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Xanax® Addiction Treatment

 

Xanax is one of the most well-known anxiety medications, yet one of the more commonly misused. Its sedating effects make this an addictive medication, especially when taken in high dosages or used in different ways than prescribed. 

While substance use disorder is complicated and chronic, it’s treatable through residential, outpatient or partial hospitalization programs. We’ll look at the signs and potential causes of Xanax addiction and dive into our treatment options if you or someone you know is in need of help.

What Is Xanax?

What Is Xanax?

Xanax is the brand name for a prescription drug called alprazolam, typically used to treat anxiety and panic disorder. It can also treat anxiety disorders caused by depression and panic disorders that involve feelings of helplessness and embarrassment, such as agoraphobia. 

Xanax belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, often referred to as sedatives or minor tranquilizers. By reducing the excitability of nerve cells, taking Xanax works to decrease feelings of anxiety. 

The calming effects of benzodiazepines make them useful to treat other conditions in addition to anxiety and panic disorders. By depressing the central nervous system, Xanax can successfully treat conditions like:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Mania
  • Muscle spasms
  • Agitation
  • Seizures 

Its fast-acting properties make Xanax useful as an as-needed medication for panic attacks and anxiety. Because it acts so quickly and has a shorter half-life than other benzodiazepine medications, it’s one of the most misused of these drugs. Xanax can be dangerous and its misperception as a safe medication lead many people to addiction. 

Because it’s perceived as safe for various conditions, many take Xanax in higher amounts than prescribed to treat their problems, while others misuse Xanax for fleeting pleasure. Its feelings of euphoria and calmness make Xanax a highly addictive medication. If you have a prescription, you should take Xanax medication by mouth and only as directed by your doctor. Dosage varies depending on your medical condition, age and your reaction to treatment.

Signs and Symptoms of a Xanax Addiction

One of the concerning factors about using benzodiazepines is that individuals can become dependent in just a few weeks of taking them. Tolerance can develop in a few days, with physical dependence arising in weeks. Not everyone will become addicted to Xanax, and some may find genuine clinical value in it. It’s essential to note, however, that some may become addicted to Xanax even when using it as directed. 

While certain people are more at risk than others, individuals can unintentionally fall into a cycle of addiction that can be difficult to escape. They’ll often exhibit specific physical, mental and behavioral symptoms when this occurs. 

While it may be challenging to spot the signs of Xanax addiction in its early stages, it’s essential to note any problems as soon as possible to prevent serious health risks. Four signs and symptoms of Xanax addiction include:

Developing a drug tolerance can lead to the uncontrollable urge to obtain a higher dose, either through their doctor or through illegal means.

1. Misusing the Medication 

Substance use disorders tend to start when individuals take risks by using more Xanax than prescribed or taking it with other substances like alcohol. This stage can turn into a routine that develops into physical and mental dependence. The final stage occurs when they find it near impossible to get through daily life without taking drugs. 

High dosing, intoxication and drug-seeking behaviors often accompany addiction. Developing a drug tolerance can lead to the uncontrollable urge to obtain a higher dose, either through their doctor or through illegal means.

If you believe someone you know is misusing Xanax, note how often they use the drug. If it seems like they’re constantly leaving to obtain more drugs or needing refills earlier than expected, this is likely a sign of addiction. They may also lie or use deceptive behaviors to get more medication. 

Additionally, if you notice they’re mixing Xanax with other substances, like alcohol, this is a sign of misuse and can lead to addiction and other dangerous side effects. Likewise, injecting, snorting or smoking the drug can increase the potency and effect of the medication. 

2. Changes in Daily Habits 

Xanax can cause excessive drowsiness and fatigue. This can cause people with Xanax addiction to avoid daily tasks such as eating, bathing and going to work or school. If you notice you’re tired to the point that you can’t take care of your basic needs, this could be a red flag. Additionally, if you find yourself avoiding responsibilities in favor of spending time obtaining and using drugs, this is another sign of addiction. 

Note any physical changes if you suspect that someone you know may be suffering from substance use disorder. They may appear unshaven, unkempt or as if they haven’t bathed in days. Addiction can often cause sleep issues, which might result in missed appointments and other obligations. They may not be able to focus on tasks that require sustained attention. 

