Xanax is a trade brand of the drug alprazolam, which is commonly prescribed by physicians to treat anxiety and panic disorders. This prescription drug is a central nervous system depressant that belongs to the family of drugs known as benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines work by increasing the effects of the tranquilizing neurotransmitter GABA to create a calming effect.
While Xanax has improved the lives of countless people suffering from anxiety and panic disorders, it’s one of the most highly abused prescription drugs. Xanax abuse can lead to a number of mental and physical health problems, including increasing the risk of developing an addiction.
Xanax abuse occurs when someone uses this medication for non-medicinal purposes or regularly exceeds the prescribed dose. Abuse of this drug is often facilitated by physicians who over-prescribe it and by illegal pharmacies that can be accessed through the Internet.
Treating Xanax abuse before it results in physical dependence is essential for preventing long-term problems associated with drug abuse and addiction.
The benzodiazepine family of central nervous system depressants includes Xanax and other similar drugs like Valium, Klonopin, and Ativan. Although the abuse of Xanax and other “benzos” is a major problem in the United States, these prescription medications are listed as Schedule IV drugs by the Federal government. This means that they are considered to have a lower potential for abuse than drugs in the previous three schedules.
Xanax is known on the streets as “Zannies,” “Bars,” “Sticks,” and “Zanbars,” among other names.
Unlike other benzodiazepines, Xanax is very fast acting. Its calming effects can take hold in 20 minutes or less. Because this drug has a short half-life, it gets metabolized in the blood faster than other similar drugs. Users often begin craving more of the drug within just a few hours. This can quickly lead to the patient developing a physical dependence.
Signs are objective indicators of prescription drug abuse that other people can see, such as a loss of motor coordination. Symptoms are subjective indicators of prescription drug abuse that are felt by someone who is abusing the drug.
The most important indicator of an addition to this or any other drug is the onset of withdrawal symptoms when the use of the drug is discontinued.
Abusing xanax dramatically increases the risk of becoming addicted to it. Other physical and mental health risks associated with a long-term abuse include:
The first step of drug treatment for an addiction to this prescription drug is detoxification. Because there are no medications to treat withdrawal symptoms associated with Xanax and other benzodiazepines, the detox process is a matter of weaning the patient from the drug by gradually reducing the doses to prevent the onset of withdrawal symptoms.
A variety of addiction treatment therapies are used to treat the complex psychological issues surrounding an addiction to Xanax.