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A medical detox is not just about being comfortable; it is about being safe and supported. So many powerful prescription drugs can do much more damage than most people realize, and the withdrawals can be often just as terrifying for someone who doesn’t know how to get help.
Explaining Xanax / Benzodiazepine
Xanax addiction is a very dangerous issue, and it is important to understand the drug and its side-effects in order to address the problem. Alprazolam is the generic name of an extremely potent and short-acting anxiolytic drug, and Xanax is one of the most common trade names of this drug. Xanax falls in the benzodiazepine (benzo) class of narcotic medications and doctors commonly utilize it to treat issues with anxiety such as:
- Panic disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Social anxiety disorder
It has also been prescribed to:
- Relax muscles
- Relieve stress
- Help people sleep
Xanax is one of the most popularly prescribed medications. In recent years it has consistently been among the top 12 most prescribed medications in America. Altogether, Alprazolam is the most prescribed, and the most abused, benzo class medication in the United States. Due to the potential for misuse and the health risks, the DEA has classified Xanax as a schedule IV controlled substance.
A nationwide U.S. government study conducted by SAMHSA and released in 2012 found that benzodiazepines are recreationally the most frequently used pharmaceuticals due to their widespread availability. It also stated benzos accounted for 35% of all drug-related visits to hospital emergency and urgent care facilities.
The pharmacological properties of alprazolam such as high affinity binding, high potency, being short-acting and having a rapid onset of action increase the abuse potential of alprazolam. The physical dependence and withdrawal syndrome of alprazolam also adds to the addictive nature of the drug.
Side Effects of Xanax
There are a number of adverse effects of Xanax, and a few serious side effects that can result from taking this medication. It is important that you contact you doctor if you experience side effects such as:
- Thoughts of suicide
- Unusual risk taking behavior
- Anterograde amnesia
- Chest pain
- Increased heart rate
Like all central nervous system depressants, including alcohol, alprazolam in larger-than-normal doses can cause significant deterioration in alertness, combined with increased feelings of drowsiness.
Xanax and GABA
Because benzodiazepine drugs depress the Central Nervous System (CNS), it acts as a substitute for the natural substance called gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) that works with receptors in the brain cells to slow down activity. GABA is the body’s own relaxing agent, and benzos like Xanax increase the effect of GABA on the cells.
If someone is using the medication long-term, even with a prescription, it can be very risky. Truthfully, use of Xanax will normally decrease the GABA produced by the body in as little as a few days to a few weeks. Over time, the brain may actually stop producing GABA without the presence of the drug. So getting off of Xanax or similar benzo class drugs can create a very real issue with dependence when the individual takes increased doses to compensate for the lack of natural production of GABA in the body.
The Lethal Danger of Xanax and Alcohol
Mixing Xanax with alcohol is one of the most dangerous drug combinations. Alcohol is another drug that affects GABA in the body. Heightened GABA activity results in devastating inhibition of numerous neural processes, leading to a dangerous form of sedation.
Overall, both substances work to reduce the activity in the brain independently, so when taken together they can magnify their effects on the body. Alcohol and benzodiazepines such as Alprazolam have a synergistic effect on one another when taken together, which can cause:
- Behavioral changes
- Severe sedation
When severe sedation occurs, it can cause a complete shut-down of some of the body’s most vital functioning, and cause critical damage or even death. One of the most dangerous effects that can be especially lethal is profound respiratory depression.
Xanax / Benzodiazepine Overdose
Overdoses of alprazolam can range from mild to severe. This usually depends on how much of the drug is taken, what other drugs might be taken with it, and how much of the additional substance was taken. An Alprazolam overdose causes excessive depression to the central nervous system (CNS). The symptoms of an overdose can include:
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Orthostatic hypotension (fainting while standing up too quickly)
- Hypoventilation (shallow breathing)
- Impaired motor functions
- Impaired balance
- Muscle weakness
- Impaired or absent reflexes
- Coma and death are possible if alprazolam is combined with other substances
If you experience any Xanax overdose symptoms, you should contact your local emergency services immediately.
Xanax / Benzodiazepine Withdrawal
As a central nervous system depressant, Xanax serves to slow down heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature in the body in addition to minimizing anxiety, stress, and panic. Xanax may also help to reduce epileptic seizures. When the brain gets used to this drug, slowing all of these things down on a regular basis, if it is suddenly removed, these functions may rebound.
Blood pressure, body temperature, respiration, and heart rate may go up rapidly, and seizures that can lead to coma and even death may occur. Some of the physical warning signs of Xanax withdrawal to watch for include:
Combining Xanax with Alcohol
Again, the combination of alcohol with Xanax can have a profound impact on withdrawal symptoms as well. If someone has simultaneously abused these two substances for an extended period the user may experience symptoms that range from mild discomfort to hazardous or even life-threatening medical conditions. Withdrawal from either substance can be risky, but the combined effects can be even more lethal. Complications can include:
- Psychomotor agitation
Grand mal seizures have been well documented as devastating side effects of benzodiazepine withdrawal. These seizures also have the potential to be fatal without professional assistance during Xanax detox.
Physical Warning Signs Xanax Withdrawal
- 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
Importance of Medical Detox
Xanax should not be abruptly discontinued or stopped “cold turkey”. In the event someone is trying to get off of the drug, a safe medical detox is crucial. In this setting vital signs need to be closely monitored. When the drug has been used along with other substances it is never advisable to try to cease these substances without medical support.
Medical detox for Xanax is so important because this level of assistance is meant to minimize the risk of potentially dangerous symptoms while providing as much comfort as possible. A professional medical team should always be on hand to read vital signs and administer the appropriate medications if needed to make sure the individual is kept safe while detoxing from Xanax.
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Delray Beach, FL 33483
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