Xanax (alprazolam) is a type of benzodiazepine, or central nervous system (CNS) depressant, prescribed to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Xanax comes with a high potential for addiction, even when taken as prescribed, because tolerance to benzodiazepines occurs quickly.
Due to the increased risk for addiction, it is important to know possible signs of Xanax addiction so that treatment can be sought when needed and addiction can be avoided.
Possible signs of Xanax addiction may include:
- physical symptoms
- psychological symptoms
- obsession with Xanax
- polydrug use
- personal loss
Physical Signs Of Xanax Abuse
Physical signs of Xanax abuse are perhaps the most telling indicator that someone is abusing the drug, because these symptoms usually only occur when someone is taking more than the recommended amount of the drug.
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Possible physical signs of Xanax abuse can include:
- slurred speech
- dry mouth
- feeling light-headed
- increased salivation
- decreased sex drive
- lack of coordination
It is never recommended for someone who has developed a dependence on Xanax to suddenly stop taking the medication. This can lead to severe and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms of Xanax withdrawal may include: muscle pain and stiffness, changes in heart rhythm and trembling.
Psychological Signs Of Xanax Abuse
Benzodiazepines, like Xanax, can cause a range of psychological symptoms when misused. This type of drug can make it easy for individuals to forget the fine details of important conversations or tasks they need to complete.
There is a distinct difference between Xanax abuse and Xanax addiction. Those who abuse Xanax at certain times, or for specific occasions, are more likely to be able to stop use at any time. Those with an addiction to Xanax are unable to control the impulse to continue to take the drug in order to maintain the “high” they get from it.
People addicted to Xanax will need the drug in order to function normally. It is also possible for someone to become convinced they cannot manage their daily lives without Xanax, which is often when abuse turns into addiction.
Although addiction to Xanax is one of the more notable psychological effects of the drug, other psychological effects may include:
- becoming easily annoyed
- becoming more talkative
- major changes in behavior (excessive tiredness or lack of enthusiasm)
- sudden irritability
- manic-type moods
- trouble remembering things
- avoiding tasks that require prolonged attention
Because Xanax works by slowing brain function in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), individuals taking more than the recommended dose of the drug may become more inactive and apathetic than they used to be.
If someone who is normally energetic and outgoing is misusing Xanax, they may appear very lethargic and apathetic to their surroundings. This can be a sign that addiction has developed.
Obsession With Xanax
It is possible for someone who develops a physical dependence on Xanax to become obsessed with the drug, getting more of it and increasing the amount they take. This obsession (preoccupation) tends to precede addiction.
Benzodiazepines, including Xanax, are some of the most prescribed depressant medications in the U.S. today.
When used in a therapeutic setting, short-acting benzodiazepines are only meant to be used for a short period of time. Often, prescribing doctors will slowly decrease the dosage amount over time, so the individual can slowly learn to operate without the drug.
When someone forms a dependency on Xanax, they are unable to control the impulse to continue to use the drug, despite potential self-harm. Typically, when Xanax is prescribed there are only a limited number of refills for the prescription, due to its habit-forming effects. So, it is possible that if someone becomes addicted to Xanax they may try to find it illicitly.
Obtaining prescription drugs like Xanax from anyone other than a medical health professional is very risky. When illicitly bought, Xanax can contain additives, such as fentanyl (which is potentially toxic), and the risks of overdose and death dramatically increase.
Polydrug Use And Xanax Addiction
Those addicted to Xanax may also take it with other substances, like alcohol. This is done in order to achieve the desired relaxing and euphoric effect, but it can be extremely dangerous and potentially fatal.
When depressants such as Xanax are mixed with other central nervous system (CNS) depressants, like alcohol, the CNS becomes severely depressed. The central nervous system is the subconscious part of the body that works to regulate breathing and heart rates, and if it becomes too depressed it has the potential to stop or “forget” to function altogether.
This can result in someone struggling to breathe or stopping breathing and in a dangerously slowed heart rate. Mixing Xanax with other drugs, or taking it in larger doses than recommended, can also increase the risk of accidents, like car crashes, due to decreased response time.
If a large enough amount of Xanax is consumed, it is possible for someone to experience severe sedation for up to several days afterward. Prolonged, chronic abuse of Xanax can cause serious side effects, some of which may be permanent.
Long-term side effects of Xanax can include:
- depression/ depressive state
- aggression and impulsivity
- cognitive impairment (memory issues)
- increased risk of Dementia
Personal Loss Due To Xanax Addiction
Xanax addiction is a widely-spread problem. According to a 2011 report, 60,200 individuals who went through drug addiction treatment were addicted to benzodiazepines, like Xanax. Although addiction to Xanax can happen relatively quickly, sometimes it can be difficult to recognize due to its subtle signs.
This can cause varying degrees of personal loss. When someone becomes addicted, the addictive substance hijacks the reward system of their brain and causes them to compulsively seek out and use more of that substance.
This happens because each time someone misuses a drug like Xanax that causes relaxation and euphoria, the brain associates using the drug with a positive outcome. Once a physical dependence on the drug is formed the brain has become so used to operating with the drug in its system that it becomes increasingly difficult for it to operate without it.
If someone is addicted to Xanax they may exhibit the following: trouble maintaining personal relationships, difficulties following through on social or work commitments and possibly financial issues.
Treatment For Xanax Addiction
It is never recommended for someone to quit using Xanax on their own. Due to the habit-forming nature and severe withdrawal symptoms, cravings for the drug can be overwhelmingly strong during the detox process.
In order to ensure the best care and safety of the individuals who go through treatment for Xanax addiction, it is best to do so at an inpatient treatment facility.
To learn more about signs of Xanax addiction and addiction treatment, contact us today.