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The Truth About Xanax and Benzodiazepine Addiction
Xanax and other benzodiazepines have played an increasingly significant role in celebrity drug culture over the past decade, glamorized especially throughout the music and entertainment industries. It’s crucial to understand that, despite its remarkable accessibility, Xanax is one of the most deadly drugs in terms of addiction potential and danger of withdrawal. By educating yourself on the facts about Xanax, you can ensure that you and your loved ones treat the drug with sufficient caution and reach out for help immediately in the event of substance abuse or addiction to prevent serious consequences.
What Is Xanax?
Xanax (generic: alprazolam) is a potent and commonly prescribed benzodiazepine, a category of sedative drugs used to treat anxiety, panic disorders, and seizures. Xanax bears the boxed warning, the most urgent of any label issued by the Food and Drug Administration.
Like other benzodiazepines, Xanax produces a relaxing, tranquil high even at medicinal doses and, like other benzodiazepines, its FDA label reads:
Using alprazolam, even as prescribed, can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal if you stop taking the drug suddenly. Withdrawal can be life-threatening. Taking this drug can also lead to misuse and addiction. Misuse of alprazolam increases your risk for overdose and death.
Even with a prescription, people who take Xanax are at risk of developing dependence; that risk is multiplied even further for recreational users who take it without medical supervision. Despite its highly addictive nature, Xanax is a popular choice for easing the comedown of other drugs, like stimulants, amphetamines, and opioids. A particularly common and exceptionally volatile practice publicized by certain celebrities is the pairing of Xanax and alcohol, creating a deadly amalgam of interactive depressants that can induce amnesia, acute respiratory failure, unresponsiveness, and death.
How Has Xanax Risen in Popularity?
Xanax has seen a tremendous boom in both prescription and recreational abuse over the last decade. During 2015 and 2016, over 5.3 million Americans abused benzodiazepines without a prescription, and nearly 25 million more obtained the drug from a doctor. Xanax is among the most common prescriptions written in the United States, leading to its relative accessibility for friends and family members of prescription holders. The vast majority of recreational users obtain Xanax from someone they know.
With the increase in prescription rates comes a marked increase in overdose statistics. Xanax overdose claimed over 6,000 Americans in 2016, accounting for nearly one-tenth of drug-related deaths nationwide. The practice of combining Xanax with alcohol or opiates puts users at particular risk of brain injury, coma, and death, at even small doses.
What Makes Xanax So Dangerous?
Xanax is a powerful, volatile drug. Even incremental changes in dosage can induce a wide range of negative effects, and even low doses can lead to unintended consequences. Because recreational use happens without medical supervision or professional guidance, it’s decidedly common for people who abuse Xanax, first-timers and veterans alike, to take too much, combine the drug with even a small amount of alcohol, or in some other way endanger themselves unintentionally.
At low doses, Xanax can cause dizziness, disorientation, headache, memory problems, sudden weight loss or gain, and trouble sleeping. These effects arise even when taken as prescribed, all the more so when abused, and can linger for weeks after the last use. Xanax use by people who have depression or mood disorders has shown to intensify depressive episodes and suicidal thoughts, a side effect that is not always known by recreational users.
At higher doses, or when combined with opiates, alcohol, or other depressives, Xanax abuse can induce overdose relatively quickly. Overdose can entail respiratory failure, delusion, heart attack, coma, seizure, and death. Swift medical attention is required in the event of overdose or non-responsiveness.
Even if you can safely navigate the negative side effects, you still face the dangers of dependency and withdrawal. The human body and mind develop a rapid tolerance and addiction to Xanax even at medicinal doses, and attempting to go cold turkey can lead to life-threatening complications. Professional help is vital to the safety of anyone trying to wean themselves off Xanax or other benzodiazepines.
Effectively Combating Xanax Abuse and Addiction
Addiction happens when your body has become accustomed to the presence of a drug, and withdrawal occurs in its absence. Xanax withdrawal comes with a whole host of negative symptoms for body and mind, including vomiting, spasms, hallucinations, mood swings, memory loss, panic, and delirium. These symptoms can appear hours after your last use. Many people experience lingering symptoms, or Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, for months after ceasing their use.
Because of its highly addictive nature, Xanax withdrawal should always happen under the care of medical experts. Attempting to break an addiction all at once can have drastic side effects almost immediately; seek out professional help to taper off your habit and control withdrawal symptoms. Comprehensive care will include tools and resources for managing post-acute side effects and helping you get back on your feet psychologically and physically after breaking the cycle of dependency on this formidable drug.
Its increasing popularity and widespread accessibility make Xanax a uniquely insidious drug for well-intentioned prescription holders and recreational users alike. Despite the feelings of relaxation and euphoria it produces, even low levels of Xanax abuse can result in dangerous withdrawal symptoms and the rapid formation of physical and psychological addiction. If you or a loved one are struggling with Xanax or another benzodiazepine addiction, don’t wait for things to get worse. Reach out to Cornerstone Healing Center. Our welcoming facility in Scottsdale, Arizona, is home to an exemplary group of staff who bring compassion and expertise to every new face that comes to us for help. We provide evidence-based treatments and therapies in a comfortable setting that will keep you grounded and focused on becoming the version of yourself that you want to be. Find your place within our supportive community and overcome addiction for good. Call (800) 643-2108 to learn more.
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