Additionally, if you notice your loved one neglecting their daily activities, exhibiting sluggishness, slurred speech or having difficulty walking, they may need to seek addiction treatment. 

If you find that your loved one is spending excessive time obtaining money, buying drugs on the street or endangering themselves or others while taking Xanax, they should seek professional help.

3. Behavioral Issues 

When Xanax addiction takes hold, energy spent toward daily routines and obligations such as school or work is often directed toward drug-seeking behavior. If you find that your loved one is spending excessive time obtaining money, buying drugs on the street or endangering themselves or others while taking Xanax, they should seek professional help. 

They may partake in risky behaviors such as driving while under the effects of Xanax or putting themselves in dangerous situations to obtain the drug. Additional behavioral signs of Xanax addiction include:

  • Continually using Xanax with no regard to the personal difficulties it causes
  • Inability to stop using Xanax despite the desire to 
  • Continuing Xanax even as it damages personal relationships
  • Losing interest in activities once enjoyed 
  • Losing control over the amount of Xanax consumed
  • Legal problems arising through the use of Xanax 
  • Isolating themselves from family and friends 

4. Sudden Financial Strain

Those addicted to Xanax will likely undergo financial problems in an attempt to supply and sustain their drug use. Since addiction is characterized by intensive cravings, this new dependence will soon impact their money. If the person’s doctor is unwilling to refill their prescription, for instance, they may resort to buying drugs off the street to supply their addiction. 

Another sign might be that they’ve begun lying about where their money has gone, or they steal money from friends and family. Take note of any unusual changes to bank account statements and flag unexplained purchases if possible. 

What Causes Xanax Disorders and Addictions?

What Causes Xanax Disorders and Addictions?

While the exact cause of substance use disorder is unknown, several factors may play a part. Genes, the drug itself, mental illness and environmental stress can all increase one’s risk of developing a Xanax addiction. 

Even when prescribed Xanax, a person can become physically dependent on the medication to the point where higher doses are needed to reach the desired effects. Misusing Xanax by taking it for longer than directed by a doctor or taking it with other substances can also increase a person’s chances of developing an addiction. 

And since Xanax has a short half-life of 11 hours, effects can wear off quickly, making it highly addictive even for those with a prescription. The fear of withdrawal is a big reason addiction continues. As tolerance develops, the drug’s euphoric effects dissipate quickly, and withdrawal symptoms can come faster and more severe.

While benzodiazepine addiction can happen to anyone, certain groups of people are at greater risk. Risk factors include:

  • Being in the 18-25 age range
  • Having co-occurring mental disorders like depression or bipolar disorder
  • Having a history of alcohol misuse
  • Having a family history of substance use disorder 

We’ll discuss reasons why these groups may be at a higher risk of developing an addiction below: 

Environmental Stressors

Of course, Xanax misuse isn’t limited to those with prescriptions. Many are young people who receive the drug from friends. College students and teens are at a higher risk of Xanax addiction, with rates peaking in recent years.

Students might use Xanax to deal with academic stress. On campuses and other places where Xanax misuse is common, it can be difficult for some to avoid the drug, and they may fall into addiction unknowingly. 

Similarly, those who live a stressful or chaotic lifestyle can fall into substance use disorder to cope. Children who grow up seeing their parents use substances may have a serious risk of developing an addiction later in life. Others may have chronic pain or injuries that make them turn to Xanax for muscle and pain relief. 

Among college students misusing Xanax, many have an untreated or undiagnosed mental problem. Some who develop a Xanax addiction may have never suffered from substance use disorder before obtaining a prescription.

Mental Disorders 

Among college students misusing Xanax, many have an untreated or undiagnosed mental problem. Some who develop a Xanax addiction may have never suffered from substance use disorder before obtaining a prescription. They likely suffered from anxiety and looked to the medical field for relief, started using Xanax and saw an improvement in symptoms. They then continued using it in higher doses to reach a greater effect without realizing they had fallen into addiction until it was too late. 

