Since the late 90’s, America’s overall mindset and approach to health has transformed dramatically. The amount of prescription drug use and the sheer number of drugs available have both skyrocketed. While some of these drugs certainly have benefits and may be life saving, the vast majority of psychotropic medications come with serious potential side effects, and can also be highly addictive. Xanax is perhaps one of the most addictive and dangerous drugs on the market.
Xanax is the most widely used benzodiazepine, a drug that depresses the nerve activity in the brain and central nervous system and causes a sedative effect. Xanax is used as an anti-anxiety medication, and is prescribed to treat panic attacks, anxiety disorders, nervousness and insomnia, and in some cases seizures and muscle spasms. Different variations of the drug are prescribed for the specific needs of the patient. Xanax is also extremely addictive and causes severe and in some cases life threatening side effects. Xanax is prescribed for millions of Americans, tens of thousands are considered addicted, and thousands of overdose deaths occur every year.
A Highly Addictive Drug
Xanax is addictive when used for any period of time, even when used exactly as prescribed by doctors. Users of Xanax are known to develop a tolerance and dependence very quickly. Patients quickly become reliant on the drug to deal with their symptoms, and the body develops tolerance and requires more and more of the drug to produce the same effect. Tolerance develops because the body identifies the drug as alien and harmful, and creates a natural resistance to it, attempting to abate its effects. This process evidently happens especially quickly with Xanax. The tolerance begins to build after taking the drug for the first time.
Xanax is extremely difficult to come off of and results in painful, unpleasant, and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms, for all users but especially for those who have developed an addiction. Some less dangerous but still unpleasant side effects include anxiety, headaches, muscle aches, and difficulty sleeping. Serious withdrawal symptoms include seizures, psychosis and hallucinations. People attempting to come off Xanax place themselves at serious risk by quitting cold turkey or without medical supervision. It is crucial to seek the help of a medical practitioner or addiction treatment center when quitting.
Side Effects of Xanax
Other than the side effects associated withdrawal, the use of Xanax comes with a staggering list of potential side effects. The severity of these depends on the dosage, length of use, and whether or not the user has become dependent or addicted.
Side effects include:
- Insomnia and disrupted sleep patterns
- Short term and long term memory issues
- Swelling in the hands or feet
- Dizziness, disorientation, blurred vision
- Muscle weakness or atrophy
- Slurred speech and disorganized thinking
- Headaches and migraines
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation and other gastrointestinal issues
- Impairment of motor skills, balance and coordination
- Changes in appetite; weight loss or weight gain
- Severe drowsiness
- Reduced sex drive
- Irritability and mood swings
- Blockage of nasal passages
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased sweating
- Dry mouth and lips
This is only a partial list. Side effects can be more severe when a person has developed a full blown addiction. Xanax is especially dangerous when combined with alcohol.
A Xanax addiction is no more or less serious than an addiction to painkillers, illegal street drugs or alcohol, and should be addressed with much the same approach. If Xanax addiction has gotten out of control, an addict’s best option for overcoming it is to check themselves into an inpatient addiction treatment program. These offer services and professional help to give addicts the best chance of becoming sober.
The first step at a treatment center will be to undergo a detoxification program, in which the addict addresses the physiological and chemical dependence on the drug. As previously mentioned, this can be a highly unpleasant, difficult and potentially dangerous process for the recovering addict. Detoxification is a highly specialized process supervised by a medical professional to ensure the safety and minimize the discomfort of the patient.
Detoxing and overcoming the physical side of addiction is only the first step. This is where the real work begins on the path to recovery. Inpatient rehab centers are crucial in that they offer education, counseling, life skills, tools and support necessary to achieve long term sobriety. Patients must come to understand and address the root causes of their addiction in order to truly overcome it. This involves working on their mind, body, and spirit, and introspection into the behavioral, psychological, and environmental factors that caused them to use in the first place. If these are not addressed sincerely and thoroughly, then a relapse is highly likely.
Breaking a Xanax addiction is very difficult but not impossible. Addicts seeking recovery owe it to themselves to seek the help of an inpatient addiction rehabilitation program if they truly want to achieve lasting sobriety.