Xanax Rehab Guide
Xanax is the most frequently prescribed psychiatric medication in the country, and the benzodiazepine that is most likely to be prescribed.1 While the abuse of prescription benzodiazepines such as Xanax has declined recently, it is still a major problem in the United States.2 In 2019, nearly 5 million people aged 12 or older had abused benzodiazepines within the last year.2 Nearly 700,000 people aged 12 or older had an addiction to prescription sedatives or tranquilizers, a classification that includes Xanax.2
The western states, including Nevada, have higher rates of prescription tranquilizer abuse than other regions of the country.3 In 2016, over 1.3 million people aged 12 or older had abused prescription tranquilizers, including Xanax, within the last year in the western area of the country.3
This article is intended to answer some questions, such as:
- How do you define Xanax?
- What type of drug is Xanax?
- How does Xanax work?
- What are the effects of Xanax abuse?
- Is Xanax safe to take regularly?
- Is Xanax addictive?
- What are signs that someone is addicted to or abusing Xanax?
- What type of Xanax treatment is available?
- How can I find help for a problem with Xanax?
Why is Xanax Prescribed?
Xanax (alprazolam) is a central nervous system depressant that is classified as a benzodiazepine.1,4,5 Similar medications include Valium (diazepam) and Ativan (lorazepam).1,5A doctor may prescribe Xanax for many reasons, including to treat generalized anxiety disorder, a panic disorder that may or may not be accompanied by agoraphobia, and insomnia, and to manage symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.1,4,6 Xanax is commonly prescribed because it is stronger, longer-lasting, and more effective at managing symptoms than similar medications.1,5
Xanax drug effects occur as a result of changes to chemicals in the brain known as neurotransmitters.1,7 It increases levels of dopamine, serotonin, and gamma-aminobutyric acid, reinforcing the desire to keep taking Xanax to continue feeling the drug’s effects.1,7 These effects include stimulation of the reward centers of the brain, feeling less anxious, and elevated relaxation.1,7
Xanax Side Effects
While Xanax can reduce anxiety, it can also cause a range of physical and mental side effects.1,4,7 Though side effects can occur when taking the drug as prescribed, drug abuse can make these more likely.1,8
Short-term side effects of Xanax use can include:1,4,5,7,8
- Blurry vision or involuntary eye movements.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Doing things while you are sleeping, such as driving, cooking, eating, making phone calls, but not being able to remember them when you wake up.
- Dry mouth.
- Feeling calm, fatigued, or sleepy.
- Intense or upsetting dreams.
- Trouble sleeping.
- Lack of coordination.
- Lightheadedness or dizziness.
- Memory loss.
- Slurring while speaking.
- Stomach troubles, including constipation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or upset stomach.
Long-term side effects of Xanax use can include:4,7,9
- Changes in appetite.
- Cognitive impairments, such as difficulty processing sensory information, inability to concentrate or focus, memory issues, lack of processing speed, difficulty using language to express yourself, inability to multi-task, and a lack of motor skills.
- Increased risk of developing an addiction or physical dependence.
- Reduced libido.
- Symptoms of depression, including thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
While stopping the use of Xanax can improve some of these long-term effects, the cognitive effects may continue long into sobriety from long-acting benzodiazepines like Xanax.1,9 In some cases, these effects may even be permanent.1
Taking Xanax daily can lead to physical dependence in as little as 2 weeks, especially if high doses are used.4 (are there any risks), 8 (p557-559) The brain gets accustomed to increased neurotransmitter levels as a result of consistent Xanax use, and relies on the drug to maintain steady levels.10 (p1-2) The brain produces less of these neurotransmitters, and this causes withdrawal symptoms when Xanax is stopped suddenly.6 (p18), 8 (p557), 10 (p1-2) Xanax withdrawal symptoms include:6 (p18), 8 (p557-558), 10 (p2-3), 11 (p75)
- Altered sensory perception affecting taste and smell.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Rapid pulse.
- Seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren’t there.
- Tremors affecting the hands.
Severe symptoms of Xanax withdrawal can be very dangerous and include seizures and delirium, which involves severe tremors and difficulty regulating body processes, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature.6 (p18), 8 (p558), 10 (p3), 11 (p75)
Is Xanax Habit-Forming?
Popping Xanax can be an effective way of managing anxiety, but it can be habit-forming.1,6 Issues can involve abuse, tolerance, dependence, and addiction, which are different aspects of substance use, but may be related.8,12
Xanax is a drug with a high risk for abuse.1,12 This can occur when the drug isn’t taken as prescribed (e.g., taken in larger doses or more frequently than prescribed), using it for longer than prescribed, when pills are chewed or crushed and snorted, or using it to get high rather than for medical purposes.8,12 Xanax abuse can increase the risk of overdose, tolerance, physical dependence, or addiction.1,12
Xanax tolerance occurs when you become desensitized to the effects of the medication.8,12 When a person develops a tolerance to Xanax, higher doses are required to feel the effects or get high.8,12 Side effects may also become less noticeable or disappear.12 Tolerance can be a symptom of addiction and may be an early sign of physical dependence.8,12
Physical dependence is when your brain relies on the continued use of Xanax to function normally.1,12 If you are physically dependent on Xanax and stop taking it or cut back significantly, withdrawal symptoms can occur after just a week.1,6,12,13 Physical dependence can occur even when Xanax is taken under the supervision of a doctor, but it can also be a sign of addiction, especially when Xanax is being abused.6,8,12
Addiction is a chronic disease that represents the most severe form of drug abuse, and can affect all areas of a person’s life, including physical and mental health, relationships, work or school performance, and finances.8,13 Xanax addiction commonly involves aspects of abuse, tolerance, and dependence, but an addiction can be present without any of those present.8,13 An addiction creates long-lasting changes in how the brain looks and works.13
Signs of Xanax Dependence or Addiction
If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be abusing or addicted to Xanax, there are some red flags to be aware of. Physical symptoms of Xanax abuse and addiction include: 8,13
- Falling asleep frequently.
