Many people are affected by Xanax addiction. It is a growing problem in the United States. According to information from the Treatment Episode Data Set Report in 2011, nearly 61,000 individuals sought drug abuse treatment for addiction to Xanax and other benzodiazepines. This is a marked increase from the nearly 23,000 individuals who sought treatment for benzodiazepine addiction in 1998.
Causes of Xanax Addiction
Most addictions do not have a single identifiable cause or trigger. Instead, it’s likely a number of factors work together to create an addiction. These factors include: Dependence formed from a prescription: In some cases, patients who are prescribed Xanax tend to lean on the drug to deal with stress. Before long, a tolerance is built up and patents turn to higher and higher doses to seek relief. Genetic: It’s not uncommon for individuals who develop addiction problems such as a Xanax addiction to come from a family with a history of addiction. While not a defining characteristic, there is a correlation between addiction and close family members. This suggests that a genetic predisposition might exist and is something that continues to be studied. Brain Chemistry: Xanax works by affecting the central nervous system and activating the reward system in the brain creating feelings of pleasure and relaxation. One theory is that individuals with Xanax addiction lack a certain level of brain chemicals involved in the brain’s reward system. Regardless, the brain of an addict is more susceptible to the pleasures associated with substance abuse and tends to crave the substance more. Environmental: Individuals who are exposed to home environments which are chaotic and unstructured in their youth are at a higher risk for developing substance abuse problems later in life. This is compounded in the cases where a parent or other caregiver is an addict. In short, if an addict grows up around other addicts, this behavior becomes normalized. Psychological: Many addictions have a root in mental illness, especially if the mental illness has gone untreated for many years. Individuals with untreated mental illness may abuse prescription medication such as Xanax to control the symptoms of their mental illness in a process called “self-medicating.” Addicts tend to rely on medications as an excuse for their addiction which is why nearly all recovery programs focus on addressing the root causes of the addiction as part of treatment. [contact-form-7 id=”27″ title=”Contact form 1″]
Effects of Xanax Addiction
Xanax’s effects will vary from person to person. Factors that influence the effects of Xanax include:
- An individual’s physical build, such as their height and weight.
- Whether they mix Xanax with other drugs or alcohol.
- Whether the person has already developed a tolerance to the drug.
Xanax has a half-life of 6 to 26 hours depending on the dose. A half-life refers to the amount of time it takes for the body to get rid of half of the dose. In addicts, the need to keep the euphoric feeling from the initial dose often prompts them to increase their dosage and to reduce intervals between doses.
The following include the main therapeutic effects of Xanax, as well as other common short-term effects of Xanax:
- Anxiety relief
- Induced sleep
Long-Term Effects of Xanax
Xanax is not intended for long-term use, and chronic use may indicate a substance use disorder. The prescribing doctor should re-evaluate a person’s condition after four months to determine if they need to continue taking Xanax. Studies have found impaired memory and visuospatial ability in long-term benzodiazepine users, and long-term users may experience cognitive deficits up to six months after stopping use. Additionally, chronic users are at risk of accident or injury due to the drug’s effects on reaction time and driving skills. People who suffer from Xanax addiction may also exhibit disinhibited behavior such as getting into arguments or fights. Long-term effects from using Xanax may include:
- Cognitive dysfunction.
- Aggressive behavior.
- Learning and memory problems.
- Coordination problems.
Chronic Xanax abuse can also affect other aspects of a person’s life. In some cases, abuse of the drug may lead to:
- Marital problems.
- Missed time from work.
- Relationship issues with family and close friends.
- Neglecting family and work responsibilities.
- Financial problems due to the expense of drug-seeking behavior.
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Tolerance, Dependence, and Addiction
When a person takes Xanax for a prolonged period of time, their body can develop a tolerance. Tolerance can lead the person to take larger doses of Xanax or use it more often to achieve the desired effects. As a person develops a tolerance to Xanax and increases their dosage or reduces their intervals, their body quickly becomes dependent on the drug. Once dependence takes effect, a person’s system cannot function properly without it. Users can become physically and psychologically dependent on Xanax in as little as two weeks. Some users can even experience rebound or breakthrough anxiety after taking a dose. Users who develop a dependence often experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using. Dependence can also lead to Xanax addiction, which is characterized by compulsive use and continuing to use the drug despite negative consequences. If you or someone you know is suffering from Xanax addiction, please get help. [cta id=’269′]