“Yeah, I was feeling uptight before he was about to pick me up for our date, so I popped a Xanax,” said my friend.
It seemed like everyone I knew was using benzos to calm down, chill out, get through a first date, or ace a presentation. Worse yet, I knew my pal had been drinking on her date – drinking after she took Xanax.
I hate to be the buzz kill of the gang, but here’s the straight story on the dangers of benzos.
The Deadly Allure of Benzos
Benzos can kill you. Especially if you mix them with alcohol. Yet, it seems doctors just give them out like candy on Halloween.
I should know – I was on a cycle of alcohol at night, Xanax all day for about a year. I’m lucky to be alive right now.
The appeal is natural, especially to those of us who are prone to like “downers” like alcohol. It seems like you can pop a benzo and twenty minutes later…everything is fine!
The fact that it can kill you is widely known, but maybe that hasn’t convinced you yet? How about the cognitive impairment? The way that, after you’ve been on benzos for a while, you can’t do math. Gradually all of your brain feels like it’s broken.
It seems like the only answer is to chew up another Xanax. And when “just one more” doesn’t do the trick anymore, you take two. It’s a vicious cycle.
An Acceptable Coping Mechanism?
Benzos like Xanax are “socially acceptable” drugs. You can go to work on Xanax. You could never get away with that on alcohol – or at least not for long. Xanax doesn’t smell. You can take it in the bathroom at work and never get caught.
It’s a legally prescribed medication, so it can’t be bad…right?
What about when you’re sweating in the middle of the night because you can’t sleep without it? Or when you’re in an anxious panic and you know your thoughts don’t make sense, but you can’t make them fit into logical patterns? Does that sound like a “good” time?
Kenneth Anderson, harm reduction expert says, “Alcohol and benzos both bind to the GABA receptors, but they each bind to a different spot. The result of taking them together is more than additive. It’s like 1 + 1 = 4.”
Look, I get it. It’s so easy to get hooked; it’s so easy to fly under the radar. But Xanax is addictive and it’s dangerous, especially when mixed with alcohol.
If you’re hooked on benzos, here’s my advice: Talk to your treatment provider honestly. Find out what your options are. Work with your provider, map out a treatment plan that you’re comfortable with, then follow through.
Coming off Xanax is hard, but it’s worth it.
Additional Reading: Can You Stay Calm…and Trash the Benzos?
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