Xanax is the brand name of the generic anti-anxiety medication alprazolam. As it stands, Xanax is one of the most frequently prescribed medications throughout the United States. A recent study titled, “Evidence Shows Abuse of Xanax, Valium on the Rise” explains that according to recently accumulated data, one out of every five American adults who is prescribed Xanax is regularly abusing the medication. Xanax is a potent benzodiazepine tranquilizer, one with a very high potential for abuse. Most psychiatrists who prescribe the drug will prescribe it for short-term use, or to be taken in case of the onset of a panic attack. It is extremely rare that Xanax is prescribed to be taken every day, seeing as it is so potent and habit-forming. The way that Xanax affects any given person will depend on a number of factors, including age, weight, metabolism, the dosage that is being taken, the mental state at the time of ingestion and whether or not the medication is taken at the same time as any other chemical substance. Those who take the medication recreationally – or without a professionally written prescription – typically report feeling sedated, calm, relaxed and less stressed out or worried. Some people who take the drug recreationally describe passing out for several hours, and those that take the medication in higher doses often experience significant memory loss. Those who use the medication as prescribed and intended will often experience positive effects. Those that take Xanax other than as prescribed will often experience a host of negative effects – including abuse, addiction and overdose.

Xanax Abuse and Addiction

The US National Library of Medicine published a study titled, “Management of benzodiazepine misuse and dependence,” which explains that there are many dangers involved in benzodiazepine dependence, and that the most effective methods of dependence management involve gradual withdrawal or maintenance treatment. Benzodiazepines – like Xanax – are very potent tranquilizers, and those who have been abusing them for any length of time will need to undergo a multi-phased continuum of addiction treatment. At Princeton Detox & Recovery Center, we believe that (due to the potentially life-threatening nature of benzodiazepine withdrawal) those who have been abusing Xanax will first need to undergo treatment in a medically monitored detox facility. Here, a team of medical professionals will slowly taper the individual off of the drug, preventing the more serious symptoms of Xanax withdrawal. Once medical detox is complete the individual will transfer directly into an inpatient treatment facility where he or she undergoes intensive therapeutic care and builds upon relapse prevention skills, life skills and healthy coping mechanisms. But how can one tell if recreational Xanax use has developed into physical and psychological dependency? Here are several signs and symptoms of Xanax addiction as according to an article published by Healthline titled, “Xanax Addiction: Symptoms, Getting Help, Detox and Treatment.”

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Symptoms of Xanax abuse and addiction:

  • The desire to use Xanax on a regular basis, despite what your prescribing physician may have initially told you 
  • Taking more Xanax than intended for longer periods of time
  • Engaging in risk-taking behaviors while under the influence of Xanax 
  • Experiencing regular periods of memory loss as a direct result of taking more Xanax than prescribed 
  • Continuing to use the drug despite an accumulation of personal consequences, such as interpersonal issues, financial issues, legal issues and issues at work or at school
  • Ample time spent obtaining Xanax, using Xanax and recovering from its effects
  • Trying to cut back on use or quit entirely and being unable to do so
  • Going to great lengths to obtain the drug, such as stealing prescriptions from friends or family members, “doctor shopping” or engaging in other illegal activities in order to support the habit 
  • The slow building of a tolerance, meaning that more Xanax will be required in order for the same effects to be produced 
  • Withdrawal symptoms upon abruptly ceased use

Another symptom of ongoing Xanax abuse is potential overdose. Those that experience overdose will be in great physical danger unless symptoms are immediately treated by a medical professional. What does Xanax overdose look like?

Xanax Overdose

In most instances, medical professionals will prescribe between 0.25 and 0.5 milligrams of Xanax to be taken – in extreme cases of anxiety, up to three times per day. In most cases, however, Xanax will be used during the onset of a panic attack or in the case of acute anxiety (for example, when someone who is afraid of flying needs to travel by plane, or after someone undergoes a significant loss like the death of a spouse). Prescribing physicians will shoot for the lowest effective dose possible in order to avoid physical and psychological dependence.

People who consume too much of the prescription medication at any given time will typically experience increased drowsiness, extreme confusion, compromised coordination and an inability to see clearly. People who are experiencing a Xanax overdose will experience these symptoms – but much worse – along with memory loss, coma or even death if the overdose is left untreated for any length of time.

When it comes to Xanax overdose, it can be intentional or unintentional. Sadly, many individuals who are suffering from severe depression and suicidal ideation will intentionally overdose on this potent medication. Accidental overdose often occurs when an individual takes more than intended or when he or she mixes the medication with another chemical substance like alcohol. Mixing benzodiazepines and alcohol is extremely dangerous.

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What Steps to Take?

If an individual is experiencing a Xanax overdose, he or she will appear disoriented and confused at first, then slip into unconsciousness. If medical assistance is not called right away the risk of coma and death increase significantly. If an individual is experiencing respiratory depression (trouble breathing), it is typically because Xanax has been combined with alcohol or another central nervous system depressant. If you are with someone who is experiencing a Xanax overdose, there are several steps you must immediately take, including:

  • Call emergency first responders immediately – Those who are witnessing an overdose of any kind are encouraged to call 911 as well as the poison control hotline at 1-800-222-1222. The licensed doctors who work for this hotline will offer free, confidential advice on what steps to take in case of a Xanax overdose.
  • Stay with the person until help arrives – If the person who is overdosing becomes unconscious and there is an emergency room nearby, transport them to the ER as quickly as possible.
  • Be sure that you can recognize the signs and symptoms of overdose – Especially if you have a close friend or family member that has been prescribed Xanax or has been actively abusing the prescription medication.

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    Princeton Detox & Recovery Center – Xanax Addiction Recovery

    At Princeton Detox & Recovery Center, we have extensive experience treating men and women of all ages who have been suffering at the hands of a mild, moderate or severe Xanax addiction. Because benzodiazepine withdrawal can be so dangerous, a multi-phased approach to treatment will always be necessary. For more information on our comprehensive continuum of care or to learn more about what steps to take in case of a Xanax overdose, give us a call today. We look forward to speaking with you soon and getting you started on your own personal journey of Xanax addiction recovery as quickly as possible.