

  • Obtaining Xanax via fraudulent means, including doctor shopping, theft, and buying Xanax on the street

  • A person addicted to Xanax often denies the health risks associated with it.

  • Daily activity revolving around the drug.

  • Disorientation and loss of memory are also common. In the case of severe Xanax addiction cases, individuals can also undergo Xanax blackouts.

  • Continuous usage of Xanax despite interpersonal and social consequences.

  • Symptoms of Xanax addiction also include the following physical conditions:

  • Heart palpitation

  • Tingling sensation

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Weakness and sluggishness

  • Muscle pain

  • Sweating

  • Change in body weight

  • Lower sex drive

  • Dry mouth

  • Breathing difficulty

  • Light-headedness

  • Increases salivation

  • Constipation

  • Lowered blood pressure

  • Skin rash

  • Cognitive impairment

  • Vertigo

  • Severe allergic reaction (swelling of faces)

  • Fainting

In addition, individuals addicted to Xanax will show signs of dizziness, blurred vision, drowsiness, and extreme weakness. Patients can also have slurred speech, confusion, and an absence of motor coordination. Other psychological signs of Xanax addiction include manic-type mood, etc.

Consuming Xanax with other addictive substances can have fatal outcomes. Benzo overdose results in respiratory arrest. It can also lead to one's demise.

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Treatment Options for Xanax Addiction

Xanax addiction treatment is generally tailored per the patient's dosage and medical specifics. Therefore, treatment for Xanax encompasses different types of therapies depending on the degree of intensity of the drug consumption. In addition, the varying treatment procedure addresses patients' physical, social, psychological, and vocational needs.

Detoxification

The first step towards Xanax addiction treatment is detoxification. Medical professionals emphasize gradual transition in medical detoxification; detoxifying the patient's body from Xanax abuse and helping patients get rid of the addictive substance.

The span for Xanax or benzodiazepines detoxification will vary from patient to patient, depending on their health condition and dosage quantity. Generally, in both, inpatient and outpatient facilities, detoxification procedures are standard.

The detoxification process includes evaluation and thorough assessment of a patient, leading to stabilization and finally preparing patients for treatment. In Xanax detoxification, the dosage of the drug is lowered and is replaced by longer-acting benzodiazepine, which is then totally removed from the person's habit.

Shifting to Other Medications

Medical practitioners put patients on benzodiazepines like Clonazepam, Chlordiazepoxide, or Diazepam to make the withdrawal process bearable. These are longer-acting benzodiazepines. Certain antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and beta blockers are used to cure benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms. Even a medicine named Flumazenil blocks benzodiazepines from reacting to specific receptors.

Medication Tapering

Medication tapering is an effective way to treat Xanax addiction. This procedure tapers the dosage of Xanax and helps in weaning off the drug gradually from the body. In tapering, the Xanax dose is reduced over a time span despite withdrawing it entirely from the body at once.

As the prolonged usage of this sedative leads to a high tolerance level, the procedure of titration will help to get rid of the drug from the body. Titration tapering dilutes the concentration of the drug and lowers the dosage level in smaller amounts over a period. Tapering the dosage of this sedative is also beneficial in reducing withdrawal symptoms.

Counseling and Therapy

Besides tapering off the Xanax dosage, it is equally imperative for patients to receive constant psychological support. Moreover, it is extremely challenging to come out of Xanax addiction alone. Falling back on a therapist makes the Xanax treatment procedure seamless.

Therapy and constant support help to bypass relapse. It also helps in preventing patients from transferring dependency toward other addictive substances like alcohol.

Another effective way to treat Xanax addiction is to opt for behavioral therapy. These therapies include family therapy, group counseling, etc.

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) proves extremely effective in treating benzodiazepine abuse. Generally, the process involved in CBT is divided into three stages.

The first stage involves providing treatment that focuses on curing anxiety and insomnia. By this, medical professionals can regulate the reason behind the consumption of the drug.

The knowledge gained from the first stage regarding the cause of using the drug helps in boosting the patient's acquiescence with the benzodiazepine taper protocol, ensuring proper management of the withdrawal signs as well.

Practice cognitive strategies prove effective in preventing relapse.

2. Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) and Contingency Management (CM)

In Contingency Management (CM), patients are rewarded for fulfilling a certain goal, motivating them towards faster and more effective treatment.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) is also an effective treatment process that is designed to persuade patients to accept the treatment procedure.

What Are Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms?

If an individual’s body is dependent on Xanax, he or she might experience withdrawal symptoms while limiting or stopping its consumption.

Patients tend to suffer from withdrawal symptoms when not using Xanax, making them feel highly anxious. In addition, it impairs the sleeping pattern and disrupts cognitive functionality. Xanax withdrawal can also cause seizures. This is especially common in "cold turkey" cases where a person suddenly quits Xanax use without tapering off.

As cited by the Seminal Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior, the common symptoms that individuals have to face after they have stopped consuming benzodiazepines are as follows:

  • Insomnia and sleep disturbances

  • Depression

  • Tremors

  • Intense cravings

  • Seizures

  • Increases heart rate

  • Obsessive-compulsive behaviors

  • Cravings for Xanax or any substance that they are addicted to

  • Concentration difficulties (Learning and problem-solving issues)

  • Social difficulties

  • Hallucination

  • Memory problems

To treat these symptoms, patients are generally prescribed Gabapentin or any other low-power neuro-depressants. Gabapentin does not remove Xanax entirely from the body during detoxification; instead, it replicates soothing effects like Xanax and calms the nervous system, making it easy for patients to tide over Xanax withdrawal symptoms.

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Effects of Xanax on Mental Health

As it is with any drug, the mood of the individual consuming Xanax will be severely impacted by the dosage. Here are the mental health signs of Xanax abuse:

Though Xanax is prescribed to cure anxiety, consuming it on a large scale will lead to increased anxiety attacks. Xanax abusers tend to be more anxious when they do not have adequate stock of the drug.

Individuals addicted to Xanax tend to show aggressive behavior. However, the reaction and extremity of anger vary depending on the amount of drug present in their body. Commonly, if an individual is confronted regarding Xanax addiction, it is likely for them to exhibit aggressive behavior.

Mood swings are extremely common mental health effects of Xanax abuse. Overconsumption of the drug leaves an individual inebriated.

Despite Xanax being a prescribed drug in the US, it is consumed by individuals relentlessly, which leads to Xanax addiction. The medication is short-acting but has a high chance of abuse. Hence, it is important to understand the signs and symptoms of Xanax abuse and undergo timely treatment. On the whole, as the sedative has strong abuse ability, it must be used only for a shorter span to avoid grave consequences.

The Edge Treatment Center Treats Xanax Addiction

To get effective therapy sessions, reach out to The Edge Treatment Center. We will help with one-on-one counseling sessions along with offering different therapies. To ensure high-quality care, we extend individualized treatment plans along with offering a dual diagnosis program.

Find holistic treatment for Xanax addiction at the Edge Treatment Center. We know how dangerous Xanax addiction can be. We use proven, evidence-based methods to treat addiction to Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, and more! Don’t risk a Xanax overdose. Contact The Edge Treatment Center today and free yourself from Xanax addiction.

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Frequently Asked Questions

In what ways does Gabapentine help patients with Xanax withdrawal symptoms?

Gabapentine helps patients sail through Xanax withdrawal symptoms by providing relief from cravings, ceasing insomnia, and preventing hallucinations.

What is acceptance and commitment therapy?

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that encourages patients to accept difficult inner feelings, to cure long-term Xanax abuse.

What is the difference between Xanax dependence and Xanax addiction?

Xanax dependence when an individual's body demands the drug to function properly. On the other hand, Xanax addiction is a severe brain disease when a person has irresistible urges to consume the drug, growing a dependency.

How to lower the risk of relapse?

A major part of the Xanax recovery process is relapse. Prioritizing self-care, dodging triggers, engaging in social activities and a balanced diet have proven to be effective in lowering the risk of relapse.

What are the other drugs Xanax is often combined with?

Xanax is often mixed with stimulants like Xanax and hallucinogens, Xanax and meth, Xanax and alcohol, Xanax and cocaine, Xanax and Ambien, etc. to release a relaxing sensation.

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Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Drug and Alcohol

January 5, 2023