Individuals with mental health conditions such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental problems may look to Xanax for relief.

Women are especially vulnerable to a “heightened fear response,” making them more likely to develop anxiety and stress disorders than men.

Genetics and Personal History 

A person’s history can play a role in developing a Xanax addiction. Those who partake in criminal activity or risky behaviors are at a higher risk of turning to substance use for a similar “thrill.” They may have also grown up in dangerous environments or with individuals who had addictions and see misusing substances as normal.

Since women and older patients tend to receive Xanax prescriptions more often than men and younger patients, these groups are more likely to develop addictions. Women are especially vulnerable to a “heightened fear response,” making them more likely to develop anxiety and stress disorders than men. 

Genes can also play a role in developing an addiction. Researchers continue to study how behavioral biomarkers can predict addiction vulnerability and the parts of the brain responsible for this link. 

How to Know When It's Time for Treatment

How to Know When It’s Time for Treatment

Individuals with an addiction might not recognize when they need help. If you’ve fallen into an unhealthy cycle, it can be challenging to admit you need treatment or to recognize how your behavior might affect the ones around you. 

Some might decide they don’t need treatment and that they have control over their addiction. Others might be waiting to hit rock bottom. While it’s never too late to seek treatment, reaching out as soon as possible can give you a strong chance of overcoming the addiction. You can receive the relief you need to escape the cycle and improve your physical and mental health. 

If you believe your loved one is dealing with substance use disorder, look closer at their behavioral health and any life changes to determine if they need treatment. Look for substance-related signs and symptoms such as:

  • Risk-taking behaviors
  • Unsuccessful attempts to quit Xanax
  • Taking Xanax with other substances
  • Injecting, snorting or smoking Xanax 
  • Legal troubles 

If you’re unsure whether you or someone else has a problem, a doctor can diagnose Xanax addiction. The physical and mental dependence from Xanax addiction can take a strong hold on the individual’s life and make it difficult to quit. Xanax dependence can interfere with relationships and damage the most meaningful parts of one’s life. These issues can profoundly affect mental health and cause a downward spiral. 

If you or someone you know has a Xanax addiction, know that you’re not alone. Several treatment options are available to help curb cravings and escape the spiral of this complex disease. 

Types of Treatment Available for Xanax Addiction

If you or someone you know is suffering from Xanax addiction, several changes are needed to successfully recover. Treatment centers can help you comfortably and safely navigate the recovery process. While programs vary from center to center, the main goal of treatment for Xanax addiction is to help the client to:

  • Work through withdrawal symptoms
  • Address coinciding mental health issues like anxiety or panic disorders
  • Understand the underlying issues of their addiction
  • Learn coping strategies needed to prevent relapse and avoid triggers

Most centers will use medication and therapy to help individuals overcome substance use disorder. Depending on the client, care might require partial hospitalization, inpatient or outpatient treatment programs designed to help them achieve a better quality of life: 

Hospital-Based Care

Hospital-Based Care

Hospital-based care for Xanax addiction combines medical attention and addiction services. Partial hospitalization within residential or outpatient programs can also help the person wean off Xanax and work through addiction-related mental health issues.

In a partial hospitalization program (PHP), patients spend a full day at the treatment center, committing as much time to treatment as someone would to work or school. At the end of the day, patients return home to sleep, maintaining a familiar comfort and routine. PHP is suitable for clients who:

  • Have a safe, secure place to stay
  • Aren’t at a high risk for relapse
  • Aren’t experiencing ongoing withdrawal symptoms

Withdrawal Management

Drug dependence can cause withdrawal after Xanax and its effects have worn off. It’s essential that people taking Xanax do not stop all at once or quit “cold turkey.” Doing so can be dangerous and present serious symptoms such as seizures. Severe mental health effects, like psychosis and delirium, can also happen during Xanax withdrawal. 

Health professionals in a hospital or clinic may help you detox by using medications to gradually taper your body off the drug. This way, you can safely and comfortably quit Xanax and work on the next steps of recovery. Professionals can administer medicines that weaken withdrawal symptoms and simultaneously treat you for any coinciding mental health conditions.

