By now, most people are familiar with the prescription drug Xanax to some extent or another. It has been one of the most popular anti-anxiety medications for many years now, and it has also garnered some infamy throughout our current culture through music and media. Hip-hop artists, like Future in the mainstream or… wait for it… Lil Xan in the underground, have promoted the use of the prescription drug for recreational purposes. Even television shows have made seemingly flippant comments about using the now-notorious medication to take the edge off.
Xanny bars are commonly characterized today as chill-pills, just like amphetamines were promoted in the 60s as “uppers” for the guy or gal on the go. The same can be said about other name brand benzodiazepine medications, such as:
But do people really understand how hard Xanax hits the brain and hurts the body?
Xanax on the Brain and Body
To get caught up to speed, Xanax is a brand name for alprazolam. This is one medication included in a group of drugs known as benzodiazepines, or benzos. Benzodiazepines are typically prescribed for anxiety.
Like all drugs taken orally, it’s absorbed into the body through the stomach. The drug passes through the mucous membrane and enters the liver. Finally, in the bloodstream, it makes its way to the brain. Now for those who don’t know, the blood-brain barrier is a membrane that filters out dangerous substances. It is built in to protect us. However, drugs like benzodiazepines are able to pass through this barrier. That is how they are meant to work.
Benzodiazepines work on parts of the brain known as GABA-A receptors. GABA-A receptors are responsible for producing sedative effects. They are naturally switched on by chemicals used to carry messages around the brain. Those chemicals are called neurotransmitters.
GABA-A receptors are switched on by the GABA neurotransmitter. This is a chemical that creates a calming effect.
Benzodiazepines are agonists, meaning they amplify the GABA-A receptors’ effects. They attach themselves to the GABA-A receptors and increasing the effectiveness of the GABA neurotransmitter. Taking Xanax activates that GABA-A receptor and kicks it into overdrive.
Now none of this is inherently wrong. In fact, doctors typically prescribe Xanax to treat anxiety, which can be caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. In those cases, the effects created by Xanax in the brain actually correct an imbalance. Dr. Cathy Montgomery, reader in psychopharmacology at Liverpool John Moores University, says:
“If somebody’s experiencing high levels of anxiety, they have an increase in chemicals like adrenaline, which would normally make you feel more alert and awake, and a deficiency in GABA. High levels of adrenaline and low levels of GABA have a double impact of increased excitation in the brain, which people experience as anxiety. When they take Xanax, they won’t necessarily get the same type of heavy sedative effect.”
So in essence, Xanax does have a job to do. The issue is, so many people found out what a thorough job it does and decided it could be taken advantage of. Use of Xanax without the imbalance in the brain to cause that heavy sedative effect is what recreational users are looking for. Actually, using Xanax for recreation creates a self-inflicted imbalance in the brain. This creates a lot of issues because the body will try to preserve the balance, which only sets things up to get worse in the long run. Montgomery states:
“Whatever you take, your brain will try to regulate it. It may release adrenaline to try and combat this,”
So while your brain might fight back by releasing adrenaline, you won’t feel it until the effects of the drug wear off. The body takes several days to completely release the drug, even if noticeable effects will wear off after a few hours. The drug first detaches itself from the GABA-A receptors in your brain. Liver enzymes break it down, and eventually, the body gets rid of it.
How It Hurts
The issues can start to take shape once the drug detaches from your brain’s receptors. Like we said before, the effects will start to wear off, and the brain will still be trying to maintain its equilibrium. That self-inflicted imbalance we talked about then suddenly becomes a devastating crash. A sudden increase in brain activity finally breaks through the fog when the Xanax is gone, which can cause feelings of anxiety, agitation, insomnia, even terror.
Xanax use can actually create a cycle of dependency very quickly because while they may not have experienced anxiety before taking the drug, they have created it through the imbalance in the brain that may cause them to seek more of the drug. Before you know it, you are self-medicating to treat these symptoms, which are actually withdrawals created by the drug.
