Overcoming an addiction to Xanax can be a challenging and difficult process for many who go through it. Yet, despite its difficulties, confronting an addiction to this prescription drug is a necessary step towards sobriety and well-being over the long-term. 

At Apex Recovery, we understand that overcoming an addiction to Xanax can be one of the most difficult things you will face. Many individuals who are addicted to Xanax aren’t sure of what their treatment options are, what steps they will need to take, and where the journey starts. Many others approach the recovery process with trepidation, often due to the significant withdrawal symptoms that most people experience when they quit the use of Xanax.

In order to help individuals struggling with an addiction to Xanax assess their situation and determine the next step, this article will shed light on the process of overcoming Xanax addiction. We’ll highlight the important components of overcoming an addiction to Xanax, including recognizing that you have an addiction in the first place, finding a treatment program that is right for you and navigating the withdrawal process within an inpatient setting. We’ll also take a brief look at what Xanax recovery looks like over the long-term, including continuing care after you have finished your recovery program.

This information should prove helpful for individuals that are struggling with an addiction to Xanax, or the loved ones and family members of someone struggling with an addiction. Gaining a firm understanding of what Xanax is, what the signs of addiction are, and what steps you or your loved one can take to overcome addiction are crucial for starting the journey towards lifelong recovery. Recovery itself is a process that contains many hurdles and challenges, yet sometimes one of the biggest challenges for individuals struggling with an addiction to Xanax is taking the first step. 

What is Xanax?

Before diving into the steps to overcoming an addiction to Xanax, it is first helpful to gain a better understanding of what Xanax is. Xanax has unique properties that both increase the prevalence of drug abuse and make withdrawal a more difficult process. Understanding these properties can provide important context for navigating the recovery process in general, and overcoming Xanax withdrawals specifically.

Xanax is a Benzodiazepine

Xanax is the trade name for the drug alprazolam, which is part of the benzodiazepine class of medications. Benzodiazepines were first developed during the 1950s as an alternative to barbiturates, which were used to treat anxiety disorders but had significant side-effects included high toxicity. Benzodiazepines, in contrast, had relatively low toxicity while still offering an effective treatment option for anxiety or panic disorder. 

Benzodiazepines function by interacting with GABA receptors in the central nervous system. This interaction results in depressed communication between neurons, resulting in the sedative effect that is a characteristic of benzodiazepines. This makes benzodiazepines like Xanax highly effective in the treatment of anxiety and panic disorders.

Characteristics of Xanax

Xanax has a couple of important characteristics that have a big impact on its substance abuse potential and the recovery process:

 

  • Fast Action – Xanax is a fast-acting benzodiazepine. This means that the effects of Xanax come on powerfully and quickly. At the same time, this fast action also means that Xanax will be eliminated from the body relatively quickly. The fast action of the drug makes abusing Xanax much more likely, while also resulting in a faster onset of withdrawal symptoms once the drug has been eliminated from the body. A typical dose of this prescription drug will have effects that last somewhere between 4-7 hours, after which individuals with a chemical dependency on the drug will begin to experience Xanax withdrawal symptoms.
  • Wide Availability – Xanax is the most prescribed benzodiazepine in the United States today. It is frequently prescribed to treat anxiety and panic disorder and is usually meant to be taken on an “as-needed” basis, such as at the onset of a panic attack. The wide availability of the drug also makes it readily accessible for individuals to start abusing Xanax if they want to.
  • High Abuse Potential – All drugs in the benzodiazepine class of medications have a high potential for substance abuse. In many ways, Xanax has an even higher potential for drug abuse than other benzodiazepines. Xanax’s short, fast action and powerful effect contribute to its high potential for drug abuse. It should also be noted that Xanax abuse can often start from a legitimate prescription, though this is not always the case. 

Steps to Overcoming a Xanax Addiction

Overcoming an addiction to benzodiazepines is widely regarded as a difficult process. Benzodiazepines, as a whole, have strong withdrawal symptoms and a difficult withdrawal process. For many people, the withdrawal period serves as a barrier to recovery. Due to its short action and powerful effects, Xanax presents even more significant hurdles for many people. 

Due to the difficulty that many people have in quitting Xanax, it is important to have a good sense of how to overcome xanax addiction. Here we’ll provide a broad overview of these steps. Succinctly, they are recognizing that you have an addiction, finding the right treatment program for you, and committing to the treatment process itself. 

From the outset, understand that recovery from Xanax is a continuous journey rather than an event that occurs once. Because of this, many recovery programs focus on cultivating the skills and competencies that can help you maintain sobriety long after you have left a treatment program. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the important milestones on this journey.

Recognize the Addiction

One of the most common initial hurdles to getting treatment for Xanax addiction is recognizing when the use of Xanax has become problematic. Continuous illicit use of Xanax, or rather the use of Xanax without a valid prescription medication, is a fairly clear indication that treatment options should be considered. However, though it is less common, abuse of Xanax that began with a legitimate medical need can become more difficult to recognize. 

