Xanax is a prescription medication frequently used to treat issues like panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder, or agoraphobia. It goes by many names, including alprazolam, Aprax, Niravam, and Zolam. Though it does have valid medical uses, Xanax also has a high potential for misuse. This type of benzodiazepine is fast active and very potent, so many people end up using it recreationally. As one of the most commonly abused prescription medications, Xanax is a component in many substance use disorders. If you suspect you or a loved one might have a problem with Xanax misuse, here is what you need to know.
What Is Xanax Misuse?
A wide range of problematic behaviors can qualify as prescription drug abuse. Xanax misuse is any type of Xanax use that is not medically recommended by a health care professional. If you do not have a prescription at all, any consumption of Xanax is abuse. This can include both taking Xanax recreationally to get high and taking Xanax to self-medicate any health issues that you struggle with. Some people who misuse Xanax take it regularly while others may just take it occasionally.
It is also possible to misuse Xanax even if you have a prescription. Some people who misuse Xanax have obtained the prescription by misleading a doctor or by getting multiple prescriptions from different doctors. It can also be Xanax misuse to skip your prescription for a while and then take several doses at once. Any time you are taking more Xanax than your doctor prescribed to treat a valid health condition, you are misusing the drug.
Is It Dangerous to Misuse Xanax?
Many people make the mistake of thinking that Xanax use is harmless. Since it is often prescribed by a doctor for long-term use anyways, some people assume it is fine to use it recreationally as well. However, even if you have one of the conditions commonly treated by Xanax, it is never safe to take it on your own. This medication is very strong, and every patient reacts to it differently. Without proper supervision from a doctor, it is impossible to find the right dosage or take Xanax safely.
Any time you use Xanax, you can deal with unpleasant side effects like:
- Poor decision making
- Mental confusion
- Hostility and aggression
- Rapid heartbeat
If you take too much Xanax, you also run the risk of overdosing. This is even more likely to cause dangerous health problems like mental confusion, hallucinations, seizures, and chest pain. In some people, an overdose can even cause a heart attack, and at high dosages, it may result in unconsciousness or death. In addition to all these physical health problems, a Xanax use disorder can cause the social, emotional, mental, and behavioral problems of any addiction. Therefore, it is critical that you can identify Xanax addictions and seek appropriate care right away.
How to Tell If You’re Addicted to Xanax
If you misuse Xanax, it is important to stop and examine your behaviors and your relationship to the drug. Though you might think you just use the drug every now and then to help calm you down, the reality is that it is very easy to become addicted to Xanax. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to see if you might have a Xanax misuse problem.
- Are you spending most of your time thinking about, obtaining, or using Xanax?
- Do you find yourself using Xanax as a response to stress, frustration, sadness, or loneliness?
- Have you tried to stop Xanax but started using it again?
- Does the idea of not using Xanax make you uncomfortable?
- Are you ignoring your hobbies or time with friends to use Xanax instead?
- Do you need to take more and more Xanax to get the same effect?
- Are you experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you quit using Xanax?
- Have you found yourself using more Xanax or taking it for longer periods of time than you meant to?
- When you use Xanax, do you participate in risky or illegal behavior?
- Is your Xanax use making it hard for you to focus on school, work, child care, or other responsibilities?
- Do you keep using Xanax even though its use is causing negative consequences in your life?
If you have answered yes to one or more of these questions, it might mean that you are dealing with a Xanax use disorder. Ultimately, a Xanax addiction has the potential to drastically alter your thoughts, behaviors, and actions. If you suspect that you might have an addiction, it is important to consult with a mental health and substance use disorder professional as soon as possible. They can provide a non-judgemental environment to discuss your use of Xanax and help you determine if it is becoming problematic.
Signs That Your Loved One Might Be Addicted to Xanax
Spotting the signs of addiction can be even harder if you are not the one directly dealing with Xanax use. Many people who misuse drugs try to hide the situation from their friends and family members. All you can do in these situations is try to pay close attention to your loved one. Any behavior that is out of the ordinary can be a sign of Xanax addiction.