For those who use this medication for sedative effects, another issue presents itself. Benzodiazepines are supposed to be prescribed for a short time. To feel the same effects, people find they have to use larger and larger doses. And taking large doses for sustained periods of time can actually cause the body to stockpile significant withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawals aren’t just painful, they are extremely dangerous.
Xanax withdrawal symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
- Muscle aches
- Tension in the jaw and/or teeth pain
- Numbness in fingers
- Tingling in limbs
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Alteration in sense of smell
- Loss of appetite
- Heart palpitations
- Impaired respiration
Stopping the use of these drugs abruptly has been known to cause seizures, and detoxing without medical assistance can even be lethal.
You don’t have to use Xanax for an extended period to experience withdrawals. Some people with prescriptions have even reported to feeling withdrawals between doses. Repeated use can lead to withdrawal symptoms in a very short amount of time. Another issue we find is that GABA-A receptors are concentrated in an area of the brain known as the hippocampus, which is important for memory and is believed to be the reason why these drugs can cause blackouts.
Xanax becomes even more dangerous when combined with other substances, such as alcohol or opioids. Not only can combining these drugs be harmful to the body, they can actually be life-threatening. Often overdoses involved benzodiazepines like Xanax occur when the drug is used along with other substances that have a compounding effect, such as alcohol or opioids. The drugs react to one another and cause more severe reactions in the brain and the body.
While anti-anxiety medications can be useful for those who suffer due to an imbalance in the brain, everyone should be aware of the risks associated with Xanax and similar substances. Dependence to this drug can be incredibly hazardous, and discontinuing use should always be done with the utmost caution and with medical assistance. No one should try to stop abruptly without consulting a medical professional, and for those who struggle with substance abuse, there is help.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call Palm Partners Recovery Center toll-free now. You are not alone.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
As someone who struggles with anxiety, I can understand the desire to find something that can help protect yourself from haunting feelings of dread that cripple your peace of mind. Anxiety is a complicated condition that can creep in from the most unexpected places, and people experience it in many different ways. While some may think it’s based in fear or weakness, the reality is far more complex. Those people may say all you need to overcome anxiety is a more grounded and positive outlook. But the truth for most people with an anxiety disorder is that battling anxiety goes a lot deeper than promoting optimism. Especially when your condition convinces you that all levity is just you lying to yourself. Sometimes, you need a little outside help, and anti-anxiety drugs can be very useful when a physician and an individual decide on the right route to take.
However, anti-anxiety medications can also be dangerous. These anti-anxiety drugs may not be in the spotlight the way opioids are, they are commonly abused, extremely addictive and can be just as lethal.
With recent reports showing a rise in deaths associated with anti-anxiety medications, some experts are saying there is a hidden epidemic being overshadowed by the opioid crisis.
Anti-Anxiety Drugs Underestimated
It is true that opioids are doing massive damage all across the country, but that doesn’t mean the death rates due to anti-anxiety drugs should be ignored. While focusing on prescription opioids, heroin and synthetic opioids is important, we should also keep in mind the other dangerous medications out there.
The usual suspects are benzodiazepines, which include drugs like:
While these anti-anxiety drugs may be useful in helping some people, they still carry their risks, which can be devastating and even lethal.
According to the director of the Scripps Mercy Hospital emergency department Dr. Roneet Lev, benzodiazepines are responsible for more drug deaths in San Diego County than people may expect. She says,
“That comes from people who come into our trauma center from car accidents because they’re on benzodiazepines, people who come in because they’re falling down because that affects their balance and coordination on benzodiazepines,”
“We’ve seen terrible withdrawals, when they’re used to having it, with seizures, that end up in the ICU.”
And it isn’t just people who are buying these drugs off the street. Concerning drug-related deaths by legal prescriptions, benzodiazepines are not as far behind opioids as people may think. Dr. Lev adds that while oxycodone is the number one prescribed drug associated with death, hydrocodone is second, and benzodiazepine is in third place.
