You or a loved one has been taking Xanax for a while now. You’ve noticed a few unwanted mental or physical side effects. You’ve noticed a few changes in how you think and act around the drug. You wonder if you may be addicted, but you haven’t been taking the drug for that long. How long does it take to become addicted? Is your Xanax use a problem? What can you do about it?
You don’t have to live a party lifestyle to develop a substance abuse problem. In fact, you may be using Xanax exactly as prescribed by a medical professional. You may have an underlying mental or physical health issue that does require treatment and medication. You can still become addicted. In fact, a treated or untreated mental health concern may put you at greater risk for addiction.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration explains, “People with mental health disorders are more likely than people without mental health disorders to experience an alcohol or substance use disorder.”1
The same medication that seems to help your symptoms can also contribute to addiction. If you take Xanax for anxiety, depression or other mental health concerns, only use it as prescribed. Make sure you supplement medication with proven forms of therapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Make sure you stay in frequent and honest communication with your health care providers. Talk about side effects, concerns, and options for supplemental or alternative treatment.
With or Without a Prescription
You can become addicted to Xanax even if you have a prescription. This means your addiction risk only increases if you misuse the drug, take it without a prescription, or take it for recreational purposes. If you take the drug in larger quantities or more often than prescribed, you are more likely to become addicted and to do so faster.
If you self-medicate mental health symptoms, your risk increases further. If you use the drug to relax, to party, or in combination with other drugs, your risk is greatest. Consider how and why you use Xanax. This will directly relate to if and how quickly addiction-related problems arise.
Consider Your Risk Factors
Addiction is about more than how much or how often you use. Consider your risk factors. Addiction has genetic and biological underpinnings. The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains, “The genes that people are born with account for about half of a person’s risk for addiction. Gender, ethnicity, and the presence of other mental disorders may also influence the risk of drug use and addiction.”2
If a family member has addiction problems, you may become addicted more quickly than other people. Your individual biology also plays a role in addiction development. Both mental and physical health contribute to risk.
Addiction Is About Relationship
Addiction is also related to your relationship with the drug. Do you rely on the drug to get through the day? How does thinking about quitting make you feel? How has your attitude toward Xanax changed over the course of using it? Addiction develops faster when Xanax feels like an important or necessary part of your life.
If you rely on it to feel good or simply not feel bad, you are dependent on the drug.
Dependence is an early sign of addiction. It is a chemical response to the drug and isn’t an indicator of personal failure or weakness. In fact, recognizing that you are losing control to Xanax displays awareness and concern. It indicates that you are ready to make a positive change in your life. With the right tools and resources, you can turn addiction into an opportunity for healing, growth, and forward movement.
Immediate Attention Required
Your addiction didn’t develop overnight. It won’t disappear overnight either. Addiction requires immediate medical intervention for detox and physical stability. It requires follow-up treatment from addiction recovery professionals to build health and develop recovery skills. It requires long-term aftercare and support to continue the healing that early treatment begins. The Journal of Addiction Medicine explains, “Substance dependence is a chronic disease requiring longitudinal care, although most patients with addictions receive no treatment (eg, detoxification only) or short-term interventions.”3
Strategies used for managing other chronic conditions work for addiction as well, but they are rarely offered or accessed. Reach out to Black Bear Lodge for support now and long into the future.
1 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Co-Occurring Disorders.” 8 Mar. 2016. Accessed 3 Jun. 2017.
2 National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Understanding Drug Use and Addiction.” Aug. 2016. Accessed 3 Jun. 2017.
3 Saitz R, Larson MJ, LaBelle C, Richardson J, Samet JH. “The Case for Chronic Disease Management for Addiction.” Journal of Addiction Medicine. 1 Jun. 2008. Accessed 3 Jun. 2017.