Xanax Treatment, Treatment for Xanax Addiction
Xanax is a brand name of one of the benzodiazepines, alprazolam, which is often prescribed by doctors to manage states of anxiety and different levels of pain. These medications act on the central nervous system to enhance the effects of the inhibitory neurotransmitter known as gamma amino butyric acid. Because of its inhibitory effects, Xanax is often used in people who are very restless and anxious, such as those in panic attacks and in moderate to extreme pain. These substances relax and calm the individual so they won’t have to experience the anxiety-provoking situation. Other examples of benzodiazepines include; diazepam, chlordiazepoxide, halazepam, clonazepam, clorazepate, flurazepam, lorazepam, temazepam, clobazam, and triazolam.
Benzodiazepines were one of the three major causes of prescription drug abuse in the US. In 2010, NIDA recorded more than 2.2 million Americans at least 12 years of age have misused or abused minor tranquilizers, as benzodiazepines are popularly known. In 2014, the total number of deaths related to benzodiazepine overdose was at the 8,000 level, up by 285 percent from 2004 and 445 percent from 2001. The phenomenal increase in the number of deaths attributed to benzodiazepine overdose within a span of 13 years is appalling, to say the least. The number of people getting admitted for benzodiazepine treatment and rehabilitation also rose significantly from 3,000 in 1990 to 17,000 in 2012, posting a 567 percent increase in 22 years. Thirty-two percent of all the benzodiazepine admissions presented with a psychiatric problem while around 75 percent had at least 2 more additional substance addictions. Six out of ten of those who were admitted for benzodiazepine addiction reported daily misuse of the drug.
Benzodiazepines act on the GABA neurotransmitter in the brain. This substance has an overall inhibitory effect on the electrical activity of the neurons. When electrical impulses are dampened, this results in the depression of a variety of functions. These medications are very excellent in inducing sedation and muscle relaxation. The danger is when benzodiazepines are withdrawn from the body. Because benzodiazepines naturally decrease the effect of norepinephrine, acetylcholine, dopamine, and serotonin, withdrawing benzodiazepines leads these neurotransmitters to go into hyperdrive. These changes are what produces the various withdrawal symptoms that include insomnia, hallucinations, nightmares, muscle cramps, seizures, anxiety and panic attacks, and elevations in blood pressure and heart rate. Technically, the withdrawal symptoms are the direct opposite of the effects of benzodiazepines.
It should be understood that benzodiazepines very rarely produce severe overdose complications when taken alone. The major issue is when benzodiazepines are taken together with alcohol, heroin, prescription opioid analgesics, or even tricyclic antidepressants. These substances potentiate the effects of benzodiazepines leading to the development of serious life-threatening reactions a lot faster than if the benzodiazepine was taken alone.
Benzodiazepine overdose can lead to a variety of manifestations including dizziness, decreased level of concentration, and drowsiness. There can also be decreased blood pressure which can affect oxygenation of the different body tissues. Decreased rate and depth of breathing can further complicate tissue oxygenation. This can lead to severe tissue hypoxic syndromes leading to cardiac arrest, kidney failure, and even stroke. For individuals who may be lucky not to experience benzodiazepine overdose, its chronic effects can nevertheless lead to constructive thinking impairments, agoraphobia, emotional turmoil, loss of sex drive, social phobia, increased depression or anxiety, inability to experience pleasurable feelings, inability to express those feelings, and loss of interest in things that previously were meaningful.
One of the major challenges to benzodiazepine addiction treatment is the management of the physical and psychological dependence. It is therefore crucial that gradual detoxification is implemented in order to prevent the occurrence of withdrawal symptoms as well as rebound toxicity. This requires the slow, stepwise reduction of benzodiazepines from the body. As much as possible a cold turkey type of detox should be avoided in order to minimize the serious and life-threatening effects of benzodiazepine withdrawal.
Flumazenil, a benzodiazepine-receptor antagonist, is being carefully studied as a potential solution in the management of benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, studies have proven that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be a very effective treatment in the long-term management of benzodiazepine addiction, especially in the presence of co-occurring mental health problems. Since benzodiazepines are primarily indicated for the management of anxiety, CBT as well as complementary experiential and mind-body therapies can help the individual learn different techniques that are a lot safer and more effective than benzodiazepines. For example, acupuncture, yoga, and meditation can all provide the benefits needed for sleep disorders.