COVID-19 Mental Health Strain Connection to Xanax Abuse
Xanax is the most famous brand name anxiety drug as also branded as alprazolam, a benzodiazepine.
Benzodiazepines, also commonly referred to as benzos, are a family of drugs including Klonopin, Valium, and Ativan.
If the name Xanax sounds familiar, that’s not surprising. Xanax is the most widely prescribed psychiatric medication in the US, and it’s mainly used for treating panic disorders and anxiety disorders. Xanax is known for its relaxing effects on the CNS (central nervous system) and it’s easy to develop this type of addiction under some type of stress, such as COVID-19. It’s easy for dependency to manifest connected to Xanax when users experience extremely stressful situations, luckily there are many treatment centers who are well equipped to aid and combat addiction.
When you take Xanax, it gets to work by reducing the level of abnormal excitement in the CNS (central nervous system) and brain. With the effects of xanax, you’ll feel a sense of calm wash over you as the movement of brain chemicals is slowed down. Substance abuse has become more prevalent to treat various types of mental disorders. It’s become even more prevalent with the massive stressor of COVID-19’s ongoing worldwide lockdown/quarantine situation.
Xanax works primarily by enhancing the effects of GABA in your brain. GABA – gamma-aminobutyric acid – is a chemical that your body produces naturally. Over a period of time, using the drug results in the usage of a higher dosage to get the same effect and eventually can manifest into substance use disorders.
This medication received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1981.
Millions of people the world over use Xanax, and not everyone who starts using this benzo is aware of the addiction potential. This is often the case with prescription drugs. After all, it was prescribed by your doctor, so it must be OK, right? Well, thousands of Americans prescribed opioid painkillers and then becoming addicted thought the same thing.
Over the past year, the United States, just like the rest of the world, has been ravaged by a global pandemic. More people than ever have been turning to a chemical crutch when faced with stressors far beyond what most people could have reasonably planned for. Job loss, isolation, the further erosion of our liberties and uncertainty about the future have created just as much havoc as the novel coronavirus itself.
If, like the rest of us, you have experienced a rollercoaster 2020, we hope you find today’s insight into Xanax abuse in the climate of COVID-19 instructive and beneficial.
As you’ll see when we highlight what this medication does, Xanax is undeniably effective, if it’s used exactly as prescribed and strictly short-term. Keep on using it, however, and a laundry list of negative outcomes can occur.
What we want you to avoid is reaching for a pill to stave off panic or anxiety, and then become dependent on those pills. One of the inbuilt drawbacks of Xanax is the way long-term abuse of the drug often causes the same symptoms to appear as those you are trying to mask. If you have found yourself becoming increasingly dependent on the comfort Xanax affords you, we’ll show you today how to establish if you have developed a Xanax addiction.
If this has happened to you, don’t panic. Xanax addiction can be treated, and we’re here to help you every step of the way at The District Recovery Community. We’ll be showing you what’s involved in our Xanax addiction treatment in due course, but before we outline what to expect from Xanax rehab, we’ll explore the way this medication is legitimately used, and also how it’s misused and abused.
Use of Xanax
The majority of people use Xanax to alleviate symptoms associated with anxiety disorder.
Many others also use Xanax for short-term relief from the generalized symptoms of anxiety, even if they do not have a formally diagnosed anxiety disorder.
Doctors also recommend Xanax for the treatment of panic disorders. For those suffering from panic attacks, taking Xanax can reduce the frequency of these episodes.
Due to the high addiction potential of Xanax, your doctor will issue you with a range of detailed guidelines if you are prescribed the medication for any reason.
Here are some salient pointers concerning this deceptively powerful member of the benzo family:
- Tell your doctor if you consume alcohol, and also alert your doctor to all OTC medications you’re taking. Alcohol consumption is not recommended while you’re taking benzodiazepines.
- You should avoid driving, and you should not operate any heavy machinery while taking Xanax, at least until you’re confident of the way in which the drug affects you.
- Never increase the amount of Xanax you’re taking without first consulting your doctor. Sometimes, people feel the drug doesn’t have the same effect as it used to. This is where tolerance is building. You can become physically and psychologically dependent on Xanax even when you use the medication as directed. If you start going off-piste, you’re inviting trouble and courting addiction.
- Xanax is not recommended if you’re pregnant. Speak with your doctor if you are breastfeeding and you are considering taking Xanax.
- Never abruptly stop taking Xanax. Don’t suddenly decrease your dosage either. This can trigger unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
- If you have a history of depression, excessive alcohol use, addiction, or suicidal thoughts, Xanax needs to be prescribed only with great care.
Avoid Xanax completely if you have an allergy to benzodiazepines.
Misuse of Xanax
People misuse Xanax for a variety of reasons, but chiefly for the way it almost immediately triggers a sense of calm.
It might seem like it’s only since the onset of COVID-19 that more people have been self-medicating with benzodiazepines and similar drugs. In reality, this trend has been developing for some time. In 2008, more than three times as many people were seeking treatment for benzo addiction and prescription medication addiction as just ten years previously. This timeframe also coincides with the opioid epidemic that’s swept across the United States and remains a clear and present danger.
Misusing Xanax does not necessarily mean you are dependent on the drug, and it doesn’t automatically mean you’re addicted either. But, if you find yourself doctor shopping or using someone else’s prescription, these are markers that you’re well on your way to Xanax addiction.
