Xanax is both used medically and recreationally. Depending on how it is used, it can either be beneficial or dangerous.
This drug is known as Alprazolam, as Xanax is only its trade name. It is used for the treatment of anxiety disorders, especially panic disorder. It could also be prescribed for the treatment of GAD or generalized anxiety disorder, also known as social anxiety disorder.
In 2010, Xanax was one of the most prescribed medicines in the US, taking the 12th spot.
Like other benzodiazepines (BZD), it binds to specific sites on the GABAA receptor. It has sedative, hypnotic, anticonvulsant, and antidepressant properties, among others. The benefits against anxiety often hit a peak within a week of taking the drug. This helpful medicine often comes in compressed tablet and extended-release capsule formulations.
However, despite its medical benefits, this drug has been known to be less than helpful when abused. Just like many other drugs, it has a high abuse potential—even for those who are using it at regular doses. Within a few days, the user may develop tolerance to the drug’s sedative-hypnotic effects.
This tolerance to Xanax is what makes it so controversial, even within the medical community. Although developing dependence at regular doses is unlikely, withdrawal symptoms and other adverse effects may happen for those who take higher doses of it.
Recreational users can easily get addicted to this substance, and will experience these withdrawal symptoms if they attempt to stop. Frequent abuse of the drug is also linked to increased risk of suicide.
Medical Uses of Xanax
In 1981, Alprazolam was first released by the pharmaceutical company Upjohn, which is now a part of Pfizer. Within two years of its original marketing, Xanax became an extremely popular drug in the US. Nowadays, it is one of the most misused BZD in the country.
Alprazolam is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance under the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The treatment of panic disorders and anxiety disorders may be considered Xanax’s primary function.
It can help alleviate moderate to severe anxiety attacks. While it is not the first line of treatment for such conditions, it is recommended for treatment-resistant cases, particularly when the patient presents no history of dependence for any substance. Additionally, anxiety associated with depression is responsive to Alprazolam.
Xanax also has other medical uses. For example, it can be used to fight nausea for patients who undergo chemotherapy. Hypersomnia is also frequently treated using this substance.
Xanax Abuse: Signs and Symptoms
Amongst illicit users, Xanax is popular because of its accessibility. Being a prescription drug, it can easily be obtained by recreational users who seek to enjoy its relaxing effects. It is also a fast-acting drug, with effects kicking in within an hour after use. The duration of effect may last at least six hours.
When misused, anyone can get addicted to Xanax. Do not take this drug in larger quantities, or for longer than is recommended. Even at regular doses, you may find yourself tolerating the drug without realizing it. Be sure to stick with the doctor’s prescription to avoid getting addicted.
If you fear that someone you love is abusing Xanax, there are physical and mental signs that you can look out for. Identifying the problem early can help out a lot in the long run.
A person who has recently abused Xanax may look drowsy and elated. They may feel light-headed, or have difficulty in concentrating. You may find them sleeping far too often and for extended periods of time. They will also experience memory problems, nausea, and headaches.
There are other cues to look for: a person who has gotten addicted to the drug will prioritize it over everything else. They will feel agitated or anxious when they can’t obtain more of it. The drug may affect their family, their relationships, their career, and their health. The worst part is that they won’t realize the problem until it is too late. Some users even refuse help altogether. Even those who attempt to quit the drug can find themselves relapsing after a while because of withdrawal symptoms.
Financial and marital problems are common amongst abusers of prescription drugs.
Effects of Xanax Abuse
Once you’ve identified the problem, you can watch out for its effects. Despite its feel-good qualities, this drug will also produce adverse effects. These negative consequences may wear the person down and urge them to quit. It is best to handle these problems through rehabilitation and medical care.
Common adverse effects include disorientation, lack of coordination, slurred speech, respiratory depression, and confusion. Memory impairment is also possible.
On top of these effects, a user may get addicted to the drug, making it that much harder to get back to living a sober life.
Despite this challenging situation, recovery is still possible. People dealing with dependence, tolerance, and addiction will need medical assistance in order to achieve it. Abruptly quitting the drug can lead to dangerous withdrawal effects like seizures.
A medical assessment will be conducted, which will allow the doctor to come up with an appropriate treatment plan based on the patient’s level of dependence, health condition, and history of drug abuse.
An inpatient treatment program may be needed. Round-the-clock care will ensure a safe, supportive, and focused environment for the patient, where their needs are provided. Detoxification will involve gradually lowering their intake while managing the effects of withdrawal.
Behavioral therapy sessions may also provide the patient with the knowledge on why living a sober life is the best option for them from that point on. It seeks to prevent relapse.
Do take note that there are also outpatient treatments available—again, depending on the person’s condition. This involves frequent visits to the hospital, but it allows the person to stay at home with the people they are truly comfortable with, fostering a caring and comfortable environment.
Addiction education, relapse prevention techniques, and medication will all be used to help bring the person to the path of full recovery. Take the first step and look for the right treatment facility for the patient today.