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Xanax Addiction

Xanax is a depressant, and is also a part of the benzodiazepines family. Physicians often prescribe Xanax to treat anxiety disorders; however, many patients develop a dependency resulting in xanax addiction. Xanax is also commonly called “alprazolam”, and is categorized as a Schedule IV drug, under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA). Since the 1960s, Xanax has been used as a tranquilizer. In the 1970s, there was strong opposition to the use of benzodiazepines, resulting in a 25 percent reduction in the number of prescriptions written today. Of all the psychotropic medications available today, benzodiazepine is the most controversial; approximately 3 million Americans (1.6 percent of the adult population) have used benzodiazepine daily for at least 12 months.

There are several benefits to taking Xanax and other Schedule IV drugs, however, many patients are becoming addicted, requiring intervention services and drug treatment programs to recover from their addictions. Oftentimes, if the drug taken for a lengthy timeframe, the patient will develop a tolerance for it, requiring larger doses. With the increase in Xanax use, physical and psychological dependencies develop. It is very difficult to quit Xanax cold turkey; in fact, it is not recommended. It has been reported that up to 25 percent of patients who quit taking Xanax medication experienced withdrawal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, chills, lethargy, fatigue, moodiness, crying, dystonia, paresthesia, tremor, vivid dreams, and myalgias).

Additionally, the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) report on benzodiazepines reflects that 11 to 15 percent of individuals in the adult population have consumed benzodiazepine one or more times during the prior year; however, only 1 to 2 percent have taken benzodiazepines daily for 12 months or longer. However, in areas of psychiatry and in drug abuse populations, the dominance of benzodiazepine use, abuse and dependence is significantly higher than the general population’s.

Treatment generally includes the patient’s thought process, behavior, and helping them cope with life on a whole. For individuals suffering from Xanax addiction, dosage should be tapered off gradually, instead of suddenly stopping without further dosage. Included in many treatment programs are outpatient plans, which include helping the patient discontinue from usage with gradual discontinuance over a six to 12 week schedule, monitoring and assisting the patient in feeling in control of their dosage, plus having a help-line so the patient can call if she needs reassurance. Furthermore, there are inpatient treatment programs and 12-step programs such as Narcotics Anonymous where the patient can discuss his Xanax addiction with individuals similar to him. Additionally, there are drug treatment exchanges (clonidine, propranolol, or carbamazepine). These substitutes can be perilous; therefore the patient is often required to undergo inpatient care so a physician can monitor his dosages until he is able to reach a zero dosage.

It is extremely difficult to discontinue using Xanax and other benzodiazepines once you have become addicted. Nonetheless, these drugs are invaluable in treating patients with anxiety, depression, agoraphobia, premenstrual syndrome, and panic attacks. Because of its high propensity for addiction, the patient and her physician should work together to regulate long-term usage, monitoring side effects, and to watch for any signs of abuse. Contact a treatment facility or your physician if you are experiencing Xanax addiction.