Xanax Drug Abuse, Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

What Is Xanax?

Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam, a tranquilliser in the benzodiazepine class of drugs which is commonly used to treat anxiety – social anxiety disorder and panic disorder specifically. While not available on the NHS in the UK, it can be obtained via private prescription – as well as via the web, which accounts for a significant proportion of Xanax consumption in this country. Indeed, the UK is the world’s second-largest market for illicit Xanax sales, and doctors and MPs have recently warned of an emerging addiction crisis in Britain: authorities estimate that 130 million benzodiazepine tablets including Xanax have found their way onto the UK black-market in the last five years. Street names for Xanax include “Xannies”, “Zanbars”, “bars”, “whites” and “bikes”; if you overhear a loved one using those words they may be discussing illicit Xanax.

Effects Of Xanax Addiction

Xanax is taken for the pleasurable sedative and euphoric effects it produces in the user. It is a strong sedative compared with many available by prescription, and only a small dose is required to produce the required “high” when taken recreation. In large doses, it can produce extremely detrimental effects including unconsciousness and possible death by overdose.

Xanax use should be avoided where possible by pregnant women, elderly people, and people with conditions including glaucoma, liver complaints, respiratory depression, pulmonary disorders, sleep apnoea, and psychosis among others. Xanax can also be extremely dangerous when taken alongside other drugs especially including alcohol: excessive quantities of Xanax and alcohol in combination are a relatively frequent method of suicide due to the dangers posed by their interaction.

The short-term effects of Xanax consumption may include:

  • a diminution of cognitive faculties
  • amnesia
  • slurred speech
  • incoherence
  • drowsiness
  • light-headedness
  • disinhibited behaviour
  • hallucinations
  • dry mouth
  • impaired coordination
  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • twitches and tremors
  • aggression
  • mania
  • suicidal ideation

Those addicted to Xanax may display any or all of the above at various times. They will usually feel unable to function properly without consuming the drug and may arrange their activities around obtaining and taking it. Because Xanax is not available through the NHS they may find themselves in financial trouble as a result of purchasing regular Xanax supplies; they may also find relationships and professional life affected by the constant intoxication. (For the long-term effects of Xanax abuse see below.)

Signs And Symptoms Of Abuse

The above effects may manifest after only one dose of Xanax, and their occurrence does not necessarily indicate Xanax abuse or addiction. However, if any or all of those effects occur regularly, it is likely that the user is at least on the way to developing dependence and addiction. As with any drug, an addiction to Xanax can come to dominate an addict’s life, as they become increasingly focused upon the consumption of the drug to the exclusion of everything else and as their regular intoxication precludes their participating in many normal activities.

Long-term Xanax abuse can result in the development of both physical dependence and psychological addiction; physical dependence to benzodiazepines can become so profound that withdrawal can result in death if not correctly treated by experienced medical professionals. The psychological addiction, meanwhile, can leave the user feeling totally reliant upon Xanax to get through daily life and can cause profound depression as well as regular occurrences of the negative short-term effects listed above. Moreover, long-term abuse can cause neurological damage including cognitive and psychomotor impairment.

Withdrawal And Detoxification Process

As noted above, withdrawal from benzodiazepines can prove fatal if not correctly treated (those drugs along with alcohol are the only substances of abuse which can kill simply through withdrawal; therefore, developing a dependence on Xanax is a hugely dangerous thing to do, and if you feel your use of Xanax is becoming a problem even if you are not yet addicted, contact an addiction specialist or your GP immediately).

Many addicts prefer to try to overcome their addiction independently. After ceasing taking a drug, withdrawal symptoms can manifest and take a stronghold very quickly; in the case of benzodiazepines, withdrawal can cause fatal seizures and organ failure which can strike without much notice. As a result, even beginning a detoxification process without medical attention can be extremely dangerous and it is recommended that you contact the GP or an addiction specialist before beginning any detox treatment. The preferred option of Prescription Drug residential rehabilitation (rehab) provides medical care and therapeutic support 24/7 to ensure withdrawal is as safe and comfortable as possible.

Benzo Xanax Detox Timeline

Every case of addiction is unique, and therefore so is every instance of withdrawal: it is impossible to provide a “one size fits all” timeline for withdrawal from Xanax addiction. Factors impacting upon the severity and duration of withdrawal include the duration of addiction; the dosages consumed; the physiology of the addict; and more. Nevertheless, a rough guide to benzodiazepine withdrawal may be as follows:

  • 1-3 days: benzodiazepine withdrawal tends to peak during the first three days, and this is when the patient is at highest risk of seizure. Mood swings, insomnia, nausea and heart palpitations may all strike; cravings will be intense.
  • 4-7 days: the most severe symptoms will have passed but cravings and insomnia are likely to persist. Depression will probably manifest along with anxiety.
  • 1-2 weeks: symptoms will tail off although cravings may return occasionally. If depression persists for longer than two weeks the addict may have developed post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) which may require long-term therapy to address.

Treating Xanax Addiction

Since the proliferation of Xanax abuse and addiction worldwide, a large number of different treatment methods have emerged. Some of these are not endorsed by the medical community, and may be extremely dangerous to the user; do not embark on a course of treatment – especially one which you have found online without a recommendation from a doctor or addiction specialist – without consulting your GP.

Your GP should always be your first port of call and you may wish to discuss with them options such as private addiction counselling, NHS services and support groups. However, the consensus amongst the medical community is that rehab is the most effective treatment option for long-term recovery as rehab provides a holistic combination of <strong>medically assisted detox for prescription drugs, a variety of therapy models, dietary and fitness plans, peer group support and reliable confidentiality.

Detox & Rehab Benefits

Rehab has proven extraordinary successful in helping countless addicts to achieve long-term recovery. As Xanax has become more and more prevalent and damaging across the UK, an ever-greater number of Xanax addicts are finding the help they need in rehab.

Some of the advantages of rehab include:

  • A medical detox, where highly qualified professionals will make the addict’s journey through withdrawal as comfortable and safe as possible.
  • Pleasant, peaceful surroundings in which an addict can focus wholly on his or her recovery.
  • A broad range of therapy options to ensure the most appropriate therapeutic care for each patient.
  • Group therapy, providing patients with a peer group of those who have been through similar experiences and can share advice and support.
  • Bespoke dietary and fitness plans, working on the principle of “healthy body, healthy mind”.
  • Complete confidentiality to ensure that patients need not be concerned about details of their condition becoming public knowledge.
  • One year’s free aftercare, providing supplementary support as the recovering addict readjusts to a drug-free life.

What Next?

If you are struggling with addiction to Xanax, you are by no means alone: unfortunately, many thousands of Britons are dependent on the drug. However, one silver lining to this greatly problematic cloud is that there is now a great level of expertise in dealing with this condition, and if you are ready to take the first key step and reach out for help, that expertise can be at your disposal. Addiction is a terrible illness and places a huge strain on the addict and on those around, and overcoming addiction can genuinely mean the difference between life and death. In order to avoid becoming another tragic statistic, and to get back on the path towards a happy, healthy, successful life, get in touch with one of our addiction specialists today and take that first step on the road to recovery.

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