Inpatient or Residential Care

Inpatient or Residential Care 

At a residential treatment center, clients have the opportunity to live with others experiencing addiction. Inpatient programs give them a chance to empathize with others and get inspired to overcome substance use disorder. 

Inpatient care facilities also provide clients with a safe space away from situations or people that could trigger their Xanax use. Often, these treatment centers will provide nutritious mealtimes for clients and help them improve their physical health. They might also offer exercise classes and other wellness activities so clients achieve an overall healthier lifestyle.

Therapy and Support Groups

Overcoming addiction can be challenging on your own. By attending support groups and individual therapy sessions, you can face a smoother and easier recovery process to eliminate drugs from your life.

In individual or group therapy, you’ll learn the underlying factors that may contribute to your addiction and find ways to overcome triggers. Peers and health professionals will provide healthy coping mechanisms you can take with you post-treatment. 

Support groups allow you to reach out to others who face similar troubles and set goals to reach successful recovery. You’ll learn from their stories and discuss any setbacks or successes along the journey. 

Outpatient Care

Outpatient Care 

Following inpatient care or as a primary form of treatment, clients can attend outpatient programs for substance use disorder. Outpatient care allows clients to tend to other obligations such as work or school while receiving treatment. 

Outpatient programs might involve therapy or medically assisted detox like other forms of care. Clients can meet with specialists, attend counseling sessions or receive medicines as needed in outpatient care. 

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are also available. These programs require a bit more time than outpatient programs, but they still allow patients to balance their work, school or home lives with treatment.

The Process of Treating a Xanax Addiction

The National Institute on Drug Abuse outlines substance use recovery services thoroughly, though two main approaches involve medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and therapy. 

MAT and psychotherapy may be provided in the same treatment program, whether the client attends an inpatient or outpatient addiction center for their recovery. This all-encompassing plan might also involve detox within the treatment facility or at a hospital. 

While the process can take many tries for some, treatment centers can provide clients with a strong chance for recovery. Before entering a treatment program, experts can help you decide the best care level for you and design a plan that meets your needs. The goal of Xanax treatment is to help you reach sobriety and prevent relapses. You’ll also fill your sobriety toolbox with hobbies and coping mechanisms to help you enjoy a better quality of life post-treatment. 

The process of treating Xanax addiction might involve: 

  1. Medical assessment: Medical professionals can assess the level of drugs in your body and determine a detox plan for you. The standard approach involves gradual tapering to safely rid Xanax from your system. Medical detox can help ease withdrawal symptoms in the first few days of treatment. Doctors will monitor you around the clock as your acute detox continues. Following this period, some withdrawal symptoms may linger as the tapering process continues. 
  2. Inpatient or outpatient program: After detoxification, you can enter a residential or outpatient program to help you continue down a healthy path. You might attend cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) sessions or other therapy options independently or with peers and develop an ongoing treatment plan with a medical professional to follow when your program ends.
  3. Ongoing treatment: Aftercare is essential for recovery success. You can attend outpatient programs, join 12-step groups such as Narcotics Anonymous and continue therapy sessions once you’ve left the treatment facility. 

The Benefits of Xanax Treatment

The Benefits of Xanax Treatment

Ultimately, the goal of treatment is to improve your physical and mental well-being and build life skills to overcome addiction and avoid triggers.

With that in mind, let’s look at the benefits a Xanax addiction treatment center can provide for you or a loved one: 

Break the Addictive Cycle

Those with Xanax addiction need a drug-free environment where a community of peers and professionals can hold them accountable for getting off drugs. After detox, you’ll undergo counseling and learn coping skills to continue down a healthy path. Therapists will use a judgment-free approach to help you develop healthy habits for a successful recovery. This way, you can break the unhealthy cycle of Xanax dependence. 

Gain Structure

One of the main benefits of treatment centers is the structure they provide. Most people with a substance use disorder live chaotic lives and find it difficult to overcome specific stressors. In treatment, you’ll prioritize routine and structure to get your life back on track. Counselors and peer leaders will encourage a daily routine to help you overcome troubling mental problems and undergo healthy activities to take with you post-treatment. 

