People who live with severe anxiety may end up with a prescription for Xanax. However, while Xanax is an effective tool for calming the mind, it is also a highly addictive medication. Those who aren’t careful about how they use it are at risk of developing a Xanax addiction.
Consider this: In the United States, over 16 million prescriptions for Alprazolam—the generic name for Xanax—are written every year. If people misuse even one percent of those prescriptions, it would total over 160 thousand cases of Xanax abuse.
To prevent Xanax misuse from escalating to Xanax addiction, it is important to shed light on early warning signs of addiction. Likewise, individuals who take Xanax should learn how to do so safely, and how they can help themselves if they lose control of their Xanax use.
Using Xanax Safely
Xanax is a type of benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Like other central nervous system depressants, it works by slowing down brain activity. Because anxiety is often the result of an overactive mind, slowing the brain is an effective method of decreasing this hyperactivity and soothing symptoms.
Xanax is typically prescribed in doses of 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, one mg, and two mg. Higher doses than that would be more likely to result in physical dependence. In turn, that would make it harder to stop using Xanax later, potentially resulting in Xanax addiction.
To take it safely, individuals should always use Xanax exactly as prescribed and avoid making changes on their own. If they wish to adjust their dose, they should always discuss it with their doctors first.
Depending on someone’s situation, they may take Xanax on an “as needed” basis to help with short-term anxiety or take it at a regular time each day. If they take it as needed, they should remain vigilant of how much they are allowed to take each day and avoid going over that amount.
Identifying Xanax Misuse
Benzodiazepines like Xanax are highly addictive. Part of this is due to how easily someone’s body develops a tolerance for them. Drug tolerance makes someone feel as though they need to take higher doses to achieve the same effect as before.
In addition, benzos cause levels of dopamine to surge in the body. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and happiness, meaning that some people with a Xanax addiction may take it to chase those feelings.
However, there are many ways to abuse Xanax. For example, you may be misusing your medication if you are taking:
- A higher dose than you are supposed to
- A more frequent dose than you are supposed to
- Someone else’s prescription drugs
- Medication in an altered form (such as by crushing and snorting pills)
- Prescription drugs for a non-medical purpose (such as to get high)
All of the above are signs of Xanax abuse. If you or a loved one are exhibiting any of the above red flags, consider seeking professional help before they evolve into Xanax addiction.
Signs of Xanax Addiction
Xanax misuse does not inherently spell Xanax addiction, but it is often a slippery slope. Someone who borrows pills from someone else “just this once” may end up returning for more. Similarly, if someone’s body adjusts to higher or more frequent doses, they may have to continue taking Xanax at an increased rate to find the same level of relief.
Physical signs of Xanax addiction include:
- Excessive drowsiness or lethargy
- Slurred speech
- Blurry vision
- Impaired motor coordination
People with a Xanax addiction may also participate in deceptive, dangerous, or drug-seeking behaviors, such as:
- Buying Xanax on the street
- Lying about Xanax usage
- Engaging in risky behaviors while using Xanax (such as driving)
- Lying about Xanax effectiveness to get more pills from doctors, family members, or friends
- Continuing to use Xanax despite wanting to quit
- Spending most free time and/or money trying to obtain, use, or recover from Xanax
These signs of Xanax addiction can have social ramifications as well. For instance, someone may find themself isolated from their family and friends. They may also notice that their performance is slipping at work or school. This, combined with spending excessive money on Xanax, can lead to financial struggles and other additional obstacles.
Xanax Addiction Treatment Programs
The Willough at Naples takes a two-pronged approach to Xanax addiction treatment. First, we address the physical component of addiction through a medical detox. After that, if necessary, someone can enroll in further treatment to overcome the remaining mental battles associated with substance abuse.
Medical Drug Detox
For many individuals with a Xanax addiction, the first step toward recovery involves a detox. This is because when someone has developed an addiction, they usually have a physical dependence on the substance in question.
In other words, after taking it so frequently, their body forgets how to function without Xanax. Then, whenever they try to stop using it, they experience adverse withdrawal symptoms. Some people would rather continue using Xanax than deal with these unpleasant side effects.
Fortunately, a medical detox makes it easier to stop using Xanax. During a medical detox, patients remain under 24/7 medical supervision by a team of licensed physicians and addiction experts. This team helps soothe withdrawal symptoms and keep patients as comfortable as possible throughout the process.
Some of the Xanax withdrawal symptoms someone may experience during detox include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Anxiety or depression
- Rapid breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Trouble concentrating
- Muscle spasms or convulsions
In more severe cases, withdrawal from Xanax can also cause side effects like hallucinations and seizures. These can be dangerous if left untreated, which is another reason why a medical detox is such an important part of Xanax addiction treatment.
Detox teams are trained to identify early warning signs of complications like seizures. Moreover, they know how to deal with them in swift and effective manners. Someone who tries to detox “cold turkey” at home will not have access to the same resources. Therefore, to maximize safety, comfort, and the likelihood of success, opt for a professional detox program.
Inpatient Xanax Addiction Rehab
After going through detox to recover from a physical dependence on Xanax, some individuals still carry a mental burden. To re-establish their sense of self, repair relationships, and decrease the chance of relapse, many people try inpatient Xanax addiction rehab.
Treatment centers that offer inpatient (or residential) rehab allow patients to move into an on-site suite for the duration of treatment. This removes external stressors and distractions, which encourages patients to dedicate all their focus to recovery.
During inpatient Xanax addiction treatment, patients participate in a variety of evidence-based treatment options, such as:
- Psychiatric evaluation
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Group therapy
- Nutritional consultations
- Family therapy
- Recreational therapy
- Relapse prevention planning
- Links to community resources and support groups
These therapeutic activities work together to teach patients vital coping skills like healthy communication and emotional processing. While those may sound like general life skills, they serve a crucial role in Xanax addiction treatment by making it easier for people to convey their feelings and needs.
Xanax Addiction Treatment in Naples, Florida
The Willough at Naples is a mental health and addiction treatment center that has helped people recover from substance abuse for over 30 years. We promote long-term healing through a peaceful, positive environment in which patients can focus solely on self-improvement. Furthermore, we firmly believe that it is never too late to pursue recovery.
So, if you’re ready to overcome Xanax addiction, contact our admissions specialists for more information on how to enroll in treatment. You can reach a team member by calling 800-722-0100 or by submitting a confidential contact form online. No matter where you are in your recovery journey, The Willough at Naples can help you take the next step forward.