Alprazolam is a form of benzodiazepine (anti-anxiety) drug that is commonly marketed as Xanax. Benzodiazepines are depressant drugs, which means that using them will slow the natural functions of the body such as breathing and heart rate.
Usually, this drug is prescribed to people who suffer from panic disorders or some other form of mental health condition involving severe anxiety. When used appropriately, this drug can relieve physical tension, anxious thoughts, and panic. No doubt because of the success of the drug in treating such conditions, nearly 49 million prescriptions were written for it in the year 2011 alone.1
Even when using this drug as prescribed, it is possible to get high. Anyone who accepts a prescription of this drug will need to keep communication lines open and clear with his or her health care provider. The drug will affect each person slightly differently, and any complications experienced with the drug can be relieved or lessened by a prescription adjustment. Using the drug in any way that it is not prescribed constitutes prescription drug abuse.
Signs and Symptoms
A person who takes alprazolam without a prescription to do so is abusing the drug. A person who uses this drug in ways not prescribed, or after warning signs of dependence have begun is also abusing this drug. If there is a prescription for this drug in your family or household, you must make sure that the pills are counted regularly to ensure that no one is slipping pills outside of the actual prescription. Also, changing the form of alprazolam pills in order to take them in another manner contrary to their originally marketed state is drug abuse. Abuse of alprazolam can lead to the following symptoms:
- Seeing double
- Seeing blurry images
- Acting overly drowsy
- Appearing sedated
- Becoming dizzy
- Having a poor memory
- Experiencing frequent headaches2
If you have experienced these symptoms with your use of alprazolam, contact your doctor and speak openly about your prescription drug use history. If another family member is taking the drug, check to make sure that he or she is not using it to an excess or getting prescription refills for symptoms that are no longer a problem. If a person continues to refill prescriptions for a problem that no longer exists, it may be that he or she has become addicted to the medications. Treatment can restore balance and free such a person from falling further into addiction.
Integrated Treatment for Alprazolam Addiction
Leaving alprazolam addiction untreated will foster hazards for increased substance abuse disorders and other mental health concerns. A person who has begun to take such a drug to manage anxiety is accomplishing exactly the opposite by becoming addicted to the drug. Addiction results in a compulsive inability to stop oneself from using the drug even though quality of life is obviously deteriorating by such drug use. Addiction causes turmoil in several facets of life, including work performance, family life, and health.
If alprazolam has been prescribed as part of a treatment plan to manage the anxiety associated with a mental health disorder and has resulted in addiction, both the mental health disorder and the addiction will be treated in inpatient care. Outpatient care might also be a viable option in some instances, especially if there is a good home-support system and a low odds of gaining continued access to the drug.
The following symptoms of addiction can be prevented and/or reversed by reestablishing control through addiction treatment:
- Financial complications
- Decreased work or school performance
- General health problems and complicated medical history
- Family and social conflict and tension
- Legal struggles
The Process of Treatment
Withdrawal symptoms for alprazolam addiction are intense and severe. No one using this drug ought to try to stop using it on his or her own merit and monitoring. With the proper professional care, however, withdrawal can be performed successfully. Inpatient care is an excellent option for those who wish to have the symptoms of withdrawal comforted to the greatest degree possible.
Detoxification is only the first step to the treatment to alprazolam addiction. Medication alternatives may need to be provided for ongoing stress management. Therapy will also help a person to strengthen his or her resolve against relapse. Treatment can last for a few weeks, but the positive results can be everlasting.
Many insurance providers cover prescription medication addiction. Whether or not the alprazolam addiction in your family has been caused by prescription, your insurance may cover a large portion of the cost. Treatment is effective, and the cost of not pursuing it is not really optional.
1. Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Virginia Mason Clinic, Seattle, Washington 98111. “Alprazolam and diazepam: addiction potential.” Found online 2/16/16 at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2051498.
2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Well-known Mechanism Underlies Benzodiazepines’ Addictive Properties.” Published April 19, 2012. Found online 2/16/16 at: https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2012/04/well-known-mechanism-underlies-benzodiazepines-addictive-properties.