Xanax is one of the most highly addictive, dangerous prescription drugs available today. While it has legitimate medical uses, there is a thin line between use and abuse. Here are the primary signs regarding how to tell if someone is addicted to Xanax or not.
What Does Xanax Addiction Look Like?
Benzodiazepines (benzos) are a class of sedative-hypnotic medications that are commonly prescribed for anxiety disorders. Some of the more common and popular brand-name benzos include Xanax, Klonopin, Librium, Valium, and Ativan. However, Xanax is probably the most addictive and most well-known of the benzo medications. It depresses the central nervous system, thus causing sedation, relaxed muscles, and reduced anxiety. These medications are highly addictive if used outside of the recommendations provided by a doctor. Signs of Xanax addiction include:
- Behavioral Changes: Such as social isolation, no longer participating in activities that were once enjoyable, and losing interest in responsibilities at work or home. These may occur as the substance use increases and the user spends more and more time using the drug.
- Physical Changes: These may manifest as extreme drowsiness, slurred speech, and increased appetite. The physical symptoms are more obvious because they typically only happen when someone is taking more of the drug than prescribed.
- Mental Changes: Benzos affect someone’s ability to create and consolidate new memories, so if someone is repeatedly forgetting conversations, events, appointments, etc. then this could be a sign that they are abusing benzos.
- Doctor Shopping: Trying multiple doctors to get multiple prescriptions for benzodiazepines is a major red flag. Your loved one may do this as a way to get more of the drug to keep up with their increasing tolerance, and they may justify that they didn’t like their previous doctor to make it less obvious.
- Mixing Benzos With Other Drugs: Many people will use opioids or alcohol to amplify or extend the effects of the benzodiazepine, however, this mixture can be lethal or cause long-term consequences.
- Obsessing over the Drug: Because these drugs are generally prescribed for anxiety or insomnia, the withdrawals can be painful and can include seizures, loss of consciousness, hallucinations, muscle pain, and suicidal thoughts. There is also a phenomenon known as “rebound anxiety” that can occur during benzo withdrawal, which is an intense version of the symptoms the drug was initially prescribed to treat. These withdrawal symptoms can make it seem like your loved one needs the drug.
Extended abuse of Xanax will produce structural and functional changes in the brain, making it very dangerous for your loved one to stop using the drug without professional medical assistance and supervision. Withdrawal from benzodiazepines is very uncomfortable and can even be life-threatening, which is why many people choose to continue their use rather than try to stop. Knowing the aforementioned signs of Xanax abuse is key to helping prevent further addiction, overdose, and possibly death.
How To Approach Someone With A Xanax Addiction
When it is difficult to tell whether or not your daughter or son is struggling with Xanax addiction, it is important to bring up your concerns so as to offer possible alternatives to the drug. If they are prescribed a benzodiazepine for anxiety or insomnia and you have noticed some negative side effects and addictive properties, speaking with their doctor about possible changes in medications or treatment plans can help. If you make the doctor aware of the problems occurring, he or she will be able to assess the situation and provide different options. Xanax withdrawal can be lethal, so seeking professional medical help is often the only way to safely detox and get sober.
If your loved one urgently insists that there isn’t a problem and that they want to keep taking that specific medication despite obvious signs of abuse, you may be dealing with a Xanax addiction and it is time to consider serious treatment options.
What to Expect When You Approach Your Loved One
The honest answer about approaching a loved one struggling with benzo abuse, especially when they have a legitimate prescription from a doctor, is that the conversation is not going to be easy. They may deny that there is a problem at all and tell you that their medications have been helping them and that there is no reason to worry. A lot of people believe that they cannot become addicted to a substance that was prescribed to them, however, benzos are highly addictive when taken outside of the prescribed dosage, or when taken for long periods of time.
You may experience some defensiveness as no one likes being accused of doing drugs, and they may feel like you are criticizing or attacking them. It is important to try and remain calm in these situations, and show your loved one how their drug use has affected those around them. Typically, someone with a substance use disorder is more focused on the drug and how it affects them, not on how their drug use may be affecting others. The user may notice that a certain amount of the benzo is no longer working and may do anything in their power to get more so they can increase the dose, however, they may not realize that the money they just stole from their significant other was meant for the power bill. They may know that taking the money is wrong, but the need for the drug overpowers any conscience telling them not to take the money. The drug is just too important.
In all honesty, your loved one may not want to get help, and you can’t force them to. As frustrating as it can be trying to make someone do what you think is best for them, you have to separate your wants from their actions. They are either going to get help, or they’re not. The only thing you can control is how it affects your life by setting boundaries, doing everything you can to not enable their addiction, and seek counsel for yourself if you feel like the stress of the situation has affected your mental health in any way.
At The Summit Wellness Group, we provide a wide range of tools to help our clients overcome their addiction. The more ways we can help someone, the better their chance of recovery. By providing the latest and most effective clinical therapies, psychiatric care, and holistic treatments, we empower our clients to solidify their desire to recover from benzodiazepine addiction and begin building a sober life, free from addiction. Give us a call today, and see how we can help you and your loved one break the cycle of addiction.