Have you or a loved one recently been considering entering treatment for Xanax use disorder? Perhaps you’ve recently seen a medical professional for your mental health, and they’ve prescribed you this popular drug. While it can provide very helpful short-term relief for certain conditions, its addictive properties make it risky, especially when used outside of a prescription.
What Is Xanax for?
Alprazolam, more commonly known as Xanax, belongs to the benzodiazepine class—which targets the nervous system to produce a calming effect. It does so by interacting with and increasing the production of a naturally occurring neurotransmitter called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). Xanax itself is almost always prescribed to help manage disorders related to anxiety and panic. Essentially, if you have an overactive nervous system, Xanax can help to relax and calm it by decreasing the following symptoms of anxiety:
- Fatigue and restlessness
- Inability to concentrate
- Increased irritability
- Muscle tightness and tension
The History and Context
Debate around Xanax when it first hit the pharmaceutical market in 1981 was, and still can be, quite potent and political. In recent years, there’s been open acknowledgement of Xanax’s addictive qualities. In 2017, successful rapper and composer Chance openly admitted to being heavily under the influence of a Xanax addiction for a portion of his life. These types of references to Xanax also appear throughout pop culture in rap lyrics akin to French Montana, Future, and Offset.
All of this is to say that Xanax is pervasive in American culture precisely because of how mind-altering it can be. However, what is it—at the bodily level—that holds our attention? Xanax is often fast-acting (increasing its likelihood of nurturing an addiction) and can consistently create the following side effects:
- Moderate to severe drowsiness
Inability to react quickly or strongly to situations or stimuli, which can lead to worse outcomes during traffic accidents or any other type of accident or injury
- Dangerous bodily reactions, or at the very least incapacitative effects, when Xanax is mixed with marijuana, alcohol, opioids, and sleeping medication
- Inability to drive or operate machinery safely and attentively—even when you’re not mixing the substance with anything else
What Do You Experience?
When Xanax interacts well with your unique body chemistry and is used properly, you can expect to experience the following as the drug steadily increases your GABA hormone:
- Increased sustained calm and tranquility
- Regulated sleeping and a more restful, consistent sleep each night
- An overall reduction in brain activity—whether that be in racing thoughts, intrusive thoughts, or a combination of both
One healthcare professional explains that while Xanax can be very effective in treating symptoms of anxiety, it is not a cure for the disorder. It’s more like a band-aid—a short-term solution that allows the body to stabilize but does nothing to address the cause of the problem. In other words, Xanax is not a cure for anxiety. It provides temporary relief for extreme situations. Talk to a mental health professional about entering cognitive-behavioral therapy or another form of therapy to address root causes of anxiety and develop coping mechanisms that will allow you to be medication-free.
How Do You Use It?
Dosage and frequency of Xanax depends on the instruction of your doctor. However, it should always be taken by mouth in pill-form. Xanax is intended for short-term use – typically no longer than four months. It’s very important that, if prescribed Xanax, you follow the prescription exactly and taper from it as the doctor instructs.
How Can You Tell if Xanax Dependence or Misuse is Present?
If you or a loved one has a dependence on Xanax or is potentially misusing it, one or more of the following signs will manifest:
- An urge to take the drug that overrides your ability to focus
- Building a strong tolerance to the drug by taking more and more of it each time (exceeding your doctor’s prescribed dosage)
- Being unable to stop using the drug despite declining professional, academic, physical, mental, psychological, or interpersonal performance
- Avoiding beloved hobbies or interests in order to take Xanax
In addition, you’ll be able to tell how much physical dependence on Xanax has formed by the severity of withdrawal symptoms experienced when you stop taking the drug (which can include, ironically, a spike in anxiety). Addiction to Xanax will mean that you are unable to stop Xanax without professional help.
Find Help for Your Addiction at St. Gregory’s in Iowa
If you’ve been taking pills for a long time illicitly or in quantities beyond the prescription, know that help is available. Contact St. Gregory Recovery Center to learn about our treatment programs that include cognitive-behavioral therapy, in-house residency treatment, as well as outpatient programs. We’re well versed in drug misuse, and we’re equipped to help you regain control over your life and anxiety.