How Do You Define a Successful Xanax Intervention?

How Do You Define a Successful Xanax Intervention?Many people assume that the ultimate goal of an intervention is to get the person into treatment, but according to Intervention Center the ultimate goal of an intervention is to, “relieve the suffering caused by a self-destructive behavior – the suffering of the person engaged in it and the suffering of family and friends.” Any intervention that changes how an addict sees his or her Xanax use or improves family or friend dynamics is a  successful Xanax intervention.

All intervention and addiction counseling should be tailored to fit the individual, taking into account variables such as whether the person is a recreational user or is dependent following legitimate use, length and severity of addiction/dependence and the existence of any co-occurring disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder.

The Extent of Xanax Use and Abuse

The benzodiazepine sedative Xanax is one of the most popularly prescribed medications in the world. According to Good Worldwide, a company that deals in statistics and data, Xanax is the most commonly prescribed of all psychiatric medications with 44 million prescriptions written in the United States in 2009 alone.

There are many critics of the widespread practice of prescribing Xanax for a multitude of anxiety-related issues. These individuals assert that Xanax is simply being prescribed to people who don’t really need it and that these people then run the risk of developing a devastating addiction. A recent article in New York Magazine entitled “Listening to Xanax: Why Xanax is the Most Popular Anti-Anxiety Drug in America” cites reports of people who take Xanax for minor anxiety-related issues such as plane travel and separation anxiety when sending children off to kindergarten. The author posits a reason for this trend: “Three and a half years of chronic economic wobbliness, the ever-pinging of the new email alert, the insistent voices of prophet-pundits who cry that nuclear, environmental, political, or terrorist-generated disaster is certain have together turned a depressed nation into a perennially anxious one.”

The widespread prescribing of Xanax has led to a large number of people becoming dependent on the drug following legitimate use and has also been a major contributing factor to recreational Xanax abuse. Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD, states that “Benzodiazepines are commonly abused. This form of drug abuse is partially related to…their widespread availability.” Dr. Heather Ashton, a world-renowned expert on benzodiazepine addiction, concurs stating that “The tragedy of recreational benzodiazepine abuse is that it is largely iatrogenic, resulting from widespread over-prescription of benzodiazepines which increased their general availability.”

Different Types of Benzodiazepine Addicts

According to Dr. Ashton there are, “three overlapping types of benzodiazepine dependent populations.” The first type she terms “therapeutic dose dependent.” She asserts that this comprises the largest percentage of benzodiazepine dependent persons and consists of, “long-term users who have inadvertently become dependent as a result of regular repeat prescriptions over months or years.” In other words people in this category are not recreational users or drug addicts in the traditional sense but nonetheless are unable to stop using Xanax. Again, medically supervised detox is recommended in all cases of benzo dependence, but following detox this type of patient may require little or no addiction counseling. He or she may, however, require counseling for issues related to anxiety, especially since rebound anxiety can occur when detoxing from Xanax. Counseling is a much better way of coping with anxiety than taking Xanax.

The second type listed by Dr. Ashton is “prescribed high-dose dependent.” She states that “a minority of patients who start on prescribed benzodiazepines escalate their dosage excessively.” This type of patient is likely to have a more serious physical dependence and may require counseling for addiction issues.

The third type consists of recreational users. These users take high doses that result in profound physical dependence, are likely to have polysubstance abuse issues and may have co-occurring psychological issues. A patient in this category will require addiction counseling to stay off of Xanax following detox and is likely to present a greater intervention challenge as well.

As you consider intervention, try to determine the nature and extent of your loved one’s problem with Xanax. Is he or she a recreational user? Does he or she have other addiction issues or a history of substance abuse? Does he or she have co-occurring psychological issues? How long has he or she been using Xanax and at what dose level? There are different types of interventions and treatment options, and both should fit the needs of the individual.

The Benefits of Hiring a Professional Interventionist

Conducting an intervention well can make the difference between success and failure. The stakes are high, because a failed intervention can lead to hostility, anger and alienation. It is difficult for family members to conduct an intervention on their own. Unless someone in the family is a trained interventionist, they simply do know the best way to handle the situation, and family members are too close to the situation to remain objective. Hiring a professional interventionist will increase your chances of conducting a successful intervention in which the person will be reassured of the family’s unconditional love and support. This is much more likely to convince the person to seek the help that he or she needs to stop taking this dangerous drug.

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