Alprazolam (commonly known as Xanax®) is a benzodiazepine (benzo) commonly used to treat different types of anxiety and, in certain cases, alcohol use disorder. It is highly addictive and can quickly lead to withdrawal, but it can be hard to know the signs of alprazolam addiction and when to seek help.
In 2019 alone, 16 percent of deaths due to opioid overdose also involved medications, including alprazolam. This drug is a controlled substance regulated by the FDA, meaning it has medicinal purposes but also carries a potential for abuse. Alprazolam is prescribed when a medical practitioner believes the benefits will far outweigh the risks. Serious side effects of using these two drugs together can be fatal and include respiratory failure. Some cough syrups contain opioids, so one must be careful when starting a new prescription. Other often-prescribed benzos include clonazepam(Klonopin®) and diazepine (Valium®).
How Does Alprazolam Work?
Benzodiazepines deliver a sedative and calming effect by increasing the naturally occurring chemical gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. Alprazolam, specifically, is prescribed to treat generalized anxiety disorder(GAD), panic disorder (with or without agoraphobia) and may also be used for alcohol withdrawal. Xanax is a prescription drug but has a high potential for diversion and abuse. It is often sold illegally to people who once had a prescription but can no longer obtain one or simply “recreational” users.
Alprazolam is only intended for short-term use. Chronic use can lead to addiction and emotional dependency. One can even become addicted when following recommended use by their doctor, making it difficult to know when they are becoming dependent. Although Xanax is shown to be as effective as other medications in its class to address panic and anxiety disorder symptoms, one study notes that the chance of tolerance, dependency, and rebound anxiety is greater.
Signs You are Addicted to Alprazolam
One of the first signs of alprazolam addiction is using it in higher doses than prescribed, more often, in ways other than intended or for recreational use. This means, at the very least, your body has started to crave the drug, and at worst, you’re unable to function without it. Once you or your loved one need a higher dose to achieve the same results and symptoms of tolerance are present, they may have alprazolam withdrawal syndrome. If you try to stop taking alprazolam abruptly, you can experience signs of withdrawal and detox, including a racing heart, insomnia, panic attacks, restlessness and heightened anxiety.
Other symptoms of alprazolam withdrawal syndrome include:
- Hand Tremor
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Changes in Perception
- Weight Loss
- Muscle Pain and Stiffness
If you or your loved one are watching the clock waiting for their next scheduled dose, that may be a warning sign of things to come, including addiction.
Can Alprazolam be Dangerous?
For many people, alprazolam can be a perfectly safe and useful drug; however, that is not always the case. In one study, 15 out of 17 clients prescribed alprazolam and diagnosed with panic disorder experienced increased panic attacks. Nine patients had new and troublesome psychological symptoms, including insomnia, fatigue, fast heartbeat and dizziness, even though their dose had already been tapered down for one month.
- According to another study involving 126 patients with panic disorder who took Xanax, 35 percent reported new psychological symptoms and 27 percent had rebound anxiety – anxiety that was worse than before they started treatment.
- Alprazolam abuse can be fatal – far more dangerous than other benzos. The National Institute on Drug Abuse(NIDA) states that individuals who take painkillers with benzos are 10 times more likely to die.
- People who use these drugs can have dangerous symptoms of withdrawal for years after stopping use. Discontinuing benzos abruptly can result in seizures and even death.
How to Seek Treatment for Alprazolam Addiction
If you have read this article and believe that you or your loved one is going through a cycle of addiction and withdrawal from Xanax, We have treatment centers available across the country specializing in alprazolam detox. Seeking professional help within a medical setting is crucial to avoid serious complications that may arise during treatment. At Recovery Unplugged, we recognize the need for 24/7 care and available medical staff.
We offer treatment in a supportive and compassionate environment and incorporates music into every stage of therapy. Music-Assisted Treatment™ helps release dopamine, the chemical in the brain responsible for “pleasure” – the same one released when a person gets high. If you or your loved one is suffering from opioid abuse, we offer medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to help during the withdrawal process by easing symptoms like chronic pain, anxiety and depression.
It can begin with just one phone call. We offer medically supervised Xanax detox in Austin, TX; Fort Lauderdale and Lake Worth, FL; and Nashville, TN. We have inpatient and outpatient levels of care and accept most major private insurance carriers. Contact us the minute you start to notice signs of alprazolam addiction.