03 May The Different Types of Xanax and Dangers of Abuse
As doctors write more prescriptions, the number of people who abuse and become addicted to these substances increases. In the United States, we are experiencing an epidemic of drug abuse and addiction. One of the most commonly abused prescription drugs in America is a benzodiazepine drug known as Xanax (or Alprazolam).
In 2011, approximately 50 million people had a prescription for Xanax. This was greater than the number of prescriptions for similar medications like Ativan and Valium. Xanax is also a popular choice for drug abuse because it can produce a powerful high when it is misused. In 2011, about 61,000 people sought treatment for benzodiazepine abuse.
Xanax abuse isn’t limited to any class or group of people. Individuals from all races, sexes, backgrounds, and socio-economic statuses abuse this potent drug. One of the best ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from an addiction to Alprazolam is to learn more about the drug. By understanding how the drug impacts the human body and being able to identify the different types of Xanax, you can fight back against Xanax abuse and addiction.
The Physical, Mental, and Emotional Benefits of Sobriety
Although many people become addicted to the high that Xanax produces, the benefits of sobriety are much greater. When a person stops abusing a substance like Xanax, they have more energy and strength as well as better physical health. They also experience mental and emotional benefits like better concentration and focus, improved self-esteem, and less anxiety and depression. In addition to these benefits, people who recover from an addiction to Xanax find that their interpersonal relationships and professional lives improve.
If there are so many benefits of sobriety, why do so many people become addicted to Xanax? While it’s impossible to pinpoint the exact cause of addiction, there are a number of variables that seem to play a role.
- Brain Chemistry: Some people may abuse Xanax because they lack certain chemicals in their brain and they are unconsciously trying to make up for them. Once they realize that Xanax makes them feel better, they continue to abuse it.
- Environmental: Individuals who have unstable home environments or who have undergone extreme stresses in life may turn to Xanax as a way to cope.
- Genetics: There is a strong correlation between genetics and addiction. People who have close relatives with a substance abuse problem are twice as likely to develop one themselves.
- Psychological: If someone has an undiagnosed mental health condition, they may turn to Xanax or other drugs as a way to self-medicate. While Xanax may help them control their symptoms at first, it can quickly turn into a full-blown addiction.
In addition to these factors, the nature and strength of Xanax are two major reasons why people misuse and become addicted to the drug.
An Overview of Xanax
Before delving into information about Xanax strengths and types, it makes sense to discuss the basic facts about the drug. Xanax is a depressant in the benzodiazepine class of drugs. In general, depressants are designed to treat anxiety and panic disorders by binding to specific locations on gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain and altering the brain’s chemistry.
When a person suffers from clinical anxiety and takes Xanax as prescribed, they should experience a reduction in their symptoms. While the drug can be habit-forming, it is fairly safe when used under the supervision of a physician. However, Xanax can be very addictive and incredibly dangerous when it is abused. In fact, Xanax is a schedule IV drug, since it carries such a high risk of dependency.
People abuse and become addicted to Xanax because it makes them feel calm and relaxed almost immediately after taking it. A person begins to feel the effects within 25 minutes, with the full effect kicking in within a few hours. This calming sensation comes at a price though. When someone misuses any depressant, including Xanax, they can experience confusion, drowsiness, incoordination, increased anxiety, and memory problems. Since depressants slow down the activity in the brain, an overdose of Xanax can also cause a person to stop breathing.
When someone misuses Xanax for a prolonged period of time, it can cause changes to the GABA receptors in their brain, making it more difficult to stimulate them. The person can build up a tolerance to Xanax, which means that they need to take more of it to feel the same effect. Additionally, the user can become physically dependent, meaning that they will experience withdrawal symptoms if they try to stop taking Xanax.
The Different Types of Xanax
Xanax comes in different forms and strengths, and its effect’s vary depending on the type and potency of the drug. Most of the time, Xanax comes in the form of a bar or a pill. Each type of Xanax has a different dosage and each form of the medication is distinguishable by appearance. Here is an overview of a few of the different types of Xanax, including their appearance and dosage.
- White Xanax bars are a 2-milligram dose of the drug. Since this is a high dose, each bar contains four tiny pieces that are separated by scores, so the user can split them if necessary. If you want to stop taking white Xanax bars, you should slowly decrease your dose or you will experience strong withdrawal symptoms.
- Yellow Xanax comes in bar form as well and it features the number 039 inscribed on the front. This is actually the generic form of the drug, but it produces the same effects as the traditional white Xanax. Yellow Xanax is the equivalent of 2 milligrams of the drug.
- Green Xanax is produced by a number of different pharmaceutical companies. Like the white and yellow bars of the drug, green Xanax is 2 milligrams and it produces the same effects. The only difference is its appearance.
- Blue Xanax is a 1-milligram dose in an oval or elliptical shaped pill. Most of the time, these pills are scored, so the user can break them in half. Although this is a smaller dose of Xanax, it is still very addictive.
