Nearly 3.5 million Americans are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder each year. That is just a fraction of the approximately 40 million Americans who are currently estimated to suffer from anxiety. For many patients, the symptoms of an untreated anxiety disorder can prevent them from living an engaging and fulfilling life.
Severe cases of anxiety may even make it difficult for these individuals to go to work, attend school, or participate in routine social interactions. So it’s only natural that many of them visit physicians or psychiatrists looking for help with their anxiety symptoms. In many cases, after a brief consultation with a doctor, the patient leaves with a prescription for Xanax or a similar benzodiazepine anxiety medication, such as Ativan or Valium.
While these medications may initially alleviate many of their anxiety symptoms, many patients soon begin to realize that they got more than they bargained for. Within as little as a few weeks, they may begin to see changes in mood, energy, and ability to concentrate. They can also experience significant increases in anxiety, especially when they miss a dose late or forget to take one at all.
Patients with Anxiety Don’t Fully Understand the Addictive Nature of Benzodiazepines Like Xanax
One of the biggest contributors to Xanax addiction is a lack of patient education. It’s likely that many patients who are prescribed the medication hear little to nothing from their doctor about the drug’s potential for dependence, addiction, and serious withdrawal symptoms. After developing a dependence on Xanax, many patients are surprised, angry, and frustrated that a drug created to reduce anxiety could end up causing so much of it.
That’s not to say that Xanax doesn’t have any effective medical uses because it does. However, for the vast majority of patients, Xanax should be used sparingly and only during periods of severe anxiety. It should be taken no more than a few times a month in order to avoid the drug’s high potential for addiction. Of course, if a patient has had problems with Xanax abuse in the past, they should avoid benzodiazepines at all costs. Instead, they should consult their doctor about other medications and work through their problems with a licensed psychotherapist.
Xanax Use Can Reduce the Brain’s Ability to Produce GABA, an Essential Neurotransmitter
Xanax, just like other benzodiazepine anxiety medications, binds to the brain’s GABA receptors. GABA, one of the human brain’s most important neurotransmitters, regulates mood, sleep, energy, muscle tone, and a variety of other essential functions. Because Xanax is a GABA agonist, over time, it reduces the brain’s natural ability to produce it’s own supply of GABA. This can lead to serious consequences for patients. This reduction in GABA due to ceasing, reducing, or developing a tolerance to Xanax, can lead to withdrawal effects like anxiety, panic attacks, sleeping and concentration problems, and in rare cases, seizures and even death.
However, it’s important to realize that while Xanax may be the most commonly prescribed medication for anxiety, it’s not the only effective treatment. SSRI and SNRI medications, which are most commonly prescribed as antidepressants, can also effectively treat anxiety in a large amount of patients. These non-benzodiazepine anxiety drugs may have their own dependence and withdrawal risks, and they may not work for everyone, but they certainly do not have the addictive potential of Xanax and other benzos. This means that they may work better in the long-term for some patients suffering from serious anxiety disorders.
Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms May Last More Than a Year for Some Patients
Unlike the withdrawal symptoms from many other drugs, the acute withdrawal effects of Xanax and other benzos can last for several months or longer. A certain subset of patients also experience protracted benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome, which is usually characterized by standard benzo withdrawal symptoms that continue to affect a patient for a year or more. In some severe cases, certain withdrawal symptoms and side effects can be permanent, though this is not extremely common.
Gabapentin May be Able to Ease the Withdrawal Symptoms of Xanax and Other Benzos
For many individuals undergoing withdrawal from Xanax, some essential medications may be needed to reduce anxiety to functional levels so that an individual can participate in and complete regular life tasks and responsibilities. One of these medications, gabapentin, may be able to significantly ease the xanax withdrawal symptoms from Xanax and other benzos. Research suggests that gabapentin, which is traditionally prescribed for nerve pain and seizures, can also allow patients to withdraw from benzodiazepines more quickly, and help them avoid many of the sleep and anxiety issues that plague regular patients withdrawing from benzos.
Xanax Addiction Treatment Programs at Restore Health and Wellness
When Americans have a problem, they go to a doctor, and often follow his or her instructions without doing too much specific medical research. Trusting your healthcare provider is usually a good thing, but when a patient is prescribed benzodiazepines for an anxiety disorder without having researched the short and long term side effects, it can lead to serious consequences.
At Restore Health and Wellness Center, we understand how difficult it can be to ask for help and to find the right addiction treatment program to address your needs for addiction recovery. Xanax dependence and withdrawal can lead to problems like anxiety disorders and major depression. For this reason, our clinical experts are available 24/7 to help you through the detox process. By having constant support and guidance, you’ll be able to detox safely and comfortably so you can continue with the other stages of the rehabilitation process.
At Restore Drug Rehab LA, we are dedicated to helping you through every single stage of addiction rehabilitation and recovery. Our individualized programs for xanax addiction treatment combine both traditional and holistic therapies to help you heal physically, psychologically and spiritually. We want you to know that there is hope for recovery. You don’t have to fight your addiction alone.