Prescription medications are designed to help people who have very real medical conditions. Antibiotics kill bacteria, for example, while analgesics relieve pain. Often, a single pill can bring quick relief.
Unfortunately, some prescriptions can come with nasty side effects. The prescription medication Xanax, also known by the generic name alprazolam, is a prime example of a problematic prescription drug, as this particular medication has caused misery for people all around the globe.
“I didn’t know the power that benzodiazepines would soon have over my mind, body, strength, soul, and dignity,” writes Brittany S. of Heroes in Recovery. “Over a period of about four years, I overdosed more than once and continued to use ridiculous amounts every single day. I was up to well over 20 pills on a good day. I was stuck in that famous cycle of wasting my days away on the phone, driving to get more and figuring out ways to make money for the next day. I had been in and out of jail dozens of times, I lost my driver’s license and warrants and bondsmen from multiple cities were looking for me.”
Measuring the Danger of Benzodiazepines
Xanax is a benzodiazepine medication that is similar to drugs like Valium, Klonopin,and Haldol. Researchers have conducted a significant number of studies to determine how dangerous Xanax might be and most determine that Xanax has consistently moderate abuse and dependence potential.1
Xanax and other benzodiazepine drugs are widely abused by all socioeconomic groups and people of all ages. Older adults are particularly prone to being prescribed these medications, which may lead to risk of substance dependence, falls, and health complications. Often, these drugs fall into the wrong hands and are illegally sold or traded.2,3
How Does It Work?
All benzodiazepine medications work in much the same way. This drug type is acts as a sedative, an anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxant. Xanax enhances the performance of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitters in the brain, which slows overall brain activity and creates a temporary feeling of calmness.4
With repeated use, however, the brain can adjust to these initial effects. Over time, a person who uses Xanax will need more of the drug to produce the same effects. People who become dependent on Xanax often take more of this drug than they originally intended, and they may begin compounding the damage by:
- Crushing pills and snorting the powder
- Mixing pills with water and injecting the fluid
- Chewing the pills, rather than letting them break down in the stomach
- Mixing Xanax pills with other drugs of abuse
Mixing Xanax with alcohol or other drugs can result in hospitalization and even death. It is important to seek supportive treatment as soon as possible if you have mixed Xanax with other substances.5
Consequences of Xanax Abuse
While people who have become dependent on Xanax might think that there’s no other way to live, continuing to harbor the addiction could actually cause the person to lose his or her life. Addictions to this medication have been linked to many terrible consequences, including:
- Respiratory distress
- Suicide attempts
Since using any benzodiazepine without a valid prescription is illegal, people who continue to do so may befaced with heavy fines or jail time. They may also lose the trust and admiration of the people they hold dear, if they continue to abuse drugs instead of attending to their responsibilities. These are very serious consequences, and unfortunately, they’re all too common for people who live with a Xanax addiction.
Finding Relief from Xanax Addiction
While people who do have an addiction may feel as though they can hide their abuse forever, their habits and behaviors may alarm their loved ones to such a degree that a family intervention is needed.
There are good reasons for families to consider holding these difficult conversations now, rather than waiting for the addiction to reach a crisis point. While Xanax misuse can lead to overdose and death, Xanax withdrawal can be very difficult (and even dangerous) without any assistance.
Thankfully, there are treatment programs that can and do provide real help. These programs can provide medical monitoring during the beginning of treatment, ensuring that no major medical complications take place as the brain adjusts to life without benzodiazepines. The counseling and therapy that follow can help people to build up the skills they’ll need in order to maintain and sustain that sobriety for the rest of life. A quality treatment program can treat both Xanax addiction and any accompanying mental health concerns, such as anxiety or depression.
“What I have learned over the past seven years, eight months in recovery is invaluable,” Brittany continues. “I learned about me, about who I am. I had never really done that before. I feel alive and free to be exactly, unashamedly me. I learned how to live by choosing contentment. I learned how to take the trauma and pain from my childhood and understand it, appreciate its importance and let it go. I have learned how to forgive and how to be forgiven. Recovery gave me everything that I had always yearned for.”
If someone you love is living with an addiction to Xanax, we hope you’ll consider Black Bear Lodge. We’re located in northern Georgia, tucked away amid the intense beauty of the mountain foothills. Our residential program utilizes evidence-based therapies that can really put an end to the trauma an addiction can cause, and we also provide a number of innovative therapies that can heal the soul, including yoga, experiential therapy, and art therapy. Our licensed recovery professionals can help you and your family heal.
Call us at 706-914-2327 to learn about our program, and we can even set up an intake appointment, so the person you love can start getting better right now.
1 Hulse, G; Sim, MG and Khong, E. Benzodiazepine dependence. Australian Family Physician, Vol. 33, No. 11, 2004 Nov. Accessed 10 Oct 2017.
2 Olfson M, King M, Schoenbaum M. Benzodiazepine use in the United States. JAMA Psychiatry. Feb 2015.Accessed 10 Oct 2017.
3 Pradel, V., Delga, C., Rouby, F. et al. Assessment of abuse potential of benzodiazepines from a prescription database using ‘doctor shopping’ as an indicator. CNS Drugs. 2010. Web. Accessed 12 October, 2017. Accessed 10 Oct 2017.
4 Nordqvist, Joseph. Benzodiazepines: Uses, Side Effects, and Risks. Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 25 Aug. 2016. Accessed 10 Oct 2017.
5 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. The DAWN Report: Benzodiazepines in Combination with Opioid Pain Relievers or Alcohol: Greater Risk of More Serious ED Visit Outcomes. 18 Dec 2014.Accessed 10 Oct 2017.