Xanax Abuse and Addiction
Xanax, or Alprazolam, is the most commonly prescribed Benzodiazepine, or Benzo. It is primarily used to treat anxiety and panic attacks on a short-term basis. The drug is highly effective at its designated purpose, but it is also highly addictive, leading many to abuse the drug. Despite being legal, Xanax addiction is a very serious problem with very serious consequences.
Many take small doses to relieve anxiety or other conditions. After prolonged use, the body and mind adapt to the presence of Xanax, and users have to take increasing amounts to obtain the same effects. This is known as developing a tolerance. Once a tolerance has been built up, dependence and addiction often follow. Getting off the drug can be very difficult due to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
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How Does Xanax Work?
Like other Benzos, Xanax does not directly impact dopamine release due to its inability to interact at a high-level with alpha-3 GABA A receptors which affect dopaminergic neurons. However, Xanax does collide and bind with alpha-1 GABA A receptors, diminishing their role of binding GABA to receptors on an inhibitory interneuron which is meant to delay dopamine release, ultimately causing an opposite effect and increasing dopamine release.
This dopamine release produces the “feel-good” sensation many feel when interacting with and consuming drugs. These pleasurable feelings are addictive, which is why so many people abuse Xanax.
Besides treating anxiety, Xanax can be used to treat insomnia and also nausea in cancer patients. As the drug forces the brain to produce unnatural amounts of dopamine to cope with these issues, the brain actually depletes its natural production of dopamine. Eventually, users need increasingly greater amounts of the drug to produce the natural sensations they once felt.
Effects of Xanax Use
Xanax abuse and addiction can have serious effects on your life financially, mentally, and physically. You might find yourself constantly looking for ways to buy Xanax or getting into financial trouble because of a Xanax addiction. You might feel ill or depressed if you try to quit. This depressive state can eliminate motivation and render you unable to get out of bed.
Other effects include stomach pain, dizziness, and not knowing where you are or how to cope with these uncomfortable feelings. If you feel you may have a Xanax addiction, reducing dosage at a slow rate might help reduce the negative effects and still allow normal emotions throughout the detox process.
If Xanax use is intense, hallucinations or depersonalization can develop, leading to confusion or unreal feelings. If you feel Xanax has taken over your life, reducing dosage at a slow rate might help reduce the negative effects, but it is advised you seek professional help where you will receive medical supervision while detoxing.
Typical withdrawal symptoms of Xanax include:
- Feeling faint
- Muscle weakness
- Panic attacks
- Uncontrollable shaking
- Lack of focus
- Nausea and vomiting
While some might be lucky enough to feel mild side effects, many experience severe effects when stopping “cold turkey” or when there is a high level of dependence. For this reason, it is suggested that the tapering method, where users take gradually decreasing doses over time, be used when quitting Xanax, to ease the transition into sobriety.
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Am I Addicted to Xanax?
Don’t be afraid of becoming an addict just because you are prescribed Xanax. Instead, proceed with caution while taking the drug. Take only your prescribed dosage, and try to use the drug on an as-needed basis instead of relying on it for relief.
Have you been on Xanax for some time and are worried you might be addicted? See if you can relate to the list below:
- I take more than prescribed because my prescription no longer achieves the same effects.
- I feel I need the drug itself rather than I need it to get rid of my unwanted symptoms.
- I’m afraid if I stop use, my symptoms will come back.
- I obsess about taking Xanax, or think about taking it throughout the day.
- I engage in risky behaviors while on Xanax (such as driving a vehicle).
- I have tried to purchase Xanax outside of a pharmacy when my prescription was low.
- I crave the drug at times, and these cravings only go away if I take some.
- I feel I cannot control how much I take anymore, or that I am powerless.
Losing control is a common problem when you have an addiction. You may feel that you just need one pill to feel better, then gradually up the dose once the initial pill stops doing its job. If you can relate to any of the above and have developed a need for Xanax, you might be suffering from an addiction.
70% of teens who are addicted to Xanax are taking the pills out of their home’s medicine cabinet.
Doctors write 50 million prescriptions for the family of drugs to which Xanax belongs.
Xanax is currently the 9th best-selling drug in the United States, and the most commonly prescribed.
Finding Treatment for Xanax
Because it is legal, Xanax is within easy reach for many addicts, feeding the ease and comfortability of their addiction. With Xanax climbing in popularity among both teens and adults, the risk of addiction is increasing nationally.
The first step in overcoming a Xanax addiction is detox, with tapering a likely solution to get started. Many treatment centers initiate detox with the proper resources to get through the process with ease and as little discomfort as possible. Looking for a treatment center that will help you get past your Xanax addiction? Call a dedicated treatment specialist now to help guide you through the road to recovery.
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