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Xanax Addiction: Some Important Facts

Alprazolam is a drug that belongs to benzodiazepine category and is sold under the brand name ‘Xanax’. All the benzodiazepines are addictive compounds. Xanax is a common prescription medicine used to treat anxiety, panic disorder and depression and it is one of the best selling anti-anxiety medications available in the market. The medication also produces sedative effects so it is often abused by people taking it as a sleeping pill.  The use of Xanax that extends over 6 weeks has been found to cause dependence. According to information provided by U.S National Library of Medicine, it is highly likely to become dependent on the drug when it is taken:

Xanax Addiction: Some Important Facts
  • in large quantities
  • for extended periods of time
  • mixed with other drugs

Generally, it takes few days to weeks to develop tolerance. The development of tolerance forces the user to take higher amounts of drug that results into addiction. A number of signs, symptoms and side effects are produced by abuse and addiction of Xanax that may help to find out if a loved one is struggling with Xanax addiction.

Table of contents:

  • 1.What is Xanax?
  • 2.How does Xanax work?
  • 3.What are the uses of Xanax?
  • 4.What are the dosage amounts for Xanax?
  • 5.Is it possible to overdose on Xanax?
  • 6.What are the motivations for Xanax abuse?
  • 7.Is Xanax addictive?
  • 8.Common Xanax drug combinations
  • 9.American statistics on Xanax abuse

What is Xanax?

Xanax (alprazolam) is a commonly used prescription medicine for the treatment of anxiety, panic disorder and insomnia. The abuse of Xanax means taking the medication for non-therapeutic purposes, taking it without a prescription or taking it in more than prescribed amounts. People abusing Xanax are at a very high risk of becoming addicted to it but even people who take it exactly as prescribed can become addicted to it without even realizing it. Xanax was first introduced in 1976 to be used for medicinal purposes. The medication is sold under a number of brand names with a number of different shapes such as round, elongated, oval, square and pentagonal. Colors may also vary from white to blue, yellow and green. Xanax is given a number of street names including:

  • Xannies
  • Zanbars/Xanbars
  • Bars
  • Z-bars
  • Bicycle parts
  • White boys
  • White girls
  • Benzos

How does Xanax work?

Xanax is a Central Nervous System Depressant that works by suppressing abnormal brain activity by slowing the brain down. Xanax acts on GABA receptors to decrease the excitability of the brain and help it return to its natural balance. At times, it can induce euphoric effects but generally it works to:

  • Relieve anxiety
  • Help a person relax
  • Induce sleep

Xanax and other benzodiazepines are only available with a prescription because of their sedative nature. Benzodiazepines should not be mistaken with narcotics. Narcotics are pain relievers while no such function is performed by benzodiazepines. The sedative effects produced by drug may result into:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Disrupted balance
  • Lack of concentration

Xanax is a very popular anti-anxiety drug among young adults. It is also used to treat anxiety produced by the abuse of other drugs. When combined with other Central Nervous Depressants such as alcohol, the outcome can be fatal.

What are the uses of Xanax?

Xanax is the most commonly prescribed medication for the treatment of:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder (sudden onset of extreme anxiety, also termed as panic attack)
  • Depression
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Different phobia
  • Insomnia (Induces sleep but lowers the quality of sleep)

The regular use of Xanax results into dependence and the user fails to function normally in the absence of drug. It is usually prescribed to be used on need basis, for example, when the user feels like he is going to have a panic attack. But users tend to misuse it. Xanax can be abused in a number of ways such as:

  • Taking high dose beyond the safe level
  • Injecting it in the liquid form
  • Snorting it by converting the pill into powdered form
  • Combining it with other drugs and alcohol

What are the dosage amounts for Xanax?

Dosage amounts for Xanax may vary from patient to patient. They usually range between 0.25 mg to 2 mg. Treatment starts with low amounts of Xanax, typically 0.25 mg and the amount is increased gradually if small amounts fail to produce any beneficial effects. It is recommended that the amount of Xanax taken per day should not extend 4mg but many panic disorder patients are prescribed 10mg a day without having any fatal side effects.

Is it possible to overdose on Xanax?

It is highly unlikely to overdose on Xanax alone. People have reported having used several hundred milligrams of Xanax per day without facing any major side effects. But a number of unpleasant effects are produced by taking higher than normal amounts such as:

  • Blurred vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Respiratory depression
  • And even coma

The toxic effects of Xanax are increased a great deal when it is combined with other drugs. For example, when used with alcohol which is also a central nervous system depressant, the drug can be fatal. It is because the activity of brain is lowered down to such a level that body fails to carry out its normal functions. Several deaths are associated with Xanax use combined with other drugs including that of some famous celebrities such as Michael Jackson and Heath Ledger.

What are the motivations for Xanax abuse?

Even after having a knowledge about the addictive nature of the drug, people tend to misuse it for a number of reasons such as:

  • They cannot resist the effects produced by the medication
  • They think they can quit the drug whenever they want
  • Xanax is categorized as Schedule IV controlled substance that means it is more easily available than Schedule ll substances such as opioid painkillers.
  • It is thought be less dangerous
  • It can be bought online on illegally operating websites
  • Young people abuse it to produce cheap euphoric effects or to heighten the sensations produced by alcohol and other drugs

The false impression that Xanax is safe for recreational use is responsible for a large number of addiction and death cases. As estimated by Drug and Alcohol Dependence Journal, about 10% of all the American adults who have taken Xanax meet the criteria for its abuse and dependence.

Is Xanax addictive?

Prolonged use of Xanax has been found to cause addiction and physical dependence. Like marijuana and meth use, Xanax use also releases greater quantities of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that acts of the pleasure and reward centers of the brain. Due to increased amounts of dopamine, the user feels relaxed and happy while anxiety, panic and other unpleasant symptoms disappear.

Addiction to Xanax can be categorized in two ways:

  • Physical addiction: The body becomes dependent on Xanax for its normal functioning. Without Xanax, it fails to perform its functions and severe withdrawal symptoms appear.
  • Psychological addiction: In this case, the user becomes psychologically dependent on the drug and believes that he cannot function normally in the absence of drug. Also the fear of withdrawal symptoms keeps him taking the drug.

Common Xanax drug combinations:

It is common to use Xanax in combination with other drugs and alcohol, especially opiates. It helps the user to achieve better high. For example, heroine and methadone addicts often consume Xanax in addition to their primary drug to get a better and easier high. Alcoholics are also highly likely to consume it with alcohol. According to statistics, about 40% of all alcoholics regular misuse Xanax. Combining Xanax with other drugs can prove to be very dangerous. Especially when it is combined with alcohol, results can be deadly. Both Xanax and alcohol are central nervous system depressants and when used together, brain activity is lowered down to such a level that body is not able to perform its routinely tasks.

Combining Xanax with commonly used medications such as ibuprofen and Nyquil can also be dangerous because all of these are CNS depressants.

American statistics on Xanax abuse:

Xanax abuse is a growing problem in United States.

  • According to National Institute on Drug Abuse, Xanax is most commonly abused prescription drug among individuals over the age of 14.
  • As revealed by a National Survey of Emergency Room Departments, in 2011, there were over 150,000 emergency cases admitted in the hospitals due to abuse of Xanax.
  • Even though anyone can become addicted to Xanax but studies conducted by National Institute on Drug Abuse show that adolescents and women are at a higher risk of developing Xanax dependence.


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