Xanax is the commonly known name for alprazolam, a highly addictive prescription drug. It’s in a drug class known as benzodiazepines (or “benzos”).
Doctors typically prescribe these types of drugs for:
- Treating anxiety disorders
- Helping panic disorder/Treating panic attacks
- Alleviating stress
Xanax Side Effects
While Xanax does ease anxiety and relax your muscles in the short term, it’s known for having a rebound effect. After using the drug to treat stress and anxiety, when you’re off the drug, those very symptoms can rebound with even greater intensity. As a result, people feel the need to take even more of the drug.
Some other typical side effects can be:
- Altering your mood – feeling irritable, unjustified mood swings, an inability to relax
- Affecting your desires and behaviors – a typical complaint among users is a lack of interest in sex
- Disrupting your Physicality – fogginess, fatigue, dizziness, cottonmouth, a lack of coordination, nausea, men experience erectile dysfunction, and even more serious symptoms like labored breathing, slurred speech, tremors, and seizures
- Even psychological effects – a general feeling of confusion, an inability to stay focused, the desire to ignore your normal inhibitions, difficulty remembering things, and impaired cognitive abilities
Because of these symptoms, Xanax (and other benzodiazepines) has also been linked to car accidents, falls, and fractured bones. It is not recommended to detox from Xanax cold turkey, as Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome is potentially deadly.
Xanax Addiction Vs. Xanax Dependence
It’s important to understand that addiction to Xanax and dependence on Xanax are NOT the same. Both are examples of substance abuse, but there are some key differences.
Addiction is when you’re unable to stop using the drug. Addiction doesn’t necessarily mean you have a physical dependence, though it is a typical feature.
Dependence is a physical state where your body relies on the drug in order to function normally, to the point you’ll experience withdrawal if you quit using it.
How does someone become addicted?
Addiction arises for many reasons.
Whatever reason a person begins taking Xanax—whether to cope with depression, to calm anxiety, or other reasons—regular use alters their brain’s chemistry. Once their brain becomes reliant on Xanax to produce pleasure, or alleviate stress, they have to continue using it in order to feel good.
It’s important to remember that a Xanax addiction doesn’t necessarily mean the person made poor choices, nor does it say anything about their character. Plenty of addictions begin with a legitimate doctor’s prescription.
What does Xanax addiction look like?
Regardless of the drug, there are typical addiction signs you might notice. Some of these warning signs might include:
-You regularly use, or think about using, under normal daily conditions.
-You struggle to focus on other things because of a distracting urge to take more Xanax.
-In order to achieve the same effects, you have to take increasingly more Xanax.
-You don’t feel comfortable without some Xanax readily available at any given time (in your pocket, handbag, car, etc.)
-Even if you’re struggling financially, you still justify paying for Xanax
-You’ve operated a vehicle under the influence, or engaged in other risky behavior you wouldn’t normally do
-You’ve tried to quit taking Xanax in the past, but failed
-You spend a decent amount of your time obtaining Xanax and waiting for it to kick in
-And possibly most telling of all, you experience withdrawal symptoms when you quit taking Xanax
How to Recognize Addiction in Others
It’s not uncommon for loved ones to try to conceal an addiction out of fear of judgment. For instance, they might tell you they’re acting differently because of work stress or other big life events.
So here are some common signs to watch for:
-Unwarranted mood swings
They might seem anxious or depressed, and may act irritable or hostile towards loved ones (especially when questioned)
Your loved one might be acting hostile or overly secretive.
-A difference in their physical appearance
You may notice a significant change in their weight, either increased or decreased
There could be indications of withdrawal symptoms such as vomiting, headaches, or feeling nauseous and drained throughout the day
-Struggle with interacting socially
You might notice them struggling with their relationships, or hardly interacting with others at all
-Declining job performance or schoolwork
Performance at work, or at school, might show up in their work attendance or diminishing grades
You may notice your loved one getting behind on their bills, and other money troubles
If a Loved One Has an Addiction, Here's What to Do
First, it’s important to keep in mind that having an addiction doesn’t say anything about the person, or their character.
