Alprazolam is a benzodiazepine (anti-anxiety) drug that is commonly sold under the brand name Xanax. Benzodiazepines are depressant drugs, which means that they slow breathing, heart rate, and other natural functions of the body.
This drug is usually prescribed to people who suffer from panic attacks, anxiety disorders, or seizures. When used appropriately, this drug can temporarily relieve some physical tension, anxious thoughts, and panic. Because this drug is well-known,approximately 49 million prescriptions are written for alprazolameach year.1
Alprazolam is not a wonder drug. This drug is addictive and may lead to dependency, even when it is used as prescribed. Anyone who accepts a prescription of this drug will need to keep communication lines open and clear with his or her healthcare provider. Alprazolam affects each person differently, and any complications associated with the drug may 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 of Alprazolam Use Disorder
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 misusing this medication. Because this drug is hazardous and is sometimes sold illegally, it is best to keep it in a locked space.
Misuse of alprazolam can lead to the following symptoms:
- Vision difficulties
- Becoming overly drowsy
- Appearing sedated
- Becoming dizzy
- Memory loss
- Jittery feelings when the medication wears off
- Frequent headaches2
If you have experienced these symptoms, 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 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, he or she may have become addicted to alprazolam. Xanax and alprazolam addiction can be treated effectively in a dedicated rehab program.
Integrated Treatment for Alprazolam Addiction
Untreated alprazolam addiction can lead to other substance use disorders and worsening mental health. A person who takes substances to manage anxiety will only accomplish exactly the opposite by becoming addicted to the drug. Addiction causes a compulsive inability to stop the substance use even though quality of life is obviously deteriorating by using the drug. 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 but has resulted in addiction, both the mental health disorder and the addiction can be treated in inpatient care. Outpatient care might also be a viable option, especially if there is a good home-support system in place.
“I hope my story speaks to some people. Be heard; don’t be afraid. Ask for help. Addiction doesn’t make you less of a person, anyone can be an addict. Remind yourself, would you rather suffer temporarily or have a lifetime of suffering? …I have more clarity now than ever. I appreciate the little things in life. I’m more observant of my surroundings. I treat people with more respect and understanding and am no longer so quick to judge.” –Sarah Y., HeroesinRecovery.com
The Process of Treatment
Withdrawal symptoms for alprazolam addiction can be intense and severe. Because this medication rewires dopamine in the brain, it is important to not quit this drug suddenly, without support.3 With the proper professional care, withdrawal can be safer and more comfortable. Inpatient care is an excellent option for a safe and healthy detox from Xanax.
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 treat underlying anxiety or trauma. Treatment may last for a few weeks or months, but the positive results can be everlasting.
Many insurance providers cover prescription medication addiction treatment. Even if 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 your life may depend on it.
1 Benzodiazepines. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Accessed 21 Jul 2017.
2 Alprazolam and Diazepam: Addiction Potential. Department of Psychiatry and Psychology. Virginia Mason Clinic, Seattle, Washington. Web. Accessed 21 Jul 2017.
3 Well-known Mechanism Underlies Benzodiazepines’ Addictive Properties. National Institute on Drug Abuse. 19 Apr 2012. Web. Accessed 21 Jul 2017.