Clinical research shows that Xanax can be highly effective at treating certain psychiatric disorders. If you take Xanax in the prescribed doses under a doctor’s supervision, it’s unlikely that you’ll become addicted. But because the brain adjusts to the effects of Xanax within one or two weeks, users who take more than the recommended dose or who take the drug for longer than a few weeks are at risk of chemical dependence.
How Xanax Works
Xanax is the trade name for alprazolam, an anti-anxiety drug that is classified as a benzodiazepine. Fifteen different benzodiazepines are currently approved for use in the United States. This group of drugs includes other popular medications like Ativan (lorazepam), Valium (diazepam), and Klonopin (clonazepam). Xanax is the shortest-acting benzodiazepine, taking full effect within 90 minutes or less. This drug binds to receptor cells in the central nervous system that respond to GABA, a brain chemical that makes you feel calm, contented and drowsy.
Xanax acts quickly to soothe your nerves and suppress the symptoms of anxiety. This makes it an effective tool for treating anxiety-related disorders. But because alprazolam also leaves your system rapidly, users often find themselves taking more of it to sustain its effects.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, approximately 40 million American adults struggle with anxiety, making it the most common psychiatric disorder in the country. Anxiety encompasses a number of disorders, each of which has its own signs and symptoms.
Psychiatric medications, including antidepressants, tranquilizers and sedatives, are used to help relieve the symptoms of anxiety. Xanax is prescribed for the following conditions:
- Panic disorder
- Anxiety related to depression
- Social anxiety disorder
Panic disorder is a debilitating condition that causes episodes of intense, overwhelming fear. These episodes are rarely life-threatening, but because they’re so frightening, these panic attacks can lead to agoraphobia, or a fear being out in public. Xanax can help prevent panic attacks, enabling users to lead more productive, fulfilling lives.
In a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, 481 patients with panic disorder took alprazolam for three weeks to manage phobic behaviors, social avoidance and general anxiety. Out of this group, 82 percent reported improvement in their symptoms, while 50 percent reported that they were no longer having panic attacks.
Because of its abuse potential, Xanax is not considered first-line treatment for generalized anxiety or panic disorder, notes the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. Antidepressants classified as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) can often provide safer relief of anxiety symptoms, especially in individuals who are also depressed.
When Should Xanax Not Be Prescribed?
Because of its addictive potential, Xanax should not be prescribed to patients with a history of substance abuse or tolerance to benzodiazepines. People who abuse alcohol, in particular, are at risk of central nervous system depression and addiction if they take Xanax while drinking. Patients with a history of severe depression or suicidal behavior may experience a worsening of their symptoms and an increased risk of suicide if they take Xanax.
Getting Help for Xanax Abuse
If you’ve ever taken a tranquilizer like Xanax for nonmedical reasons, you’re not alone. According to Drug and Alcohol Dependence, approximately five million American adults took prescription sedatives for recreational reasons within the past year. Black Bear Lodge offers recovery programs for Xanax addiction in a safe, serene setting in the foothills of northern Georgia. Our evidence-based Xanax treatment plans draw from a full range of rehab services, including Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, art therapy, family counseling, and nutrition and wellness classes.
If you’re ready to reach out for help, we’re here to give you the tools you need to take this important step. Call our admissions coordinators at Black Bear Lodge at 706-914-2327 to start your path to healing today.