Xanax (which is the brand name of a drug called alprazolam) belongs to the benzodiazepine class of drugs. In the United States, it is the most prescribed psychiatric drug for the treatment of anxiety, panic attacks, and insomnia. Despite being short-acting, Xanax is very potent and has a high potential for abuse.
Xanax addiction is not to be confused with Xanax abuse. Abuse refers to the recreational use of the drug, usually for a specific event (for example, a party) while addiction refers to the physical and psychological dependence on the drug as a result of chronic use, without which it is impossible for the individual to function normally.
What does addiction look like?
There are some common signs that if observed in an individual should be a cause for concern. Some of these signs – both mental and physical – include:
- The incessant use of a drug without a prescription
- Repeated attempts to get numerous prescriptions for drugs from various doctors (doctor shopping)
- Needing to use more of a drug to achieve the same “high” (tolerance)
- Constantly appearing intoxicated without reeking of alcohol
- Becoming unusually defensive or aggressive when confronted about drug usage
- Hiding – or attempting to hide – drug use
- Uncommon problems with memory/concentration, mood swings
- Strained personal relationships, problems at work or in other areas of life
- Financial difficulties born out of an irrational desire to obtain drugs
- Developing dangerous behaviors such as violence in order to obtain the drug
How to Recognize Xanax Addiction
An individual addicted to Xanax exhibits common physical, physiological and behavioral symptoms which include (but not limited to):
- Drastic changes in appetite ( either a sudden increase or decrease in the quantity of food consumed)
- Drowsiness, lethargy
- Nausea, vomiting
- Mood swings (from easily irritable to anxious or depressed)
- Slurred speech
- Poor motor coordination
- Changes in physical appearance ( as a result of weight gain or loss)
- Lack of interest in activities previously enjoyed
- Memory and concentration problems
An individual would have to receive a formal diagnosis by a licensed mental health professional for him or her to be diagnosed as having a substance use disorder due to Xanax abuse. The types of indicators used to diagnose substance use disorders according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) include:
- Recurrent nonmedicinal (recreational) use of a drug which causes significant distress or functional impairments in an individual
- Various indicators showing that the individual is unable to control their usage of the drug
- Continuous use of the drug despite the fact that its usage causes significant damage or harm
- Nonmedicinal usage of the drug that results in considerable tolerance in an individual
- Nonmedicinal usage of the drug that results in the development of withdrawal symptoms
Xanax addiction can be treated under the right circumstances and with proper treatment. The first step to recovery is planning an intervention that may be formal or non-formal. Choosing an addiction treatment program – inpatient or outpatient – comes next which may include the use of medications, psychotherapy, and behavioral treatments.