Xanax is a branded form of alprazolam, a drug in the benzodiazepine class. This family of drugs also includes Valium, Klonopin, and Ativan.
The single most prescribed medication for psychiatric purposes in the United States – mainly for anxiety and panic disorders – Xanax works by reducing abnormal excitement in your brain and central nervous system (CNS). The drug induces a sense of calm as it slows the movement of unbalanced brain chemicals. Specifically, Xanax boosts the effects of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a chemical made naturally in the brain.
Xanax gained FDA approval in late 1981, and has been prescribed to millions of people ever since.
In 2021, after a year during which coronavirus pulverized the world, more people than ever have been gobbling Xanax to ward off anxiety and panic to the extent that addiction sets in. If this is something that’s affected you personally, take heart…
Xanax addiction treatment in the pandemic needn’t be inaccessible. On the contrary, at Renaissance Recovery Center, Xanax treatment during COVID is still perfectly possible – more on that below as we break down what to expect from our Xanax addiction treatment plan.
Before we explore what to expect from rehab for Xanax addiction, then, we’ll highlight how this drug is used, misused, and abused.
Most people use Xanax to deal with the symptoms of anxiety disorder. Others use it to provide short-term relief from general symptoms of anxiety.
Xanax is also sometimes recommended for treating panic disorders. It can be effective at reducing the occurrence of panic attacks.
Many people misuse Xanax for the rapid onset of a relaxing sense of calm it provides.
From 1998 to 2008, the number of people seeking benzo addiction treatment practically tripled.
Misuse of Xanax can lead to depression, aggressive or impulsive behavior, and even psychotic experiences. Long-term Xanax misuse can easily lead to dependence and addiction.
Xanax: Abuse, Dependence, and Addiction
If you use Xanax on an ongoing basis, you’ll need to take progressively more of the drug to achieve the same effects. In the event of severe Xanax addiction, users can take 20 to 30 pills a day, sometimes even more.
When you’re addicted to Xanax, discontinuing use triggers a shower of withdrawal symptoms, from insomnia and restlessness to tremors and anxiety. If you experience these withdrawal symptoms, it’s a sign that you’re already physically dependent on the drug. Tolerance to Xanax accompanied by withdrawal symptoms in the absence of the drug indicate addiction.
Xanax Addiction in the Climate of COVID
Over the past year, the global COVID-19 pandemic has battered all facets of our lives. From health and job security through to money concerns and worries about world affairs, even the calmest and most well-adjusted people have found themselves anxious.
Beyond this, the isolation caused by lengthy periods of enforced isolation as a result of widespread lockdowns often leads to loneliness and depression.
Benzodiazepines like Xanax can be effective for treating symptoms of anxiety, and in the US, benzo prescriptions spiked sharply during the first month of lockdown measures.
An Express Scripts research report showed that the use of benzos had been declining in the five years leading up to the pandemic. The number of prescriptions filled weekly for anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, and anti-insomnia medications climbed by 21% from February 16 to March 15, 2020, peaking as coronavirus was declared a global pandemic.
An increase in prescriptions is not in itself a cause for concern. Unfortunately, if these prescriptions are misused, or if Xanax is used alongside other substances like alcohol, the risk of harm is intensified.
It’s the same story in the UK where Xanax and similar drugs are being purchased in greater quantities online in response to pressures Brits are feeling during lockdown. Public Health England recently released a report warning that pills being marketed as benzodiazepines were linked with a spate of deaths and hospitalizations.
Whichever side of the Atlantic we’re talking about, it’s clear that people are taking Xanax as a coping mechanism in response to completely atypical events.
A Sky News report suggests that the pandemic could be encouraging people to purchase anxiety medication like Xanax as well as sleeping pills online.
Treatment Options for Xanax Addiction
Considering the harsh reality of more and more people turning to a potentially addictive drug like Xanax to gain short-term relief from anxiety, what happens if things snowball to the extent of addiction?
If you are dependent on Xanax, quitting alone using the cliched cold turkey method is inadvisable.
When you stop using Xanax, you can expect to experience withdrawal symptoms much like those triggered by alcohol withdrawal or barbiturate withdrawal. The severity of these symptoms will vary depending on how long you’ve been taking Xanax and how much of the drug you’ve been using.
In the worst outcome, Xanax withdrawal can be fatal.
The typical withdrawal process involves a gradual tapering down of your Xanax dosage. Over time, you’ll switch to a long-acting form of benzodiazepines. This tapering approach greatly mitigates withdrawal symptoms.
With this form of tapered reduction, you’ll reduce your dosage by no more than 0.5mg once every three days.
It’s generally agreed that medically-assisted detox followed by a treatment program appropriate for benzo addiction gives you the best chance of achieving sustained sobriety if you’re addicted to Xanax.
Luckily, we’re here to help.
Xanax Addiction Treatment at Renaissance Recovery Center
If you have found yourself coping with coronavirus-related pressures by reaching for Xanax, that might have been initially effective. Over time, though, you can easily find yourself addicted.
To kickstart a personalized treatment plan designed to help you leave Xanax behind safely and with all the long-term support you need in place, get in touch with the friendly admissions team today at 866.330.9449.