How to Help an Alprazolam Addict
Help for Alprazolam Addicts
Alprazolam, marketed under the brand name Xanax, is a benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Similar to the effects of alcohol, alprazolam works by depressing brain functions. Abuse of this drug can be dangerous and can lead quickly to an all-consuming addiction to the substance.
The following are the most common ways to help someone who is addicted to Alprazolam:
- Inpatient facilities.
- Outpatient facilities.
- Residential treatment.
- Behavioral therapy.
- Medication therapy.
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Approaching an Alprazolam-Addicted Loved One
When approaching a loved one about their addiction to alprazolam, it is important to keep in mind that your loved one might be going through things that you don’t understand. Try to put yourself in their shoes. Avoid blaming or criticizing your loved one, which can drive them away and serve as an additional fuel for self-destructive behavior. Below are some things to keep in mind as you approach someone you love about their alprazolam addiction.
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- Try not to start a conversation when your loved one is under the influence.
- Do not blame or criticize the individual.
- Use “I” statements, such as, “I noticed” or “ I am worried.”
It is important that you express love and caring during this time. Your non-judgmental support can help the person you love seek treatment and get sober. If you are feeling unsure about how to begin a conversation, you can start to prepare for the conversation with a therapist or doctor. You may also seek the help of a professional interventionist.
Alprazolam addictions are best handled in a recovery center that offers medical supervision while the person detoxes. If your loved one has asked for help, that is a big step. Let them know that it takes courage to seek treatment, and although the journey may be difficult, you are there to support them throughout.
Keep in mind that no single treatment will work for everyone. If your loved one has tried treatment before and it did not work, you can encourage them to try a different approach. Many people go through various types of treatment before reaching sobriety.
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Alprazolam Addiction Treatment
The best programs provide a combination of therapies to meet the needs of each individual patient.
As one of the most prescribed anxiety drugs prescribed in America, the number of people dependent on this drug is staggering. According to SAMHSA’s 2011 DAWN Report, benzodiazepines like Xanax were the reason for about half of all visits to detox programs. Those who have developed a dependence on alprazolam will likely suffer multiple withdrawal symptoms that can be severe upon abrupt cessation of use.
Fortunately, an addiction to alprazolam can be treated through a combination of medical detoxification and therapy. During medically assisted detox, the drug is slowly tapered, meaning the dose is decreased over a set period until the person is completely free from Xanax. It’s important to understand that getting help in a supervised facility is extremely important, as benzodiazepine withdrawal can induce dangerous and sometimes life-threatening symptoms.
Addiction treatment is not over when the body is free of Xanax. Leaving treatment after detox can halt your progress in its tracks and leave you particularly at risk of relapse. Most facilities will encourage you to stay in treatment after the initial detox period to partake in ongoing:
- Behavioral therapy.
- Support groups.
- Treatment for any co-occurring conditions.
The best programs provide a combination of therapies to meet the needs of each individual patient. For example, a center may use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help the patient learn ways to de-stress and relax without using drugs, or use other coping mechanisms to combat cravings.
Ongoing treatment can take place in an inpatient or outpatient program. Be advised that while outpatient treatment will allow you to live at home, you may face environmental triggers that you wouldn’t face in an inpatient program. A strong supportive network at home will help to prevent relapse if you are continuing your care while living at home.
Usually, care is delivered by a multidisciplinary team comprised of physicians, nurses, counselors, psychiatrists, therapists, and social workers. Treatment settings, the type of interventions used, and the amenities provided will vary depending on the program.
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What Are the Signs of Addiction?
A study by the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in 2006 showed that alprazolam is the most prescribed and most abused benzodiazepine in the United States.
Substance abuse, as defined by the American Psychiatric Association's DSM-IV, is a maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, manifested by one or more of the following symptoms:
Side Effects of Alprazolam
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Dry mouth.
- Decreased sex drive.
- Changes in appetite.
- Recurrent substance use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school or home.
- Recurrent substance use in situations which place the user at risk of harming himself or herself.
- Recurrent substance-related legal problems.
- Continued substance use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems.
Addiction is manifested by:
- The inability to stop using the drug despite negative consequences.
- Excessive amount of time spent acquiring and using the drug.
Dependence and Withdrawal
Stopping alprazolam abruptly can produce a range of withdrawal symptoms, depending on factors such as duration of use and the amount of the drug consumed. However, not all withdrawal effects are evidence of true dependence or withdrawal.
All people, especially individuals with a history of seizures, should not abruptly discontinue taking alprazolam due to the possible severity of withdrawal symptoms. All patients on alprazolam who require a dosage reduction should be gradually tapered off the drug under close supervision.
Am I Addicted to Alprazolam?
Answering the following questions can help you to determine whether or not you are addicted to alprazolam. You may be addicted to Xanax if you answer yes to the following questions:
- Do you feel as if you are no longer in control of how much alprazolam you are taking?
- Do you think you are using alprazolam too often or in high dosages?
- Do you worry about what will happen when you run out?
- Do you crave alprazolam if you don't have any?
- Do you continue to use alprazolam despite negative events that have occurred because of using this drug?
- Have you ever lied or manipulated a doctor to obtain alprazolam?
- Do you use alprazolam when you first wake up or before you go to bed?
- Do you avoid people because they don't approve of your alprazolam use?
- Do you think you have a drug problem?
In 2009, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 23.5 million people ages 12 and older needed treatment for a substance abuse problem. However, only 2.6 million of those who needed treatment received it.
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- Chaudhury, S. (2014). Dependence, misuse and withdrawal symptoms: case report. Reactions, 1515, 24-23.
- Longo, L. P., & Johnson, B. R. I. A. N. (2000). Addiction: Part I. Benzodiazepines-side effects, abuse risk and alternatives. American family physician, 61(7), 2121-2128.