Anxiety disorders are among the major mental health problems in America. These disorders represent a group of related mental conditions that can negatively impact your life. While each of the conditions comes with unique symptoms, all anxiety disorders cause persistent, excessive worry or fear, even in situations that aren’t life-threatening. According to research, more than 40 million adults in the U.S. have anxiety disorders. The research also shows that many people develop anxiety symptoms before age 21.
Panic and anxiety disorders are often caused by imbalances of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring chemicals that the brain cells use to communicate with each other. Many doctors prescribe Xanax to lessen the severity of anxiety disorders. This drug produces a sedative effect that enables you to calm down. Read on to learn more about Xanax.
Understanding Xanax and Its Uses
Xanax is a brand name for alprazolam. It’s a drug in a group of substances known as benzodiazepine, a category of medication that suppresses the central nervous system (CNS). Xanax is one of the most prescribed benzodiazepines in the United States.
While many benzodiazepines can treat different conditions, Xanax is an antipsychotic approved by the FDA to treat panic and general anxiety disorders in adults. Some clinicians also prescribe this drug off-label to treat depression and other conditions.
How Is Xanax Prescribed?
Being a controlled drug categorized as a Schedule IV substance, Xanax is still allowed for medical use. Prolonged use can lead to physical and psychological dependence. The good news is that the government has clear rules indicating how medical professionals should prescribe controlled substances to prevent dependency and misuse.
The medication is available in tablets and comes in four different strengths. Your doctor will work with you to determine the right Xanax dosage based on your treatment needs. The dosage will depend on various factors, including other medications you might be taking, your age, liver function, pre-existing medical conditions, and the severity of the condition being treated.
How Xanax Works
When you experience anxiety or excessive stress, the brain increases some nerve signals that cause feelings of anxiety. As a result, your brain will produce an unbalanced level of chemical signals, which increases brain activity, anxiety, and feelings of fear. These signals also restrict your ability to calm your mind, and that’s where Xanax comes into play.
Xanax brings a calming effect since it impacts the effects of GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid, one of the naturally occurring chemicals in the brain. When you become nervous or anxious, your brain normally releases this chemical to calm down every negative activity. If you have panic or anxiety disorders, Xanax works by boosting GABA effects in your brain. In addition to enhancing GABA effects, Xanax also increases dopamine levels in the brain.
Dopamine reinforces reward feelings in your brain. For instance, when you consume a sugary snack, small amounts of dopamine get released, and you might get the urge to take more. This release can lead to addictive behaviors.
Xanax Side Effects
Like other prescribed drugs, Xanax can cause varied symptoms and side effects during anxiety and panic disorder treatment. Luckily, many side effects and symptoms aren’t life-threatening and usually subside within several days. Some of the common side effects of Xanax include:
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Slow or slurred speech
- Memory impairment
- Dry mouth
- Vomiting or nausea
- Blurred vision
- Low blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeats
- Weight changes
- Decreased appetite
While Xanax doesn’t have severe side effects, they do sometimes occur. The drug can cause liver-related problems, poor reaction time, and seizures in severe cases. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
Is Xanax Addictive?
Working on brain neurotransmitters to produce a calming effect, Xanax is beneficial and highly effective in treating mental disorders. However, it tends to be abused, leading to dependence, overdose, or death in extreme cases.
As a CNS depressant, Xanax slows important bodily functions like blood pressure, body temperature regulation, and heart rate. Over time, your body and brain become dependent on Xanax, resulting in adverse effects if you stop it. Besides bringing a sedative effect, Xanax is also highly addictive because it releases dopamine, impacting the pleasure center of your brain.
Xanax dependence may be a trigger that encourages misuse and addiction. When an individual is dependent, they can’t stop using the substance without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. They also can’t function normally without using the substance. So, the urge to avoid withdrawal symptoms reinforces substance use.
Signs of Xanax Addiction
Many people struggling with Xanax addiction begin with a legal and legitimate prescription. However, an individual might increase their Xanax dosage beyond the doctor’s recommendations, leading to drug misuse. Xanax misuse can lead to addiction and dependence very quickly. Many side effects and symptoms can stem from Xanax misuse. While some of these signs of addiction are visible physical symptoms, others may be behavioral or psychological.
Recognizing Xanax addiction symptoms and signs can help you know when to seek professional treatment for yourself or your loved one. Some of the warning signs of Xanax misuse and addiction include:
- Shallow breathing
- Muscle spasms
- Excessive sweating
- Rapid heart rate
- Panic attacks
- Sleeping difficulties
- Dry mouth
- Heart palpitations
- Slurred speech
Xanax Drug Interactions
Xanax interacts with other drugs and alcohol. Combining benzodiazepines with opioids can dramatically increase drug overdose risk, ER visits, and deaths. According to research, approximately 115 people die every day in the U.S. due to opioid overdose.
One of the most dangerous and common interactions for Xanax normally occurs with alcohol. The two substances increase GABA’s activity when taken together. Xanax and alcohol suppress your central immune system, slowing down some body processes such as breathing and movement. As a result, you’ll be at risk of respiratory depression, excessive sedation, cardiac issues, loss of consciousness, and dangerous accidents.
