Xanax® (alprazolam) is a type of anxiolytic – an anti-anxiety drug.
The primary effect of drugs in this class is to lessen agitation. They are the used to treat panic attacks, anxiety and nervousness.
When sleep disturbances result from anxiety (sometimes called "racing thoughts") alprazolam may be prescribed for insomnia.
Xanax addiction under a doctor’s care
Because Xanax is not a "street drug" most people who become addicted to it start by taking it as a prescribed medication.
Patients who increase the amount they take beyond what their doctor tells them or take it on a regular basis for a long time are at the most risk. This can sometimes happen when the drug is prescribed "as needed" for anxiety or panic attacks. If the need becomes regular, patients should discuss options with their physician.
Other than increasing the dose without a doctor’s advice, other symptoms are withdrawal or craving for the drug. If symptoms reliably return when Xanax is unavailable, dependence might be the cause. Users may say, "I can’t sleep without it." Or, "If I don’t take a pill, I get anxious." A determination must be made as to whether the symptoms are due to an anxiety disorder or whether they are the result of not having the drug.
Patients may meet resistance from their caregiver when they seek a higher dose or more frequent refills. One sign of addiction is doctor shopping – seeing multiple physicians to get multiple prescriptions for Xanax. Another is extreme anxiety when the drug isn’t available or supplies are running low.
Xanax Addiction in other populations
Those who are able to obtain alprazolam outside of a legitimate medical purpose will show the general signs of Xanax addiction to any depressant medication. Excessive sleepiness, fatigue, and a loss of interest in normal activities are common. Problems at work may include nodding off or making mistakes because of a lack of focus.
Memory problems can occur at high or frequent doses and the inability to remember recent events while under the influence of Xanax might be a sign of overuse. Another key sign is mood and sleep cycle disturbances, ranging from depression to insomnia. This happens when the drug is unavailable for some reason or when abusers try to stretch out the supply on hand.
Photo by Callee MacAulay