Xanax is usually prescribed to treat patients who have panic disorders or anxiety problems. It should only be used by people who have a prescription for it, as it is highly addictive. What makes Xanax so effective is that it works by stifling the inhibitory receptor in the brain in order to essentially decrease any abnormal excitement significantly. Anyone who uses Xanax is at risk of becoming addicted to it, even people who use it in accordance with a prescription.
Warning Signs of Abuse
The main issue with Xanax consumption is that addiction develops over time, and many people who abuse it are often unaware of the serious dangers they face. According to the 2011 Treatment Episode Data Set Report, 60,200 people who received some type of drug abuse treatment were addicted to benzodiazepines like Xanax. That number has almost tripled since 1998 (it was 22,400), which shows that benzodiazepine addiction is growing each year. Learning how to recognize the warning signs and symptoms of Xanax addiction can be a powerful weapon against abuse. No aspect of a Xanax abuser’s life is safe from the drug’s negative effects, so it is very important to look for some or all of these signs:
- Suffering relationships: This includes marriage troubles and/or strained friendships.
- Family problems: This may involve neglecting responsibilities and family members.
- Work problems: Xanax abusers tend to skip work or become unproductive at their job, sometimes during a withdrawal period when they have not taken any pills.
- Economic struggles: This may include worry over a lack of money, irresponsible spending or wasting money on drugs.
- Xanax thoughts: Abusers of the drug may have constant thoughts revolving around Xanax and how to get more of it.
- Cognitive impairment: This includes slurred speech or difficulty articulating words.
- Weight loss: Stress, lack of appetite, and unhealthy lifestyle choices can cause a sudden loss of weight
- Xanax tolerance: Addicts who use Xanax for long periods typically build up a tolerance for it and start experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they have not taken it, or they use other drugs when their access to Xanax is limited or nonexistent
Physical Signs of Xanax Abuse
It may be difficult to figure out if someone you know and love is abusing a prescription medication like Xanax. Someone abusing Xanax may exhibit some of the following warning signs physical symptoms:
- Dry mouth
- Memory trouble
- Inability to focus
- Slurred speech
- Lack of coordination
Side Effects of Xanax Abuse and Addiction
Because Xanax is primarily a central nervous system depressant, virtually all of its potential side effects involve how the mind works and the impact on its functioning. Each of the following side effects from Xanax abuse can be especially likely in cases of prolonged use.
- Lack of coordination: This means an inability to move normally, a worsening of reaction time, and unusually low competence when performing simple tasks.
- Slurred speech: Brain functions are intentionally slowed with Xanax and with that, cognitive skills, thought processes, communication, language, and verbal interference slow.
- Confusion: Disorientation, haziness, aimless wandering, and a general obliviousness can occur.
- Memory loss: This may include a slight case of impairment when attempting to remember something; usually only short-term memory is lost and in some cases only temporarily.
- Sedation: This includes varying levels of sedation, ranging from mild to severe and lasting up to three to four days for those who take large dosages of Xanax.
Long Term Health Concerns
Benzodiazepine drugs, like Xanax, have additional health issues than can occur when used for an extended period of time. When used for a prolonged time, the brain becomes tolerant to the drug, and you will require more and more of it in order to feel its effects. Not only does this increase your risk for an overdose, but it can also make you feel dependent on the drug in order to feel “normal.” When you stop taking Xanax, you may experience violent and even dangerous withdrawal symptoms as your brain rebounds in an attempt to balance itself. These symptoms may include seizures, a spike in blood pressure, and intense anxiety. Long-term use of Xanax can also lead to depression and suicidal thoughts and behaviors, as well as the potential for disrupted memory and cognitive functions.
Treatment for Xanax Abuse
Recovery from Xanax requires treatment that heals both the mind and the body. Since every person is different, it is important to understand all of the options available for Xanax addiction treatment. Aside from the structure and intensity, most inpatient and outpatient programs offer many of the same therapy and program types, including family, individual, and group therapy, plus ongoing wellness and relapse prevention training.
Residential inpatient programs last between 30-90 days, and the client is required to live at the facility for the duration of the treatment. These facilities are sober environments where clients don’t have access to drugs and aren’t faced with temptations or triggers, which gives people who are struggling with addiction the best chance possible at getting sober. The program will begin with a medically supervised detox, during which time clients will be weaned off the drug gradually, as this will prevent some of the more dangerous symptoms of Xanax withdrawal. After detox, clients will receive a variety of therapies that are designed to help them understand their motivations, behaviors, triggers, and stresses; as well as provide relapse prevention training, effective coping skills, and support.
By the time clients leave a good inpatient treatment facility, they will have all the tools needed to live a sober life.
Once inpatient treatment is complete, clients will then move to an outpatient program to continue their treatment. Outpatient programs for Xanax abuse offer less structure and more freedom than their inpatient counterparts, which means clients can continue working and taking care of other responsibilities while getting help. Unlike inpatient programs, where clients live on-site at the facility for the duration of the treatment, during outpatient programs, clients live at home. Outpatient programs require a great deal of commitment and dedication because clients don’t have a sober and structured living environment to help facilitate the early days of recovery. This is why outpatient is the best second step after inpatient treatment.
There are a variety of outpatient programs available, including:
- Regular outpatient: Clients live at home and continue with their regular day-to-day lives, but come to the facility once or twice a week for therapy sessions
- Intensive outpatient: IOP is more structured and requires clients to come to the facility for multiple-hour sessions several times each week
- Daily check-in programs: This outpatient program requires clients to call or meet up with a counselor or recovery coach every day
Going through an addiction is an agonizing experience and our goal at Futures Recovery Healthcare is to make sure your treatment is as frustration and worry free as possible. If you or someone you know is abusing Xanax, please contact us today so we can help you start the healing process.