A Guide to Xanax Addiction & Abuse
Xanax is a brand name for a medication called Alprazolam, part of the benzodiazepine family and often used to treat anxiety. If used correctly Xanax is a tranquiliser that causes the nerve cells in your brain to be less excitable.
Xanax is not available from the NHS but can be obtained on a private prescription in the UK, unfortunately, Xanax is used as a medication to augment the highs felt from other drugs or medications, and is available from street level drug markets, illegal websites and social media apps in the UK (Alprazolam (Xanax): What are the facts? – Public health matters)
If you or someone you love requires assistance with Xanax abuse, please contact us today.
What is Xanax Addiction or Substance Use Disorder?
Addiction is a compulsion to continue using despite any negative consequences, regular use of Xanax if you have a predisposition to addiction, changes your brain chemistry making it harder to simply cease using it once you have started.
Addiction, no matter the substance has many common signs:
- There’s an urge or craving to use that’s so intense it’s difficult to focus on anything else.
- Needing to use more of the drug to achieve the same “high” (tolerance).
- Taking more and more of the drug or taking the drug for longer periods than intended.
- Spending a lot of time obtaining the drug, using it, and recovering from its effects.
- Continuing to use even though use affects your ability to fulfil duties at work, school, or home.
- Continuing to use despite it causing social or interpersonal problems.
- Giving up important activities or hobbies to use.
- Using recurrently in harm-promoting situations.
- Continuing to use despite it causing physical or psychological problems.
- Lacking the ability to stop using the drug without the assistance of professional intervention.
- Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal once you stop using the drug.
(Xanax Addiction: How to Recognize and Treat It)
Xanax Addiction VS. Abuse
Despite the very legitimate mental health issues that Xanax was originally prescribed to treat, chronic misuse or abuse can lead to physical and psychological dependence. Physical dependence can occur with or without an addiction to the drug; both abuse and addiction have detrimental effects on your life.
Addiction is a chronic disease characterised by an overwhelming urge to continue using Xanax despite any negative effects you may be experiencing.
Addiction needs to be professionally diagnosed and if necessary medically treated in a rehabilitation facility.
What is Xanax abuse (prescribed)?
If you find yourself taking Xanax more regularly than prescribed, in doses higher than recommended or in a manner other than intended, then you are abusing the medication. Other signs that of abuse include:
- Denial of use
- Missing work, school, family events
- Failing to meet your responsibilities
- Feeling moody or irritable when not able to take Xanax
How Xanax Addiction Develops
Although taking Xanax may have been voluntary, to begin with, developing an addiction was not your choice, and may have been a combination of the following factors:
With dependence comes a tolerance to the dosages taken, more Xanax is needed to achieve the same effects. Tolerance is built up through the regular use of Xanax over some time. Easy availability and doctor hopping have made Xanax addiction very common.
A Family History of Xanax Use
Research has shown a strong correlation between the environment you grew up in (family, social, education & economic) and the actual gene sequencing within your body that can lead to substance use disorders. A family history of substance use disorder showed higher rates of impulsivity, lower decision-making skills, as well as higher obsessive-compulsive tendencies, increasing a person’s risk of addiction. (Does Addiction Run in the Family? Genes and the Home Environment)
Generally, positive family influences, such as family bonding and consistent rules, appear to reduce the risk of drug abuse among teens, while negative family influences tend to increase risk. The same is true of positive and negative peer factors and community involvement in the development of healthy activities for children to alleviate boredom and experimentation with substances.
(Genetics and Epigenetics of Addiction DrugFacts)
Signs & Symptoms of Xanax Addiction
There are many signs indicating abuse or an addiction to Xanax, you may be in denial as to your dependence upon Xanax, but if you are concerned, abuse of Xanax can present as:
- Mood changes
- Trouble walking
- Trouble concentrating
- Poor judgment
- Slow reflexes
- Slurred speech
- Memory problems
- Slow breathing
(Prescription Drug Abuse: Addiction, Types, and Treatment)
Trauma & Pre-existing Mental Health Conditions
Studies have shown evidence of the link between trauma and substance abuse, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from physical, sexual, and emotional abuse in childhood also increases your risk of mental health illnesses like, schizophrenia, major depression, and bipolar disorder which can lead to substance abuse as a form of self-medicating in teens and young adults.
(Substance use, childhood traumatic experience, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in an urban civilian population)
If you also have a dual diagnosis (mix of mental health issues and existing substance use disorders) you are more likely to be co-prescribed Xanax in conjunction with other medications like Opioids. This phenomenon has been described as ‘adverse selection’. Terminology and prevalence
Diagnosing Xanax Addiction
Diagnosis of addiction is best performed by a Doctor, The NHS recommends that the DAST-10 (Drug Abuse Screening Test) assessment (Policy for alcohol referral pathway/clarify services between CAT & DAS services) and CAGE questionnaire (CAGE Questionnaire: Questions, Scoring, Variations, and Accuracy) be used by your medical provider or chosen treatment centre
If you are concerned about your usage of Xanax, please approach your GP and discuss your concerns, alternatively, you can contact us for advice.
The Dangers of Xanax Addiction
Short term effects of taking Xanax can cause an increased risk of accidents, due to drowsiness and a loss of coordination. Use of Xanax with other medications or drugs to boost their efficacy or numb withdrawal can cause slow/shallow breathing and severe drowsiness/dizziness. (Prescription Drug Abuse: Addiction, Types, and Treatment)
Long-term use may cause permanent changes to your brain affecting:
- Motor control.
- Visual abilities.
- General intelligence.
Xanax Use in Pregnancy
Xanax is not recommended unless necessary during pregnancy, when used in the third trimester, Xanax can cause unusual sleepiness, feeding/breathing difficulties, muscle shakiness, or constant crying of a newborn. (Xanax Oral: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Pictures, Warnings & Dosing)
Facts around Xanax use in the UK
Whilst Xanax can only be obtained on a private prescription in the UK, but pills can easily be bought from street dealers, online pharmacies or the dark web for as little as £1 each. (Xanax misuse: doctors warn of ’emerging crisis’ as UK sales rise.)
There has also been an increase in teen use, Xanax is faster acting and is up to 10x stronger than Valium. (Xanax: The anxiety drug putting lives at risk) The illicit sale of Xanax in the UK has become a problem and there have been cases logged by TICTAC (TICTAC Communications Ltd | TICTAC drug identification | London) of etizolam being sold as Xanax.
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Is Xanax Addiction a Disease?
Addiction is a chronic disease, that manifests as an intense need to use a substance (in this case Xanax) to the point where your ability to function is impaired, there is an uncontrollable use despite any negative consequences, be it financial, breakdown in relationships, or even health.
Getting Help for Xanax Addiction
Due to the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and rebound symptoms, you may experience, a residential rehabilitation facility is beneficial for the treatment of Xanax addiction. There you will receive medical supervision during detox as well as a structured treatment plan to include a combination of medical care, psychiatric services, counselling, behavioural therapy (CBT), vocational training, and other services to best support the whole of you throughout recovery.
The NHS also offers outpatient care for the treatment of addiction. But there can be waiting lists before you may start treatment, if you require urgent admission, contact us and we will help you find the right private treatment centre for your needs.
There are also counselling groups available for yourself and support groups for your loved ones if needed.
NA – Narcotics Anonymous UK Narconon Drug & Alcohol Rehabilitation Programme in the UK