Learn Underlying Issues

Once you’re free from drugs, you’ll be able to think more clearly and understand the possible causes of your addiction. You’ll gain insight into the people or events that may trigger your drug cravings and explore these triggers in therapy. 

Perhaps your addiction started as a way to cope with stress or to numb mental or physical pain. Maybe you use drugs to avoid responsibilities or gain a group’s approval. It’s essential to understand the reasons behind your addiction so you can learn about yourself and how to build healthy habits that don’t rely on substance use. 

Feel a Sense of Belonging 

Seeking help for substance use disorder is a courageous move, though you won’t have to go at it alone. Having a support system can make your recovery experience more comfortable and successful. You’ll feel a sense of belonging when you enter a treatment center full of counselors and peers waiting to hear from you. 

You’ll bond with fellow clients who have addictions and learn from their stories. Peers and counselors can lend an ear in tough times and provide tips to help you through recovery. At the same time, you’ll be able to provide support and encouragement to others on their path to sobriety. 

The relationships made in treatment will motivate you to continue down a healthy road, as you have people who understand you and can help you through the struggles of addiction. 

Build Healthy Habits

In an addiction center, you’ll learn healthy habits to get through stressful times and prevent future relapses. These activities might include exercise, art, hiking or other productive hobbies. By filling your downtime with positive self-care habits, you’ll gain the confidence to overcome addiction and maintain a healthy lifestyle. You’ll learn how to shift your mindset to approach new tasks with enthusiasm while meeting your physical, emotional and spiritual aspirations.

Frequently Asked Questions About Xanax Addiction and Treatment

Some of the frequently asked questions we receive about Xanax addiction include: 

1. What Do I Need to Know About Safely and Effectively Using Xanax?

If you have a Xanax prescription, ensure that you: 

  • Only use it for the condition for which it was prescribed
  • Do not give Xanax to other people, even if they have similar symptoms as you
  • Ask your pharmacist or health care provider for information about Xanax written by and for health professionals

2. Does Xanax Feel the Same For Everyone?

Xanax and other benzodiazepines do not affect everyone in the same way. How Xanax makes you feel depends on several factors, such as your:

  • Mental state at the time you take the drug
  • Dosage
  • Age
  • Weight 
  • Metabolism 

If you’ve been prescribed Xanax for the first time, It’s essential to read about its side effects and potential interactions before using it. Side effects typically become more intense as the dose increases, which is why doctors usually recommend first-time users start at the lowest possible dose.

High Xanax doses can be fatal, whether you’re taking it for the first time or you’ve been taking it for months as prescribed by a doctor. You should never take a higher dose than your doctor’s prescription. A higher dose may cause a person to behave unusually in ways that are unlike them, such as showing signs of aggression, promiscuity or even criminal activity. 

3. What Medications Are Used in Xanax Addiction Treatment? 

Your addiction treatment plan might involve a medically assisted detox to comfortably and safely taper down the Xanax in your system. The medical professionals at Gateway Foundation might recommend and use medicines like Vivitrol to help clients through their recovery. 

Medical professionals will understand potential interactions between Xanax and drugs used in medication-assisted treatment and suggest safe options.

4. How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System?

Because it takes around five half-lives for a drug to be eliminated from your body, Xanax can stay in your system for two to four days. Different tests can still detect Xanax in your system after you stop using it. The drug may be detected in your urine up to four days after your last use and in your hair up to 90 days after your last use.

Seek Xanax Addiction Treatment in Chicago and Beyond Today

Seek Xanax Addiction Treatment in Chicago and Beyond Today

Xanax addiction presents a multitude of physical, psychological and social issues for anyone impacted by it. While it’s a complex disease, breaking the cycle of addiction is easier when you have help on your side. Illinois Xanax treatment centers provide the community you need to overcome your addiction and stay sober. 

For over 50 years, Gateway Foundation has provided quality care to those who have substance use disorders. We can help you improve your overall quality of life as you mend relationships and work toward a successful recovery. Our custom inpatient and outpatient treatment programs extend the medical and professional care you deserve in a safe and welcoming environment. 

To learn more about our treatment programs and process, get in touch with us today.