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Xanax is likely one of the most recognizable drugs by name in the U.S.
Xanax is a benzodiazepine. The benzodiazepine class of drugs has a sedative effect and can calm nerve activity in the brain and body. Xanax is a brand name; it’s generic is alprazolam. Xanax is indicated for the management of anxiety and panic disorders, but according to MedlinePlus it’s also sometimes used to treat depression, fear of open spaces (i.e., agoraphobia), and premenstrual syndrome.
Xanax comes in two formats: an immediate-release pill and an oral extended-release pill (Xanax XR, which is indicated only for panic disorders). It’s advisable to use Xanax only on a short-term basis due to risks of dependence and addiction.
Xanax is a DEA Schedule IV drug, which means that it has some potential for abuse and dependence and may only be used with a valid prescription. Like any prescription drug, it should be used only as prescribed.
Whether a person has an abuse intention or not, taking too much Xanax can lead to addiction. In some instances, a person may feel that the prescribed dosage of Xanax isn’t providing enough relief. In other cases, a person may take too much accidentally and find that doing so has desirable effects.
Individuals who use Xanax recreationally (i.e., without a prescription and medical need for it) are particularly susceptible to developing an addiction to this drug. Since Xanax is a widely prescribed drug, people may be able to get them from a host of people, including friends, family, colleagues, and classmates. In addition, people can buy Xanax on the street from drug dealers or from individuals who have a prescription for Xanax but sell their pills for extra money.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5), a primary medical handbook and guide for mental health professionals that the American Psychiatric Association published in May 2013, identifies addiction as a substance use disorder.
In order for a substance use disorder to be found present, a person must exhibit at least 2 of a potential 11 symptoms within the same 12-month period. A substance use disorder can be graded as mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the number of symptoms present.
An understanding of the 11 symptoms of a substance use disorder, or more specifically a Xanax use disorder (or “sedative use disorder”), provides insight into the symptoms and signs of Xanax abuse.
The 11 possible symptoms are:
MedlinePlus identifies some of the moderate and severe side effects associated with taking Xanax. Some of the physical symptoms and signs are mild, while others are more serious and may require immediate medical intervention.
The following are some known Xanax side effects:
The following Xanax side effects are uncommon, but considered even more serious:
During a Xanax overdose, the following are some possible symptoms the body may experience:
Although it’s uncommon for a person to experience a fatality by abusing Xanax alone; it’s especially dangerous to mix it with alcohol, opioids, or other CNS depressants. These substances can compound the effects of Xanax and can increase the chances of experiencing serious side effects. When taken together, a person’s breathing may become suppressed to the point of coma and even death.
The combination of Xanax and alcohol is especially cautioned against, as it can expose a person to dangerous risk-tasking behavior, such as driving. Drugged and drunk driving is a recipe for potentially harming oneself and endangering the lives and well-being of pedestrians and other drivers.
Withdrawal from benzodiazepines and other CNS depressants, including Xanax, can present particularly dangerous symptoms. For this reason, it’s strongly advised that a person be tapered off Xanax, with a doctor gradually decreasing an individual’s dose to help the body to avoid a severe reaction and dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
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