Patients that suffer from insomnia or anxiety are often prescribed generic Xanax by their doctors and assume the medication is safe. The reality is that even for those who are not abusing this drug and are taking it as prescribed by their doctor there are significant health risks related to Xanax and the possibility of developing a dependence on Xanax.
There are many cases of patients who are not engaging in abuse or exhibiting addictive behavior but still experience severe withdrawal symptoms when they run out of medication. While effective at relieving symptoms of anxiety and panic disorders, there are dangers involved when patients become inadvertently hooked on their medication.
Most Prescribed Psychiatric Drug
The generic form of Xanax is currently the most prescribed psychiatric drug in U.S. because it has proven so effective for many patients suffering from panic attacks, insomnia and general anxiety. Clinical studies and patient experience show that Xanax works and it does not take long for patients to see their symptoms improve.
Patients can feel the effects of the drug within 20 minutes as compared with other types of antidepressants which can take up to six weeks to begin working. The fact that it works so quickly makes it a go-to choice for doctors to prescribe for patients that need a fast solution for their anxiety attacks. Patients with specific phobias can take a few pills when they are suffering from symptoms of panic and anxiety.
Widespread Availability of Xanax
Because Xanax is so often prescribed by doctors its use has become widespread in the U.S. Casual use of the drug has also become prevalent because it is so widely available and people without prescriptions can begin abusing the drug. When Xanax is used daily in high doses, it can quickly become a matter of physical as well as psychological dependence. Patients that have run out of medication have experienced intense shaking, hallucinations, and blacking out. These are symptoms of withdrawal resulting from physical dependence on the drug.
The level of withdrawal that patients deal with is that of a severe addiction in spite of taking the recommended amount they were asked by their doctor. People who aren’t physically dependent can become psychologically hooked on Xanax. They may think that they can’t through a job interview or date without one and can get desperate. Many are taking the pills without a prescription to ease the pain of a normally anxiety-causing event.
Dangers of Withdrawal
The problem with the casual use and frequent prescriptions of Xanax is the number of increasing ER visits related to abuse of the drug. The amount of people seeking help in an emergency room because of Xanax has increased 172 percent since 2004. The drug has become dangerous for people taking regular prescriptions and for those mixing Xanax with other medications, alcohol or even antihistamines. Even for those following their prescription accurately, the drug can easily become habit-forming. As is typical with most addictions, Xanax users slowly develop a tolerance and need more of the drug to get the same effect.
Their doctor might increase the dose when their initial prescription becomes less effective. A higher dose of Xanax taken daily can have repercussions when it is suddenly stopped. Patients can have twitches, severe depression or anxiety, and even seizures. The withdrawal can be equally if not even more dangerous than quitting drugs like heroin cold turkey.
Unfortunately for many patients being prescribed Xanax, doctors are doling out the medication with little regard to the potential danger of physical dependency. Many of the physicians providing patients with the drug are primary care doctors and not psychiatrists.
Patients and doctors alike need to be more wary of the dangers in taking high doses of Xanax and the resulting withdrawal symptoms. Many former Xanax users made the effort to get off the drug to get rid of their dependency and live without the dangerous medication.