If you misuse this drug, you can expect any of the following outcomes:
- Aggressive behavior
- Reckless and impulsive behavior
- Psychotic episodes
If you continue misusing the drug on a sustained basis, you could easily find yourself battling Xanax addiction.
Xanax Addiction: When Use and Misuse Becomes Abuse
One of the major bugbears with Xanax is the way tolerance quickly and aggressively builds. If you use Xanax regularly, you’ll find yourself needing more and more of the drug to achieve the same effects. It’s not uncommon for people addicted to Xanax to take ten or more pills every day. In cases of severe Xanax abuse, users gobble twenty or more pills daily.
Xanax addiction is not benign, and you can expect a series of adverse withdrawal symptoms if you stop using the medication. It’s never advisable to stop using Xanax suddenly when you’re addicted to the drug. Always seek medical guidance first.
If you’ve already tried to stop using Xanax, did you experience any of the following withdrawal symptoms?
If so, this indicates that you are already physically dependent on Xanax.
For anyone experiencing withdrawal symptoms upon cessation, and tolerance to the drug, this indicates Xanax addiction. Xanax use can afflict anyone from teens to young adults and so on. Do not make the mistake that drug abuse is only limited to those who have the prescription fill for the drug.
If you or a loved one has been using Xanax to the extent that addiction is setting in, there are several behavioral markers that point to this. Look out for any of the following signs of Xanax addiction:
- Abandoning normal activities
- Finding it hard to control Xanax use
- Trying and failing to stop using Xanax
- Continuing to use Xanax in the face of personal problems
- Becoming obsessive about Xanax
- Experiencing legal issues as a result of Xanax use
- Behaving recklessly
- Losing control over Xanax consumption
If you find yourself addicted to this benzo, or if you have a loved one struggling to moderate their usage of Xanax, there’s no need to panic. Xanax addiction is treatable, and we can help you every step of the way at TDRC.
Before we show you how to get off Xanax addiction, though, we’ll touch on some of the other drugs people commonly use in combination with alprazolam.
Xanax Used with Other Substances
Many people use Xanax with other pills – mainly opioid painkillers – and also with alcohol. Other drugs will intensify the effects of the Xanax.
It’s for this reason that heroin and methadone users often take Xanax along with their opiates.
According to some estimates, as many of 40% of those with alcohol use disorder in the United States also use Xanax regularly. Xanax and alcohol addiction, then, seem to go hand-in-glove, and this is particularly disconcerting. Alcohol and Xanax are depressants. Taking both in combination can trigger respiratory failure as a result of Xanax overdose.
Xanax Addiction in the Context of COVID-19
Just over a year ago, all our lives changed radically as coronavirus swept the United States and the rest of the world.
With the gift of hindsight and more time to come to terms with the seismic changes brought about by the global pandemic, we can see that the global lockdowns brought with them many problems of their own. As people lost their jobs and livelihoods, and in many cases their homes, for the rest of us, we became accustomed to spending more time indoors.
For many small business owners in particular, the outlook has often appeared bleak over the course of 2020 and into 2021.
Many others have been forced to spend extended periods of time alone and isolated, creating mental health issues from depression and anxiety through to suicidal ideation.
With money worries and stressors abounding, it’s not remotely surprising that so many Americans reached for a benzo prescription in response. This is doubly regrettable since benzo use in the United States was until recently in sharp decline. With the onset of COVID-19, though, and the declaration of a global pandemic, the number of benzo prescriptions filled rose by one-fifth.
Some people unable to get the Xanax they want to be prescribed end up buying the drug online. When you buy medications online you can never be sure of their ingredients. You’re running exactly the same risks as buying drugs on the black market.
What can be done once Xanax use has reached the stage of addiction?
Xanax Addiction Treatment
For anyone using Xanax long-term, stopping can bring about withdrawal symptoms not dissimilar to those experienced during withdrawal from barbiturates or alcohol.
The range of extent of withdrawal symptoms depends on how much Xanax you’ve been taking, and how long you’ve been using the drug.
In cases of severe Xanax addiction, withdrawal can even be fatal.
Instead of a reckless attempt to quit cold turkey, tapered reduction of Xanax can help to mitigate withdrawal symptoms so they are much more manageable. Dosage should be reduced by 0.5mg or less every three days. As you taper off Xanax, you may start using a long-acting benzo.
With tapered, medically-assisted detox and a structured Xanax addiction treatment program, there’s no reason you can’t be living Xanax-free.
Xanax Addiction Treatment at The District Recovery Community
Many clients come to us with mild, moderate, and severe Xanax addictions. Often, clients started using Xanax to ward off anxiety or panic attacks and found themselves needing to take increasing amounts of the drug, only for the same symptoms they were treating to suddenly manifest.
Xanax is not a medication suitable for long-term use. It’s exceptionally effective when used for a brief period as directed. Any deviation from this almost inevitably brings about a series of problems.
As outlined above, we’ll help you to plan a workable tapered reduction of your dosage so that you manage to avoid some of the harsher withdrawal symptoms that typically accompany quitting Xanax cold turkey.
With a personalized treatment plan giving you access to a range of behavioral therapies and talk therapies, you can not only stop using Xanax, but you can also create a solid foundation to stay sober as you leave benzos behind.
All you need to do is call our admissions team on 844.287.8506.