But San Diego County is definitely not the only area experiencing a surge in benzodiazepine-related deaths. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), deaths involving these anti-anxiety drugs have more than quadrupled between 2002 and 2015.
Something that does make these medications even more treacherous is when they are mixed with opioids.
Mixing Meds Causing More Deaths
As if opioids or anti-anxiety drugs weren’t hazardous enough on their own, the fact that many people mix these two medications makes them even more deadly. The San Diego County Medical Examiner has concluded that 83% of benzodiazepine-related deaths also involved opioids. Nathan Painter is an associate professor in pharmacy at UC San Diego. He explains how the chemicals interact with the body, and how mixing them only amplifies these effects.
“The benzodiazepines themselves can cause respiratory depression, or your breathing slow down, and so can opioids. So when you combine them, especially in the case of not using them on a regular basis, or being new to the benzo or the opioid, if you give too much, or combine it with other things like alcohol or other medications, then it can cause that breathing to slow down, or even stop.”
What could make this even worse? Well, many of the people mixing these medications may have just been following instructions as prescribed by their doctor. Painter notes that sometimes the prescribing physicians aren’t necessarily aware of all the drugs that someone is taking, and may not be as conservative or as slow in starting the medicines as they could be. So some people may be unknowingly consuming dangerous amounts of these drugs.
Sadly, there are areas of our current culture that put people at elevated risk of death by anti-anxiety drugs.
One of the more vulnerable populations is our veterans. In fact, the Veterans Association Healthcare System has to deal with the issue of mixing medications in particular, as many veterans end up using both benzodiazepines and opioids. Dr. James Michelsen is a physician at the VA. According to Michelsen,
“Anxiety related to their combat time, problems with sleep, post-traumatic stress disorder. And traditionally these conditions benzodiazepines have been used to treat. Additionally, many of our veterans came back with physical wounds, as well.”
This becomes a serious issue when there is a lack of communication between networks of doctors, which can happen if a veteran visits a non-VA doctor and receives a prescription.
It’s not just veterans and hospitals that have problems with benzodiazepines. In fact, benzodiazepines are some of the most prescribed medications in the United States. But it has gone beyond that and even made it into pop culture.
Drugs have always been part of the music industry. History shows us how hallucinogens like LSD influenced rock like the Beetles, and how cocaine coexisted with disco, or how heroin lingered along with jazz and blues over the years. It’s still hard to find a country song that doesn’t glorify good ol’ boys with whiskey and beer. Now, pill-popping in hip-hop and pop music is so mainstream it can be unsettling.
Along with that spotlight came greater influence. Some musicians try to paint that pretty picture with abusing anti-anxiety medications, but these drugs have taken the lives of some of the great artists of a generation. In the last several years alone we lost:
There are even others like Chris Cornell, who’s wife believed that the anti-anxiety medication he was taking is partly to blame for his suicide. Even with all the death caused by these drugs, some still glamourize prescription drug abuse in our culture. Not to mention the issue of mental health and substance use disorders already growing across the country.
Fighting Anxiety and Addiction
Personally, the risks involved with anti-anxiety drugs is troubling because a lot of my anxiety is rooted in health. It manifests at times in the side-effects of even the most mundane of medicines. Some days I can’t take an Aspirin without a secret part of me wondering if my kidneys will shut-down (which is ironic considering the years I spent polluting my body with hard drugs and excessive drinking). So while everything is going fine on the outside, my inner dialog is trying to measure and analyze every muscle movement or twitch as an indication of a terminal illness.
In reality, anti-anxiety drugs can be the difference between an everyday struggle to endure the rush of nameless terror and a window into serenity and stability. For people who can take advantage of the opportunity, it can be life-changing.
