With the frequent use of Xanax as a treatment for anxiety disorders, many people have gone beyond the recommended use in an attempt to feel calmer and more in control of their lives. It is strange that the very medication used to give relief to those suffering from anxiety, stress, phobias and panic attacks is now being used as a party drug.
Although Xanax abuse occurs by individuals of all ages, there is a growing problem with young people who are using this powerful depressant for recreational purposes. Combined with the ease of getting the drug without a prescription, this has led to Xanax being one of the most abused prescription drugs on the market today.
Xanax is a member of a class of controlled medications known as benzodiazepines. Drugs in this category affect the brain and nerves in order to create a sense of calmness. They can also produce a feeling of euphoria. This euphoric feeling is what makes Xanax so appealing to those who abuse it. They seek the high Xanax can produce and use the drug for recreational purposes rather than a medical treatment.
The euphoric feeling from Xanax is further enhanced when the pills are crushed into powder and inhaled. The more they use the drug, the greater their tolerance to its effects become. As a result, they need increasing amounts of the drug in order to get the same high. The increased use typically creates a physiological dependency on the medication. In many cases, a full blown addiction develops that can be difficult to overcome.
Accidental Xanax abuse
Xanax abuse also occurs in individuals who have been prescribed the medication, often by accident. Xanax may be prescribed for use in patients who are experiencing acute anxiety in order to give them short-term relief. Because of its intense addictive properties, it is not meant to be used for more than just a few weeks at the most. However, more and more people are becoming reliant on Xanax to keep them calm on a regular basis. This has led to an increasing number of people who abuse it by getting additional prescriptions from other physicians — “doctor shopping” — until addiction prevents them from discontinuing the medication.
Xanax is generally considered safe, and produces only mild side effects such as drowsiness or light-headedness when used in the intended and prescribed manner. However, the potential for abuse increases with extended use. Because the amount needed to get the euphoric results increases, so do the risks from side effects.
Two types of addiction
There are two different types of addiction including physical and psychological. Xanax abuse can lead to both. It is physically addictive because of the direct effect that it has on the brain. Physical addiction results in potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms that occur when the individual abruptly stops taking the drug. The psychological addiction comes from the instant relief from anxiety that the individual comes to rely on. It can also come from the gratifying feeling of euphoria that it produces for those who use it recreationally.
Problems with discontinuing Xanax
When regular Xanax abuse leads to dependency or addiction, stopping the medication suddenly is very dangerous. It can cause the brain to become overactive, resulting in serious withdrawal symptoms. These include:
- Heart palpitations
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Memory loss
- Rapid heartbeat
- Changes in personality
- Anxiety, tension or panic attacks
Seizures are the one of the most dangerous withdrawal effects from abruptly stopping Xanax after using it for an extended period of time. This is why it is so important to gradually decrease the dose under a doctor’s supervision. However, since many people who are abusing the drug have obtained it illegally or are ashamed that they’ve become addicted, they are hesitant to seek help to discontinue it. As often occurs with drug abuse, they continue using it. Without professional help to wean them off the drug, the potential for stopping Xanax abuse is unlikely.
While some individuals abuse Xanax by seeking additional prescriptions once their current one expires, others have no difficulty getting the drug in the quantity they desire in order to self-medicate. There are thousands of websites where you can purchase Xanax online without a prescription. The combination of its use as a party drug and the ease with which it can be obtained has made it a very widely abused prescription drug. Even though the largest group of Xanax abusers is comprised of young people seeking recreational drugs, people of all ages — including seniors — abuse it as well.
There are additional dangers when purchasing Xanax over the internet or from vendors in foreign countries. Just as distribution laws differ from one country to the next, regulation of ingredients may also vary. Drugs obtained online may contain unsafe ingredients, including other types of drugs that may be even more dangerous and/or addictive than Xanax.
Effective for short-term use
Although the potential for addiction is always present when taking Xanax, it does provide a good treatment option under some circumstances. Anxiety disorders can be potentially devastating and greatly reduce a person’s quality of life. If used properly, Xanax can restore quality of life without causing any detrimental effects. While it is not intended for extended use, the need for the drug helps keep it available and accessible to those who may abuse it.
High risk for addiction
Xanax should never be used as a recreational drug, particularly in conjunction with other drugs and alcohol. Repeated users who become tolerant to the drug and continue to increase their dose have a high risk for overdose. Even if they are using the drug for its intended purpose, they may not realize how potentially addictive it is.
No one should hesitate to get help if an addiction or dependency develops, regardless of whether it’s from prescription or recreational Xanax abuse. The longer it persists, the more difficult it becomes to treat. Like many other addictive substances, Xanax addiction should be treated with a combination of detox and counseling for best results. The proper treatment will help people overcome their addiction and prevent relapses in the future.