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Navigation: What is Xanax?, Xanax Addiction, Effects of Xanax Abuse


Xanax belongs to the class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. It is a powerful drug that is often prescribed to treat conditions like insomnia, panic disorders, and generalized anxiety disorder or GAD. Despite its medical function, however, it is extremely addictive when used long-term.

The fact that Xanax is a prescription medication makes it that much easier to abuse. In fact, seventy percent of teenagers who have developed an addiction to Xanax get the drug straight from their family’s medicine cabinet. Because of its accessibility, more people are at risk of abusing the drug.

Xanax is very potent. Tolerance can develop quickly. This means that a person who is taking Xanax regularly will soon require larger doses just to achieve the same desired effects. A person who is addicted to this drug may take up to 30 pills per day.

It is also possible to become dependent on Xanax. If a drug dependent user decides to stop taking Xanax all of a sudden, they will experience moderate to severe withdrawal effects. Common withdrawal effects for Xanax include anxiety, restlessness, tremors, and insomnia.

The onset of withdrawal symptoms indicates that physical dependence has developed. Withdrawal, tolerance, and dependence are all indications of addiction.

What is Xanax?

Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam, a prescription sedative that belongs in the benzodiazepine family. Generally speaking, benzodiazepines are prescribed for a wide range of conditions—but only for the short term, because of their high risk for abuse. Doctors don’t prescribe these drugs for longer than a few weeks because of their addictive qualities.

Just like other benzos, Xanax works by affecting the central nervous system. It boosts a brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA, which slows down the nerve cell activity in the brain. It essentially “slows down” brain function, giving the person a relaxed and calm feeling. This is why it is useful against anxiety and insomnia.

The peak effects of Xanax are typically felt within one to two hours because it is an intermediate-duration drug. It can stay in a person’s system for 12 to 15 hours.

Because of its high potential for abuse, it is sometimes sold illicitly. It even has street names like Xannies or zanies, handlebars, blue footballs, benzos, French fries, ladders, and sticks.

Taking more than the described dosage or using Xanax without a prescription is considered drug abuse. However, people can still become addicted to Xanax even when taking the prescribed dosage.

Xanax Addiction

Addiction is characterized by the compulsive need to take a certain drug, even when the person is already suffering from its adverse effects. It will affect their daily responsibilities, such as school, work, or family. They will ignore these important things in favor of their drug-seeking behavior.

Loved ones may look out for other behavioral changes that may be signs of Xanax addiction. The addicted person may lose interest in activities they once enjoyed. Instead they will obsess over obtaining and using Xanax—even going as far as visiting different doctors to get the same prescriptions multiple times. This is called “doctor shopping” and many addicted individuals attempt it.

Even though Xanax is a prescription drug, it is still dangerous when abused. Because of its status as a prescription medication, people tend to underestimate its potential dangers. This makes them vulnerable to the severe effects of Xanax including fatal overdose.

In 2013, 50 million prescriptions were written for Xanax, up from 38 million in 2006. Emergency room visits due to the recreational abuse of Xanax more than doubled from 57,419 in 2005 to 124,902 in 2010.

It may become difficult for them to quit even if they wanted to. Xanax causes euphoric effects that get people hooked. The addicted person will experience intense cravings when they try to quit the drug. Cravings and withdrawal symptoms make the person much more likely to relapse.

Addiction also causes social and legal problems for the individual. Their relationships may suffer in the process: they may lose their friends or their job because of their drug habits. They may also get in trouble with the law because addiction makes people prone to bad behavior and risky decisions.

Effects of Xanax Abuse

Some people take Xanax recreationally because of the sense of calmness that it gives. The drug is abused in several ways. Xanax may be crushed and snorted, or diluted and injected directly into the bloodstream. Both methods create a much more potent high that kicks in faster.

Xanax is sometimes taken with other drugs or alcohol in order to achieve the desired high. This significantly increases the risk of an overdose.

Xanax overdose can be fatal because it is a depressant: it slows down the person’s heart rate and breathing. Xanax overdose symptoms include: slowed heart rate, confusion, extreme drowsiness, breathing difficulties, fainting, loss of balance, muscle weakness, respiratory failure, and coma.

If someone in the family is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, it is important to seek help. A combination of medical detox and behavioral therapy can go a long way in the fight against substance abuse. But because every individual is affected by addiction differently, a comprehensive program tailored to their specific needs is necessary. Look for a nearby addiction treatment facility today and find out how drug treatment programs work.

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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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