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What Is Xanax®?

Xanax®.
Drug addicts might use Xanax® to counter the side effects of heroin.
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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2014
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Xanax® is actually one of several brand names for a powerful anti-anxiety and anti-depression drug called alprazolam. It is available by prescription only for the treatment of anxiety and panic disorders, along with anxiety-induced depression. The patient takes regularly scheduled doses, generally in pill form, and experiences feelings of euphoria or relaxation instead of panic attacks or night terrors triggered by anxiety. Xanax® is considered to be a depressant of the central nervous system, although the drug first affects the area of the brain which controls emotions.

This drug is most often prescribed to people who suffer mild to moderate symptoms of anxiety or panic disorders, which may manifest themselves as agoraphobia, a fear of the outside world, or Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), a condition which makes social interactions very difficult. Others may take it in order to sleep comfortably without intrusive thoughts, or to counter the effects of general depression. Many courses of treatment for anxiety disorders only call for a limited use of Xanax®, generally no longer than eight weeks. Studies suggest that the medication loses much of its effectiveness over time, since a patient can easily build up a tolerance and require much higher doses to achieve any benefit.

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Xanax® is also a highly addictive medication, and is considered a schedule IV controlled substance in the United States. Its therapeutic use is limited to those patients who demonstrate a bona fide need for a powerful central nervous system depressant. The drug's active ingredients actually slow down the brain's normal transmissions in order to prevent the unpleasant spikes and abnormal commands which prompt anxiety attacks, suicidal thoughts and panic. Using Xanax® in combination with other depressants such as alcohol, marijuana, or prescription sedatives can cause coma or even death. Some drug addicts use it to control the negative side effects of other drugs such as LSD or heroin.

There are generic forms of Xanax® (alprazolam) available by prescription for patients, along with a time-release form. These tablets should not be broken or crushed, only swallowed whole. Another brand of alprazolam is designed to melt slowly on the back of the patient's tongue if swallowing is an issue. Xanax® has been approved for use as an anti-anxiety medication since the early 1980s, and has proven to be an effective treatment for thousands of anxiety and panic disorder sufferers over the years. Although available over the Internet, many health professionals urge patients to fill their prescriptions at local pharmacies in order to be sure they are getting the proper strength and a pure formulation.

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ysmina
Post 4

I finally figured out why Xanax causes withdrawal effects. It only has a half-life of eleven hours. So the medication is out of the system in just a day.

literally45
Post 3

@ankara-- You're absolutely right, Xanax is not meant to be used regularly. I became addicted to Xanax because I thought it was like any other medication. I built tolerance to it and had to increase my dose. When I missed a dose, I had withdrawal effects.

I went cold-turkey and quit the medication after six months. It was extremely difficult and the withdrawal effects were horrible. I think Xanax has a high potential of abuse. Doctors warn us about it, but for someone who has severe anxiety and panic, Xanax seems like a miracle and it's hard to give up on it.

You did the right thing by seeing your doctor for a safer medication you could use long-term. You're a good example.

bluedolphin
Post 2

I used Xanax for about three days last year because I had severe anxiety. I was having multiple anxiety attacks in the same day and I just could not function anymore. I actually ended up asking my friend to take me to the ER because I needed to stop crying and calm down. The doctor at the ER prescribed me Xanax and told me to take for several days. She said not to take it longer than that because it's very strong and causes addiction.

I took the medication for three days. It helped a lot, I didn't have any anxiety attacks during that time. But the drug itself was debilitating too. I kind of felt like a zombie those few days and spent most of the day sleeping.

I saw my regular doctor after this incident and he gave me an anti-anxiety medication that I can use regularly. And I've been on that medication since.

So Xanax is good, but it's meant for emergency situations. It's not something that can be used frequently.

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