Breaking Free from Xanax Addiction
It’s just Xanax. How bad can it be?
Actually, as innocuous as many people think Xanax is, it can have dangerous addictive effects. These effects can be debilitating and even deadly.
Harmful Effects of Xanax
Xanax is one of the most widely prescribed drugs in the U.S. today. People tend to think that drugs that are so commonly dispensed must be relatively innocuous. While Xanax may be relatively harmless when compared to a “harder” drug like heroin, it can still become addictive.
To call Xanax harmless is like saying that a single, 22 caliber bullet is harmless. In and of itself, it is, especially compared to, say, a 50 caliber bullet. When loaded into a firearm, however, neither is harmless. One is just potentially more deadly than the other. While a single 22-caliber might do comparatively little harm, many of them can inflict a preponderance of damage.
One could also argue that Xanax has been around for a long time. It was originally developed by the Upjohn pharmaceutical company in the 1960s, making it over half-a-century old. The drug was finally patented in the 1970s but was not available in the U.S. until 1981, when it was introduced as a treatment for anxiety and panic attacks and as an alternative to the more powerful Valium.
Over 50 million alprazolam (the generic name for Xanax) prescriptions are dispensed annually. Assuming 30 per bottle, that is 1.5 billion tablets. Assuming a prescription may be refilled up to six times, the total number of tablets dispensed climbs to 9 billion. That’s a lot of 22s.
How Bad Can it Be?
Xanax is considered to be one of the nine most addictive prescription drugs on the market. That may be largely due to its effectiveness in reducing anxiety. When something works well, people use it. Xanax usage can become addictive when people take it habitually.
Addiction is sometimes referred to as a habit, but there is a difference. Habits are things you do routinely. The habit of taking some drugs routinely can lead to addiction, a condition in which “your mind and body experience a great sense of temporary pleasure and fulfillment.” When the routine is driven by that physiological effect, the habit becomes difficult to control. That is the point where habit becomes addictive. How addictive? Here are a few stats.
- “Nonmedical use of alprazolam led to 123,744 emergency room visits in 2011.” Just six years earlier, that figure was under 57,000.
- 19 percent were admissions for Xanax complications only.
- 21 percent were admissions for complications from a combination of Xanax and alcohol or other drugs.
- “Benzodiazepines accounted for 31 percent of prescription drug overdoses in 2013. The overdose death rate jumped from 0.58 deaths per 100,000 adults in 1996 to 3.14 deaths per 100,000 adults in 2013.”
Effects can vary from one individual to another, but the most common include loss of appetite, irritability, trouble focusing, slurred speech, and drowsiness. More serious complications include numbness, blurred vision, and seizures.
Treating for Xanax Addiction
The first step in breaking free from an addiction is always the same, namely, admitting to yourself and others that you have a problem. There is an old axiom that says that the only people who can be helped are the people who really want to be helped.
Several types of treatment are available, depending on how powerful the grip of addiction has become. Trying to stop “cold turkey” and/or trying to manage unsupervised is not recommended. Quitting Xanax abruptly can have existential, life-threatening results. That is not a risk worth taking.
Medical assistance is strongly recommended. Dr. Kevin Wandler, chief medical officer of Advanced Recovery Systems, recommends a monitored, in-patient weaning process. Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, typically require a supervised treatment period of two weeks. Individual situations may vary.
Persons addicted to Xanax should act as soon as possible to get free of their addiction before it leads to the admixture of other drugs and before treatment becomes more lengthy and difficult.
We have the expertise and experience to walk with you through the entire recovery process. If you would like more information on how we can help, call now. We want to hear from you.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.