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Alprazolam Dependence – Signs of Alprazolam Use Vs. Abuse, Tolerance

Alprazolam is part of the benzodiazepine category of drugs and is classified as a controlled substance in the United States. It is a psychoactive drug that is also marketed under the trade name Xanax. Alprazolam is most often prescribed to treat people who suffer from anxiety, panic disorders, and insomnia. It works by changing brain activity.

This drug affects the functioning of the central nervous system and has hypnotic effects in large doses. Even when used as prescribed, Alprazolam can create a significant physical dependence with wide-ranging side effects and life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Users are not advised to stop taking the drug suddenly and should decrease the dosage gradually, preferably under medical supervision.

The patients who are prescribed Alprazolam are not considered the most common abusers of the drug. Law enforcement agencies have found that the people who most often abuse Alprazolam obtain the drug illegally. The most common abusers of Alprazolam are cocaine and heroin addicts who use the drug to sleep and adolescents who use the drug with alcohol to obtain an altered state of euphoria, lethargy, and reduced inhibition, known as a “high.” Although Alprazolam abuse is not a common occurrence with people who have a legal prescription, it is important to be able to distinguish regular use from abuse, just in case. Of course, these same signs of Alprazolam abuse are important to recognize in people who may have obtained the drug illegally.

Is Alprazolam Addictive?

Alprazolam is longer lasting formulation of  benzodiazepine. Even when used as prescribed, ongoing treatment with Alprazolam can cause physical dependence and addiction. How addictive is Alprazolam? The drug can be very habit-forming when taken in high doses over prolonged periods of time. This is particularly dangerous for the class of people who are prescribed the drug for anxiety, as use can progress from taking Alprazolam to reduce anxiety from external factors to taking Alprazolam to reduce the anxiety of not taking the drug. Likewise, a person taking Alprazolam for insomnia can find that sleeplessness results from the thought of not taking the drug, rather than from internal health issues.

Understanding Alprazolam Dependency and Tolerance

Periodic Alprazolam use typically has an impact on targeted symptoms within 90 minutes. Prolonged use of the drug can markedly decrease its efficacy. The user can develop a tolerance for the drug that requires increasingly higher dosages to achieve the same results. Legal users who do slip into Alprazolam abuse tend to do so as a result of trying to manage a developing tolerance.

Prolonged use at higher dosages can result in a physical dependence. Psychological dependence can be a factor, but it is the physical dependence that is the most dangerous problem. Alprazolam abusers are not advised to quit the drug suddenly, by going “cold turkey,” because the physical withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening. It is advisable to wean a person off of Alprazolam by gradually lowering the dosage.

Effects/Side Effects

    • Short-Term Effects of Alprazolam

When used as prescribed, Alprazolam relieves anxiety, induces sleep, and relaxes the muscles. When abused at higher doses, the Alprazolam “high” is similar to the depressant effects of alcohol intoxication. The abuser enters a relaxed state that reduces inhibitions and impairs judgment. When  Alprazolam is taken with alcohol, the resulting high is intensified.Coming down from Alprazolam is similar to the hangover effect of alcohol intoxication. The user is typically groggy, sensitive to light and sound, and may experience memory loss. This is one of the main reasons why Xanax, a market version of Alprazolam, is commonly used as a “date rape drug.” Xanax, combined with alcohol, creates a more severe intoxicated state and typically results in the user not fully remembering what happened the night before.

    • Long-Term Effects of Alprazolam

There is a long list of potential side-effects that can result from Alprazolam use, particularly if use is prolonged. The list includes drowsiness, irritability, talkativeness, difficulty concentrating, dry mouth, increase salivation, constipation, nausea, and decreased sex drive. More serious, but less common, side-effects include changes in skin tone, seizures, depression, suicidal tendencies, memory problems, confusion, hallucinations, and shortness of breath.

Withdrawal and Detoxification

It is important to be able to recognize the signs of a Alprazolam overdose. A person who has overdosed on Alprazolam may experience drowsiness, confusion and loss of coordination. The person may lose consciousness, which must be carefully distinguished from ordinary sleep. You should call a poison control center if an overdose is suspected. Detoxification should happen under medical supervision.

Anyone using Alprazolam can experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop using the drug suddenly. Withdrawal symptoms can include seizures, sensitivity to light and sound, sweating, nervousness, diarrhea, vomiting, pain, cramps, depression, aggressive behavior, twitching, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, blurred vision, headaches, and insomnia. Withdrawal from Alprazolam should be supervised by medical professionals and should include gradually weaning the person off of the drug.

Treatment for Alprazolam Addiction

Alprazolam abuse treatment is often complicated by a physical dependence that requires a gradual withdrawal process. People who are interested in finding inpatient or outpatient services should consider calling 1-888-803-9961 Who Answers? or filling out a quick contact form so they can find the support they need.