Xanax is a well-known prescription drug used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. It is a type of depressant that works to slow down the central nervous system, producing calming effects. Despite its use in the medical field, however, Xanax is also highly addictive. In fact, studies have shown that addiction develops in 44% of those who regularly use benzodiazepines like Xanax.
While Xanax addiction can quickly take over your life, it is also possible to escape with professional help. Recovery Lighthouse has the resources you need to recover from Xanax addiction and start enjoying life again.
How does Xanax addiction develop?
Xanax addiction can sadly impact anyone, whether you have been prescribed the drug for medical reasons or if you take it for recreational purposes.
Prescription from your doctor…
It is a common misconception that, because Xanax is a legal prescription drug, it is safe and will not result in harm. Unfortunately this is not true as Xanax can lead to dependence and addiction, as well as many detrimental side effects.
If you have been given Xanax by your GP, it is important to follow the instructions carefully. Taking Xanax more often than prescribed, at higher doses than prescribed or for more than 4 weeks puts you at a high risk of Xanax addiction.
Xanax is also one of the most popular benzodiazepines for recreational use, with many people taking it alongside other substances, using it to self-medicate or taking it for the purpose of getting ‘high’.
Because of its sedative, calming effects, Xanax addiction is especially common in those who are suffering from mental health disorders or have a history of trauma. This is because the ‘numbing’ effects of Xanax helps to ease uncomfortable emotions and so may be used as a way to escape reality. However, while Xanax can alleviate these feelings in the short-term, it is likely to only make them worse as time goes on.
What makes Xanax addictive?
Xanax is a powerful benzodiazepine known for its sedative effects on the brain and body. It works by increasing levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that helps to keep stress hormones under control. When GABA is stimulated, it slows down signals in the central nervous system and causes relaxation.
Not only is this sense of calm pleasurable to the user, but as GABA gets to work, dopamine regulators also slow down. This means that the brain’s dopamine levels rise and the reward centre of the brain is triggered.
If you use Xanax frequently, the brain gets used to these altered levels of neurotransmitters and starts to rely on the drug to feel happy. With this growing dependence, Xanax addiction creeps in and you begin to use Xanax compulsively, despite any negative consequences.
The signs of Xanax addiction
If you’re worried that you might be addicted to Xanax, it’s important to understand the signs of a substance use disorder. While it may be difficult to admit you have a problem, taking the first step and reaching out for help will feel like a weight lifted off of your shoulders. Be honest with yourself, and answer the below questions truthfully:
- Do I experience cravings for Xanax?
- Do I go to multiple doctors and exaggerate symptoms to try and get a prescription?
- Do I consume Xanax using different methods, such as crushing and snorting?
- Do I take Xanax even when I am not experiencing symptoms for which its use is intended?
- Do I continue to use Xanax even though it is negatively affecting my life?
- Do I experience withdrawal symptoms when I go without Xanax?
- Have I tried to stop taking Xanax but failed?
- Have my work, relationships or personal responsibilities suffered as a result of Xanax?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions, it could be time to explore treatment options for Xanax addiction. Xanax addiction is a progressive condition that does not get better on its own – don’t wait until it is too late to get the help you need.
Taking Xanax: what’s the risk?
There are many physical and psychological side effects that can arise when taking Xanax and these can affect you in both the short and long term.
Some of the short-term side effects of Xanax include:
- Lethargy or sedation
- Slurred speech
- Reduced coordination and reflexes
- Impaired cognitive function
- Decreased ability to make decisions
- Memory loss
- Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
- Slowed, shallow breathing
- Decreased heart rate and blood pressure
Some of the long-term side effects of Xanax include:
- Long-term issues with cognition and memory
- Always feeling ‘out of it’
- Impaired motor skills
- Damage to internal organs, including the liver
- Increased risk of seizures
- Worsening mental health issues, including anxiety
The only way to prevent long-term damage to your health and brain function is to stop taking Xanax. If you are ready to break free from your Xanax addiction and need assistance, Recovery Lighthouse can help you.
Xanax and polydrug use
Taking Xanax alongside other substances, also known as polydrug use, can have life-threatening consequences. When mixed with other depressants like alcohol, opioids, and stronger sedatives, the risk of respiratory depression increases dramatically. This is because central nervous system activity will be slowed to dangerous levels, essentially shutting down essential functions.
Xanax should also never be mixed with stimulants as this can create serious imbalances in the heart rate and cause heart attacks or seizures. Combining depressants and stimulants in this way puts an immense strain on the body as the effects of both substances battle against each other.
Individuals who engage in polydrug use involving Xanax should be aware that they are putting themselves at serious risk for physical and psychological harm.
The truth about Xanax addiction
- Xanax addiction can happen rapidly, with studies showing that withdrawal symptoms can present themselves after only 1 week of use.
- The main reasons for taking Xanax in the UK include to treat a medical condition (54.9%), to get high (39.1%), to come down (26.8%), to prevent withdrawal (11.3%).
- Xanax-related deaths have gradually escalated since 2015 when the UK experienced 32 deaths, compared with 219 deaths in 2018, followed by a decrease in 2020 with 90 deaths.
- Rebound anxiety is common in individuals with Xanax addiction, with 27% of people experiencing anxiety that is more severe than the initial symptoms they were trying to treat.
- Quitting ‘cold turkey’ can be very dangerous so if you want to overcome your Xanax addiction, you should do so under the supervision of professionals.
Can I overcome Xanax addiction?
With the right treatment plan, it is entirely possible to escape the clutches of Xanax addiction. Inpatient rehab is one of the most effective treatment options as it allows for 24/7 support and care away from triggers and temptations.
At the start of inpatient rehab, you will go through a period of detoxification which can be uncomfortable but crucial to ridding your body of any harmful substances. At our rehab facility, our team will ensure you remain comfortable and safe during this time.
Following this, you will take part in a variety of individual and group therapy sessions focused on identifying any underlying issues linked to your Xanax addiction. This will allow you to make positive behavioural changes for long-term recovery and develop relapse prevention techniques to take forward into everyday life.
Aftercare support should also be incorporated into your treatment plan so that once rehab has ended, you will still have access to ongoing support. Recovery Lighthouse offers 1 year of free aftercare so that you will never feel alone as you continue your recovery.
Overcoming a Xanax addiction can be a difficult journey, but it is worth the effort. Not only will it reduce physical and psychological health risks associated with Xanax dependence, but it can also improve your overall quality of life. Without the compulsive need to consume Xanax, you will be able to improve your relationships, experience better focus and mental clarity, and have the ability to lead healthier lifestyles.
If you are ready to conquer your Xanax addiction and start your recovery journey, contact Recovery Lighthouse today.