Xanax Abuse and Addiction in Orlando

Person with an addiction mixes cocaine and xanax

When someone is prescribed Xanax for anxiety, they may ask, “What is Xanax and what is Xanax used for?”  Xanax is a prescription, brand-name drug that falls into the benzodiazepine drug class. The generic name of Xanax is alprazolam and it’s used primarily to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Other benzodiazepine drugs include diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan) and clonazepam (Klonopin). The next question someone who was prescribed the drug might ask is, “What does Xanax do?”

What is Xanax Addiction?

Xanax and other benzodiazepines work by calming neural activity in the brain and the central nervous system. Specifically, Xanax increases the effects of something called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is a natural brain neurotransmitter that has an inhibitory effect. Because  Xanax increases the effects of GABA, it’s able to slow brain activity and reduce anxiety.

Before someone is prescribed Xanax, their doctor should review their full medical history. There is potential for  Xanax abuse and Xanax addiction. It’s important to tell a healthcare provider about any history of drug abuse or addiction. It’s also essential to tell a medical provider about any other substances being used before taking Xanax. If Xanax is combined with other central nervous system depressants, it can be dangerous or deadly. For example, combining Xanax with opioids or alcohol can lead to a fatal overdose.

When someone is prescribed Xanax or any benzodiazepine, they may ask their treatment provider, “Is Xanax addictive?” It’s important they take it exactly as instructed by their doctor because Xanax addiction can occur and the risk is higher if the drug is used in a way other than prescribed. Xanax addiction refers to a situation when someone compulsively uses the drug in an out-of-control way. When someone is addicted to Xanax, even if they want to stop using it they often find it challenging without professional treatment.

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Why Is Xanax Addictive?

When someone uses Xanax, it can increase the sensitivity of GABA receptors in the brain. This can trigger the brain to release more the neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for pleasurable feelings and because of that, Xanax can create a euphoric high in some people. The larger the dose someone uses of Xanax, the more likely they are to feel high from it and also the more likely they are to become addicted. When a release of dopamine is triggered in the brain, it can cause a reward response. That reward response can lead to the brain wanting more. When someone is addicted to Xanax, their use is no longer in their control.  It’s possible to abuse Xanax on its own but what happens more commonly is co-occurring addiction. A person might combine Xanax with alcohol or opioids for example. They will feel more of a high but this is also much more dangerous.

In addition to addiction, it’s possible for a Xanax dependence to form. When the brain and central nervous system are repeatedly exposed to Xanax and its effects, it’s difficult to function without it. If someone is dependent on Xanax and stops using it abruptly, they may have withdrawal symptoms. Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be very uncomfortable and life-threatening.

The risks of addiction and dependence are the two main reasons Xanax is a controlled substance in the United States. This means it is available only by prescription and significant regulations surround how it’s prescribed and dispensed. For example, Xanax is only intended to be a short-term treatment. Doctors are instructed not to prescribe it for more than two to four weeks in most cases. In addition to addiction, tolerance is an issue with Xanax. It’s possible to develop a tolerance to the drug rapidly, meaning higher and higher doses would be needed to get the same effects.

Someone seeking Xanax rehab may ask the question, “How long does it take to get addicted to Xanax?” Some people might use Xanax for a period and never become addicted. Other people may become addicted quickly and in some cases, it may be as little as a few weeks. The best course of action to avoid Xanax addiction is never to use it without a prescription and if prescribed to use it, to follow instructions carefully.

Xanax Addiction and Abuse Statistics

Many of the Xanax addiction and abuse statistics can be eye-opening and even startling.

Xanax addiction can be difficult to overcome without professional treatment. If you or someone you know struggles with a Xanax use disorder, help is available. At Orlando Recovery Center, a team of professionals offers a comprehensive treatment program to take patients from detox through aftercare. Call and speak with a representative to learn more about which program could work for you.

Medical Disclaimer: Orlando Recovery Center aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.