However, these drugs are nothing to take lightly, and plenty of people develop severe addictions to these drugs. Anti-anxiety medications can be fatal. Some might think they are an easy way to get a rush, they can be just as lethal as opioids. Just because they are not painkillers doesn’t mean we should underestimate their capacity to do harm.
Fighting anxiety is extremely important for people with anxiety disorder. But we have to remember the risks that come with these drugs and find a way to stay safe. This is especially true for those of us in recovery from addiction. Dual diagnosis treatment is a way to create comprehensive and holistic recovery that addresses both anxiety and addiction simultaneously in order to help people overcome their anxiety in the healthiest way possible.
If you or someone you love is struggling with anxiety, or any mental health disorder, please seek help. If you struggle with substance use disorder, drugs or alcohol is not the answer. There is real help out there. Please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
With drug abuse being a major issue facing the nation, education is extremely important. Any hope of winning the fight against rising overdose rates and the spread of drug-related illness and death starts with making sure we have as much information as possible to make a difference. On that note, explaining prescription drug abuse is critical because prescription drug abuse is a key contributor to the state of the country today.
If we want to help people avoid prescription drug abuse, or recognize the signs and know there is help, it is important to explain the reality and the risks.
What is prescription drug abuse?
Simply put- prescription drug abuse is one of two things.
- When someone takes a medication that is not their prescription
- If someone takes their own prescription in a way not intended by a doctor or for a different reason
When you take prescription drugs properly they are usually safe. It requires a trained health care clinician, such as a doctor or nurse, to determine if the benefits of taking the medication outweigh any risks for side effects. But when abused and taken in different amounts or for different purposes than as prescribed, they affect the brain and body in ways very similar to illicit drugs.
These drugs have a close relation to morphine, or the street drug heroin. Opioids are typically for pain management. Opioid addiction has become one of the biggest problems facing the country today. Drugs such as:
These drugs are also known as “downers”. You can divide the category can be up into:
Drugs such as Zyprexa, Seroquel and Haldol are meant to reduce symptoms of mental illness.
- Benzodiazepines (Benzos)
Prescription drugs like Xanax, Klonopin, Valium and Librium.
Amytal, Numbutal and Seconal are included in a class of depressants intended as sedatives or sleeping pills.
These kinds of prescription drugs are also called “uppers” or “smart drugs” because of the increase alertness, attention and energy. They also increase heart rate and respiration. Many of these medications are used to combat conditions such as ADHD, including:
Prescription drug abuse has become a big health issue because of the various health hazards. This risk is particularly true of abusing prescription pain medications.
Who abuses prescription drugs?
When asking who are most likely to abuse prescription drugs, the answer may vary depending on the substance. Some people end up participating in prescription drug abuse due to an injury or legitimate health reason, but the “high” they can experience may lead to more frequent use and ultimately a physical dependence.
Recent studies have indicated that prescription drug abuse impacts young adults most; specifically age 18 to 25. In regards to teens, after marijuana and alcohol, prescription drugs are the most common substances of abuse by Americans age 14 and older.
Prescription drug abuse is present across all demographics, relevant to every social and economic class. Many believe this rise has largely contributed to the heroin addiction epidemic and the overdose outbreak in the past few years.
Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment
The Palm Partners Treatment Program has a design for prescription drug abuse intended to address people of all walks of life who are suffering. Personalized recovery programs are meant to work with each individual’s circumstances and symptoms to create a blueprint for the future.
Some of the signs of addiction range in severity and can affect each people differently, especially depending on the specific prescription drug. Increased tolerance is a clear cut sign of progressive physical dependence. Some indicators of prescription drug addiction may be:
- Excessive sweating
- Swelling in the arms and legs
- Chronic constipation
- Respiratory distress
- Slurred speech
- Poor concentration
- High body temperature
- High blood pressure
Treatment for prescription drug addiction includes a detox period to help combat the uncomfortable symptoms of prescription drug addiction, as well as withdrawal.
