Xanax (also know by the generic name alprazolam) is a drug used to treat anxiety and panic disorder. Known for its ability to produce a calming, sedative effect, it is also highly addictive. Although prescription use can lead to dependence, it is even more dangerous when bought and used illicitly (“on the street”). If you have questions about Xanax, The National Rehab Hotline at 866-210-1303 can help 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Whether you need the names of local rehab centers, want to know what the warning signs of dependence are, or just need somebody to talk to, our staff members offer nonjudgmental support and guidance. Your calls are free and confidential.
What Does a Xanax Hotline Do?
Our hotline answers all kinds of questions about mental health and addiction, and Xanax use is a common topic. Like other addictive drugs, it disrupts the lives of its users and the people around them. When overwhelming feelings and cravings make it hard to know which way to turn, caring staff members can steer you in the right direction and suggest options for the recovery process.
Sometimes, it’s enough just to know you aren’t alone and help is available. The earlier the diagnosis and treatment, though, the greater the chances of success. If you’re ready to start the road to recovery, the hotline is a good place to start.
If you or someone else is experiencing the following symptoms, get help from a medical professional first, such as by calling 911, before calling the hotline:
• Extreme sleepiness or exhaustion
• Slurred speech or confusion
• Shallow breathing or slow heart rate
• Lack of coordination
• Dilated pupils
• Pale, cold skin
• Blurred vision
What Questions Do Helpline Operators Ask?
The role of a Xanax hotline is to help people who are battling Xanax dependence or addiction. Helpline workers know callers are anxious, and they’re trained to get to the core of the matter without causing further distress. They ask questions like these to get the information they need to assist a caller:
1. Is the person taking the drug a danger to himself or others? Is this an emergency?
2. What drug is being taken and for how long?
3. Are there other disorders, such as depression, bipolar disorder, a personality disorder, or PTSD, that complicate Xanax use?
4. Is the individual willing to enter a rehab center?
5. Is this the first time for treatment?
The more honest the answers to these questions are, the more help the hotline can provide.
What Questions Should Callers Ask?
Callers should be free to ask for information without being afraid of getting in trouble. Helpline staff usually stick to subjects they know well, including topics like these:
1. What are the dangers of Xanax addiction?
2. What treatments are available? Are they inpatient or outpatient? Are there local support groups?
3. What styles of talk therapy does rehab include? Does it include family therapy?
4. Where are treatment centers located?
5. Does insurance pay for rehab and detox?
6. Are other kinds of treatment options available?
7. Does the rehab facility treat co-occurring disorders?
8. Does the program include ongoing support after rehab?
Callers are usually stressed when they call for help, and it’s hard to remember all the information given to them. Having a pen and paper nearby to jot notes can prevent confusion later. It also helps to have a list of questions handy when the call starts.
What Makes Xanax So Dangerous?
Xanax belongs to a classification of sedatives called benzodiazepines, which includes several other drugs such as Valium. Doctors prescribe the drug to relieve generalized anxiety, panic disorder, insomnia, and stress. Although it is a highly effective muscle relaxant, it can have a rebound effect, causing symptoms to return with greater intensity after stopping the medication.
Common side effects include relaxation, euphoric highs, mood swings, forgetfulness, impulsiveness, and a lack of interest in sex. Physical effects include dry mouth, dizziness, fatigue, lack of concentration, nausea, vomiting, slurred speech, seizures, shortness of breath, erectile dysfunction, poor coordination, and tremors.
Xanax impairs the ability to drive and increases the risk of traffic accidents. It also makes falls and broken bones more likely.
Do I have a problem with Xanax?
If you become dependent on a drug, you need to increase the amount to get the same effect. You build up a tolerance and go through physical and mental withdrawal symptoms if you stop. If you’re addicted, you can no longer stop taking the drug even when it hurts you to continue. Addictions don’t always include physical dependence, but it’s common.
Patients who take prescription Xanax as recommended may still build up a dependence on the drug. Doctors usually advise patients to taper off the dose before stopping entirely.
What Are the Signs of Xanax Addiction?
As tolerance to Xanax develops, individuals taking a prescription require higher doses to get therapeutic benefits and avoid withdrawal symptoms. This can lead to intoxication and cravings even in patients who are taking it as prescribed. Watch for the following signs of Xanax addiction:
• Blurry vision
• Extreme drowsiness
• Difficulty in walking, lack of coordination, slurred speech
• Inability to stop or lower the dose
• Lies to get pills from doctors or acquaintances
• Compulsive purchase or use of Xanax
• Purchases of Xanax illicitly on the street
• Behavior that puts self and others at risk while intoxicated by Xanax
What Are Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms?
