Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that are based on their strengths, onset of action and shelf life. The benzodiazepines are sedative-hypnotics, meaning they, sedate and help one to sleep. These meds are called ‘benzos”, “downers”, “nerve pills”, “Xanies”, and many other street names. There are many types of benzodiazepines in this class of drugs: Valium, K1onopin, Xanax, Ativan, Restoril, Halcion, and Tranxene.
These drugs have been around since the 1960’s and are the most prescribed class of drugs. It is estimated that 12% of Americans are on some type of benzodiazepine. Xanax is one of these benzodiazepines. Xanax increases a chemical downer in the brain called GABA. Xanax also works at benzodiazepine receptor sites in the human brain. Xanax also affects the pleasure center of the brain and releases dopamine in the area of the prefrontal cortex. These actions are responsible for the abuse, dependency and addiction that is common with continual use of Xanax. When Xanax is used over a period of at least 30 days abuse, dependency and addiction to Xanax is very common.
Detox, withdrawal and cravings from Xanax are also common. Individuals who take Xanax on a routine basis do not realize that they are in withdrawal. They believe it is their “nerves.” Signs and symptoms of detox and withdrawal from Xanax are similar to alcohol: anxiety, nervousness, insomnia and agitation are common signs. In more serious detox and withdrawal from Xanax elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate and seizures may occur. In extreme cases, detox and withdrawal from Xanax addiction may be life threatening. Cravings from Xanax can be short or long term. Depending on the individual, the craving for Xanax may be mild to severe.
Chronic use of Xanax has many ramifications. With ongoing use of any benzodiazepine, long term use can result in a flat mood, decreased thinking skills and apathy. Xanax use can also decrease memory and problem solving. The long term use of Xanax is especially bad in older patients who may end up continually sedated.
The benzodiazepines have been linked to possible birth defects. Newborns may show signs and symptoms of withdrawal from their mother’s use.
The legal consequences of Xanax abuse, dependence or addiction are widespread. Individuals who want this drug frequently “doctor shop,” forge prescriptions or do anything necessary to maintain their addiction. Benzodiazepines stay positive in urine for several days.
Current treatment for Xanax addiction, abuse, dependency, detox, withdrawal or cravings is lacking. Inpatient treatment is expensive and most insurance policies do not cover inpatient treatment. If the policy does have inpatient treatment coverage, the patient is lucky to get 96 hours in house. Most treatment for Xanax addicts is done in an outpatient setting.
Strangely enough, physicians usually prescribe medication in the same class of drugs to treat the Xanax addiction, abuse, dependency, detox and/or withdrawal. Treatment for Xanax addiction should be long term. These addicts frequently turn to other drugs in the same class, i.e., alcohol, Soma or Barbiturates. The success rate for the standard medical treatment for Xanax addiction is probably less than 10%.
Alternative medical treatment for Xanax addiction, abuse, dependency, detox, withdrawal and cravings shows great promise. This therapy does not use addicting drugs in the same class to treat the problem. Cognitive and behavioral therapy is usually a necessary component of any recovery program for Xanax addiction. 12-Step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Cocaine Anonymous (CA) are extremely important for recovery from Xanax addiction.
Herbal treatment for Xanax addiction should continue for at least two years. It will take that long to normalize the dopamine, GABA and benzodiazepine receptor sites in the brain. The behavioral and cognitive therapy should be continued indefinitely.
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