First of all, try looking for any physical signs of Xanax addiction. When a person is using Xanax, they will seem abnormally quiet, tired, and relaxed. They may sleep for long periods of time and pass out randomly. When they are high, they may seem a little confused or slur their words frequently. Xanax addiction can also result in general poor health. A person may lose weight, have tooth problems, or get frequent infections because they are no longer taking care of themselves properly.
Whether a person is currently on Xanax or not, addiction will cause them to act strangely. They may seem oddly disinterested, no longer trying to spend time with you or do hobbies they used to enjoy. Many people with an addiction become withdrawn or moody. Often, those with a Xanax addiction will have mood swings, seeming oddly calm and oddly irritable throughout the day. They may disappear at odd times of the day or not have an explanation for where they have been.
Be sure to keep an eye out for other signs that the addiction is impacting your loved one’s life. When a person has an addiction to Xanax, they may neglect responsibilities. You may notice that they are struggling at work and school, and they may even get fired or expelled. They may have unexplained financial issues and might even resort to stealing or other illegal behavior.
How to Treat Xanax Addiction
There are several different treatment approaches to Xanax addiction, but all of them focus on giving patients ways of safely addressing drug cravings and addiction triggers. Xanax is a drug that causes physical dependence, so the first step is typically a medical detox program. When a person with an addiction quits using Xanax, they will feel physically ill. Withdrawal can cause panic attacks, seizures, depression, insomnia, and even delirium. Therefore, it is important for a person to be in a safe place where their condition can be monitored and they can get medical treatment as needed.
After detox, it will be time to move on to treatments that help the patient to heal and recover. Every person with a Xanax addiction is different, so there is no “one size fits all” option. Instead, you will need to meet with a substance abuse counselor and create a treatment plan. For patients with co-occurring disorders like anxiety, treatment may include finding safe, non-addictive drugs for the patient. Some people may benefit from group therapy and programs like 12-step treatment, where they get constant encouragement from others dealing with Xanax addiction.
There are a wide range of therapeutic counselling techniques that can work with drug abuse. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a popular option because it helps patients find strategies for dealing with addiction triggers. Another useful treatment is motivational interviewing therapy, which focuses on helping patients build motivation and create a concrete plan for changing their behavior. Many people also benefit from general therapy to help with things like past traumas, mental health disorders, and stressful situations.
What’s the Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient Rehab?
Regardless of what type of therapy or medication you need, you will need to work with a substance abuse treatment center. Also called rehab centers, these programs provide focused, evidence-based care for people with substance use problems. There are a few different types of rehabs, and the right style for you will typically just depend on your personal situation.
Residential Xanax rehab, which is also called inpatient rehab, is the traditional type of rehab people picture. It involves checking into a facility and staying there for anywhere from two weeks to several months. This form of rehab allows for round-the-clock care, and you have plenty of time to get therapy and other treatments throughout the day. Since it takes you out of your old environment, it provides a safe space to focus on recovery. Inpatient rehab can be ideal if your Xanax addiction is very severe or if your old environment encouraged Xanax abuse.
Outpatient rehab still provides most of the same treatment options as residential rehab, but you live at home and just visit the facility during the day. There is a lot of variety in these programs with some just requiring one weekly visit while others have you come into the center every day. Programs with more treatment hours are called intensive outpatient rehab or partial hospitalization programs. This type of rehab can still be extremely effective even though it does leave you with more free time and exposure to addiction triggers.
The big perk of outpatient rehab is that you can still go to work, care for your family, or spend time in a familiar setting. This extra support from loved ones and flexibility for treatment can be very helpful for some.
Learn More About Xanax Addiction Treatment
If you or a loved one has developed an addiction to Xanax, turn to Granite Recovery Center. As one of the leading rehab centers in the New England area, we provide a wide range of treatment options. Our team meets with each patient to discuss their needs and then provides a personalized treatment plan to address your needs. We have a full range of programs available, including inpatient Xanax treatment and intensive outpatient rehab. When you work with us, we can provide support every step of the way, from detox to aftercare.
A Xanax use disorder can be a dangerous and life-threatening addiction, but there is hope. With the right care, you can find healthier ways of handling cravings and learn techniques for sober living. Contact us today to start your journey towards recovery.