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Xanax addiction often begins with a genuine need for this medication, which acts as a tranquilizer to calm feelings of anxiety, agitation or nervous depression. Your doctor may prescribe Xanax to stop panic attacks or help you deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A friend or family member may offer you a couple of tablets to help you get through a breakup with a boyfriend or the loss of a job. Because Xanax acts very quickly and is often prescribed on an as-needed basis, this drug can help you cope with overwhelming physical responses to fear or anxiety when those feelings arise.
As time goes on, you may find that you’re taking Xanax more often, not just when you’re under intense mental stress, but whenever you want to feel calm or relaxed. You may even believe that you don’t think or behave normally when you don’t have access to the drug. If you feel that you’ve lost control over your drug use, detox and rehabilitation can give you the structured support you need to restore your emotional and physical well-being.
Related Topic: Treating Anxiety and Substance Abuse
How Does Xanax Addiction Begin?
Alprazolam, which is marketed under the brand name Xanax, belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. Xanax is a short-acting drug that can quickly slow down the transmission of chemicals in your brain that cause agitation and anxiety. After taking a dose, you may begin to feel the effects of the drug within one to two hours, according to Drugs.com. The medication’s rapid action can make it an effective way to stop a panic attack or help you relax, but it also increases the drug’s abuse potential. People who want to feel calm and tranquil quickly are likely to turn to Xanax for relief.
When taken as prescribed under a doctor’s supervision, Xanax is usually safe. However, when you take more than the prescribed dose or take it too frequently, the medication can be habit-forming.
People may start taking more than the recommended dose for reasons like these:
- They aren’t getting adequate relief of their symptoms from the prescribed dose.
- They don’t follow up with their doctor about the status of their treatment.
- They take the medication without a prescription.
- They take Xanax with alcohol or another drug that impairs their judgment.
There’s a common misconception that because Xanax is a prescription drug, it must be safer and less addictive than street drugs like heroin, meth or cocaine. But in fact, physical dependence is one of the biggest risks of benzodiazepine abuse. A Xanax overdose can cause severe central nervous system depression, slowing your breathing and heart rate. Overdosing on Xanax can be fatal, especially if you take it with alcohol, other medications or illicit drugs.
How Can I Tell if Need Xanax Rehab?
Recognizing that you’re dependent on Xanax is rarely easy, especially if you’re taking the medication for medical reasons. You may truly need a benzodiazepine to manage a serious emotional disorder, control seizures or prevent muscle spasms.
But these warning signs could indicate that your use of this drug has gotten out of control and may become a threat to your health:
- You consistently run out of your tablets before it’s time to renew your prescription.
- You need higher doses of the drug to get the same level of anxiety relief.
- You feel irritable, confused or agitated when you don’t get your usual dose.
- Family members, friends, coworkers or medical personnel have started to express concern about the way you use Xanax.
- You make mistakes at work, call in sick frequently or have financial problems because of your drug use.
The Mayo Clinic advises that symptoms like memory loss, drowsiness, speech impairment, confusion, depression and dizziness can also alert you to a dependence on benzodiazepines. If you feel that you’ve come to rely on Xanax just to get through a normal day, you might need a rehabilitation program to help you regain control of your life.
What Happens in Xanax Rehab?
When you enter rehab for Xanax dependence, you’ll have the opportunity to clear the drug out of your system in a supportive setting that’s removed from your usual surroundings. Whether you decide to attend an outpatient treatment center or enroll in a residential program, your focus will be on learning how to cope with your daily activities in healthy, non-habit-forming ways.
In a rehab program, you’ll learn how to:
- Handle situations that trigger your substance abuse
- Correct negative thought patterns that keep you stuck in an addictive cycle
- Identify activities that help you reduce stress, like meditation, biofeedback, yoga or creative hobbies
- Find alternative strategies for reacting to panic, anxiety, depression and stress
In the intake stage, you’ll be evaluated and screened by an addiction counselor. You may undergo tests to determine your level of intoxication and identify the drugs in your system. The point of screening and testing isn’t to pass judgment on your drug use, but to provide a solution that’s tailored to your needs. It’s not uncommon for people who abuse Xanax to have polydrug dependence. You may also need treatment for an addiction to alcohol, prescription pain relievers, marijuana or heroin.
Do I Need Medical Detox to Stop Xanax?
In many cases, social detoxification, supervised by consulting physicians, can be an effective way to stop using Xanax. Social detox relies on treatment strategies like counseling, group therapy and behavioral modification to help you stop using the drug. In order for social detox to be effective, it should take place in a supportive environment, where you can concentrate on recovery with minimal distractions. Although you don’t necessarily need inpatient rehab to recover from Xanax addiction, you may find that it’s easier to focus on your therapy at a residential treatment center.
If you’ve been taking Xanax for a long period of time, if you’ve recently been drinking and using heavily, if you’ve had multiple rehab admissions in the past or if you have a serious co-existing health condition, you may need medical detox. For heavy Xanax users, stopping the drug abruptly may lead to withdrawal symptoms like intense anxiety, agitation and seizures, cautions WebMD. Detox, when supervised by consulting physicians, safely cleanses your system and replenishes lost fluids and nutrients.Detox is only the beginning of your recovery program — once you’ve been through detoxification, you’ll need psychosocial support in the form of self-help groups and counseling to maintain your abstinence. As you look for a rehab program in your community, ask about the aftercare services that the treatment facility provides. You’ll want to make sure that you have a support system in place to help you continue the recovery process after you graduate from rehab.
What Do I Do About My Anxiety or Panic Disorder?
Fear of having a panic attack, a flashback or a depressive episode can be a big barrier to getting treatment for Xanax dependence. American Family Physician points out that the long-term use of benzodiazepines can make you psychologically dependent on these drugs, affecting your self-confidence. You may feel that you can’t handle the everyday stress of work, traffic or family conflicts unless you have the drug. If you suffer from one or more phobias, or fears of specific situations or entities, you may worry about how you’ll face them without Xanax.
Going through rehab for Xanax dependence won’t help you if the program doesn’t treat the underlying conditions that drive you to abuse this medication. Your treatment plan should include intensive psychotherapy that addresses your psychological symptoms as well as your substance abuse. You may need to have your medications changed in order to prevent substance abuse in the future. In a study of patients who suffered from mental disorders combined with substance abuse, the journal Psychiatric Services found that a co-existing disorder increased the risk of benzodiazepine addiction.
How Do I Recover From Xanax Dependence?
Once you realize that you’re not alone in your dependence or addiction on benzodiazepines, you’ll discover that it’s easier to reach out for help. Admitting that you can’t stop Xanax alone is the first, and possibly the most important, step in your recovery. When you’re ready to take active measures to reclaim your health, it’s time to search for a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary treatment program that addresses your psychological, emotional and physical needs. Ask yourself the following questions as you explore rehab programs in your area:
- Does the treatment plan specifically address Xanax abuse and its effects?
- Does the facility provide counseling and education for spouses, partners or children?
- Is medically supervised detox available to help me get through the withdrawal period?
- What kind of aftercare services are available to help me stay abstinent after I’m discharged?
- Does the cost of treatment fit my budget, or is financial help available?
At Michael’s House, we understand that Xanax abuse often goes hand in hand with a mental health condition like PTSD, depression or generalized anxiety disorder. Our treatment plans are customized to meet the needs of clients who require support from multiple sources. Once you’ve made the decision to seek treatment, call us to learn more about how our unique program can help you achieve success in your recovery.