- Peach or Orange Xanax is a lower dose of Xanax for less severe cases of anxiety. This comes in the form of a small peach or orange oval pill, which often has the number 257 on the front. This form of the drug is a 0.5-milligram dose.
- Pink Xanax is also a smaller dose of Xanax that is used for less severe panic and anxiety disorders, and it is a 0.5-milligram dose.
- Liquid Xanax comes in a small bottle and each milliliter of the drug is equivalent to a 2-milligram dose of Xanax. Many people are surprised to learn that Xanax comes in a liquid form; however, other than the manner of consuming the drug, liquid Xanax is no different from the pill form.
While Xanax strengths and appearances may vary, they all share two things in common: All the different types of Xanax are highly addictive and they can cause serious problems when they are misused.
Side Effects of Xanax Abuse and Overdose
Most people who take Xanax as prescribed will not experience side effects; however, people who abuse the drug have an increased likelihood of experiencing a wide variety of negative physical and mental effects, including:
- Aches and Pains
- Chest Pains
- Decreased Appetite
- Hearing Loss
It is also very common for people to accidentally overdose on Xanax. Prompt treatment for an overdose can mean the difference between life and death. As a result, it’s critical to know the symptoms of a Xanax overdose.
- Chest Pain or Tightness
- Difficulty Breathing
- Difficulty Swallowing
- Excitement or Paranoia
- Heart Palpitations
- Night Terrors
- Severe Abdominal Pain
- Vomiting Blood
- Yellowing of the Skin
If you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or anyone else, you should immediately seek emergency medical treatment. Again, prompt emergency medical care can save a life.
Recognizing Xanax Abuse and Addiction
Since Xanax is one of the most commonly abused drugs in the country, it’s possible that you know someone who is struggling with an addiction to the substance. An addiction to Xanax or any other drug can be deadly, so it’s important for people to receive help as soon as possible. However, people who abuse drugs tend to hide their addiction. Here is a list of red flags to help you determine if a friend or loved one is struggling with an addiction to Xanax.
- Lack of Focus or Concentration
- Lack of Self-Control
- Loss of Interest
- Slurred Speech
If someone you care about is exhibiting any of these symptoms, you should help them seek treatment for a Xanax addiction as soon as possible. Although it isn’t easy to overcome addiction, there are treatment options available to help people achieve recovery and long-term sobriety.
Treatment for Xanax Addiction
Although some people may try to stop taking Xanax without medical assistance, it can be very dangerous due to the risk of withdrawal symptoms. All of these symptoms are unpleasant and uncomfortable, but some can even be life-threatening. Here are some of the most common withdrawal symptoms for Xanax.
- Blurred Vision
- Suicidal Thoughts
- Weight loss
The safest way to stop taking Xanax is to undergo a medically-supervised detoxification (detox) process. During detox, a person slowly stops taking Xanax to reduce the amount of the drug in their system. By tapering off of Xanax under close medical supervision, there is a reduced risk of developing serious or life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.
After undergoing medical detox, the next step in the recovery process is psychological counseling to address the roots of addiction and help the person develop new coping strategies to replace the role that Xanax played in their life. Counseling can be performed one-on-one, with family members, or in a group setting, depending on what is helpful for the patient.
In addition to detox and counseling, ongoing support from loved ones, support groups, and medical professionals is important to help a person maintain long-term sobriety. After all, recovering from addiction is a lifelong journey.
How to Take Xanax Safely
If your doctor writes you a prescription for Xanax, you don’t need to panic. Although the drug can be habit-forming, you can diminish the risk of becoming addicted to Xanax by taking the drug exactly as prescribed. Your doctor understands your medical history, tolerance level, and current health better than anyone else, so you should follow their orders exactly. Never take more of the medication than your doctor prescribes. If you think you need a larger dose, consult with your physician before taking more.
It is also very important to avoid consuming alcohol while you are taking Xanax. Since alcohol and Xanax are both depressants, taking these substances together can lead to dangerous and life-threatening side effects. At a minimum, you will experience impaired judgment and decreased reaction time when you take Xanax and alcohol at the same time. For the same reason, it is also unwise to take Xanax with a muscle relaxer, narcotic, or sleeping pill. If you’re unsure if your medication will interact with Xanax, it’s best to consult with your doctor or your pharmacist.
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to Xanax, it’s important to realize that it’s possible to recover. With help from the right treatment and support, people who once relied on Xanax can be free of it and find long-term sobriety.
Georgia Drug Detox provides a holistic approach to treating addiction to prescription drugs and other substances. We have a team of compassionate and dedicated professionals who strive to create a supportive environment where patients can detox and recover from addiction. Please contact us today to learn more about how Georgia Drug Detox can help you overcome addiction.
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Nichols, Hannah. “What You Need to Know About Xanax.” Medical News Today. 7 Dec. 2017. 7 Mar. 2019. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/263490.php
“Xanax Abuse.” Drugabuse.com. 7 Mar. 2019. https://drugabuse.com/xanax/