Xanax Addiction Treatment: Can You Get Addicted to Xanax?
A prescription medication, Xanax is commonly prescribed for people diagnosed with anxiety disorders and is sometimes used to treat insomnia. First FDA-approved in the 1970s, Xanax was originally intended to treat panic disorder. Over time, Xanax began to be used for various conditions ranging from depression to chemotherapy-induced nausea. Xanax is one of the most commonly prescribed medications for treating anxiety and panic disorders but it has been shown to have addictive properties. Addiction to prescription medications has become so widespread in the past decade that many people have started to wonder, can I get addicted to Xanax? With prescription addiction on the rise, the need for Xanax addiction treatment rises too.
Xanax: How Addictive Is It?
Classified as a benzodiazepine – or Benzo for short – Xanax is considered a controlled substance and has a profound effect on brain chemistry. Specifically, benzodiazepine medications work by targeting the brain’s GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors. GABA receptors are a type of neurotransmitter that calm nerve activity. When these receptors are overstimulated, anxiety or panic sets in. This explains why Xanax, which targets these receptors, works so well the symptoms of anxiety and panic disorders. Once ingested, the effects of Xanax can be felt almost immediately and the drug begins to slow down brain activity. This near-immediate effect is part of what makes Xanax so addictive.
While effective at soothing the symptoms of anxiety, Xanax is actually quite addictive and the effects of this drug increase the longer a person takes it. Xanax is intended to be used for short periods of time to treat acute symptoms. The problem arises when Xanax is used beyond the recommended time frame.
In the medical community, Xanax is considered to have a relatively low potential for abuse, but this is not entirely accurate. In fact, even those who take Xanax as prescribed have a higher chance of becoming dependent on the drug. This is because tolerance for Xanax builds up quickly, which cause the person to crave more to get the same effects.
Thousands of people across the United States have sought treatment for an addiction to the drug. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than 17,000 people were treated for Xanax addiction in the year 2012 alone. Xanax is more addictive than researchers once believed and it is estimated that those who use any type of benzodiazepine for more than six weeks have a higher likelihood of becoming addicted.
Xanax not only produces physical cravings but also mental cravings. Addicted individuals may find it very hard to think of anything other than the drug, leading to a seemingly endless cycle of drug-seeking behavior. This constant preoccupation with the drug makes it even harder to stop using.
Signs and Symptoms of Xanax Addiction
Generally speaking, addiction includes both physical and psychological symptoms. Xanax addiction is true to this description. Prolonged use of this drug can cause a variety of changes in the body and brain that make it easy for others to recognize when a friend or loved one is struggling with addiction.
As far as physical symptoms of Xanax addiction, the most common signs include sleepiness, headache, slurred speech, nausea and vomiting, as well as dry mouth and dizziness. Additionally, prolonged use or high dosages of Xanax increase a person’s risk for vertigo, breathing difficulties, and seizures.
Psychological symptoms of benzodiazepine addiction are sometimes easier to recognize. One of the most prevalent psychological symptoms is difficulty concentrating or confusion. This lack of focus can have a profound impact on a person’s work or school life and directly contributes to further psychological decline. Once a person is addicted to Xanax, the very symptoms the drug was meant to treat can worsen. Research shows that once addicted to benzodiazepines, anxiety symptoms worsen. Other notable psychological symptoms of Xanax addiction include, but are not limited to, increased aggression, hallucinations, panic attacks, mood swings, and short-term memory loss.
Wondering how to tell if someone is addicted to Xanax. Common ways to tell include using more than prescribed, using more often than recommended, and constant worrying about how and when to obtain more of the drug. People experiencing symptoms of addiction may also isolate themselves socially as a way to hide their addiction from friends and family.
Xanax Addiction Treatment
For those who have developed an addiction to Xanax, seeking treatment is imperative. As with most addictions, detoxing without the help of a trained professional can be risky. Detoxing without help, or going cold turkey, is not only mentally taxing but is also associated with potentially dangerous physical symptoms. For this reason, seeking professional treatment is recommended.
Treatment should begin with a medically-supervised detox where trained staff help a person safely navigate through the withdrawal process. Withdrawal from benzodiazepines can present a range of uncomfortable symptoms – from depression to paranoia – so seeking treatment at a reputable treatment facility is critical.
To successfully treat Xanax addiction, choose a treatment center that focuses on the entire recovery process. A good treatment program will not only include detox services but will also get to the root of the substance addiction with proven treatment models, individual and group therapy, as well as aftercare services.
Springboard Recovery assists people with co-occurring disorders of mental health and substance abuse. If you or a loved one is dealing with Xanax addiction, contact the professionals at Springboard Recovery for comprehensive addiction treatment options.