Xanax, or alprazolam, is a medication prescribed for anxiety disorders. While it can be very effective when used as recommended by a doctor, it is commonly abused. Xanax is in the benzodiazepine drug family along with Librium, Klonopin, Valium, and Restoril. Benzodiazepines, commonly referred to as benzos, result in sedative, hypnotic, anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, muscle relaxant and amnesic action.
Since Xanax is not a 'street drug', like heroin or cocaine, most addicts started taking it as a prescription. This is not always the case though as it can be purchased illegally like any other drug.Although Xanax is suggested for short-term use, some patients use it on a daily basis sometimes causing an addiction to the substance. Due to the fact that the drug stays in the body for at least 24 hours, frequent use builds a tolerance causing the user to have to take more in order to feel the effects.
Just like other addictive substances, when the effects of Xanax wear off, the original symptoms reappear and the user must take more to feel 'normal'. For example, if a person was prescribed Xanax for anxiety caused by external factors, they now have to take it for anxiety caused by not taking it. This is the cycle of addiction and the user generally ends up with more issues than they started with.
Signs of Xanax addiction include, but are not limited to:
- Increasing the dosage without a doctor's permission
- Cravings and withdrawals when the user doesn't have any
- Saying things like "I can`t sleep without it", or "if I don't take a pill I have anxiety"
- Doing degrading or un-moral things to acquire the drug
- 'Blacking-out' or not remembering anything for excess use
- Slurred words or irregular speech
Xanax comes in a variety of different pill colors, shapes and doses. The most commonly abused form is known as a 'bar', a 2-milligram, long, white, rectangular pill that can be divided into four pieces. The most common method of ingestion is orally swallowing the pill, but addicts can also crush up the pill and snort it, or smoke it on tin foil.
Xanax is a particularly dangerous drug for many reasons. Many who abuse it often like to mix it with other substances such as alcohol and marijuana. This is risky because the user is more likely to go into a blackout and become completely unaware of themselves and their actions. Blackouts can last anywhere from minutes to days on end where the user has zero recollection of what happened.
Withdrawing from benzodiazepines is a very dangerous process. It is strongly recommended that addicts detox medically in a safe monitored way. Gradually lowering the dose over the course of a couple weeks is the safest way to come off of the drug. Withdrawal symptoms can start as early as six hours after the last dose and last anywhere from two days to a couple weeks. Doctors often prescribe other medications to help because serious withdrawals can cause delusions, hallucinations, delirium, and seizures.