Maybe you started abusing Xanax because you just needed some relief. You were anxious, fearful, sleep-deprived, and depressed. Your life was spiraling out of control, and you couldn’t find a safe harbor. You needed a moment of calm; a moment of rest. Then, your doctor saw that you were struggling and wrote a prescription.
It helped for a while. Now, though, you can’t live without it. It’s not about finding the calm anymore. It’s just about feeling normal. And every day, it’s taking more pills to get you there.
You want to quit, but you have heard horror stories about Xanax withdrawal. What can you do?
Read on to learn more about Xanax addiction and treatment options!
What is Xanax?
Xanax belongs to a class of anti-anxiety drugs known as benzodiazepines. Often, these drugs are prescribed on a very short-term basis to reduce pain and anxiety associated with medical procedures. Sometimes, however, benzodiazepines are also prescribed to treat chronic conditions, such as anxiety disorders, insomnia, and seizures.
The more prolonged the use of these medications, however, the higher the chance of addiction. Xanax and related drugs, such as Ativan and Valium, are among the most addictive prescription drugs on the market. They are also among the most dangerous.
The Dangers of Xanax
Benzodiazepines can lead to severe and often fatal side effects when used excessively or when mixed with other substances, such as alcohol.
Xanax is highly sedating, meaning that the likelihood of accidents when driving a car while under the influence can be quite high, particularly for those who are sensitive to the drug.
When used excessively, Xanax can also lead to confusion and memory loss. Abusers may be unable to recall when they took their medication or how much, leading to an overdose.
Because Xanax is a sedative, users may not even recognize they have overdosed. They may just feel very sleepy. Still, the respiratory-suppressing effects of Xanax mean that if you have overdosed and you lie down to sleep, you will probably never wake up.
As frightening as Xanax addiction can be, withdrawal can be just as terrifying. This can make such drugs enormously challenging to break free from, the process requiring intensive and long-lasting support.
A report from the NIH found, for example, that patients seeking to end Xanax use should do so under the care of skilled professionals. This is because the physical and psychological effects of weaning off the drug can be severe and even life-threatening for some patients.
This includes not only intense physical symptoms, such as tremors, pain, nausea, and seizures but also severe psychiatric effects, ranging from panic to psychosis.
Alternatives to Xanax
The best way to avoid the thrall of Xanax addiction and the terrors of withdrawal, of course, is never to turn to benzos for long-term use in the first place. A growing body of research shows that there are many safe, non-addictive alternatives to Xanax on the market today.
Among the most effective, if not exactly tasty, of these alternatives are teas and tinctures made from the kava root. In fact, kava and Xanax are so similar in their sedating effects, that doctors warn against taking the two together.
In addition to natural alternatives, a recent Harvard study found that cognitive-behavioral therapy can be as effective as Xanax. This form of treatment can assist in treating anxiety, depression, insomnia, and panic disorder.
What If You Are Already Addicted?
Never starting the drug in the first place may be good advice. For many, though, the warning comes too late.
Benzodiazepines were once considered a sort of wonder drug of the medical world. They first entered the market in 1955, and by the mid-1970s, physicians were handing them out like candy. By the time the medical profession began to recognize the dangers of benzos in the late 1980s, it was already too late. Millions of people were getting addicted. And today, nearly three decades later, they still are.
For patients who are already addicted, Xanax can seem like a prison they can’t escape. Withdrawal, to some, may appear as bad, if not worse, than the addiction itself.
But Xanax addiction does not have to a life sentence, even for the most excessive of abusers.
Research increasingly shows that there are safe and effective options to help abusers wean off the medication without having to endure the worst of those terrifying withdrawal symptoms. When withdrawing from Xanax use, the most important thing is receiving support in a controlled environment.
You have to be somewhere where you can be continuously monitored by professionals who know what symptoms to watch for and how to react to protect you, both physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Your environment also has to be carefully controlled. Quiet and calm are essential as the drug leaves your body. Medications may be required to safeguard against the physical and psychiatric side effects of withdrawal. Holistic remedies, such as meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, and massage, may also be used to make the process as comfortable as possible.
To say that there is an addiction crisis in America is not breaking news. Nearly 100,000 people die each year by drug overdoses. These are our neighbors. Our friends. Our dearest loved ones.
But addiction does not have to mean death. It is possible to escape the thrall of even the most highly addictive and punishing of drugs.
The effects of Xanax withdrawal are, without a doubt, terrifying. It requires courage, strength, and support to face them. What is even more terrifying than the withdrawal, though, is the very real possibility of living an addicted life. After all, life is sure to be shorter and far less happy with Xanax addiction.
No matter how long you have used, no matter how extreme your addiction, there is a life for you on the other side of this drug. You can get sober, and you don’t have to do it alone. There is hope, and there is help for you.
Please visit our website to learn more about Xanax addiction and the treatment options available. Addiction Treatment Services can help you break free from your addiction.
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