Remember, many addictions begin with a doctor’s prescription following surgery or for other reasons. And once the user’s brain chemistry changes and they become reliant on the drug, it can be increasingly difficult for the person to stop taking it.
You’ll want to consider the best way to approach the subject. Sometimes loved ones will stage an intervention. But it’s important to know that while some interventions can successfully convince the person to seek help, they can also turn them away. Sometimes when a person is confronted by their friends and family in this way, and depending on the tone and dialogue used during the intervention, the person may feel guilt, judgment, and even become angry towards the group.
This is why it’s important to understand that each person and situation is unique. Some people may respond to an intervention, whereas others might respond better to a warmer one-on-one conversation.
It’s best to prepare yourself for all possible scenarios and reactions. The person may refuse to seek help, or they may not want to admit they’re taking drugs at all. If this is the case, you might look to other options like reaching out to a support group. Your loved one might have an easier time relating to a supportive group of people who were once in a similar situation, have undergone treatment, and are now in the process of building their life back.
The most important thing is to get the person to realize they need help and that recovery is possible, and then you can show them their best options.
Next Steps If You or a Loved One Are Ready for Help (the Detox Process)
The key to a successful detox is minimizing the person’s discomfort so that they won’t feel the urge to take the drug again. Like alcohol detox, symptoms of Xanax withdrawal can be life-threatening.
Atlanta Detox Center has a specific Xanax detox program designed to keep the patient comfortable and pain-free throughout the recovery process. In addition to being a premier drug and alcohol detox near Atlanta, ADC offers a variety of therapies to support most mental health disorders that co-occur with addiction.
Here’s what they can expect:
Step 1 — The patient will get a psychological and physical assessment, have their lab work done, and receive a treatment plan personalized just for them. Next, the patient will be shown to their room which has a comfy Tempurpedic bed, flatscreen TV, with plenty of meals and snacks—everything to ensure maximum comfort during their recovery.
Step 2 — The patient will receive medical treatment to help alleviate their withdrawal symptoms. The medication helps to reduce anxiety, depression, and discomfort that come with a Xanax detox. This will combat their urge to use again. The patient will have 24/7 access to staff who will provide medication as needed.
Step 3 — Upon completion of the initial Xanax detox, the patient will then be guided through their therapy program. The point of the post-detox treatment is to help the individual adjust to a typical routine without using Xanax.
How to Reduce the Risk of Relapsing
After a successful detox, the next goal is to set the patient up for long-term recovery. This is why it’s important to address any underlying issues like depression or anxiety. And depending on their unique needs, they might require one or even a combination of different therapy types.
Amatus Recovery Centers offer ongoing treatment in a variety of forms:
-Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
We help each person build habits to recognize and handle internal stressors and external triggers.
The Benefit: They’ll be mentally stronger, with a new sense of self-confidence.
We explore unique ways each person can express their self through creative and artistic outlets like music and art.
The Benefit: They’ll unlock creative potential they never knew they had, which will open up a sense of larger meaning and purpose.
We help them address emotional trauma, form a plan to tackle it head-on, and then leave it where it belongs…in the past.
The Benefit: Not only will the person become emboldened, but they’ll feel a large sense of relief as they let go of the emotional baggage.
We focus on each person’s unique strengths and skills to build a strong mentality, to show them they can achieve anything they set their mind to.
The Benefit: They’ll gain control of their thought patterns, and develop a self-motivated mindset.
We help to repair their credit, address public records, and resolve pending school or job concerns.
The Benefit: The person will feel competent and in charge of their life, with a whole new world of opportunity awaiting them.
We act as the bridge between family and friends, to help develop an understanding of what the patient is going through.
The Benefit: Refresh past relationships, regain the support of loved ones, and finally feel understood and cared for.
We make sure that all of the patient’s issues get addressed by providing medications for each addiction.
The Benefit: They’ll feel comfortable and pain-free, which opens the door to all sorts of other positive feelings.
We provide each person with techniques, strategies, and a list of resources to help them return to daily life without the fear of a relapse.
The Benefit: They’ll feel powerful, whole, and in control of their life moving forward.