Why Are People Drawn to Abuse Xanax?

Why Are People Drawn to Abuse Xanax?

Xanax is the most popular anti-anxiety medication, and many people abuse the drug without recognizing its risks

Xanax, a brand name formulation of alprazolam, is the bestselling anti-anxiety medication on the market. The benzodiazepine-class drug binds to GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptor sites in the central nervous system (CNS), and in doing so, the drug decreases abnormal brain activity and improves synaptic transmissions. The Psychiatry (Edgmont) journal in 2008 noted that pharmacies filled one benzodiazepine prescription in the US for every 2.7 people. Many of the users sought the drug for legitimate anxiety and panic disorders, but others sought to abuse Xanax for recreational and/or addictive use.

Motivations for Xanax Abuse

Most people know that Xanax is an addictive drug, but indifference, desperation, underestimation and other factors influence them to abuse the drug regardless. Various potential factors motivate Xanax abuse including the following:

  • Xanax is a Schedule IV controlled substance making it more available than Schedule II drugs like opioid painkillers and stimulants.
  • The lower classification gives the false impression that Xanax is safe for recreational use.
  • Many illegal rogue websites sell Xanax (or poor imitations) online without a prescription.
  • The use of prescription sedatives like Xanax involves relatively less negative stigma.
  • Benzodiazepines are generally cheap and accessible on the illicit drug market.
  • Young people often take Xanax for a cheap high or to potentiate the effects of alcohol.
  • Adults often abuse Xanax to self-medicate stress and anxiety at work, home or school.
  • The drug is so common that many people perceive only minor addiction and health risks.
  • Addiction and dependence can occur in as little as four weeks of Xanax use.

Xanax bars often include four .5 mg doses, but people who take Xanax recreationally might not know the difference and consume the entire bar at once. Taking higher dosage increases the risk of side effects, injury and dependence. In 2007, the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal estimated that nearly 10 percent of US adults who take benzodiazepines for nonmedical reasons met the criteria for abuse or physical dependence.

The Risks of Xanax Abuse

With above-normal dosage, Xanax produces a drunk-like state with slurred speech, confusion, diminished motor skills and poor decision-making, and the impairments are extreme when paired with alcohol or other CNS drugs. The risk of injury and accidents increases exponentially during Xanax-induced highs. However, extended Xanax abuse also presents neurobiological and emotional risks including the following:

  • The introduction and acceleration of suicidal thoughts and intentions
  • Explosive mood swings often involving anger, rage and irritability
  • Ever-increasing tolerance levels that physically demand higher dosage
  • Rebound anxiety in which the original medical symptoms return in force
  • Decreased efficacy for receptors in the CNS
  • Respiratory decline that can lead to coma and potentially death

Xanax also produces risk when a person tries to stop or decrease use too abruptly. As explained by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), an overly rapid reduction in benzodiazepines can result in protracted withdrawal symptoms that can last for years. The symptoms can include insomnia, anxiety, tingling, numbness, heightened sensitivities and increases in blood pressure and heartbeat while potentially lethal consequences include violent seizures and muscle contractions. Highlighting the risks, the 2011 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) report found that benzodiazepine-class drugs were present in 28.7 percent of drug-related medical emergencies, trailing only opioid painkillers (29.4 percent) as the most common drug. Xanax in particular made up nearly a third of all benzodiazepine- and barbiturate-related emergencies.

Xanax Addiction Treatment

When it comes to Xanax abuse rehabilitation, the first step is a supervised detox in which the treatment staff gradually weans the drug from the patient’s system. The goal of the tapered withdrawal is to minimize the risks of protracted symptoms. Following detox, rehab centers provide various potential treatments including the following:

  • Comprehensive assessment of treatment needs and a personal recovery plan to meet them
  • Integrated treatment for mental health disorders like anxiety, mania and panic attacks
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for negative thought patterns, beliefs and responses
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) to balance self-acceptance with the need to change
  • Motivational Interviewing (MI) to help patients overcome apathy and build motivation
  • Individual and group counseling to discuss life skills like anger and stress management
  • Recovery tools to identify, avoid and mitigate cues that trigger benzodiazepine cravings
  • Optional holistic therapies that help reduce anxiety, insomnia, stress and other issues

A 2011 Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) report found that 56.6 percent of rehab patients had prior treatment episodes, and 23 percent had been in treatment three or more times. Benzodiazepine addicts, however, lead all repeat admissions with 70.5 percent having a prior episode and 36.8 percent having three or more.

The statistic highlights two important points. First, Xanax addiction recovery involves a higher level of health and relapse risk, which makes professional treatment that much more important for a safe and effective recovery outcome. Second, recovering Xanax addicts need to engage aftercare services following primary treatment. Joining a local support group and finding a recovery sponsor are essential steps, and recovering addicts with anxiety issues might need ongoing therapy in an outpatient setting.

Addiction Recovery Help

If you have questions or need help, speak with one our admissions coordinators anytime 24 hours a day. We are available to provide information, explain options and answer questions, and we can even check health insurance plans for rehab benefits. Xanax addiction requires professional help, so please call our toll-free helpline now.

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If you are ready to beat a Xanax addiction and start a new life in recovery then we can help. We have admission counselors standing by 24 hours a day to take your email, live chat request, or phone call to get you in the addiction treatment center that best fits your unique & specific needs.