The search for relief from anxiety drives millions of Americans to take alprazolam, or Xanax, every year. According to Psychiatric Times, over 50 million prescriptions were written for Xanax in 2009, making it the most commonly prescribed psychiatric drug in the country.
This popular medication, which belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, acts within minutes to ease the symptoms of severe distress and prevent panic attacks. But the fast-acting sedative properties of Xanax also make this drug highly attractive to recreational drug users — many of whom find themselves addicted.
How Is Xanax Obtained?
As one of the most popular medications in the United States, Xanax is readily available to legitimate users and recreational users alike.
Most users gain access to Xanax in the following ways:
- Through a doctor’s prescription
- By sharing with friends or acquaintances
- By stealing from family or friends
- By buying the drug from illicit sources, including street dealers, online suppliers and foreign markets
On the streets, Xanax is distributed under a number of slang names: “xanies,” “zany bars,” “footballs,” “X’s,” “Christmas trees,” “planks,” “bars,” “blues,” “pink ladies,” and “blue devils.” This drug has become so accessible that even high school students find it easy to obtain. According to the 2013 Monitoring the Future survey, a majority of 12th graders said that Xanax was their favorite choice among tranquilizers.
Users sometimes visit multiple doctors in order to get more Xanax. They may also forge prescriptions, exaggerate their symptoms, steal money from loved ones, or sell drugs in order to finance a Xanax habit.
Methods of Abuse
What does it look like?
Xanax is manufactured as disintegrating oral tablets or extended-release caplets, which are typically taken on a short-term or as-needed basis for anxiety.
In order to augment the euphoric effects of Xanax, recreational users may grind up the pills into a powder, which can be snorted. Taking more than the recommended dose of Xanax or taking the drug in unsafe ways exposes you to a higher risk of abuse, overdose and addiction.
Risks of Recreational Use
Recreational users often are unaware of how much of the drug they’re taking. Because Xanax acts fast and clears the system quickly, users keep taking alprazolam to prolong their high. Taking higher doses only hastens the brain’s adjustment to the chemical changes caused by Xanax, meaning that you’ll need more of the drug to achieve the same state of sedation. This adaptation process, called tolerance, can lead to addiction if Xanax abuse continues.
A Two-Sided Coin
In therapeutic doses, Xanax can be used safely and effectively; however, abusing this drug can have severe consequences, including addiction.
In the state of Florida, alprazolam abuse has reached epidemic proportions. According to Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the number of deaths related to prescription-drug overdoses increased by 84 percent between 2005 and 2009. The number of deaths from alprazolam abuse rose by 234 percent within that same period — second only to oxycodone.
Signs of Xanax Abuse
Recognizing the signs of Xanax abuse will help you identify this pattern in your friends or family members. As a sedative, Xanax slows down the user’s vital functions, motor coordination, thoughts and reflexes. Some of the most common side effects include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Impaired coordination
- Slurred speech
It’s not easy to break an addiction to Xanax, especially if you try to do it alone. Quitting this benzodiazepine all of a sudden can cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, irritability, nausea, muscle cramps and intense cravings for the drug.
At Black Bear Lodge, we provide personalized treatment plans for Xanax abuse and addiction. Call our admissions coordinators at 706-914-2327, to learn how our peaceful recovery center in the foothills of northern Georgia can help you rediscover hope and find healing.