Xanax: Dangers and Risks with Misuse

Posted on April 4th, 2012

The prescription drug Xanax has been in the news quite a bit lately, and for good reason. The fact is that Xanax, a benzodiazepine, is quickly becoming one of the most abused prescription drugs, resulting in addiction for a growing number of users.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) says that every year doctors write more than 50 million prescriptions for benzodiazepine and that 11 to 15 percent of American adults have a bottle of benzos in their medicine cabinet.

That statistic alone should be enough to be alarming, especially since that’s a huge population potentially risking addiction to the drug.

But long before a person becomes addicted, Xanax use carries a number of risks and dangers.

Deadly Potential

Although Xanax itself rarely kills, the most alarming of the risks of Xanax misuse and abuse is the risk of death when Xanax is combined with alcohol consumption. Death from overdose is sometimes the tragic result of playing with this deadly combination.

Xanax: What It Is and How Addiction Starts

There are, of course, legitimate reasons for physicians to prescribe Xanax to patients. Those suffering from anxiety and panic attacks may benefit from taking the medication. Indeed, it is an anti-anxiety and anti-panic medication that helps ease the individual’s level of tension and stress.

Where people get into trouble with Xanax is when they start becoming addicted to the kind of euphoric feeling that the drug brings about, or to its depressive properties. This can happen even when they are taking the medication as prescribed by their doctor.

But Xanax addiction can also occur, and this is increasing in frequency, when individuals obtain the drug either from friends or a drug dealer and begin using it on a recreational, nonmedical basis. In other words, they’re taking it purely as a party drug to get to the desired state of euphoria or to “take the edge” off what may otherwise be a stressful situation.

Just as with other addictive drugs, once an individual becomes addicted to Xanax, he or she will find themselves having to use more of the drug and more often, just to achieve – or attempt to achieve – the desired effect. The fact is that this desired effect becomes increasingly elusive, to the point of diminishing returns. The more Xanax the person takes, the deeper they sink into addiction and perpetuate the addictive cycle.

Signs of Xanax Addiction

What does Xanax addiction look like? What are some of the signs and symptoms? Experts say that there are a number of distinct physical and psychological symptoms that are associated with addiction to Xanax. These include:

  • Strong cravings for the drug
  • Irregular or depressed heartbeat
  • Sleeping constantly or always being sleep
  • Withdrawal symptoms when not on Xanax

Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms

It’s not easy going through withdrawal from Xanax, similar to withdrawal symptoms from other types of highly-addictive drugs. When does this withdrawal occur? It generally occurs as soon as the drug supply dries up or the individual deliberately stops taking Xanax. It also occurs when the individual goes into drug treatment and begins the detoxification process to wean themselves off Xanax under medical supervision.

While every person experiences Xanax withdrawal a little differently, some of the most common symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Inability to sleep, or insomnia
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Trembling or restless leg syndrome
  • Relapse back into drug use

It should be mentioned that while none of the withdrawal symptoms mentioned here are necessarily life-threatening, they may result in the person relapsing. This could likely propel the individual into the addiction cycle they’ve been trying so hard to break. At the very least, relapse is psychologically demoralizing.

What should you do if you believe you or a loved one is addicted to Xanax? Read Treatment for Xanax Addiction >>

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