Many people take Xanax as a part of a treatment plan for medical or mental health conditions. While Xanax is considered safe for this use, it can also be a dangerous substance when abused. Understanding whether you’re addicted to Xanax is a first step in seeking assistance in getting out of a dangerous situation.
How Do Benzodiazepines Cause Physical Addiction?
Research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse has found that benzodiazepines can cause physical dependency or addiction in much the same way that opioids and GHB can. Before this research, scientists couldn’t find the link between benzos and dopamine-related addiction, though they knew it was present. The researchers discovered that benzodiazapines such Xanax limit some receptors in the brain from influencing dopamine regulation. Those receptors normally keep dopamine levels within appropriate ranges, and when they aren’t working correctly, dopamine levels surge. That can cause the high that draws people to drugs, but it’s also one of the factors that makes physical dependency likely.
Why is Xanax Addiction so Prevalent?
One of the reasons that Xanax addiction is so prevalent is that it’s a legal prescription drug. For that reason, some people see it as less risky and treat it with less caution than they might approach illicit drugs such as heroin. The perception of lower risk means that individuals do things such as:
- Take Xanax above what they have been prescribed, either to get high or to self medicate when prescribed doses don’t seem to be working
- Leave Xanax in places where others might be able to access it
- Share Xanax with friends or family, sometimes with a legitimate desire to help someone else
All of these actions can lead to an increased likelihood of Xanax abuse and addiction. According to Statistic Brain, in 2015, medical providers wrote more than 39 million prescriptions for Xanax in the United States, and around 61,000 people seek assistance for Xanax addiction or abuse each year.
How Can You Tell You’re Addicted to Xanax?
Since Xanax is a legal prescription drug, and you might even have been prescribed it at some point, you might wonder if you’re addicted to or abusing it. First, if you haven’t been prescribed Xanax and you’re abusing it, then you are crossing some lines into substance abuse disorder and possible addiction. You’re taking a prescription drug outside of medical care, which is illegal. You might also be taking too much or causing future health issues for yourself.
Whether you were prescribed Xanax or not, here are some signs that you could be dealing with an addiction.
- You try to hide the fact that you are using Xanax or how much you are using; even if it’s subconscious, you know there’s a problem if you’re seeking to keep it from close friends and family.
- You engage in drug-seeking behavior, which can include exaggerating or making up symptoms to receive prescriptions, seeing multiple medical providers so you can get more than one prescription or trying to fill prescriptions at more than one pharmacy.
- You are making risky decisions that put your health and wellness, relationships, career, school success or finances at risk, especially when risky behavior is out of the norm for you and it’s related to taking or getting drugs.
- You experience some physical symptoms of Xanax abuse, which can include:
- Dry mouth
- Fatigue or drowsiness that is otherwise unexplained
- Slurred speech
- Problems with memory or focus
- Nausea or vomiting
- Weakness in limbs or muscles
- You aren’t interested in activities that previously drove you, including work, social outings and hobbies.
- You are withdrawing from friends and family.
- When you haven’t had Xanax in a while, you experience severe cravings — both physical and mental — that drive you to take action to get more drugs. Sometimes, you might settle for other types of drugs if you can’t get Xanax.
With the obvious exception of Xanax cravings, some of these symptoms by themselves don’t necessarily indicate an addiction. Vertigo, for example, could indicate a medical problem. If you experience any of these symptoms, then you should talk to your medical provider about them so he or she can rule out other issues. If, however, you’re experiencing several of these symptoms on a regular basis and you are taking Xanax, then you might be dealing with a physical dependency or addiction.
What Should You Do if You’re Addicted to Xanax?
If you’re being treated with Xanax by a medical professional and believe you might have become physically dependent, then let your doctor know immediately. He or she may be able to help you wean off the drug slowly, or you might be able to use another drug that is less addictive.
If you’re dealing with Xanax addiction or abuse outside of medical care, or you have moved on to other drugs to supplement your needs, then call us today at (844)211-7944 to find out how outpatient treatment can help you stop the cycle of addiction and live a healthier lifestyle.