The most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine, Xanax, is a Schedule IV controlled substance per the United States Controlled Substances Act. By this definition, the drug has a low potential for abuse. However, the statistics tell us otherwise. From 2004 to 2010, the number of emergency room visits from Xanax abuse nearly tripled and more than half of the people admitted (96,000+) were abusing Xanax in combination with other drugs (e.g., alcohol, opiates, marijuana, and cocaine were most frequently abused).
Mostly prescribed for individuals suffering from panic disorders and anxiety, such as debilitating panic attacks, Xanax has been shown to be addictive, even when users take the drug as prescribed by doctors. Thus, even though it’s been labeled as having a low potential for abuse, Xanax addiction is a very real thing. So, what’s causing the increase in Xanax addiction and Xanax abuse? Since 2006, the number of prescriptions written for Xanax have increased exponentially. And it’s this increase that drug experts believe is fueling the increase in Xanax addiction and abuse. During this time of legal prescription increase, the amount of illegal drugs on the streets and black market have increased as well.
Recent results from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that young adults are the ones who most likely abuse Xanax for non-medical purposes [over 10% of 18-25 year olds abuse the drug versus older adults at 26+ (5.7%)]. Xanax abuse is also equally represented across all genders and races, according to a 2011 study in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal. Per the Drug Enforcement Agency, Xanax is in the top 3 for medically prescribed drugs that are being diverted to the black market.
What Happens When You Abuse Xanax?
Stated earlier, Xanax is mostly prescribed to treat anxiety and panic disorders and has been shown to be highly effective in addressing these conditions. Benzodiazepines work quickly – with most users reporting relief in one week of starting Xanax. Xanax works by decreasing overall brain activity and thus minimizing feelings of anxiety. The drug has been shown to be highly effective, even when taken over long periods of time. When abused, Xanax can produce a euphoric state when taken in large doses.
Because Xanax is now being abused and sold on the black market, new restrictions are being placed on how doctors can prescribe this drug. On the street, users can buy Xanax for $5 for a 2mg tablet. Doctors are required to check statewide databases for each patient for drug abuse histories and are not allowed to prescribe more than a 30-day supply at one time. Additionally, doctors and pharmacists are required to document all prescriptions and use of Xanax into a statewide database. This is to prevent Xanax abusers from “doctor shopping” – going from doctor to doctor to obtain additional prescriptions.
Because Xanax is an addictive drug, even for users who are merely taking the drug as prescribed, dependence on Xanax and withdrawal from it are very real situations.
Symptoms of Xanax Addiction
Xanax is prescribed to numb anxiety patients from experiencing panic attacks and other symptoms of panic disorders. When abused though, Xanax can provide classic addiction symptoms to include:
- Feelings of euphoria
- Excessive sleeping
- Concentration problems
- Memory loss
- Coordination problems
- Slurred speech
- Long-term sedation (becoming sedated for 3-4 days at a time)
- Blurred vision/double vision
- Loss of interest in sex
When taken medically or abused, Xanax dependency most often presents itself psychologically. One of the first symptoms of Xanax dependence is tolerance – such that users need more and more of the drug to feel the intended effects or to satisfy their cravings. When psychologically addicted to the drug, Xanax addicts will not be able to think about much else other than when/how to get their next dose.
Some key Xanax addiction signs and symptoms include:
- Taking Xanax whenever withdrawal symptoms appear
- Becoming isolated from friends and family
- Drug tolerance
- Continuous worrying about Xanax supply and figuring out how/when to get more drugs
- Inability to control Xanax use
- Taking Xanax when not medically needed
Xanax addiction is often coupled with other drug addictions as well. Up to 41% of people who abuse alcohol also abuse Xanax.
Xanax Treatment Facilities
Admittance to treatment facilities for Xanax abuse have also increased in recent years, coupled with the increase of Xanax abuse. In 2011, over 600,000 individuals in treatment and recovery centers were addicted to benzodiazepines, like Xanax. A drastic increase from 1998, where only 22,000 individuals in treatment and recovery centers were suffering from Xanax addiction.