For all those who are struggling with prescription drug abuse, or even abusing other drugs or medications, there is a massive community of recovery all over the country to help you get the care you need. Treatment for prescription drug abuse can be the first and most important step, so be sure to step up.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Xanax causes a decrease in anxiety through an increase in GABA (a neurotransmitter) in the brain. This increase in GABA calms and soothes an excited mind, and can be very helpful to some who suffer from forms of severe anxiety. However, over time, the brain responds to this increased GABA activity by lowering the amount of available GABA.
At the point where the brains GABA activity changes drastically, the patient will need to take larger doses of Xanax to feel the same effects.
Because the medication creates a euphoric feeling, especially when used in excess, the drug is classified as a schedule 4 medication, which is any drug with some probability for abuse. Xanax when used for too long, or when used in excess, can create a physical and psychological dependence. This dependence can develop into a serious addiction that includes some very serious withdrawal symptoms, making Xanax addiction detox very important.
Xanax Detox: Withdrawal Symptoms
Xanax works very fast and has a relatively short half-life, which causes withdrawal symptoms to begin very rapidly once the individual discontinues their use, which is why a Xanax addiction detox program is so important. Most people will start to feel withdrawal symptoms within 12 hours once they stop using Xanax, and those symptoms will peak within 3-4 days. Residual and long-term symptoms of withdrawal can even last for up to months at a time.
Going through a medical Xanax addiction detox program is so important because of the severity of some of these symptoms, especially in combination with other substances such as alcohol which will increase the discomfort. The most common withdrawal symptoms from Xanax include:
Xanax Detox: Medical Assistance
It is possible to detox safely off of Xanax quickly while under medical supervision, which is why anyone trying to overcome Xanax addiction should attend a medical Xanax addiction detox program. Even with the prescription of symptom controlling medications, a quick detox is very tough and uncomfortable, so a drastic detox should never be attempted without medical supervision.
The most dangerous and destructive of these side effects is convulsion. Some of these convulsions can actually be life threatening. While the more common side effects are typically psychological, and are very unpleasant. Going through a medical Xanax addiction detox will allow the individual a safer detox period while monitoring the intensity of symptoms and treating them accordingly.
Problematically, many people take Xanax to manage symptoms of a metal health disorder, and when they are experiencing withdrawal from Xanax, these mental health symptoms are increased dramatically, which can also create problems for a Xanax addiction detox patient. Going through a Xanax detox at a drug treatment facility will also support the individual in this way as well.
Xanax Detox: Treatment Programs
Many Xanax addiction detox programs through drug and alcohol treatment centers consistently provide the highest level of professional patient care. The industry is full of staff with extensive experience with related fields of therapy and holistic care, and with the health insurance industry.
In order to create the most influential and positive changes necessary for Xanax addiction detox the centers actively offer personalized detox and aftercare programs. It is very important to give patients a variety of treatment methods and supports to choose from.
With different attributes such as strong medical staff to assist in a comfortable transition from active substance abuse, to several levels of personal and professional therapy, and a specialized team dedicated to designing an aftercare program that meets the specific and important elements of a long-term recovery plan. The Palm Partners Xanax addiction detox program is here to provide the highest level of drug and alcohol treatment and holistic healing for those who are struggling. Xanax addiction detox may not be the most pleasant, but with the right Xanax addiction detox treatment program, it can be a healthy and life changing transformation.
For a substance like Xanax that creates such a dangerous physical dependence, it is critical that someone trying to escape Xanax addiction to attend a medical treatment program for Xanax addiction detox. Detoxing does not have to be what stands between someone who is suffering and a full recovery from this paralyzing and fatal disease. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. We want to help. You are not alone.
Author: Justin Mckibben
Benzodiazepines (Benzo) are a class of prescription drugs that are mainly prescribed for the treatment of anxiety and panic disorder. Examples of benzodiazepines include Valium, Xanax, and Ativan. These drugs are also highly addictive and very powerful, and benzo addiction detox is usually the best way to get off of these drugs safely.
