Xanax, a sedative prescription medication, is commonly abused due to its high addiction potential. Some of the most common symptoms and signs of Xanax abuse include:
- Slurred speech
- Blurred vision
- Poor motor coordination
- Inability to reduce intake
- Doctor shopping to get extra Xanax pills
- Asking family, friends, significant others, classmates, and/or colleagues for their Xanax pills
- Buying Xanax or other sedatives on the street
- Spending a disproportionate amount of time using, getting, or recovering from Xanax abuse
- Engaging in risky behavior after Xanax abuse, such as driving (drugged driving)
Withdrawal from Xanax after sustained use can be particularly dangerous. There is a strong recommendation that a person receive help from a professional program, such as a drug rehab center, that offers medical detox.
The brand drug Xanax (generic: alprazolam) is well-known in American households.
It is a benzodiazepine, which means that it has a sedative effect; it is also categorized as a tranquilizer or anxiolytic. Xanax is indicated for the medical treatment of panic disorders, anxiety disorders, and anxiety that is caused by depression. However, Xanax is also a drug of abuse with high addiction potential.
- Repeated problems meeting obligations in the area of family, work, or school because of Xanax use
- Spending a significant amount of one’s time getting Xanax, using it, or recovering from side effects of use
- Even when taking Xanax gets a person into hazardous circumstances, the use continues
- An ongoing desire to stop using Xanax but being unable to do so
- Continuing to take Xanax even though it causes or frustrates interpersonal or social problems
- Building a tolerance over time, which requires a person to take increasing amounts of Xanax
- Using more Xanax or using it for longer than intended
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after stopping use of Xanax or if the familiar dose is significantly reduced
- Continuing to use Xanax despite experiencing one or more negative personal outcomes
- Craving Xanax
- Due to use of Xanax, reducing or stopping participation in work, social, or family affairs
- Physical and Psychological Symptoms and Signs of Xanax Abuse
- Behavioral Signs and Symptoms of Xanax Abuse
- Slurred speech
- Blurred vision
- Lack of motor coordination
- Difficulty breathing
Two of the most common physical and psychological symptoms and signs of Xanax abuse are physical dependence and addiction. These are natural body processes. In short, the brain and body habituate to drug use over time. Due to this new status quo, when the drug use stops, the body will issue its demand for more of the drug in the form of withdrawal symptoms. Notes Mental Health Daily, the following are some of the most common psychological effects associated with Xanax:
Legendary singer Stevie Nicks has publicly spoken out about her difficulty with benzodiazepine abuse and addiction. She makes clear in interviews that she thought sedative drugs were benign, but found them to be exceptionally difficult to stop abusing, even more so than cocaine. It seems strange to some that a sedative drug would be acutely difficult to stop abusing, but the addictiveness of this drug class is well-documented among addiction specialists. Subsequently, the withdrawal process can be exceptionally difficult.
Xanax is also associated with a host of physical symptoms during withdrawal. Mental Health Daily notes the following:
- Muscle pain
- Heart palpitations
- Sleep troubles
- Tingling sensations
During medical detox, medical professionals will set up a plan that provides for a gradual transition from Xanax abuse to total detoxification. The dosage of Xanax may be slowly reduced over time, though in many instances, individuals are switched to a longer-acting benzodiazepine and then weaned off that drug. The timeline for the detox period will vary depending on the person’s sustained dosage level and personal factors.
As a general rule of thumb in the addiction treatment world, there are three drug categories that require a medical detox process: benzodiazepines, opioids, and alcohol. Quitting Xanax cold turkey can potentially precipitate the above withdrawal symptoms and cause them to present with greater severity.
When a person begins to abuse Xanax, there will likely be noticeable changes in their behavior. Per Medical News Today, the following are some of the main behavioral symptoms and signs of Xanax abuse:
Taking risks in order to buy Xanax: Some people may steal money or items, often from loved ones, in order to pay for Xanax.
As noted, due to the acute dangers associated with Xanax withdrawal, there is a general advisement that a person should start the recovery process with medical detox that involves a weaning or tapering process.
Recovery can progress from that point to primary care for the addiction.