Alprazolam Addiction/Abuse Symptoms and Warning Signs
Alprazolam is an anxiolytic, sedative-hypnotic benzodiazepine, that is sold under the brand name Xanax. The drug is used to treat different forms of anxiety and panic disorders. Alprazolam is highly potent, and has powerful addictive properties. While it possesses a number of therapeutic benefits, taking it over a long period of time is never recommended. This is because you may become physically dependent on the drug, which may lead to health hazards down the line.
Taking alprazolam as directed by your doctor will help you to avoid the associated dangers of abuse. However, going over the prescription dose and taking it more frequently than recommended, will put you on a trajectory that leads to dangerous complications. Continued abuse of alprazolam will lead to an overdose, which may result in repressed breathing, fainting, muscle weakness, coma, and death.
It is important that you understand the symptoms and warning signs that come with alprazolam abuse, so you can catch this issue early enough and seek help for it. The knowledge of these signs and symptoms will also prove vital in helping you spot changes in behaviour, and abuse markers in a loved one. You should also understand that help is available for alprazolam abuse. Even if you, or your loved one, has become addicted to the drug, you can get treatment and attain sustained recovery.
The Types/Brands of Alprazolam
Alprazolam comes in both extended-release and immediate-release formulas. The extended-release variations are mostly in capsule form, and are designed to stay in the body for longer. They take a longer amount of time before they travel through the bloodstream and begin to act. Immediate-release versions of the drug, on the other hand, travel through the bloodstream fast and induce a near-instant effect.
Alprazolam is commonly known under the brand name Xanax. This is the chemical name for the drug. It is also known by some street names such as blue footballs, benzos, Xanies, and more.
Niravam is another brand name for alprazolam. This variation is one that doesn’t need to be swallowed with water, as it dissolves when placed on the tongue.
Recognising the Common Warning Signs of Alprazolam Abuse
Realising that you may be abusing alprazolam, and may be on the verge of addiction, can be difficult. Misuse of the drug mostly stems from its calming, and often euphoric, effects. You may have been taking the drug under prescription, but chose to continue enjoying its benefits. For recreational users, the euphoric ‘high’ the drug induces is a common temptation to continue using it in high doses. Because of this, most users tend to pass off the side effects, don’t notice them, or completely ignore them whilst focusing on the ‘high’ that they enjoy.
The most common symptoms of alprazolam abuse are dependence, tolerance, and addiction. This is the point where your use of the drug becomes habitual. This happens as a result of your body’s reliance on alprazolam for normal function. When the drug gets to the brain, it increases the production of a neurochemical known as GABA, which induces calmness by slowing brain activity. Since the brain can’t produce the increased levels of GABA the way alprazolam does, it becomes dependent on the drug for these effects, causing you to take the drug compulsively.
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Tolerance occurs when your body needs more alprazolam to recreate the drug’s calming effects. This means that, when you no longer feel the effects of the drug with normal doses, you have begun to abuse alprazolam. At this point, you’ll feel a strong urge to increase your dosage level and take the drug more frequently, so that you can feel calm again.
Another indication of alprazolam abuse includes the onset of withdrawal when use is discontinued. This constitutes certain discomforting symptoms that may compel you to use the drug again, even after staying a while without taking another dose.
The drug’s action mechanism, triggers a number of psychological and physical symptoms during long and short term use, and withdrawal. Symptoms vary from person to person, and may come in a different form depending on your level of addiction, your medical condition, and your individual physiology.
The Physical Symptoms of Alprazolam Abuse
When it comes to the physical abuse symptoms, they are usually hard to hide and ignore. However, being overtaken by the ‘positive’ effects, it’s possible that you may wave these symptoms off. Physical symptoms of alprazolam abuse include:
Drowsiness: This state of feeling dull, sleepy, and lethargic, comes from the excessive levels of alprazolam in the brain, which causes a reduction in brain activity.
Lightheadedness: you’ll mostly feel dizzy and faint as a result of your slowed brain.
Headache: As neurons are inhibited further than they normally should be, you will experience reactions in the form of mild to severe headaches.
Seizures: Though this is rare, you may begin to convulse when you move away from alprazolam for a while.
Increased periods of sleep: Alprazolam can cause you to sleep for extended periods of time, due to its GABA-enhancing mechanism.
Weakness: As brain function continues to slow down, you’ll experience bouts of fatigue and a general loss of strength.
Other physical symptoms that you’re likely to experience include dry mouth, slurred speech, and loss of coordination. Severe symptoms such as repressed breathing, and coma, may also occur when your abuse is chronic. These symptoms can lead to death if you don’t seek help immediately.
The Psychological Abuse Symptoms of Alprazolam
Abusing alprazolam also results in psychological difficulties. Here are some of the mental side effects that should alert you to alprazolam abuse in yourself, or a loved one:
Anhedonia: This involves a loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed.
Delirium: This is a disturbed state of mind that involves illusions, confusion, and incoherence.
Vertigo: This is a sensation of rocking, rotation, or the world spinning, even when you’re perfectly still. This is an indication that your use of alprazolam is becoming excessive.
Memory problems: Abuse of alprazolam has been reported to cause memory problems and dementia-like symptoms in the short-term. However, memory function is known to return to normal after staying off the drug for a while.
When you cut off alprazolam, or drastically reduce your dosage after misusing the drug for a long time, you will experience symptoms such as hallucinations, psychosis, anxiety, depression, mood swings, cognitive impairment, difficulty concentrating, and even suicidal thoughts.
