Xanax Addiction and Recovery
Prescription drug addictions are a prevalent issue in today’s world, and Xanax (alprazolam) dependency is one of the most common examples. Although the drug has legitimate medical uses, it’s also addictive and has a high potential for abuse. If you or someone you care about has taken Xanax for a prolonged period of time, it may prove very challenging to decrease the usage or stop taking it. For those who take it regularly, there can be significant physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms that start to appear after it leaves the system. There may also be underlying behavioral issues that make it extremely difficult to avoid taking the medication.
If you or someone you know is looking to overcome a Xanax addiction, it’s worth reaching out to a quality detox clinic. At White Light Behavioral Health, located in Columbus, Ohio, we help clients get started on the road to recovery by providing them with the support and resources they need to beat their addictions.
What Is Xanax?
Xanax is the most common brand name of the drug alprazolam, a benzodiazepine meant to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Benzodiazepines work by acting on the brain and nerves to produce a calming effect, which they achieve by enhancing the effects of a natural chemical in the body called GABA. The medication comes in the form of a tablet to be taken orally, and the effects typically kick in within one to two hours. Xanax is prescribed in strengths of 0.25, 0.5, 1, and 2 mg, with the pills coming in different shapes and colors depending on the dosage.
Although Xanax does help numerous people, it also comes with a significant risk of addiction as well as overdose. These risks are quite a bit higher for people with substance use disorders, such as addictions to alcohol or other drugs.
Because Xanax is an actual medication with legitimate uses, it can be difficult to determine when someone has an unhealthy addiction to the drug. In some cases, the lines between genuine medical use and abuse can be blurred. However, there are certain indicators that can help identify when someone has a problem with Xanax addiction. If you or someone in your life is displaying warning signs of Xanax addiction, it may be time to seek out help to stop using the medication and start on the path to recovery. Here are some signs to look out for:
- Inability to stop taking Xanax despite wanting to
- Lack of interest in doing things
- Obsessing about obtaining and taking Xanax
- Regularly increasing the amount of Xanax taken
- Continued use of Xanax despite it causing personal problems
- Erratic or risky behavior
- Legal problems relating to Xanax use
When you have a prescription for Xanax and use it as directed, it’s unlikely you’ll experience any of the above. When your Xanax usage starts getting out of control, taking over your life, or causing significant problems, that’s usually when you know you’re dealing with an addiction. At that point, it’s important to start making changes before the issues escalate.
Xanax overdoses are common as far as overdoses go, and because the symptoms of an overdose are often similar to the normal effects of the drug, they can be difficult to identify. The risk of overdose is significantly higher when Xanax is mixed with other drugs, such as alcohol, opiates, and other benzodiazepines. Overdoses can also occur in people who have developed a high tolerance for the drug by continually increasing their dosages.
These are some of the most common early warning signs of a Xanax overdose:
- Trouble concentrating
- Difficulty urinating
- Dry mouth
- Joint pain
- Feeling lightheaded
- Increased salivation
If you or someone you know taking Xanax begins noticing any of the above symptoms, it’s important to monitor the situation closely for the next several hours. If an overdose is indeed taking place, the symptoms may worsen, and some of the following severe symptoms may arise:
- Depression or suicidal thoughts
- Difficulty breathing or speaking
- Loss of balance or coordination
- Memory problems
- Significantly slowed breathing
- Inability to stay awake
- Loss of consciousness
The above symptoms are indicators of a Xanax overdose or a serious adverse reaction to the drug. It’s imperative that you seek medical attention immediately if you see any of these signs. Xanax overdoses have the potential to be fatal, especially when the medication is combined with alcohol or other drugs.
Overcoming Xanax Addiction
Xanax is a very addictive drug, and for anyone who’s been taking it regularly for a prolonged period, quitting can be challenging. For one thing, symptoms of withdrawal from Xanax are typically more powerful than the withdrawal symptoms of other benzodiazepines. Because of the drug’s potency, it can also be difficult to overcome psychological cravings and dependency. To successfully overcome a Xanax addiction, it’s necessary to go through a detox process and also address the behavioral issues associated with drug use.