- Jerky eye motions rather than smooth movements.
- Needing Xanax to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
- Runny or stuffy nose if Xanax is crushed and snorted.
- Slurring while talking.
- Stumbling, falling, or suddenly showing poor coordination.
- Taking large amounts of Xanax.
Behavioral signs of Xanax abuse and addiction include:8,13
- Difficulty or inability to cut down or stop using Xanax.
- Isolating or quitting activities.
- Not being able to stop using Xanax even after it has caused or aggravated an ongoing physical or mental health condition or strained relationships with others.
- Often being late or absent from school or work, or having difficulty focusing on tasks when present.
- Taking risks, such as driving while under the influence of Xanax.
- Using Xanax in larger doses than prescribed, for longer than prescribed, or when not under the supervision of a medical professional.
- Visiting multiple doctors or pharmacies to get Xanax, or getting it from people without a prescription.
Xanax Addiction Treatment
Since physical dependence can occur quickly, attending a medically supervised detox is strongly suggested.10,11,12 Withdrawal symptoms can quickly escalate and become life-threatening, so a detox facility can monitor your condition, treat your symptoms, and work to prevent any complications from arising.11,12,13 During detox, you will receive slowly tapering doses of a long-acting benzodiazepine with a low potential for abuse, such as Klonopin (clonazepam) or Librium (chlordiazepoxide).6,10,11,12 Even with tapering doses, it can still be difficult to get off Xanax, particularly if you have been taking high amounts for a long period of time.6,11
Detox is designed to keep you safe as you come off of Xanax and any other substances you may have been taking, but doesn’t do much to address all the ways that addiction affects a person.13 To change long-standing patterns of thought and behavior, additional treatment is usually needed.13 Your unique circumstances are taken into account when determining the best setting to meet your needs.13 The presence or absence of physical or mental health conditions, sober supports in the home or community, employment and family commitments, a stable living environment, and/or legal problems can influence whether inpatient or outpatient treatment is a better setting for you.13 It is also important to address any new issues that arise while in treatment for an addiction to Xanax. Anxiety often increases during the early stages of abstinence, so treatment may include non-addictive medication to manage symptoms.8,13
Inpatient facilities provide a safe, structured, and monitored living environment for the duration of treatment, which typically lasts 3 to 6 weeks.13 (p27) Outpatient facilities offer less intensive treatment for a longer period of time with minimal disruption to your daily life, allowing you to receive treatment while living at home.13 In both types of facilities, treatment is offered in a combination of group and individual counseling sessions and varied techniques.12,13
Behavioral therapy is designed to help you learn how to maintain sobriety by teaching new skills and improving skills you may already have.12, 13 In counseling sessions, you will learn how to cope with cravings, effectively avoid or manage high-risk situations, develop relapse prevention skills, improve communication skills, family relationships, thought and behavioral patterns, and promote participation in activities that encourage sobriety.12, 13 Therapy can also reduce illegal behaviors, improve vocational outcomes, and increase the chances of long-term sobriety.13
Xanax Rehab Near Me
American Addiction Centers is one of the country’s leading providers of substance abuse treatment for Xanax and other substances.14 With facilities across the country and in Las Vegas, Nevada, it is easier than ever to receive effective care no matter where you live.14, 15 Our facilities offer all levels of care, from medical detox to outpatient treatment.16To learn more about how American Addiction Centers can help you, call our free, confidential helpline 24/7 at 702-800-2682.
- Ait-Daoud, N., Hamby, A.S., Sharma, S., & Blevins, D. (2018). A review of alprazolam use, misuse, and withdrawal. Journal of Addiction Medicine, 12(1), 4-10.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2020). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). 2018 annual surveillance report of drug-related risks and outcomes — United States.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2021). Alprazolam (Xanax).
- Drug Enforcement Administration. (2017). Drugs of abuse: A DEA resource guide.
- Food and Drug Administration. (2016). Xanax alprazolam tablets, USP.
- George, T.T., & Tripp, J. (2020). Alprazolam. Treasure Island, FL: StatPearls Publishing.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
- Crowe, S.F., & Stranks, E.K. (2018). The residual medium and long-term cognitive effects of benzodiazepine use: An updated meta-analysis. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 33(7), 901-911.
- Gupta, M., Gokarakonda, S.B., & Attia, F.N. (2020). Withdrawal syndromes. Treasure Island, FL: StatPearls Publishing.
- Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2006). Detoxification and substance abuse treatment. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series 45, DHHS Publication No. (SMA) 06-4131. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Misuse of prescription drugs research report.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide (Third edition).
- American Addiction Centers. (2021). American Addiction Centers.
- American Addiction Centers. (2021). Desert Hope Las Vegas treatment center.
- American Addiction Centers. (2021). Substance abuse treatment services.
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