The Dangers of Alprazolam Abuse
The imminent dangers of abusing a drug as powerful as alprazolam can be fatal. When taken strictly under prescription, you will likely avoid these dangers. But, taking more than is recommended will put you in harm's way. Issues such as repressed breathing, fainting, increased risk of dementia, psychosis, coma, and even death are known associated symptoms of abuse. An overdose can also occur if your abuse is not discontinued. Overdosing on alprazolam could also lead to death.
Other dangers include motor or machinery accidents, due to slowed cognitive and reflex functions, as well as a loss of concentration caused by alprazolam. Your social life can also be adversely affected by your abuse of this drug. You may lose your personal connections with your family and loved ones, struggle financially, and have other difficulties like keeping a job.
If you notice any signs of abuse, please ensure that you consult a doctor immediately.
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Recognizing an Alprazolam Addiction
Addiction to alprazolam involves a compulsive need to use the drug. This is mostly caused by the onset of withdrawal symptoms when the drug has not been taken for a while, or when an inadequate dose is ingested over a considerably long period. Spotting the signs of abuse in a loved one can be difficult, because those addicted to the drug tend to remain in denial, and try to hide their symptoms from others.
However, there are telltale signs that should alert you to addiction, as they can be very obvious. People addicted to alprazolam will exhibit mood swings, and changes in behaviour, especially towards alprazolam and its branded forms, such as Xanax. They will also show signs of general weakness, memory problems, slowed cognition, and adverse health symptoms when they stay away from the drug.
Alprazolam Addiction and The Brain
Alprazolam works as a central nervous system sedative, and affects the body in such a way that, when taken over an extended period, the brain will begin to rely on it for proper function. Alprazolam stops a neurochemical, known as Gamma Aminobutyric Acid (GABA), from being absorbed, which leads to a spike in the presence of the chemical in the brain. GABA’s main responsibility is to slow brain activity in order to reduce the nerve excitement that often leads to generalised anxiety, panic, and a state of heightened stimulation that could inhibit sleep.
When this neurochemical continues to be produced in higher levels, your brain becomes accustomed to this state and adjusts accordingly. However, since it can’t produce GABA on its own this way, it depends on the presence of alprazolam for this function. This will lead to symptoms of withdrawal whenever the drug’s presence is reduced or withdrawn.
What are the Immediate Side Effects of Alprazolam Abuse?
The immediate side effects of alprazolam include slurred speech, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, dizziness, weakness, and slowed cognition.
What are the Long Term Side Effects of Alprazolam Abuse?
The long term effects of using alprazolam can be dangerous. That is why it is only recommended for short-term use when treating medical conditions. Serious issues associated with long-term alprazolam use include dependence, addiction, and overdose. If you become dependent on the drug, quitting will be difficult, as you will experience severe withdrawal symptoms that may prevent you from discontinuing use.
Long-term effects of alprazolam abuse commonly include:
- Repressed breathing
Intervention for Alprazolam Addiction
Most drug addicts don’t know the full implications of their actions. They are often ignorant about their drug abuse, and the consequences it has on those around them. If you notice any of these warning signs in a loved one, please make sure to do something about them. You can achieve this through a well-planned intervention. Put together a team that is made up of close-knit loved ones of the addict, and those that have influence over them.
If you don’t know how to conduct an effective intervention, a professional interventionist can help you put one in place, according to the situation of the addict. Please also ensure there is help standing by, in the event that they promptly decide to face their problems.
Detox and Withdrawal from Alprazolam
Detoxification involves a process where your body tries to get rid of the remnants of alprazolam still in your system after you have initiated abstinence. This process triggers withdrawal symptoms, which can be excruciating in some circumstances. In order to successfully eliminate alprazolam from your body, a medical detox is advised.
During medical detoxification, you’ll be given medications that will ease your withdrawal symptoms, and you’ll also be put through medication therapy, that will keep you stabilised until the elimination process is over and done with. Medical detox is overseen by medical professionals, and is usually the first stage in your general alprazolam abuse and addiction treatment.
Treatment and the Next Steps for Alprazolam Addiction
Abusing alprazolam, and becoming addicted to the drug, can be a very a challenging situation to live with. There are health and social consequences involved that could turn you into an entirely different person, and also put you at mortal risk. This is why it is important to seek help and get treatment.
Treatment involves combination medications, and various forms of behavioural therapies, targeted at helping you rid your system of the drugs, and recondition you to live a life free from the hold of alprazolam. Therapy comes through rehab, where you’ll learn coping strategies and techniques to help you fight cravings and stay off alprazolam.
Questions about the Treatment of Alprazolam
What Does Alprazolam Treatment Involve?
Treatment for alprazolam addiction and abuse involves detoxification, to get the drug out of your system, and rehab to address the psychological problems that may have caused your addiction, or resulted from it.
What is he Right Treatment For Me?
If you, or a loved one, have been struggling with alprazolam abuse, please contact a medical professional. An ideal treatment plan will be drawn up based on the conditions of your abuse.
Can I Get Treated From Home?
The best way to go through treatment is in an environment dedicated to alprazolam addiction recovery. However, if your abuse and addiction is mild, your doctor may arrange a remote treatment plan for you.
Is Treatment Necessary?
Treatment is necessary due to the associated dangers of continued abuse.
How Much Does Treatment for Alprazolam Abuse and Addiction Cost?
The price of your treatment will depend on your state of addiction, length and type of treatment, as well as the kind of rehab facility your treatment takes place in. Please contact a confidential addiction helpline to guide you on the right steps to take.
Our trained addiction counsellors are on hand 24 hours a day.