Xanax was introduced into the U.S. market in 1981 and was designed as a safer, less addictive alternative to the more traditional “tranquilizer” drugs that were on the market already such as alcohol and barbiturates. Xanax is often compared to other benzodiazepines such as Valium, yet Xanax (known by its generic name alprazolam) often will differentiate itself by having a shorter half-life, meaning that it rids itself from the body’s system a bit quicker. Xanax usually stays in one’s bodily system for about 12-15 hours at a time. In addition, Xanax shows quick symptom relief – typically within one or two hours after you’ve ingested it.
Like other benzodiazepines (benzos), Xanax is used to treat anxiety and panic attacks since it enhances the effects of GABA, a chemical found in the brain that creates a calming effect over someone. Xanax can be a very addictive prescription drug not only because of the chemical reaction it affects in one’s brain, but because it creates a very calming feeling that those who suffer from anxiety enjoy, such as startup tech workers in Silicon Valley and elsewhere around the world who work very long hours and are constantly under high stress due to their positions, workloads, and other factors affecting their performance. This often leads to these tech workers abusing Xanax and it often leads them down a road to no good.
Xanax is seen as a “quick fix” to help relieve the suffering associated with a generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks. In addition, those who take a high dosage of it may experience a high that can help them overcome the downward feelings they encounter at work or off work hours from high anxiety being in the tech world. With this comes working many long hours daily and weekly, where startup employees can often work over 80 hours per week and constantly pushed to work harder.
When Xanax is properly prescribed, used properly, and used with the appropriate medical supervision, it does have meaningful use in therapy. However, the Xanax is often used by those without a prescription, used in ways other than directed, and/or used with other potentially deadly substances. Many times co-workers or friends share their prescription Xanax meds with friends in need, often creating a cycle of prescription drug abuse that is now so common in America.
Some Signs of Xanax Abuse to Look Out for
Both those with and without a prescription can still become addicted to Xanax, and these are some common ways Xanax is abused:
- You have a prescription for the drug but take more than the prescribed dosage.
- You require more and more of the drug to feel the effects (i.e. you’ve developed a tolerance to the drug).
- After developing a tolerance to the drug, you continue to use the drug in order to “act normal.” At this stage, you’ve developed a dependence on the drug.
- You use Xanax with other drugs and/or alcohol to feel the “calming” effect.
- You inject or snort the medication.
- It’s taken recreationally, often obtained by someone without a prescription.
Whether someone develops a Xanax addiction will often depend on the individual. Not everyone who uses it develops an issue with misuse and abuse. The time it takes for a Xanax addiction to develop will often vary from person to person and depends on a variety of factors such as frequency of use, personal brain chemistry, dependency/use of other drugs, and quantity of use – not to mention amount of work stress that often comes with startup life at tech companies.
Drinkers and/or former drug abusers experience significantly greater mental impairment when taking alprazolam compared to others in this category. These individuals are often at greater risk of abusing Xanax and may experience more severe adverse reactions if they do endugle in the drug too.
In addition to this, it’s very important to keep your eye on adolescents ages 18-25 in the startup space and workforce too. According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the rate of Xanax abuse for that group (10.3%) is almost double that of those 26+ (5.7%). These are often recent college grads entering startups or junior managers moving on up the ladder. They’ll often encounter high anxiety and are more prone to abusing Xanax.
Symptoms of Xanax Abuse to Look Out for
In 2010, over 49 million prescriptions for alprazolam were written, making this Xanax the second-most prescribed psychoactive drug that year (hydrocodone was the number one prescription). Not only is this prescription drug widely prescribed, it’s one of the top three prescription drugs abused to make its way to the black market. Although legal prescriptions for benzos have slightly decreased over the past few years due to the amount of increased regulations around the country, illegal drugs like Xanax imposters are increasingly finding their way on the streets.
In addition to the general lack of interest toward work, school, family, hobbies, and/or basic daily responsibilities, other behavioral symptoms to look out for in people abusing this include:
- Risk-taking behaviors, like driving while using Xanax
- Obsession over taking Xanax
- Inability to stop taking the drug despite a desire to
- Need to take an increased dosage
- General loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities
Physical symptoms to look for in regards to Xanax abuse include:
- Hyperactivity, agitation, heart palpitations, mania
- Dry mouth, slurred speech
- Tremors, dizziness
Overdose symptoms to look out for in a possible abuser, especially when taken with other drugs and/or alcohol too, or if Xanax was taken crushed up or chewed as opposed to swallowed whole by one:
- Confusion, extreme drowsiness
- Slowed heart rate, difficulty breathing
- Fainting, loss of balance, muscle weakness
Finding Addiction Treatment for Xanax Abusers
Xanax is an addictive drug and treatment for this addiction is available. Many of those friends or family that are addicted to Xanax are able to successfully rehabilitate and live a healthy, sober life with the assistance of professional, medical guidance at an inpatient drug rehab program.
Since Xanax is most often misused with a combination of other substance abuse drugs such as opioids and/or alcohol, it is best to seek out addiction treatment while under medical supervision at a residential treatment center.
If Xanax is the only drug abused by you or a loved one, it is still recommended that the addiction treatments involve a medically-trained professional. Going “cold turkey” is not recommended for kicking this drug. The withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable and their severity can vary quite a bit too. Convulsions are possible, and in this case, withdrawal from Xanax can be deadly. With the help of an expert trained staff, the Xanax detox and withdrawal process typically involves reducing the dosage of Xanax at first, then gradually tapering one off of the drug, and other combined therapy to help address the situation over the long-term.
Overall, a medical detox combined with an individualized addiction treatment plan is the best option for someone looking to recover from a Xanax addiction and live life sober and happy. If you’re trying to be the next Steve Jobs in the startup tech space, Xanax abuse and addiction will most likely derail you from your dreams.