Regardless of whether you have ever been prescribed Xanax, it is important to honestly assess your use of Xanax to determine if it has become problematic. Here are some quick signs and symptoms that the use of Xanax should be addressed:

  • Use of Xanax is interfering with normal activities, such as work.
  • You have skipped other activities to use Xanax.
  • Using higher and higher doses to achieve the same effect, or using Xanax outside of the prescribed dosage.
  • Severe impairment, such as extensive sleeping, difficulty maintaining thoughts, and poor coordination.
  • Legal consequences as a result of Xanax use.

There is no definitive guide for when the use of Xanax becomes problematic. Just as each person is different, every situation will have different thresholds that can help illuminate when it is time to get help. The most important aspect is to perform an honest assessment of your or your loved one’s Xanax use. If you determine that the use of Xanax is problematic, don’t hesitate to begin the process of finding the right treatment option.

Find a Treatment Program

Once you recognize that your xanax addiction has become problematic, the next step to take is to find a treatment program. Many people try to quit Xanax on their own but run into problems as the withdrawal symptoms progress. Not only are many of the withdrawal symptoms associated with Xanax agonizing, but there are some that constitute a real threat to the immediate and long-term health of the individual going through withdrawal. 

Advantages of a Treatment Program

Treatment programs offer the best chance for a successful recovery, but if you aren’t familiar with addiction treatment programs it is useful to have examples of why this is the case. Treatment programs for Xanax addiction are important because they help minimize the risks associated with the withdrawal process and then subsequently address the underlying issues that led to the addiction in the first place. Two advantages of treatment programs are:

 

  • Safer Withdrawal – Withdrawal from benzodiazepines is different from many other drugs in that it can result in dangerous negative health outcomes, including death. Abruptly stopping the use of Xanax when you have a high tolerance or after an extended period of use can result in the onset of seizures. Medical management of the benzodiazepine withdrawal process occurs during the detox portion of a treatment program. Xanax detox is done under close medical supervision, and in some cases slower acting benzodiazepines can be used to replace Xanax and are eventually tapered down.
  • Comprehensive Treatment – There is no doubt that recovery is a journey filled with unique challenges and opportunities. Overcoming these challenges successfully can require the skills, knowledge, and support system that you can gain from a treatment program.

 

Alongside these two important benefits, in a treatment program any other conditions, such as an underlying or undiagnosed mental health condition, can be treated at the same time as the addiction is being addressed.

Finding the Right Treatment Program

Treatment programs offer the structure and resources that many people need to successfully overcome an addiction to Xanax. Although overcoming an addiction to Xanax isn’t easy, it is entirely possible with the right support system and resources in place. Because of this, it is important not only to enter a treatment program but also to find the right treatment program for you.

At a basic level, you’ll want to find a treatment program that offers the combination of resources and expertise that you’ll need to overcome your addiction. Not all treatment programs are the same, and many have different treatment philosophies that determine the types of programs, courses, and interactions you’ll experience during your time in the program. 

Finding the right treatment program involves a certain degree of due diligence on your part, so don’t get frustrated if the first few programs you visit aren’t right for you. Broadly speaking, you will want to find a facility that has a compassionate staff that is engaged with the recovery process. There are some basic things you should look out for when you visit the facility. Be mindful of how staff treat you when you are at the facility, and keep an eye out for the grounds themselves. Though treatment facilities aren’t five-star hotels, they should be well-maintained and clean, and your quarters for an inpatient program should be clean and well-kept.

You will also want to be in a program that enables you to have access to qualified medical professionals throughout the duration of your program should you need them. Different treatment programs emphasize different treatment modalities, so be sure to spend time with an intake specialist getting to know the types of treatments your potential facility offers and how those treatments specifically result in positive outcomes for individuals struggling with an addiction to Xanax or other benzodiazepines.

Closing Thoughts

If you or a loved one is struggling to overcome an addiction to Xanax, getting treatment is very important. Though there are many different paths to recovery, overcoming an addiction to benzodiazepines requires special consideration. This is because withdrawal from benzodiazepines like Xanax can result in health complications, such as seizures, which sometimes leads to death. Avoiding negative health outcomes during the withdrawal process is one of the reasons that many people choose to enter a treatment program with a medically-managed detox component.

It is also important to recognize the crucial role that treatment programs play in attaining long-term recovery. Recovering from benzodiazepine addiction is a difficult process, not only due to the withdrawal period but also due to the ongoing difficulty many recovering addicts have in staying clean. Having access to the resources and support systems that treatment programs offer can greatly increase your chances of a successful, long-term recovery. At the same time, treatment programs help individuals in recovery learn the types of skills that can help them maintain sobriety and avoid a relapse during difficult or challenging periods after the treatment program has ended. 

Here at Apex Recovery, our staff believes that compassion and active engagement with the recovery process are critical components for creating an environment that is conducive to long-term recovery. At Apex Recovery you’ll not only have access to high caliber physicians and certified addiction specialists, but you’ll also have the opportunity to better understand and address the underlying issues that gave rise to your addiction in the first place. To learn more about our treatment programs and facility, please contact Apex Recovery today.

Sources

  1. https://www.semel.ucla.edu/dual-diagnosis-program/Conditions_Treated/Benzodiazepine_Addictions
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4657308/
  3. https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12888-015-0493-y