Xanax is the trade name of the prescription medication benzodiazepine, known as benzos on the street. It was becoming one of the most abused drugs in the U.S. with approximately fifty million prescriptions being filled each year. Because of increased problems with dependency and addiction, physicians have been more hesitant to prescribe the drug and now its usage is in decline.
People who suffer from panic attacks, insomnia, anxiety and who are going through alcohol withdrawal are often prescribed Xanax by their physician. Xanax is an anti-anxiety medication that relieves tension and stress. It creates a feeling of euphoria and suppresses the central nervous system causing relaxation in the user. It also relaxes the muscles and causes a sleep inducing tranquilizer effect. For these reasons Xanax has been used as a “date rape” drug to easily take advantage of the victim.
Xanax Dependence and Addiction
Dependence and addiction to Xanax begins when a person’s body builds up a tolerance to the drug requiring more intake of the drug to achieve the desired effect of euphoria. Another reason a person becomes dependent or addicted is to avoid the unpleasant effects experienced when the drug is not taken.
The signs of Xanax addiction include a strong craving for the drug, an irregular or depressed heartbeat, sleeping constantly and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not taken. Some common withdrawal symptoms are insomnia, depression, mood swings, nausea, vomiting, headache, irritability and trembling. Toxicity and overdose effects of Xanax include confusion, blurred vision, drowsiness, suicidal thoughts, weakness, slurred speech, lack of coordination, breathing difficulties and coma. Mixing Xanax with other drugs or alcohol may result in physical or psychological complications leading to death.
Anyone in need of Xanax detoxification should seek experienced medical assistance. The administering physician should have a list of all the medications the patient is taking plus their medical history. If the patient is in an overdose or toxicity stage, the hospital emergency department will assess vital signs and symptoms and may administer an IV line to help stabilize the patient. If the patient is having breathing problems or is experiencing a decreased level of consciousness, they may be given oxygen.
More severe cases of Xanax usage may require the administration of a gastric lavage to flush out the stomach or activated charcoal to absorb the drug. Specific medication may be given to reverse the sedative effects of Xanax but are used only in cases of severe poisoning.
Detoxification of Xanax can be accomplished at home with the help of a physician or at a rehabilitation facility. The first stage of detoxification is a gradual reduction of the drug to prevent withdrawal symptoms and seizures. The assistance of an experienced medical professional is crucial to the success of the detoxification process as is on-going psychological counseling. The detoxification process for a patient who took low doses of Xanax is to be put on a gradual tapering off of the drug and this can be done at home as an outpatient.
High dose users of Xanax are tapered off at a rate of about ten percent per day, but there are always exceptions to this rule. Detox from Xanax commonly takes seven to ninety days but there are some programs that can last more than one year.
The supportive help of family and friends can assist the patient during the detox process and help them look forward to living a drug-free life. Ongoing counseling with behavior modification techniques and support groups can also help the patient understand and cope with any issues that might arise. Rehabilitation facilities will help patients partner with counseling and support groups upon leaving a detoxification program, in order to successfully continue their recovery outside of the facility.