The Dangers of Xanax Misuse

The Dangers of Xanax Misuse

What is Xanax?

Xanax is the brand name for the drug Alprazolam. Xanax belongs to a group of drugs known as Benzodiazepines; the same family that includes Valium (Diazepam), Klonopin (Clonazepam), Ativan (Lorazepam), and Dalmane (Flurazepam), among others. In the United States, Xanax is the single most-prescribed psychiatric medication.

What is Xanax Prescribed For?

Xanax is used as a short-term treatment for anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder. Benzodiazepines produce a calming effect by acting on the central nervous system. Xanax is a short-acting Benzodiazepine, and acts as a mild tranquilizer. It works by slowing and balancing the movement of brain chemicals and increasing the amount of a neurotransmitter in the brain known as GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid), thus promoting a relaxed and calm feeling.

Xanax Has Become an Abused Medication

First approved by the FDA in October 1981, Xanax is an effective and safe medication – when used correctly! Unfortunately, besides being the most prescribed psychiatric medication, the US Drug Enforcement Administration states that Xanax is also the most abused medication. When taken as prescribed by a general practitioner it has a therapeutic, potent, anti-anxiety, sedative, anti-convulsant effect, because it acts so quickly in the body – the effects usually begin within one hour. But when this drug is mixed with alcohol, it can have a devastating result.

The most common drug combinations noted in ER admissions are alcohol and Xanax and a combination of Xanax and prescription opiates like Oxycodone and Hydrocodone. The reason Xanax is so widely abused is because it provides a fast acting “high” for people who take it. People taking Xanax should also realise that the body of certain individuals may handle Xanax differently; like people who suffer from alcoholism, older adults, obese people, people with alcoholic liver disease or impaired renal function, and people with impaired hepatic function.

Xanax and Alcohol are a Dangerous Combination!

Long term use of Xanax can put people at risk of serious harm. Long-term addiction and abuse of Xanax can be associated with psychotic experiences, depression, and impulsive or aggressive behaviour. People do become dependent on or addicted to these types of drugs, then suffer painful withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop. When mixed with alcohol, alprazolam can cause blackouts, putting consumers of these drugs at great risk of being sexually abused. Overdosing can lead to a huge risk of breathing and heart problems, which can result in death.

You must act quickly if you or someone you know is having problems with alprazolam. If it’s an emergency you can talk to Frank. Seek advice at The Emergency Help page.  Alternatively, if it’s not an emergency and you or a loved one need help, you can search FRANK to find support near you.

Photo Credit: “Xanax 2 mg” (CC BY 2.0) by Dean812

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