Xanax is a powerful benzodiazepine that is often prescribed to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorders and insomnia. It is extremely addictive when used long-term. Xanax is the number one prescribed psychiatric medication in the United States. Seventy percent of teens with a Xanax addiction get the drug from their family’s medicine cabinet.
Tolerance to Xanax develops quickly, requiring the user to take more of the drug to achieve the desired effects. Someone with a Xanax addiction may take up to 20 to 30 pills per day. If the user decides to stop taking Xanax, they may experience withdrawal effects, such as anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and tremors. The onset of withdrawal symptoms is a sign that a physical dependence has developed. The development of tolerance and withdrawal are indications of addiction.
Once a Xanax addiction has taken hold, daily responsibilities, such as school, work or family, are ignored as energy is redirected towards drug seeking behavior.
Other behavioral signs of Xanax addiction include:
- Continued use of Xanax even though it is contributing to personal difficulties
- Inability to stop using Xanax despite the desire to
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Obsessing about obtaining and using Xanax
- Loss of control over the amount of Xanax being consumed
- Legal problems that are the result of using Xanax
- Risk-taking behaviors, such as driving while under the influence of Xanax
If a user wishes to stop taking Xanax after dependence on the drug has formed, it is not recommended to quit “cold turkey” or without medical supervision. The symptoms of Xanax withdrawal are similar to those of alcohol or barbiturate withdrawal, and the severity of the symptoms can vary. If convulsions occur, withdrawal from Xanax can be deadly.
Normally, the withdrawal process involves slowly reducing the dosage of Xanax and eventually switching the user to a long-acting form of the drug for a period of time. The gradual taper of this drug helps to reduce withdrawal symptoms.
Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam, a prescription sedative in the benzodiazepines family. Benzodiazepines were originally developed as a replacement for barbiturates. Xanax affects the brain and central nervous system (CNS). It boosts a brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which slows down the nerve cell activity in the brain. The result is a calm and relaxed feeling.
Because Xanax is a CNS depressant, common effects of the drug include slurred speech, loss of coordination, and anxiety.
Xanax is dispensed in 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg and 2 mg strengths. The pills come in different shapes and colors depending on strength. The 2 mg tablets are white, green, or yellow in color and rectangular in shape. The rest are oval shaped and colored white (0.25 mg), orange (0.5 mg) or blue (1 mg). Xanax is a regulated schedule IV controlled substance.
After taking Xanax, the peak effects of the drug are typically felt within one to two hours. As an intermediate-duration drug, Xanax stays in a person’s system for 12 to 15 hours.