Xanax Abuse & Addiction

In Colorado, particularly in metro areas like Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs, many drug epidemics are occurring. Colorado is one of the states at the center of the opioid crisis, and there are also issues with drugs like meth and cocaine. With the attention that’s given to those drugs in terms of fighting the impact addiction has on the state, other drugs may be no less serious but can tend to go under the radar.

One of these drugs is Xanax.

According to recent media reports, there is a high level of concern that Xanax and other drugs like it are being overused in Colorado, and their use is becoming more controversial in the medical world.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdose deaths were higher than motor vehicle deaths in recent years, and public health officials in Colorado are warning people to be aware of the potential risks of using drugs like Xanax. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse Colorado, deaths related to benzodiazepines, which is what Xanax is classified as, doubled in the years from 2003 to 2012. Unfortunately, Xanax abuse is a real issue.

Understanding Xanax Addiction

Xanax is part of a class of medications called benzodiazepines, or benzos for short. These drugs are designed to help treat symptoms of anxiety and panic disorder, and they can calm down the activity in the brain and help the person using them feel more relaxed. They do have therapeutic benefits in some instances, which is why they’re available by prescription, but they’re not without risks.

Xanax is actually the brand name of the generic alprazolam, and this drug and other benzos depress the central nervous system. Xanax is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance in the U.S. and specific conditions it can be prescribed for include agoraphobia, all anxiety disorders, and panic attacks. There are other areas of research and possible Xanax treatment options being looked at as well, for example using it to help with the nausea and vomiting that occurs during cancer treatment.

Xanax and other benzos are among the most widely prescribed class of medications in the U.S., and that means these drugs are very much available, which can contribute to some of the abuse that states around the nation including Colorado are seeing.

When you take Xanax, it generally provides you with a calming effect, and it can relieve stress and create feelings of tranquility and general anxiety relief. It can also reduce tension and irritability, but at higher doses, it can create feelings of euphoria.

Since Xanax is a central nervous system depressant, this means that it slows brain activity by increasing GABA activity.

When someone takes it, it will usually reach a peak level of effectiveness in one to two hours, but unfortunately, people try to feel the effects more quickly by crushing it and snorting the powder. This can raise the risk of negative consequences or an overdose.

It’s important for people to recognize that Xanax is addictive and they should be aware of the risk of it becoming habit-forming when they take it.

Xanax Addiction

Why Is Xanax Addictive?

Xanax is fast-acting among other benzos, and the more fast-acting a substance, the more likely it is to be addictive. The fact that Xanax is addictive is highlighted by the fact that it’s a Schedule IV substance, which means it carries a significant risk of becoming habit-forming.

Xanax is addictive because when you take it your brain releases a large amount of dopamine. Dopamine is a brain neurotransmitter that’s responsible for the control of pleasure and reward so when you take it you get feelings of pleasure. That surge of dopamine can trigger your brain into creating a feedback loop in which it wants to keep having Xanax in order to keep feeling reward and pleasure. Addiction is a cycle that occurs in your brain, and once it has begun, your use of Xanax is very much out of your control.

People also become addicted to Xanax simply because they want to escape their life or their emotions and have more positive feelings.

How Addictive Is Xanax?

Xanax is very addictive, although it does depend on the individual. Some of the factors that can play a role in whether or not you become addicted to this drug include if you’re using it as directed by your doctor or you’re using it recreationally.

If you’re using Xanax is any way other than what’s instructed by your physician, such as crushing it up to snort it, you’re more likely to become addicted. Xanax is also intended as a short-term treatment option, so the longer you take it, the more likely you are to get addicted.

How Long Does It Take To Get Addicted To Xanax?

Around 20 percent of people in the U.S. are believed to suffer from an anxiety disorder, and they may genuinely need Xanax to function. They may worry about taking it, however, because they don’t want to become addicted and a common question is how long does it take to get addicted to Xanax.

This is another question with an answer based on individual factors, but, if you take it for more than around six weeks, you’re significantly upping your chances of developing an addiction.

The higher the amount you take in a day paired with the length of time you take it can mean you’re at a higher risk of addiction, but anyone can be at this risk.

It’s also important to realize that you may develop a physical dependence to Xanax even if you’re not psychologically addicted. Physical dependence can occur within just a couple of weeks, and your body becomes so used to the drug that when you stop using it, you go through withdrawal symptoms.

Is Xanax Addictive In Low Doses?

Most Colorado doctors and doctors nationwide are receiving updated guidelines regarding how to prescribe Xanax to prevent addiction and other negative outcomes. A Colorado doctor will typically start a patient on a very low dose of Xanax and see how that works, so that person may wonder if it’s addictive in lower doses.

The risk of addiction is somewhat lower with a lower dose, but again, there’s no definitive way to determine if you’ll become addicted.

Xanax addiction is a serious issue in Colorado, and there are resources for people who live in Boulder, Denver, Colorado Springs and statewide to stop the cycle of addiction with this prescription drug.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.