For many people, it takes only days or weeks to develop a physical dependence on benzodiazepines like Xanax. At that point, it’s no longer a viable option to stop taking the medication cold turkey because of the powerful withdrawal symptoms that are likely to occur. That said, the withdrawal effects will be significantly more severe in frequent, long-term users than in people who have only been taking the drug for a few weeks.
Listed below are some of the milder symptoms of Xanax withdrawal that are likely to arise in most users who stop taking the medication or lower their dose significantly:
- Waking up throughout the night
- Feeling tension in the morning
- Trouble focusing
- Poor memory
- Muscle aches
When someone has been using Xanax chronically for an extended period of time, more serious withdrawal symptoms may occur:
- Auditory or visual hallucinations
- Feeling of emptiness
- Lack of interest or pleasure in doing things
- Suicidal thoughts
When a long-term user or someone who is used to taking large amounts of Xanax decides to quit taking Xanax, the side effects that they face could be fatal. It’s crucial that someone detoxing from benzos do so under medical supervision.
For many people with a dependence on Xanax, dealing with withdrawal symptoms is a major deterrent for actively pursuing recovery. Many people try to stop taking the drug cold turkey but give in when they can’t handle the physical and psychological effects of stopping. That’s when a Xanax detox center can make all the difference in the world.
At a Xanax treatment center, you or your loved one will be evaluated and provided with a personalized treatment plan for detoxification and recovery. In many cases, this will involve gradually tapering off Xanax to minimize the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. Sometimes, a longer-acting benzodiazepine may be substituted for Xanax to remain in the bloodstream and prevent the worst of the physical effects and cravings. Detox centers may also prescribe other medications to counteract specific withdrawal symptoms, such as antidepressants or beta-blockers.
When it comes to overcoming a Xanax addiction, detoxification is a crucial step that needs to happen early on. However, it takes more than detox to find sustained success in recovery. When someone is dealing with drug addiction, there are psychological and emotional factors tied up in substance use, and those behavioral factors have to be addressed. That’s why cognitive behavioral therapy is an integral part of Xanax addiction treatment programs.
Whether you’re participating in an inpatient or outpatient treatment program, some sort of therapy to overcome addiction will be included. Depending on your specific needs, this may be one-on-one counseling or group therapy sessions. This aspect of treatment is meant to provide the skills and coping mechanisms necessary for maintaining a sober lifestyle. When you’re recovering from a Xanax addiction, sticking with prolonged therapy will help you avoid relapse and overcome the many challenges of recovery.
When you’re dealing with a substance use disorder, making the decision to commit to recovery is never easy. Sometimes, it’s a choice that you have to make several times before it truly sticks. Addiction can make life and the future feel hopeless, and it can make the idea of sobriety seem like an impossibility. However, it’s important to realize that these feelings aren’t based on reality. If you’re truly ready to make changes, then finding a happy and productive life in sobriety is absolutely something you can achieve.
Addiction can cause you to view everything in your life through the most negative lens imaginable. But the truth is that there are people in your life who love you, care about you, and want to see you do well. And although you may feel helpless, there are incredible resources available to you, and the door to your recovery is open. All you have to do is make the choice to walk through that door. On the other side, you’ll find meaning, contentment, and an entirely new perspective on life.
Selecting the Right Detox Clinic
When you or someone you love is ready to pursue addiction recovery, choosing a quality detox clinic is extremely important. At White Light Behavioral Health, we provide a safe and supportive environment for clients working to overcome their Xanax dependence. Our staff is highly trained, knowledgeable, and caring, and we offer a number of resources to ensure that the detoxification process goes as smoothly as possible. We understand the many challenges that come with getting past drug addiction, and we’ll provide you or your loved one with the necessary tools to succeed.