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Researchers warn about impending Xanax crisis

Researchers warn about impending Xanax crisis

Benzodiazepines or benzos are primarily prescribed for disorders like anxiety, sleep troubles, restless leg syndrome and alcohol withdrawal. However, its prolonged use can lead to dependence, addiction and other complications. Be it stress due to a fast-approaching deadline at work, or a trouble at home, it has become customary to pop a pill, without a second thought about the consequences.

That benzos are taking a toll on the public health is evident from a recent review, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which states that the prescriptions for benzos increased by a whopping 67 percent between 1996 and 2013. In total, it increased from around 8.1 million prescriptions in 1996 to about 13.5 million in 2013. The number of overdose deaths involving these drugs increased by seven times between 1999 and 2015, from 1,135 mortalities in 1999 to 8,791 deaths in 2015.

Dr. Anna Lembke, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences with the Stanford University School of Medicine, likens the benzo crisis with the opioid epidemic. Describing the main reason behind these problems, she says, “Just like with opioids, people overestimate the benefits and underestimate the risks of benzodiazepines.”

She further said that while these drugs are effective for treating panic attack or instances of severe insomnia, if taken for long-term, people tend to develop tolerance and dependence on them. In addition, when combined with other classes of drugs, the risks of a fatal overdosing are high. Last year, Xanax claimed the life of Rapper Lil Peep. His autopsy report mentioned the presence of fentanyl and other drugs apart from Xanax.

Compounding the crisis further is the availability of counterfeit Xanax over the internet. As the user is unaware of the ingredients and addictive properties of such drugs, the risk of dependence and overdosing is extremely high. Moreover, snorting or using this drug in combination with alcohol can be dangerous.

Knowing the dangers

Some of the dangers associated with a benzo such as Xanax are as under:

Addiction: As mentioned earlier, antianxiety medications like Xanax are associated with the high risk of addiction. Even after relatively short periods of use, a person could get addicted to the drug. The risks are higher when one uses the drug frequently. Individuals who have 4 mg/day or in excess of the drug for 12 weeks have higher risk of developing an addiction. Some of the signs of the long-term abuse of the drug include nausea, dizziness, aggression, depression, sleep and memory impairment, etc.

Dangerous withdrawal pangs: The drug is associated with excruciatingly painful withdrawal and therefore should never go cold turkey or try to quit it without medical supervision. A person can experience seizures, hallucinations, stroke and heart attack, apart from the lesser signs like mood swings, anxiety, etc.

Aggravation of the problem if taken for long: If a person continues consuming the drug for longer than the prescribed time, then the drug proves counterproductive. For example, instead of helping a person in getting sound sleep, the common sleeping pills could hinder his or her sleep.

Feeling depersonalized: Those who frequently use tranquilizer often complain of experiencing the depersonalization effect due to benzos, wherein they feel apart from the body. Depersonalization is extremely disagreeable and sometimes worse than the withdrawal pangs.

Timely intervention is key to recovery

Whether it is a prescription or a counterfeit benzo, both have deadly consequences. However, with timely medical intervention, benzo addiction can be treated. Sovereign Health, a leading name in providing behavioral and substance abuse treatment, offers evidence-based residential and outpatient addiction recovery programs.

Our top-notch Xanax addiction treatment provides medical care, therapies and counseling in a safe and sober environment. For more information on our treatment programs or to locate our finest Xanax rehab centers near you, call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-327-0971. You can also chat live with one of our online representatives for further assistance.