One of the most common mental health issues in the United States is anxiety disorders. Approximately 40 million adults suffer from an anxiety disorder, whether it’s general anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder, and others.

Benzodiazepines, including Xanax, are among some of the most widely prescribed antidepressant/antianxiety medications available in the United States today.

Xanax (generic name alprazolam) is a widely prescribed and taken prescription,and because of that, the perception is that addiction to Xanax isn’t a big deal. This is a significant misconception.

Because Xanax is a fast responding benzodiazepine, it’s effective in treating anxiety, but it is only prescribed for a short amount of time and in small doses. When one can no longer get it as a prescription drug, people tend to seek it out illegally, making benzodiazepines one of the most prominent drugs on the market to date.

How Addictive is Xanax?

Xanax is typically seen as an innocuous drug. Regularly misusing and using benzodiazepines like Xanax have contributed to haunting and disturbing dreams and even amnesia. Blackouts are frequent and common even in users who are not addicted to the drug.

Constant drug use leads to reckless behavior, including committing crimes and getting into physical altercations. Xanax is prescribed in small doses because of its potency and effectiveness in just a few short weeks. These factors contribute to it being addictive.

How Long Does it Take to Feel Xanax Effects?

Recreational drug users tend to gravitate toward drugs that work relatively quickly. When in a social setting and using drugs, substances that kick in within minutes are more likely abused than something that takes 45 minutes to an hour to work. Drugs with short duration of actions may also encourage binging, especially if they produce short-lived, intense effects. But how does Xanax compare to other drugs by comparison?

Xanax is taken by mouth where it is absorbed into the intestines through digestion. It easily makes its way into the bloodstream with efficiency. Around 80 to 90 percent of the dose makes it into blood and starts to take effect once it reaches the brain.

It can start to take effect within one hour, and the immediate release form of the drug can last for six hours. Though Xanax’s effects aren’t instant, they can be intensified when the drug is mixed with alcohol. However, that also dramatically increases the chance of experiencing life-threatening overdose symptoms.

A less common method of taking Xanax is to inhale it. Studies have shown that inhaling the drug might give it a higher abuse potential. Inhaling dramatically increases the onset of action but seems only to slightly increase the abuse potential.

Either delivery method and prolonged use of a benzodiazepine can lead to dependence. Abuse and mixture with other drugs can increase the risk of addiction and overdose.

How Long Does it Take to Get Addicted to Xanax?

Xanax has a short half-life, which means it quickly metabolizes in the bloodstream at a peak concentration, producing the effects in just half the time. It increases GABAactivity in the brain resulting in a sedating and calming effect.

For three weeks, developing an urge for Xanax will decrease the amount of GABA, leading to tolerance. This means the need to increase the dosage to feel those same effects. If taken in larger quantities or more often than prescribed, the chances of becoming addicted to Xanax increase..

It is possible to physically develop a psychological addiction to Xanax within one to two weeks of continued use. The feeling of sudden and complete relief to medically diagnosed anxiety, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or social anxiety disorder is difficult to ignore.

Typically, if on the medication for longer than a week, an individual is a likely candidate for physical and psychological addiction. A possible struggle with withdrawal could arise if someone stops taking or reduces the dosage.

Because of the severe changes in brain chemistry, problems such as anxiety, insomnia, and depression that may have been resolved or masked with Xanax use, will now resurface even stronger than before.

Consider the Risk Factors of Xanax

The amount of time it takes to become addicted to Xanax is also affected by the relationship with the drug. Consider if the drug is needed to help get through the day. Also, consider if taking Xanax feels like an integral part of life that cannot be lived without. These factors help determine the rate of addiction to Xanax.

A prescription for Xanax is not needed to become addicted to it. Misusing the drug, taking it without a prescription or for recreational purposes can lead to Xanax addiction. Self-medicating mental health symptoms increase the risk. Using it to relax, party, or in combination with other drugs also increases the risk. Considering the factors of how and why one would resort to using Xanax is the first step to understanding how Xanax works and its length of impact time.

If a family member has addiction problems, it may predict if someone could be more [rone to addiction than other people. Biology also plays a role as well as mental and physical health.

Recognizing Xanax Addiction in a Loved One

Xanax addiction symptoms range from psychological to physical, and eventually to a Xanax obsession and polydrug use.

Psychological Signs of Xanax Abuse

Someone with a Xanax addiction cannot control the desire to consume the drug to keep the “high” one keeps getting from it, which is when abuse can turn into an addiction.

Psychological Signs of Xanax Addiction:

  • Forgetfulness and confusion completing certain tasks or remembering details about conversations
  • Becoming suddenly annoyed and irritated by small things
  • Engaging in talkative behaviors
  • Extreme and erratic behavioral changes such as excessive tiredness or listlessness
  • Extreme mood swings such as manic-type moods
  •  Delaying tasks that require work and effort

Because Xanax typically slows brain and spinal cord function in the central nervous system (CNS), an addiction will cause one to become more apathetic and inactive more than usual, which can be a sign that addiction to Xanax has developed.

Physical Signs of Xanax Abuse

One of the most obvious indications of Xanax abuse is when one consumes more than the prescribed dosage amount.

Physical Signs of Xanax Abuse Include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Light-headedness
  • Increased salivation
  • Constipation
  • Lack of coordination

Xanax addiction starts with physical dependence and then develops into a compulsive and uncontrolled need, and might even engage in potential self-harm. There are just a few numbers of refills for the prescription, due to its habit-forming effects. This is where obsession can lead to addiction.

Mixing Other Drugs With Xanax

Xanax and alcohol are potentially fatal. It can severely depress the central nervous system (CNS)  to the point where it can stop or not function altogether by drastically reducing breath and heart rates.

Long-Term Side Effects of Xanax, Which Can Lead to Permanent Damage Include:

  • Depression/depressive state
  • Delirium
  • Aggression and impulsivity
  • Cognitive impairment and memory issues including loss
  • Increased risk of Dementia
  • Psychosis

It’s also dangerous to mix Xanax with other benzodiazepines, opioids, barbiturates, or any other central nervous system depressants. When in doubt, always consult with a doctor before taking a second psychoactive substance.

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