Some of the most dangerous drugs in the world were actually created to help people. In fact, this could be said of virtually every pharmaceutical substance that has become prone to abuse over the years. While many people associate pharmaceutical abuse with prescription painkillers and opioids, benzodiazepines are actually the most-prescribed class of controlled drugs in the world with Xanax being among the most popular. 9Unfortunately, Xanax is especially dangerous among the benzodiazepine class, which is why it’s very important to be knowledgeable about Xanax and its effects. In particular, what is Xanax and what makes it so dangerous?
What is Xanax?
By definition, benzodiazepines—the class of pharmaceutical drugs to which Xanax belongs—are psychoactive, controlled medications that enhance the effects of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA; this creates a hypnotic or sedative effect, which is why benzodiazepines, or “benzos”, are used as anxiolytics, or anti-anxiety drugs, as well as anticonvulsants for people with epileptic disorders and occasionally even as a muscle relaxant. Xanax is the most well-known benzodiazepine and is one of the most widely used due to it being somewhat more potent yet shorter-acting than most other benzodiazepines. And while Xanax has been commonly used to treat such conditions as panic disorder, anxiety-related disorders, insomnia, muscle spasms or tension, headaches that result from high blood pressure, epilepsy, and social phobias, most physicians are hesitant to prescribe Xanax for more than a few weeks at a time due to the high risk of dependence.
Xanax is the more widely known brand name of a drug called alprazolam. Xanax and other benzodiazepines are known to induce relaxation, lethargy, and drowsiness. Generally, the effects of Xanax are considered milder than opioids, which is why benzodiazepines are so widely used for medicinal treatment.
Alongside Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin, Xanax is one of the most widely used and recognizable benzodiazepines on the market. The reason that Xanax has been preferred over other benzodiazepines for treating anxiety-related conditions is because Xanax is moderate in strength, moderately fast-acting, but also short-acting; this means that in the event that a person were to need to take Xanax for something like seizures or a panic attacks, the drug’s effects would alleviate his or her symptoms relatively quickly and effectively and then wear off not long thereafter. This makes the minimum period of time between doses much smaller, which is helpful for conditions like epilepsy where a person may need to take the drug multiple times in a day without fear of intoxication or overdose. However, being a somewhat stronger benzodiazepine, Xanax has gained much popularity among substance abusers, many of whom will either take Xanax in large doses or take Xanax alongside other drugs, especially opioids, to boost their effects.
Why Xanax is Dangerous
Xanax is considered a stronger benzodiazepine than other drugs in its class, which means the drug has a high potential for abuse. In fact, when taken by individuals who don’t actually suffer from anxiety, they oftent begin experiencing anxiety during the interim between doses, indicating that the misuse of the drug by individuals who don’t need it can cause severe neurological effects.
Today, many individuals feel entitled to having any level of pain and discomfort totally alleviated by any means necessary or available. It’s this belief that has resulted in such large amounts of benzodiazepines like Xanax being prescribed and, eventually, making their way to the streets. Since it’s a powerful drug, both individuals who abuse Xanax and those who take the drug as prescribed may experience negative or adverse effects. Some of the most common effects that Xanax has on the body include trembling and shaking, uncontrollable body movements, possibly seizures, pounding heartbeats or palpitations, inability to speak clearly, and imbalance or lack of coordination. In terms of the effects on the mind, individuals may sometimes experience confusion, racing thoughts, erratic or risk-taking behavior, and occasionally depression with or without suicidal ideations.
Since Xanax is such a potent benzodiazepine, it is usually only prescribed for short periods of time. Not only is this due to the abuse potential, it’s also because of the lasting physiological effects that can result from the continued use or abuse of Xanax over an extended period of time. If, for instance, someone were to use Xanax for a period of years or decades, he or she may begin exhibiting serious memory impairments, much more profound and comparable to dementia or amnesia. Many of the effects that a person might experience in the early stages of regular Xanax use — reduced sex drive, rashes on the skin, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, shortness of breath, difficulty urinating — become much more pronounced while he or she also begins to have trouble with speech; in particular, the individual seems to be having difficulty saying certain words or will exhibit slurred speech, almost as if intoxicated from alcohol. There’s often issues with respiratory depression, occasional states of delirum, severe depression, potential violent episodes, impulsive behavior, and even the potential for occasional states resembling psychosis.
Overcoming Xanax Addiction at Malvern Institute
Most people addicted to a chemical substance will experience withdrawal symptoms at times. Typically, this occurs when the individual is unable to obtain the substance to which he or she is addicted. The experience of withdrawal during these times often cause addicted individuals to develop a fear of sobriety and recovery. Since benzodiazepine withdrawal is considered one of the most severe and dangerous forms of withdrawal, individuals addicted to Xanax may become particularly averse to the prospect of recovery. However, Malvern Institute can help.
With our Malvern Model of Care, anyone who has become addicted to Xanax will have the opportunity to detox in a high-quality facility with treatments administered by leaders in their respective fields. One of the great features of the Malvern Model is that it guides patients through our continuum of care, following detoxification with induction, inpatient care, and concluding with outpatient treatment. By the end of the program, the individual will have acquired the skills necessary for lasting recovery. If you’d like to learn more about Xanax addiction treatment at Malvern Institute, or if you have any other questions, please call us anytime at 610.MALVERN (610.625.8376).