Because of the addictive nature of the drug and the serious withdrawal effects from it, it’s a necessity for individuals who are addicted to Xanax to receive supervised treatment in structured rehabilitation programs. Additionally, because detoxification from the drug is so unpleasant, and potentially harmful, to the body, it is advised that individuals seeking treatment from Xanax addiction undergo medically supervised detox programs. Sudden “cold turkey” approaches to Xanax abuse can be significantly brutal. And largely unsuccessful – because abusers will do anything just about to rid themselves of the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that coincide with detox.
What kind of treatment and recovery programs are available for Xanax addicts?
The first step is to undergo a supervised detox program. Full detox from Xanax abuse takes about 4-5 days. Albeit, they are very unpleasant days. While under doctor’s supervision though, Xanax addicts who are seeking detox treatment will be weaned off the drug gradually and may also receive other medications during detox to minimize the withdrawal effects.
The average rehabilitation program for Xanax abuse is typically about 8 to 10 weeks. Beyond detox, the focus of Xanax treatment programs is on restructuring one’s life and thoughts to be free from drug abuse. Xanax treatment can occur in either inpatient or outpatient rehab treatment and recovery facilities or through peer-support programs.
Outpatient treatment facilities for Xanax addiction treatment and recovery are usually recommended for those individuals whose addiction in its beginning stages and has not reached severity yet. This is because outpatient treatment facilities are where Xanax addicts still live at home and visit the treatment centers multiple times per week for focused counseling sessions. Many severe Xanax addicts do not respond well to the freedom of still living at home and operating under normal life conditions while undergoing treatment.
Inpatient treatment facilities for Xanax addiction treatment and recovery are most often recommended for Xanax addicts who have a severe and debilitating addiction to the drug. Physical and psychological addiction can be very debilitating and it’s best for individuals at this stage of Xanax addiction to stay onsite at a focused rehabilitation center specifically for Xanax abuse. Most inpatient rehab facilities operate under 28-30 day programs for Xanax abuse. The first week of this stay is dedicated to detox and the remaining weeks are dedicated to very focused counseling and intensive therapy sessions.
Peer-support programs, such as narnacon, are classic 12-step programs designed to offer peer support in group settings. This allows Xanax addicts to open up to other addicts undergoing similar situations in a group-therapy setting. Oftentimes, peer-support programs are recommended in addition to inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities for Xanax recovery.
Once treatment and rehabilitation are underway for Xanax abuse, patients can anticipate dedicated, round-the-clock sessions focused solely on recovery. Once released from these types of rehab centers, recovering Xanax addicts are reintroduced into society and reintroduced into a life being drug-free.
Finding a Xanax Treatment Center
Private treatment and recovery centers for Xanax abuse are costly, but beneficial. Though recovery from Xanax abuse is most likely only going to be successful under these types of programs, many families and friends have spent thousands of dollars to seek this important help for their loved ones.
You may also seek government assistance for certain treatment programs or insurance programs if you qualify. The initial intensive treatment sessions for Xanax rehab last about a month, though, most people admitted into these facilities also continue aftercare programs of some type beyond release. These aftercare programs might include additional counseling sessions throughout the month, though they occur less frequently over time.
The cost for Xanax treatment and recovery programs vary greatly – so it’s best to shop around to find a program right for you. In general, inpatient treatment facilities cost more than outpatient treatment facilities. Outpatient facilities also vary greatly – as some may provide more intense counseling, some meet very frequently, some meet less frequently, some offer individualized counseling, some offer group therapy sessions, and some offer free meetings. It’s best to figure out what stage of addiction you or your loved one is in to determine what type of treatment center will work best for your situation.
Though the cost of rehab is great, the cost of addiction is even greater.