Xanax is a drug prescribed for anxiety disorders. It’s in the benzodiazepine class of drugs, which are designed for short-term use because they can be highly addictive. According to the FDA, patients receiving more than 4 mg per day for 12 weeks have a greater risk for dependence.
When someone takes Xanax, the effects are felt within 25 minutes and last for a few hours. The drug produces a calming effect by binding to sites on brain receptors. After extended use, these receptors build up a tolerance and need more of the drug in order to produce the same relaxed feeling. If someone takes the drug long-term, he will develop an addiction, needing a higher dosage in order to get the same effect as before. If he tries to stop taking the drug, he goes through withdrawal symptoms such as muscle cramps and twitches, diarrhea, blurred vision, insomnia, and seizures.
In addition, the anxiety problems a person had before he was prescribed Xanax can come back even worse, causing a “rebound” effect, according to the FDA. The drug doesn’t fix anxiety problems; it merely soothes the symptoms. Many believe that using Xanax as a treatment for anxiety disorders isn’t the best option. Research estimated that over 60,000 people got help for an addiction to benzodiazepine addiction in 2011, a number that increases every year.
A scary statistic among people who abuse the drug is that they often combine it with other substances. On it’s own it is difficult to overdose on Xanax, but it can be dangerous when mixed with alcohol or opiates because it can intensify the drugs' sedative effects. Both alcohol and opiates such as Vicodin suppress the nervous system. Combining either one with Xanax makes both of them stronger and increases their effects. It can lead to repressed respiratory function or heart failure.
If you suspect someone you know has an addiction to Xanax, he or she may exhibit some of the following symptoms.
Changes in mood:
An increase in depressive moods
Mood swings from one extreme to another
Appears hyperactive or restless
Prone to fits of rage
Changes in behavior:
Neglects family, work or school obligations
Tries to steal Xanax
Visits various doctors in order to get prescriptions
Is easily agitated
Has noticeable changes in appetite
Has a lack of coordination
Getting help from a professional is important when trying to break an addiction to Xanax. A patient must slowly taper off of the drug in order to avoid triggering severe withdrawal symptoms such as seizures. He or she will also need to learn how to manage anxiety problems without the use of benzodiazepines.
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