Even though alprazolam (Xanax) is the single most prescribed psychiatric medication in the U.S., it can also be quite addictive. That’s why many rehab centers in the U.S. have prescription drug addiction programs — such as a Xanax withdrawal program, which can also be called a Xanax detox program.
Alprazolam — which may be more familiar as Xanax, a brand name — belongs to a class of medications called benzodiazepines or benzos, which act on the brain and the central nervous system (CNS) to produce a calming effect. Alprazolam works by enhancing the effects of a natural chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the body.
What Is Xanax?
Many think of alprazolam (Xanax) as an anti-anxiety medication. Xanax is a strong and short-acting benzo that’s commonly prescribed for anxiety disorders, insomnia, or panic attacks. It’s highly addictive, with the majority of its effects established within an hour of dosage. Therefore, Xanax is typically prescribed for a short period — up to six weeks — to prevent an addiction from developing.
Xanax slows down the movement of unbalanced chemicals in the brain. This results in the reduction of anxiety and nervous tension. Xanax works by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain and boosting the effects of GABA, which is made in the brain.
Medical professionals can be quick to point out that alprazolam (Xanax) is highly addictive because it’s also a benzodiazepine — just like clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), flurazepam (Dalmane), and lorazepam (Ativan). Benzos are some of the top prescription medications that have high addiction potential. To combat the problem, some rehab centers offer specific programs to deal with benzodiazepine-related prescription drug addiction. A few even offer programs for Xanax addiction alone.
What Are the Signs of Xanax Addiction?
Before considering admittance into a Xanax detox program, someone has to be assessed and then diagnosed with a substance use disorder (SUD) involving Xanax and possibly other benzos. You or someone you care about may be struggling with Xanax addiction the following signs are observable:
- Drowsiness or sleeping for extended periods
- Dry mouth
- Impaired cognition and coordination
- Nausea or vomiting
- Not maintaining relationships, responsibilities, and routines
- No longer engaging in previously enjoyed activities
- Physical weakness
- Slurred speech and sluggishness
Overall, someone struggling with Xanax addiction is likely to appear extremely tired all the time. They may lack their usual energy and motivation to engage with close friends and family members.
Xanax addiction can also be a precursor to a benzo addiction, in which someone struggles with using many types of benzodiazepines. It can also be a precursor to a polydrug addiction, particularly one that combines Xanax with alcohol or opioids. Combining Xanax with other addictive substances, especially other CNS depressants, can result in serious side effects — such as a coma, respiratory arrest, serious injury, and even death.
When Should You Consider a Xanax Detox Program?
Long-term use of Xanax and other benzos can also cause serious side effects, some of which can lead to permanent consequences. These dangerous side effects of long-term benzo addiction include the following:
- Aggression and impulsivity
- Cognitive impairment
- Increased risk of dementia
However, overcoming Xanax addiction often means getting professional help from the very start. People struggling with benzo addiction can’t stop taking benzos “cold turkey” without medical supervision. Experts typically recommend getting admitted into a prescription drug detox program. These detox programs can employ a medically supervised tapering plan to slowly wean clients off the addictive substances they have a problem with. For some clients, quitting some addictive substances abruptly can lead to serious health problems, such as seizures.
Don’t risk becoming someone with a long-term Xanax addiction. If you or a loved one are struggling with Xanax addiction, consider starting on the path to addiction recovery by getting admitted into a Xanax detox program. Doing so is especially important if the addiction is affecting daily living and the lives of others close to you or your loved one.