Benzo addiction detox is necessary because benzo abuse can create several serious health issues including a physical dependence, as well as the possibility of adverse effects on cognitive function, physical health, and mental health. There is also an extensive list of the long term effects of Benzo abuse such as depression and flu-like symptoms especially during withdrawal, making benzo addiction detox all the more helpful. Due to these increasing physical and mental issues, slowly weaning off the medication is recommended for long term users, and done in a safe and controlled medical environment in a Benzo addiction detox facility.
Benzo Addiction Detox: Physical Dependence
Some of the more common symptoms that could occur as long-term effects of Benzo abuse include:
- Emotional clouding
- Sleep problems
- Memory impairment
- Personality changes
- Social deterioration
- Employment difficulties
Given these long-term effects of Benzo abuse, the Benzo addiction detox process is made more complicated when addiction in the adverse effects of benzo withdrawals.
Benzo Addiction Detox: Withdrawal Process
Symptoms of benzos detox range from mild anxiety and shakiness to extremely severe and possibly fatal health complications.
- Suicidal behavior
- Delirium tremens (“the DT’s”)
Symptoms from the DT’s are characterized by confusion, rapid heartbeat, and fever, the death rate from which is estimated to range from 1% to 5%.
The worst of the symptoms become only more dangerous as they go untreated. Death can result from the withdrawal symptoms alone! Commonly death from a Benzo detox is caused by trauma to head sustained from a fall. The idea that these withdrawals are so dangerous only re-enforces the idea that Benzo addiction detox should be done with the assistance of professionals. Trying to detox from benzo addiction at home cold turkey is an unnecessary risk.
Severe Benzo withdrawal symptoms are a medical emergency. If seizures, fever, severe confusion, hallucinations, or irregular heartbeats occur, either take the patient to an emergency room or call 911.
Benzo Addiction Detox: The Professional Treatment
Benzo addiction detox is designed to safely and consistently provide the highest level of professional patient care. The facilities at this level of care are full of staff with extensive experience with related fields of therapy and holistic care, and with the health insurance industry. In order to create the most influential and positive changes necessary for rehabilitation, Benzo addiction detox facilities actively offer personalized detox and aftercare programs. It is very important to give patients a variety of treatment methods and supports to choose from.
Benzo Addiction Detox: Affordable Care
Benzo addiction detox programs can appreciate how serious this addiction is. Plenty of changes that make it necessary to offer a new model of alcohol and drug addiction treatments have taken place in recent years, and Benzo addiction detox facilities do their best to facilitate the highest quality of care without financially creating obstacles for the family.
This way Benzo addiction detox programs give those who are struggling hope, so that they can receive the therapy and health care they need, with options for loan assistance for all who qualify and other payment arrangements. Doing everything possible to provide quality treatment in the most cost-effective way is an important element of Benzo addiction detox treatment programs.
Benzo Addiction Detox: Strong Medical Staff
Benzo addiction detox programs are complete with nursing and other medical staff that is experienced in the area of drug addiction, substance abuse, and alcohol addiction. Benzo addiction detox centers strive to create an experience where the staff is attentive, supportive, and innovative. Any symptoms or withdrawals should be addressed and cared for with compassion and done as effectively as possible.
Benzo Addiction Detox: Continued Recovery
Benzo addiction detox is designed to attempt to educate patients on the continued process of recovery from addiction and substance abuse. The disease of addiction is one that does entail staying active and growing after detox, and there are all types of treatment programs and after-care resources included after completing a Benzo addiction detox. These programs teach patients new ways to work on self-improvement, coping skills and continued recovery to build their recovery structure for a new life.
Benzo addiction, or any addiction for that matter is dangerous and can be fatal. The toll that substance abuse and addiction takes on an individual is mental, physical, and emotionally debilitating, and can cause residual pain and suffering, which can even hurt the addicts loved ones. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.