You should never combine Xanax with any other benzodiazepine, such as Ativan, Valium, or Klonopin. The effect of every drug can easily stack, increasing the chances of overdose. If you’re taking Xanax according to your prescription, check with your physician before drinking alcohol or taking any other drug. This way, you’ll protect yourself against Xanax dependence and severe injuries.
Xanax Addiction Treatment Methods
If you or one of your loved ones are struggling with Xanax misuse and addiction, White Light Behavioral Health can help you make the necessary changes to start your recovery journey. While Xanax treatment methods vary from center to center, several common elements exist.
The addiction treatment centers help the clients work through the initial withdrawal symptoms and address mental health disorders like panic attacks and anxiety. They also help individuals understand the root causes of their substance use disorders (SUDs). The client will also learn coping methods needed to continue with their recovery journey after leaving a rehab center.
Xanax Detoxification and Withdrawal
At White Light Behavioral Health, rehabilitation starts with a thorough assessment from an experienced medical expert. Next, the individual struggling with Xanax addiction will undertake a medically supervised detox.
The withdrawal process is also an important part of detoxification. The withdrawal symptoms can be quite unpleasant, but they are temporary. Some of the Xanax withdrawal symptoms you might experience include:
- Seizures or convulsions
- Heart palpitations
- Vomiting and nausea
- Excessive sweating
- Increased or recurring panic attacks
- Blood pressure fluctuations
- Sore, stiff muscles
After detoxification, clients can participate in different levels of professional care and therapy for Xanax misuse and addiction. These treatment options include outpatient rehabilitation, inpatient treatment, and group therapy.
As Xanax detox winds down, clients have the option to start the treatment phase. Most often, inpatient treatment is recommended for individuals enrolling in rehab for the first time or those with severe addiction.
People undergoing an inpatient Xanax rehab program receive counseling and relevant therapy, individually and in a group setting. Participating in these activities can help you attain the knowledge and skills required to address your psychological and physical dependence on Xanax.
Inpatient rehab programs are usually confidential, allowing you to focus completely on your recovery. Living on the premises of the rehab center is helpful for people recovering from addiction, even if the center is near your home. Full-time care offers a suitable and encouraging environment for the rehabilitation process and access to medical experts.
If residing at an addiction treatment center is not a good fit, you can enroll in a Xanax outpatient rehab program. With options ranging from intensive outpatient services to regular interval therapy and partial hospitalization plans, outpatient Xanax rehab programs offer various choices for individuals fighting addiction. Outpatient treatment can be the first step for people with less severe addictions or the second phase after inpatient treatment. The treatment services may include:
- Psychiatric care
- Individual counseling
- Nutritional counseling
- Group therapy
Outpatient treatment offers clients more autonomy and independence than inpatient care. It allows individuals to maintain their family responsibilities and employment while attending treatment. If you have a deeply rooted SUD and reside in a triggering environment, outpatient treatment may not be a good option. You may need to enroll in a Xanax inpatient rehab program first and later switch to a sober living home to ensure long-term recovery. While outpatient rehab allows you to access regular therapy and assistance without living at the addiction treatment center, you’ll require a strong support network to assist you during your recovery journey.
Support Groups and Therapy
Overcoming Xanax addiction and misuse can be quite challenging when doing it on your own. Individual and group therapy sessions can help prevent relapse to Xanax and dependency transfer to other depressants such as alcohol. Getting support from an experienced therapist or other people going through the same challenges can help make your path to full recovery easier and smoother.
Individual therapy sessions usually involve direct discussions with your counselor. You can undertake these sessions in person or virtually if you cannot make it to your therapist’s office. During these therapy sessions, your counselor will utilize evidence-based methods to help you through your problems.
One of the common types of therapy used during benzodiazepine addiction treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This method addresses the root causes of underlying SUDs. During these sessions, you will work with your therapist to create healthy and safe coping strategies to help manage your issues. The other therapies recommended by experts during Xanax addiction treatment include:
- Family therapy
- Contingency management
- 12-step facilitation
- Motivational enhancement therapy
Group therapy is an important part of SUD treatment at many addiction treatment centers. During these sessions, a skilled therapist leads an engaging conversation with several individuals, fostering openness and encouragement to share their experiences with SUD.
These group therapy sessions normally continue beyond the addiction treatment center, allowing those in recovery to find solidarity in support groups.
Recovery from addiction is a lifelong process that needs daily commitment. So, many treatment centers will create a customized aftercare plan for every client after outpatient or inpatient treatment. Aftercare is an ongoing, personalized plan that helps you maintain a healthy lifestyle and prevent relapse.
Finding Help for Xanax Addiction
Xanax addiction or misuse is not a struggle you need to face alone. The good news is that many facilities across the country can help you recover from addiction. Addiction treatment centers can range from full-service rehab facilities to local clinics. When you enroll in an addiction treatment program, you’ll work with an addiction counselor or therapist to help create a personalized treatment plan based on your treatment requirements.
White Light Behavioral Health offers various care programs to help you on your recovery journey. If you or one of your loved ones is struggling with Xanax addiction and looking for a reliable Xanax addiction treatment center in Ohio, call us today. Our representatives will answer all your addiction treatment questions to help you start your recovery journey.