What Is Xanax?
Xanax is a prescription brand-name version of the benzodiazepine alprazolam. Xanax is prescribed to treat symptoms of anxiety and panic disorders, and sometimes it may be used for other purposes, such as the short-term treatment of insomnia.
Benzodiazepines like Xanax work primarily by affecting a naturally-occurring neurotransmitter in the brain called GABA. GABA has an inhibitory effect, meaning it calms brain neural activity. If someone takes Xanax, it increases this inhibitory effect, creating a sense of calm and relaxation in the user.
Xanax is one of the most frequently prescribed drugs in the United States, and while it does have approved medical uses, it’s also a substance that’s frequently abused recreationally.
Xanax Abuse and Addiction
When someone uses Xanax, in addition to affecting GABA and helping the person feel calm and relaxed, it can also create a high. A Xanax high may include a sense of pleasurable relaxation and well-being, a desirable reduction in anxiety, or in some cases, even a sense of euphoria.
These stem from the effects of Xanax on the brain and central nervous system. At high doses, the Xanax high can be more significant, because the drug can trigger a dopamine release into the brain. Dopamine is often described as a feel-good neurotransmitter.
The longer someone uses Xanax, the more likely they are to become addicted to it as well as dependent on it.
Addiction is a chronic, diagnosable disorder that affects the brain, physical health, and behavior of a person. Dependence can occur with or without an addiction. Dependence means someone will experience physiological symptoms of they stop using Xanax suddenly, which is called withdrawal.
While a person can abuse Xanax on its own, it’s more common that it’s used with other substances that have psychoactive properties. For example, someone might abuse both Xanax and another central nervous system depressant such as alcohol or a narcotic. This combination increases the effects of both drugs. When someone struggles with an addiction to multiple drugs, it’s defined as a polysubstance use disorder.
When someone is recreationally abusing Xanax, it doesn’t automatically mean they’re addicted, but abuse often leads to addiction. Signs that someone is abusing Xanax can include:
- Taking it only for certain desired effects such as to relax or to feel high
- Combining it with other substances
- Crushing the pills to snort them for a stronger or faster high
- Taking Xanax without a prescription
- Taking it for longer than prescribed
- Doctor shopping for Xanax prescriptions
Signs that someone is addicted to Xanax can include:
- Using Xanax even when there are negative side effects
- Making the use and obtaining of Xanax a top priority
- Declining school or work performance related to the use of Xanax
- The inability to control one’s use of Xanax
- Trying to cut down or stop using Xanax but failing
Xanax Addiction Treatment
When someone is addicted to Xanax, they will often require professional addiction treatment. Because of the dependence that can form to Xanax, and the severe side effects that can occur during withdrawal including seizures, a medical detox may be the first step.
While a medical detox isn’t in and of itself addiction treatment, detoxing from all substances has to occur before someone can receive treatment.
One someone completes detox, they can begin addiction treatment. An addiction treatment program can take place in different settings. There are facilities around the country, and all may have differences in terms of how they provide treatment, how they approach addiction, and the general format and setting.
Xanax Inpatient Treatment
Inpatient treatment is also called a residential rehab. During inpatient Xanax treatment a person is expected to check into the center where they will live day and night for a set period of time. During this time, the patient receives around-the-clock monitoring and both physical and psychological care.
Inpatient treatment for a Xanax addiction will often include different forms of therapy and in particular, behavioral therapy. Behavioral therapy can help a person identify their detrimental ways of thinking and change them for the future.
Inpatient Xanax treatment may also include medication management if necessary, and treatment for any other substance use disorders a patient has outside of Xanax.
To participate in inpatient treatment, a person does have to leave their daily life and responsibilities during that time. Many people opt to go to inpatient treatment out-of-state as well, to take them out of their environment of drug abuse.
Xanax Outpatient Treatment
Outpatient treatment can work well as a starting point for someone who might be a mild or infrequent user of Xanax or maybe hasn’t used it for long. For some people, they may begin with inpatient rehab for their Xanax addiction and once they complete that program, move into a lower level of care which can be outpatient rehab.
Outpatient addiction treatment is much less structured and usually requires that participants come to the treatment facility a few times a week for therapy and check-ins.
There are also intensive outpatient rehab programs, but even in these situations the time commitment still allows most participants to continue going to school or work.
Participants in outpatient treatment can also live at home, or they may live in a sober living house.
Xanax PHP Rehabs
A partial hospitalization program or PHP offers some elements of inpatient rehab, but participants can return home in the evenings.
A PHP rehab for Xanax addiction is fairly intensive for a brief period of time. For example, for a week or two, a participant may go to treatment every day all day and then return home when treatment ends each day.
A PHP may be a starting point for Xanax addiction treatment. A PHP can also be a step-down following completion of inpatient rehab.
Effective Xanax Treatment
While there are many different styles of addiction treatment program available, a quality program should have some core concepts that remain consistent. Effective Xanax treatment programs should include:
- Addiction treatment needs to take into consideration the needs of the whole person. A person is much more than their addiction, and holistic treatment is an important way for this to be addressed.
- Addiction is a chronic, complex disorder and it often includes ongoing changes to the function of the brain and behavior. The full complexity of addiction needs to be appropriately considered during rehab.
- Often addiction occurs along with another co-occurring mental health disorder, such as depression or anxiety. Any co-occurring psychiatric disorders should be treated during addiction treatment for the best outcomes. This is called dual diagnosis treatment.
- It’s important a person is comfortable in their treatment environment. This increases the likelihood they will complete the full program and staying in treatment for long enough is important for long-term recovery outcomes.
If you would like to learn about Xanax treatment programs on an inpatient or outpatient basis, please contact Amethyst Recovery Center today.