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Xanax Abuse

Xanax abuse and prescription drug abuse is a growing problem among all age groups, in every state, but is a particular problem among young people. First developed to handle panic disorder, Alprazolam, or Xanax is a common sedative frequently prescribed for anxiety. It is a form of Benzodiazepine, a family of psychoactive drugs including Valium and Librium. Where does the thrill come from? Like other drugs which act upon the central nervous system, Xanax, a benzodiazepine, interacts chemically with the brain. It slows neurotransmitters, inducing a calm, drowsy state when used properly.

Xanax has depressant effects on brain areas that regulate wakefulness and alertness, very similar in effect to alcohol and sedative barbiturates. In short, it makes you feel like you're drunk. It enhances the action of receptors that inhibit central nervous system stimulation. Conversely, inhibit the action of receptors that stimulate the nervous system. In other words, if the nervous system were a car, these drugs help press down the brakes but make it harder to press down on the gas.

Problems associated with Xanax abuse:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • "Floating" or disconnected sensation
  • Depressed heartbeat
  • Depressed breathing
  • Excessive sleep and sleepiness
  • Mental confusion and memory loss
  • Addiction

Those with Xanax abuse problems, however, crave the euphoria it brings, which is enhanced when the pills are crushed and the powder inhaled. This "hit" acts on the brain's pleasure centers, creating an intense feeling of well-being that becomes more and more difficult to capture with continued Xanax abuse. As the body builds up tolerance to it, a physical dependency develops, side by side with a psychological craving that continues even if the drug toxins no longer reside in the body.

As with any drug, Xanax abuse very often leads to addiction. While there are medically acceptable uses of Xanax, specifically for the treatment of anxiety disorders, Xanax abuse occurs when the user begins to take more of the drug than was prescribed or begins to use it more often than necessary. An abuser may justify this behavior to themselves and others as sanctioned by their doctor. Other inappropriate uses of Xanax include changing the method of delivery. As prescribed, the pill should be swallowed whole; however, addicts may chew or snort Xanax to deliver a faster, more intense sensation.

Like all benzodiazepines, Xanax can be fatal if mixed with alcohol or other drugs. Moreover, because Xanax enters and exits the blood stream so quickly, individuals become addicted very rapidly and may develop dangerous withdrawal symptoms if they are unable to obtain more of the drug once they have developed an addiction.

It is estimated that in 1999, 4 million people were currently using prescription drugs for recreational purposes. Nearly 5 million people have at one point taken Xanax or a similar anti-anxiety medication for non-medicinal reasons. This is according to a 2000 survey conducted by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Possession of a prescription drug without proof of a prescription is a felony. More than 22,000 Xanax abuse related emergency-room visits were reported in the United States in 2000. This is up from 16,000 seven years before, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

There is a fine line between Xanax abuse and addiction. It can never be too early in the process for someone to begin the path to sobriety. If you have noticed addictive behavior, it has likely been going on longer than you realize, and the damage may be more extensive than is clear at first glance. If you are concerned about loved one, they may have limited insight into their problem, so it is up to you to take the first step in getting them help. If you or your loved one has a Xanax abuse problem, we encourage you to call us today to develop a personalized recovery program that fits your specific needs.

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