Xanax withdrawal symptoms usually get worse the longer the drug is taken. They can include the following mental and physical symptoms:
• Inability to concentrate
• Sleep problems
• Restlessness or anxiety
• Muscle spasms
• Rapid heart rate
• Fast, shallow breathing
• Convulsions (seizures)
• Depression and mood (anxiety, bipolar) disorders, or worsening of such problems that the person already has.
• Feelings of disassociation
• Panic attacks
What Causes Addiction?
Whether it’s a prescription or recreational use, the first dose of a drug is often by choice, but the path to dependence varies for each individual. Addiction changes the brain’s reward center in ways that are hard to repair.
When you participate in pleasurable activities, such as having a good meal or going to a ballgame, you feel good and look forward to doing them again. That’s because these activities trigger small bursts of dopamine in the brain. When you use alcohol or drugs to get high, however, the brain releases large surges of dopamine. Every time you get a rush, it takes more to get the same effect, and the substance use is no longer the thrill it was in the beginning. If you don’t use it, though, you have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. It becomes necessary to use just to feel normal and avoid discomfort.
Substance use also affects the way the prefrontal cortex (a part of the brain) manages “executive functioning” skills (the ability to do everyday activities like get dressed, clean house, or run errands), and the brain no longer alerts the person to the consequences of impulsive behavior. Some drugs are more addictive than others, and that also plays a role in addiction. People metabolize alcohol and drugs differently, depending on factors like gender, age, and weight.
As the body gets used to the substance, it learns to process it more efficiently, and it needs larger amounts. One way of explaining addiction is saying that the cravings hijack the brain’s reward system, causing risky behavior and poor decision-making.
Do Interventions Work?
Approaching someone who has a Xanax problem is never easy, and it helps to be prepared. First, keep in mind that addiction changes the brain and makes it physically and mentally difficult to control behavior. It’s important to know the warning signs of use and overdose, check out treatment options, and make notes of incidents you notice that are related to the drug. Finally, think about the most effective way to share your fears and offer support. Interventions can be successful, but they may backfire if the person who has the addiction feels shamed or controlled.
Start by setting up a meeting with loved ones who can express their concerns and wanted outcomes without getting angry or frustrated. It’s usually a good idea to involve an addiction specialist, therapist, or counselor who knows how to set the tone of an intervention. If someone wants to be there but has trouble staying calm, consider asking for a letter that you can read in the meeting.
Be ready to act quickly if the individual agrees to get help, but also have a plan for what you’ll do if the intervention doesn’t work out. If that happens, family members may want to look for a support group for support and guidance. Another option is setting up a doctor’s appointment for the person with the addiction and asking for medical advice.
The next step is detox and medical management of withdrawal symptoms. Because withdrawal from Xanax is so intense, it usually takes place in a hospital or rehab center. Less severe cases of dependence may only require gradually reducing the dose or replacing it with a less addictive one while tapering the Xanax dosage.
Xanax Facts and Statistics
One danger of illicit Xanax is that its ingredients and strength are unknown, and sometimes they’re downright unsafe. In February 2021, a South Carolina newspaper reported multiple deaths and overdoses caused by fake Xanax. The fatalities included a man who used the dark web to buy supplies and find buyers for the fake pills, shipping them through the U.S. post office.
Even legally prescribed Xanax can cause harm. The following statistics indicate the scope of the problem:
1. Between 1996 and 2013, the number of people using Xanax and other benzodiazepines grew from 8 million to 14 million.
2. Doctors know it’s risky to prescribe painkillers and sedatives, but the number of combined prescriptions increased by 200% between 2001 and 2013.
3. Deaths from benzodiazepines increased by 400% between 2002 and 2015.
4. Between 2010 and 2014, over 3 in 10 opioid deaths also involved the use of benzodiazepines.
5. Overdose deaths are 10 times more likely to occur when benzodiazepines and painkillers are taken together.
6. Benzodiazepines can cause withdrawal symptoms for months or even years after the last dose.
7. Abruptly stopping benzodiazepines can cause convulsions (seizures) or sudden death.
8. Fake Xanax can contain fentanyl, an opioid that increases the risk of death by stopping your breathing.
9. In one study, 95% of hospital admissions for benzodiazepine also included other drugs.
10. Between 1990 and 2017, benzodiazepine overdose deaths among women increased by 830%.
Researchers are searching for better ways to avoid deaths from overdose, an effort that includes better public health education and training for consumers and professionals. In some states, government officials have put time limits on Xanax prescriptions to prevent overdose and addiction.
Get Help Now
Xanax addiction often occurs with other mental disorders, such as depression and PTSD, making it more difficult to treat both illnesses. However, treating both increases the odds of a successful recovery and lowers the risk of relapse. That’s why it’s important to find a treatment facility that uses an integrated approach to treat co-occurring disorders. If you’re ready to take the first step to recovery, The National Rehab Hotline can help you find resources for Xanax addiction treatment near you. Call us today at 866-210-1303.