Xanax is a Schedule IV Controlled substance, meaning it has a low potential for abuse and a low likelihood of addiction. Still, at least 13% of young adults reported misusing Xanax for recreational purposes in the past year. And at least 16% of opioid-related overdoses also involved a benzodiazepine like Xanax.
To understand Xanax being classified as a controlled substance, you should first know what it is. Xanax is part of the benzodiazepine family, a type of medicine that acts as a sedative and is classified as a central nervous system inhibitor. It is a widely used medicine for treating panic disorders, insomnia, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
Read on to learn more about Xanax and its category as a controlled substance.
What Is a Controlled Substance?
A controlled substance is a drug or other substance that the government strictly regulates due to the risk of abuse or addiction. The regulation covers how the drug is produced, utilized, managed, kept, and distributed. Opioids, hallucinogens, stimulants, anabolic steroids, and depressants are all controlled substances.
The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 combat drug trafficking, unlawful possession, and production. Many substances covered by this legislation have medical benefits and are legally administered, but it is illegal to use them without prescriptions.
Controlled substance list schedules are as follows:
- Schedule I: Illegal medications are highly misused and addictive and are not licensed for medical use.
- Schedule II: Prescription medications with abuse potential and addiction.
- Schedule III: Controlled substances with a moderate potential for misuse and addiction.
- Schedule IV: Prescription medications with a low potential for abuse and a low likelihood of addiction.
- Schedule V: Prescription or over-the-counter drugs with a lower chance of abuse and addiction than Schedule IV medications.
Why Is Xanax a Controlled Substance?
Using Xanax without a prescription can result in criminal charges that can last a lifetime because of its potential for abuse and addiction. So, Is Xanax a controlled substance? Yes.
The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) was adopted as part of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 to the potential for certain drugs’ abuse and dependence, Xanax included.
Xanax works by relaxing the central nervous system and reducing brain overactivity. It is classified as a category IV drug, which means it has a low potential for misuse and a low risk of addiction.
You can only get a valid Xanax prescription for six months and can only be reissued up to five times.
Prescription Drugs vs. Controlled Substances
You may find it challenging to distinguish regulated from unregulated drugs. Prescription medications are not all controlled drugs. Antibiotics, for example, are only available with a prescription and are not handled in the same way that Xanax (alprazolam) is. Controlled substances are medications that have the potential to cause dependence and addiction.
Is Xanax Addictive?
Even when taken as prescribed, users may develop Xanax tolerance and dependence. The risk increases for those who misuse the medication more often or take higher doses.
Xanax produces calming effects; some users can become too accustomed to being under the influence. In addition, Xanax can also release dopamine, impacting the brain’s pleasure center and rewiring the way it operates. Roughly 44% of chronic benzodiazepine users become addicted to the substance.
Furthermore, some people misuse Xanax by combining it with other substances such as alcohol. The combination enhances the calming effects of Xanax and can become addictive over time. At least 41% of people who struggle with alcoholism abuse benzodiazepines like Xanax.
In the case of Xanax, most people will experience withdrawal symptoms whenever they don’t meet their dosage. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, headaches, and blurred visions.
When a Xanax addiction takes hold, daily duties like job, school, and family become less important as energy is diverted into stimulant-seeking behavior. Other behavioral indications of addiction include failure to stop using Xanax despite a strong desire, apathy in once-loved activities, and high-risk behaviors such as driving while intoxicated.
Finding Help for Xanax Abuse and Addiction
If you or someone you love is dealing with Xanax abuse, please know there’s help available. There are various treatment programs, behavioral therapy, and detox programs that can be beneficial. Finding help for a substance use disorder is nothing to be ashamed of. Please talk to your primary care doctor or mental health professional about addiction treatment options near you.