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The dangers of withdrawing from Xanax are often not known. People that do not have a prescription may get it from a family member or friend because they are going through some sort of stressful situation at home or at work. They realize the sensation of feeling happy or carefree is something they could get used to and, in many cases, this leads to the addiction and abuse of Xanax. What they don’t realize is that trying to quit Xanax without the supervision of a medical professional can be dangerous and have serious side effects if not done properly. Over 70% of teenagers that have a Xanax addiction got the substance from a family member’s medicine cabinet.

What is Xanax?

Xanax, clinically known as alprazolam, is a highly addictive prescription benzodiazepine. Xanax is a controlled substance which means you have to have a prescription from a doctor to obtain the drug. According to the Journal of Addiction Medicine, doctors write a jaw-dropping 45 million prescriptions each year alone in the United States. This makes it easy for people looking to try Xanax for the first time and unknowingly leading to a life of addiction.

Benzodiazepines, often referred to as “benzos”, are a class of psychoactive drugs that work to calm or sedate a person. They are prescribed to treat conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. These also fall into the category of CNS depressants, which reduce brain and organ functioning. 

As a benzodiazepine, Xanax is in the same family as Valium, Estazolam, and Restoril. Some common “street” names associated with Xanax include bars, benzos, blue footballs, zanies, zanbars, handlebars, and Upjohn.

How Does Xanax Work?

To understand some of the dangers of withdrawing from Xanax, it is important to know how the drug actually works in a person’s body and mind.

Xanax works by stimulating the production of GABA in the brain. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter which means it slows down or weakens nerve signals being sent to the brain. It is responsible for producing the feeling of calmness and relaxation to the user. 

When a person has some type of anxiety disorder, they might not be regulating GABA properly which is why a doctor or psychiatrist may prescribe Xanax. Xanax can help stimulate the production of GABA to help with feelings of anxiety and reduce anxiety symptoms. 

Anxiety disorders are one of the main reasons why Xanax is prescribed to patients here in the United States. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADDA), anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the US., affecting 40 million adults each year alone.

Xanax withdrawal

Withdrawing from Xanax 

Coming off Xanax can be difficult for some even with the help of a doctor. Quitting cold turkey, which means suddenly stopping taking Xanax after prolonged usage, is even more difficult and can be very dangerous due to the nature of Xanax withdrawals. As with most medicines, consulting your doctor before quitting is always the best option. The dangers of Xanax withdrawal can be severe and in many cases, life-threatening. When trying to come off of Xanax, you should always have a plan to wean yourself off and slowly reduce the amount you’re taking.

During the course of a person abusing Xanax, their tolerance heightens significantly. If a person suddenly quits, the brain will exhaust itself trying to compensate for the loss of GABA neurotransmitter activity. This leads to a series of very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that most people never want to experience. Unfortunately, these experiences happen all too often and for some have life-changing effects resulting in coma or death.

Some of the dangers of withdrawing from Xanax include convulsions, seizures, psychosis, paranoia, mood swings, and mania. These can all stem from quitting Xanax without taking the necessary precautions to come off of the medication safely.

When addicted to Xanax, escaping without going through the withdrawal process is highly unlikely and very difficult to do so. The dangers of Xanax withdrawal are similar to those of alcohol and barbiturates, sharing many of the same withdrawal symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms of Xanax withdrawal are as follows:

  • Slowed heart rate
  • Drowsiness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coma
  • Convulsions
  • Muscle Weakness/Pain
  • Loss of balance
  • Fainting
  • Anxiety and/or panic attacks
  • Poor concentration
  • Psychosis
  • Hallucinations

Withdrawal symptoms can start to be noticed as soon as five hours after the last dose of Xanax was taken. For some individuals, it can happen even sooner depending on how much and how long the medication had been taken. If you are ever experiencing symptoms such as the ones listed above, it is critical that you seek medical help as soon as possible. 

The Dangers of Xanax withdrawal also include mixing the medication with other drugs. Xanax is often combined with alcohol and other pills, mainly including opiates. Users will do this to produce even more of a euphoric feeling and get a better high altogether.

Adderall addiction therapy

Treatment for Xanax Addiction

Overcoming addiction to drugs is never an easy task. Fortunately, there is extensive research into addiction and great resources for people who want to take control of their addiction and stay sober.

Recovery for drug addiction including Xanax has two phases. The first stage is the physical stage. This entails a medical detox program which on average lasts about 1-2 weeks depending on the individual. This allows the user to wean off the drug in a safe environment with medical staff by their side. Medications are usually given to the patient to help with the withdrawal process in a safe and effective manner. 

This stage is always the more difficult of the two due to the withdrawal symptoms being extremely uncomfortable. Although medication and trained medical staff can help mitigate some of the withdrawal symptoms, it is still not an easy process. 

The second stage is more of the mental part of the journey. The dangers of withdrawing from Xanax also include a mental health aspect. This includes finding the right treatment center and recovery program for each individual. Treatment centers such as Knoxville Recovery are great in helping each individual deal with understanding addiction and accessing the underlying reasons the drugs were abused in the first place. 

Learning ways to help cope with the disease of addiction and relapse-prevention planning are among the many services these treatment programs have to offer. Counseling and therapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(CBT) play a huge part in helping individuals identify how thought processes and behavioral patterns lead to Xanax abuse and drug addiction. These inpatient treatment programs on average last anywhere from 30 days upwards of a year, depending on the person and the type of treatment plan needed.

If you know someone struggling with an addiction to Xanax, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help. The dangers of Xanax withdrawal can be life-threatening but with the help of medical professionals and peer support, anyone can overcome addiction. You don’t have to do this alone.

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