The Dangers of Self-Medicating with Xanax and Other Anti-Anxiety Drugs
Xanax may be common but your health may be affected by it. Let's look at some of the ways that Xanax can affect you.
It seems that in the course of modern life, we constantly face pressures, expectations, isolation and bouts of depression at every turn. It’s no wonder that mental health issues like anxiety are rampant in our society. Or that people would turn to drugs as an easy solution to take the edge off and numb down its effects. It comes as no surprise, then, that the use of Xanax and other benzos (anti-anxiety medications) is so widespread. But what most people don’t realize is how easily this can lead to dependency and, ultimately, a dangerous benzo addiction.
Benzodiazepines (commonly referred to as ‘benzos’) like Xanax are powerful prescription medications often used to treat mental health disorders including anxiety, panic attacks and phobias. On the surface, Xanax may seem like an ally to those in need of relief from mental health concerns. But it comes with a potentially serious side-effect: addiction.
People turn to benzos for totally understandable reasons. Many of those who misuse anti-anxiety medications often do so out of a desire to reduce stress associated with work, family or relationships. Or to block out the emotional pain associated with a current situation or past trauma. But it should be noted that anxiety meds are a slippery slope that often leads to in physical dependency, withdrawal and addiction. The real solution to anxiety lies in working through underlying issues and creating a daily practice to properly process your stress.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways Xanax and other benzodiazepines can affect you:
The Short-Term Effects of Regular Xanax Use
As psychoactive drugs, benzodiazepines are most commonly used by physicians as a treatment for people who are severely anxious or panicked, or as a sleep medication. They do this by affecting a messenger chemical in our brains known as a neurotransmitter. By increasing the production of this particular chemical, drugs like Xanax create a relaxing and sedative effect that works quickly to relieve stress and anxiety.
While often prescribed to patients with acute anxiety and panic disorders for short-term use, there are some relatively severe side effects associated with using Xanax even for a short period of time. Here are just a few of the negative effects that can be experienced as a result of using benzodiazepines:
- Slurred speech
- Memory issues
- Mood swings
Self-medicating with Xanax typically involves the use of drugs outside of your doctor’s supervision or without a medical prescription. This often includes ‘doctor shopping’ – visiting multiple doctors to attain additional prescriptions. Or obtaining illicit versions of the drug on the street. Because Xanax is so highly habit-forming, it is very important to take it only under the careful supervision of your physician.
Signs of Xanax Overdose
Xanax is a powerful, fast-acting drug that works by depressing your central nervous system. Taking too much Xanax can be very dangerous, and can even lead to overdose in more severe cases. Signs of this include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Impaired speech
- Loss of muscle control
- Drowsiness or inability to stay awake (‘nodding off’)
- Unconsciousness or coma
Xanax overdose is commonly associated with polydrug use – that is, it’s more likely to occur when mixing Xanax with alcohol or other drugs.
The Dangers of Benzo Dependency
Because of their pronounced ability to significantly alter your mood and address the symptoms of larger physical and mental health concerns, drugs like Xanax can be very addictive.
In fact, misuse and addiction are so common with benzodiazepines that their administration is strictly controlled. These drugs are typically only prescribed on an as-needed, short-term basis. Using drugs like Xanax over a longer period can create a tolerance resulting in a dangerous form of physical dependency. These habit-forming behaviors can occur whether or not the drug has been prescribed to you medically.
This is particularly concerning, as benzodiazepine withdrawal can be highly dangerous. Symptoms range from severe anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, vomiting and muscle pain on the mild end, to seizures and psychotic episodes on the more severe end. Because the symptoms are so uncomfortable, many people who want to quit continue taking benzos to avoid withdrawals. This is why it’s of utmost importance that quitting Xanax and other benzos is done under the guidance of a professional addiction treatment center. A center with experience in benzo detox and therapy.
Struggling With Xanax Addiction? The Time to Get Help is Now.
If you or someone you love has been experimenting with Xanax or other benzos. Or you’re afraid you’ve become physically dependent on them even after prescribed use, help is here for you.
We believe in every patient’s ability to truly break free from the grip of addiction. Our patients are at the center of our care philosophy, which includes providing effective, holistic therapy in the most comfortable resort-like setting. We also understand that every person and their journey is unique. And that the most effective treatment options are tailored to meet your specific needs.
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