Xanax is the trade name for the drug alprazolam, originally manufactured by Pfizer pharmaceutical company. It is a central nervous system depressant of the benzodiazepine class. Xanax works by binding to sites on the gamma-amino-butyric receptors in the brain. Xanax is commonly prescribed by doctors for conditions such as panic attacks, nervousness and tension.
Xanax is a Schedule IV controlled substance by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency meaning it is given the properties:
- Low potential for abuse
- Allowed for prescription medical use
- If abused may lead to physical or psychological dependence
Xanax is recommended for short term or intermittent use though some patients, due to their medical condition, are required to take daily doses. Consistent use of Xanax can lead to the build-up of a tolerance as the body becomes used to the medications and more Xanax is then required to achieve the same effect. Eventually an increase in tolerance can, if one doesn’t consult their doctor, lead to a dependence including an addiction. Normally patients receiving more than 4mg/day for a period of 12 months or longer are at great risk of developing dependence. Xanax is one of the fastest growing prescription drug addictions in the United States of America.
Some abuse Xanax for the stress-relieving properties and the euphoric feeling of relaxation. Xanax is sometimes combined with other depressants such as alcohol and opiates in order to increase the ‘high’. Mixing Xanax with other benzodiazepines greatly increases risk of fata respiratory depression. Abuse of Xanax can lead to an addiction faster than when Xanax is taken as prescribed by a doctor.
Signs of a Xanax addiction to look for in others and one self can include:
- Excessive sleep or constant drowsiness
- Depressed or irregular heartbeat
- Strong cravings
- Withdrawal symptoms when not using
If someone believes they may be developing or have an addiction to Xanax form prescription use one should consult their doctor. It is recommended to slowly reduce dosage leading to complete abstinence from Xanax so as to alleviate withdrawal symptoms shown below.
Abstinence from Xanax when one has developed dependence can lead to benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome.
Symptoms of these withdrawals may vary but tend to include:
Due to the tolerance aspect of Xanax addiction it is possible for addicts to overdose when they consistently increase doses searching for the high they felt prior to tolerance build-up.
An over-dose on Xanax can consist of the following symptoms:
- Low blood pressure
- Respiratory depression
- Impaired Balance
- Impaired Motor Function
There is potential for overdose to be fatal, this normally occurs when Xanax is mixed with other depressants. The risk of fatality of overdose on only Xanax is reduced as most users will fall asleep or pass out before ingesting enough for fatality.
If one has developed an addiction one should seek treatment immediately. Either a detoxification facility or addiction treatment center are recommended for treating Xanax addiction. Going ‘cold turkey’ by oneself can be painful, potentially dangerous and often ends with the user relapsing due to the cravings and severity of the withdrawal symptoms. In a treatment facility a patient can be monitored closely to prevent relapse and prescribed non-addictive medications to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms and/or consequences.