Xanax is a commonly prescribed medication for anxiety, panic attacks, and insomnia. In fact, it is the most prescribed psychiatric drug in the US, with 50 million prescriptions given in 2013.
The drug is quite addictive when used long-term. Even teenagers get addicted to Xanax, and most of them say that they got the drugs from their family’s medicine cabinets.
Xanax has the generic name alprazolam, and it is under a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. These drugs are known as central nervous system depressants. In other words, the action of the drug is to give you a calm, relaxed feeling.
Because of its calming effects, some people misuse Xanax just to feel relaxed. Xanax abusers take way more than the maximum safe doses – some of them take up to 30 pills per day.
To know more about how addiction to Xanax develops, let’s dive deeper into what this drug is like.
What does Xanax look like?
Xanax is sold as tablets with four strengths: 0.25mg, 0.5mg, 1mg, and 2mg alprazolam. The tablets are oval-shaped, except for the 2mg one, which is oblong. The 0.25mg and 2mg tablets are white, the 0.5mg tablet is peach, and the 1mg tablet is blue. Each tablet also has imprints of “XANAX” and the strength of the dose.
In pharmacies, Xanax can be found under these brand names:
How does Xanax work?
As with other benzodiazepines, the drug molecules target GABA receptors in the brain. Once the drugs bind to the receptors, brain activity slows down. Consequently, your muscles tend to relax.
This action is the driving force behind the drug’s sedating effects, which are good if you’re suffering from severe anxiety and panic attacks. If you have epileptic seizures, you can benefit from the sedating effects as well.
Xanax is a particularly strong benzodiazepine, though, so doctors only prescribe it for severe cases of anxiety. It should not be used for milder cases, as the effects could be overpowering.
Recreational uses of Xanax
When Xanax is sold on the streets, drug dealers call them different names, such as:
- White girls
- White boys
- Bicycle parts
- Blue footballs
- School bus
- Totem poles
Xanax abusers don’t just take the drug in its pill form. Some of them take the drug through injection, snorting, or blotter paper.
Often, users do not take Xanax on its own, as the drug will not produce a strong enough high. Instead, they combine Xanax with other substances like alcohol and sedatives. This mixture produces a more intense high, and that’s exactly what users want. They would also take higher doses of Xanax than the ones prescribed.
Combining Xanax with other substances has disastrous consequences. The side effects of the different substances stack up, and they become more harmful to the body.
Xanax is particularly dangerous when taken with alcohol. They are both depressants, so you could suffer both respiratory failure and overdose.
How do you get addicted to Xanax?
When you use Xanax strictly as prescribed, you shouldn’t get addicted. However, taking a dose higher than what is prescribed is risky. You can become tolerant to Xanax pretty quickly, so you’d need to take even higher doses to get the same effects. Soon enough, you’ll develop a dependence on the drug.
Once you’re dependent on Xanax, you can no longer function normally without it. You would then spend more time and effort taking the drug. Eventually, you will neglect your responsibilities and lose interest in your hobbies. By this point, an addiction to Xanax has already taken control of your life.
What are clear signs of Xanax addiction?
If you’re addicted to this drug, there would be lots of drastic changes in your behavior. These include:
- Continuing to take Xanax even after the prescription is over
- Not being able to stop yourself from taking Xanax, even if you really want to quit
- Losing track of how much Xanax you’ve taken
- Driving under the influence of Xanax
- Obsessing over how to get more Xanax
- Not enjoying things you used to be passionate about, like sports, hobbies, and personal projects
How do I quit using Xanax?
Don’t try to quit the drug cold turkey. If you do, you could suffer possibly fatal withdrawal symptoms like convulsions. Other signs of withdrawal are:
- Trouble sleeping
- Muscle twitching
- Paranoid behavior
- Excessive sweating
Instead, you need to seek medical help so they can wean you off the drug slowly. In other words, doctors would gradually reduce your dosage of Xanax. Then, they would let you take a slow-acting variant of the drug for a time. This way, you won’t experience these troublesome withdrawal symptoms as much.
It is not safe to take more than 4mg of Xanax per day
If you go beyond that maximum safe dose, you risk experiencing these overdose symptoms:
- Extreme drowsiness
- Unable to speak clearly
- Impaired motor skills
- Reflexes become less sensitive
- Muscle twitching
- Very slow breathing
Xanax overdose is fatal, so if you have these symptoms, call for medical help right away.
How is Xanax overdose treated?
Doctors may first pump your stomach to remove any Xanax that’s still unabsorbed by your body. They may also give you medications, like flumazenil, to counteract the effects of Xanax. Also, they could insert an IV into you to provide fluids.
Treatments also depend on how much Xanax you’ve taken and what other substances you’ve taken with it. Be honest with medical personnel so they can know the best treatments to give you.
What if I’m addicted to Xanax?
If you happen to have a Xanax addiction, you can get treated. Usually, you would need medical detox plus behavioral therapies. These treatments would give you your best shot at becoming drug-free and living life normally again.
Reach out to a recovery professional today and get help for your Xanax addiction.