Signs of Xanax Abuse
It is part of the human condition that some individuals will experiment with mind altering substances. Inevitably some abuse these drugs and become dependent. What constitutes a drug of abuse is dependent on social and legal restrictions. Medically, a drug abuse is the use of a drug in a manner that is detrimental to the health or well-being of the user or others. By this definition, we can see that drug abuse is not restricted to illicit drugs.
Repeated drug use is a learned behavior that is reinforced by the pleasurable effects of the drug and the negative effects of drug abstinence. Dependence on alprazolam is a well-documented phenomenon and some studies suggest that this may occur even at therapeutic doses (what the doctor prescribes) and after a few weeks of therapy. Of course, everyone is different and reacts differently to drugs, but studies have shown that dependence is more likely with high doses or if a patient has a history of drug abuse.
Benzodiazepines are commonly abused because of their effects and their widespread use. The abuse of this single drug is dangerous enough, but it is often abused in combination with other drugs which increase the lethality.
Acute signs of abuse
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Lack of coordination
- Difficulty breathing
These signs can easily be mistaken for alcohol intoxication and are near impossible to differentiate.
Chronic signs of abuse
- Changes in behavior and appearance
- Changes in functioning at work, school or home
The following are more specific symptoms and may mimic the original condition the alprazolam was prescribed for.
- Generalized weakness
Dangers of Xanax Abuse
When used for a long period the body adjusts to the chemical effects of the drug. People that use alprazolam for extended periods of time, at high doses are at the most risk for developing an addiction. This includes both people that abuse alprazolam for the high and for some patients that take it as prescribed.
Addiction can be subtle and appear in a few ways.
Increased tolerance: The user has to increase the dose taken to get the same effect as they previously got from a lower dose.
Withdrawal effects: When the user stops taking Alprazolam, the body doesn’t function properly anymore and goes into withdrawal. This usually causes clinically significant discomfort or impairment of functioning. The longer and more severe the abuse the more serious the withdrawal will be.
This is a form of dependence, just as severe as physical dependence. It can also be seen as a ‘habit’ hence the term habit-forming drugs. Psychological dependence involves emotional-motivational withdrawal symptoms. The need for stimulation, pleasure or to escape reality. This means that the user does not have a physical need for the drug, but rather a mental desire. This is usually seen in drugs that don’t contain physically addictive ingredients.Withdrawal from a psychological addiction is experienced as feelings of unease, anxiety, impaired capacity to function.
This results from the adaptations of specific neurons or areas of the brain to the continued presence of the drug. This is often first observed when the drug is withdrawn and leads to a drug specific withdrawal syndrome. For this reason, physical dependence contributes to the continued use of the drug to avoid the negative symptoms. Withdrawal unmasks the neuroadaptation that acted to balance the effects of the chronic drug use. Withdrawal symptoms are often opposite to the acute effect of the drug e.g. opioids cause constipation, therefore, withdrawal gives diarrhea.
Avoiding these sometimes debilitating effects are a major contributing factor to continued use. This is commonly seen in smokers trying to quit.
Recognizing a Xanax Addiction
Drug addiction refers to a pattern of drug abuse, where the individual is continuously preoccupied with drug procurement and use (drug-seeking behavior). The user then neglects other responsibilities like work, social and interpersonal relationships. Recognizing addiction is harder than it seems, especially in users that have a genuine medical need.
Addiction is a chronic disease that affects the brain, affecting the reward and motivation centers. Some people are genetically predisposed, and some have had early life stressors. So it is important to treat it as any other medical disease and not judge the person. You wouldn’t judge a person for developing a stomach ulcer and ulcers are commonly caused by aspirin use.
That being said addiction should be treated and not left to fester and possibly ruin a life.
Signs to look out for:
• Change in friends and hangouts
• A shift in mood, attitude and motivation
• Poor performance at school or work and/or being absent
• Increased need for money
• Sudden weight changes (gain or loss)
• Tremors in the hands
• Secretive behavior such as lying
• A giving up beloved pastimes and hobbies
• Strange body odors; trembling hands
• Unusual changes in sleeping patterns or schedule
Signs of Overdose:
Taken in isolation it is not easy to overdose. The exact amount needed varies from person to person, based on previous use, metabolism, other medications But when taken with other drugs and alcohol, the risk for overdose drastically increases. Abusing alprazolam may also mean other methods of administration such as snorting. This increases the effects of the high, simultaneously increasing the risk of overdose.
Drowsiness and impaired judgment are how alprazolam overdose symptoms start, but further central nervous system depression occurs. This causes bradycardia (slowed heart beat) and breathing (slow, shallow or labored) problems. The central nervous system depression can become so severe that it can cause death.
The emergency treatment is to take the user to the nearest medical center for treatment. During this time, it is important to support vital functions
At the medical center tell the doctors about any and all drugs the patient is currently taking. In the case of benzodiazepines, flumazenil will be given. Flumazenil is a competitive benzodiazepine receptor antagonist and is used to counteract the adverse effects of benzodiazepines such as respiratory depression. Flumazenil is given intravenously, has a rapid onset and a short duration of action.