Xanax is a name brand of the medication alprazolam, one of the most commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs in the United States. This medication is in the category of benzodiazepines and is used to treat panic disorders and anxiety. It works by enhancing the effect of a neurotransmitter in the brain that causes a relaxed, calm feeling. Because it is so commonly prescribed, Xanax is easily obtainable by teenagers. When teens are struggling with relationship problems, feelings of inferiority at school or problems at home, it’s tempting to try a medication that may relieve these uncomfortable feelings. But using Xanax regularly can be habit-forming and can lead to Xanax addiction.
Dangers of Xanax Abuse
In our society, many people believe that popping pills is the solution to all problems. Teens are often under the impression that taking prescription drugs is not as bad as taking street drugs. When Xanax is used exactly as prescribed, it isn’t usually a dangerous drug, but when a teen uses Xanax that was prescribed for someone else, or takes Xanax or other benzodiazepines in a different way than they were prescribed, he or she can run into problems. Some of the side effects of abusing Xanax include:
- Drowsiness or severe sedation
- Impaired coordination
- Slurred speech
- Blurred vision
- Memory problems
Xanax is even more dangerous when it is mixed with other chemicals that are sedating, such as alcohol, marijuana or opiates. When Xanax is used along with these other drugs, there is a much greater chance of toxicity and possibly even death. Using multiple sedating drugs at the same time can result in a dangerously slowed heartbeat and slowing or stopping breathing.
Overcoming Xanax Addiction
Once a teen has become physically or psychologically dependent on Xanax, it can be very difficult to discontinue using it. Cravings can begin just a few hours after stopping use, and strong withdrawal symptoms can occur including tremors, shaking and severe anxiety along with nausea, headaches or irritability. Discontinuing the use of Xanax should not be done cold turkey but instead by gradually reducing the amount taken. It’s important to do this under the guidance of a medical professional. When a teen has been abusing more than one substance along with Xanax or has been abusing Xanax for several weeks, months or years, overcoming a Xanax addiction may involve more than just discontinuing the use of this one substance. Substance abuse is usually a sign of underlying problems with the ability to cope with life’s day-to-day stresses. Recovery from a benzodiazepine addiction should include psychotherapy or participation in support groups with other people who have had similar experiences. An important part of recovery involves learning to recognize possible triggers for turning to chemicals as well as learning new coping skills for dealing with life’s challenges. Without obtaining this type of treatment, a teen may recover from a Xanax addiction only to turn to a different substance or addictive behavior.
Medical News Today: Xanax: Side Effects, Drug Information http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/263490.php WebMD: Benzodiazepine Abuse http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/benzodiazepine-abuse#1