Xanax, generic name: Alprazolam, is a Central Nervous System (CNA) depressant within the category of drugs known as benzodiazepines, which includes many other tranquilizers such as Ativan, Valium and Librium. Xanax is prescribed by licensed physicians and is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance. The manufacture recommends Xanax for the treatment of tension, nervousness and panic attacks. Benzodiazepines have come under public scrutiny mostly because of their severe addictive qualities. When these medications were first developed (Xanax was patented in 1969), the pharmaceutical manufacturer stated that they were non-habit forming or addictive, but experience has proven them to be one of the most addictive medications on the market. It is estimated that three million people in America have used benzodiazepine medications on a daily basis for a period of at least one year.
On the street, Xanax is known by the slang names:
- Ladders, and
- Yellow Buses
The fact that an estimated three million people are taking benzodiazepines daily for over a year indicates that patients must be very aware and careful to not blindly follow the suggestions of physicians when psychoactive drugs are being recommended and prescribed. This statistic also demonstrates how physicians ignore recommended prescribing data of medications such as Xanax, since the FDA recommends that Xanax be prescribed for periods of less than eight weeks for the treatment of panic attacks and/or anxiety. As with many psychiatric medications, the original presentation and defense establishing efficacy by Upjohn (now a part of Pfizer) pharmaceuticals was based on anecdotal reports by psychiatrist David Sheehan who stated that Xanax helped his patients who suffered from panic attacks even though research had previously documented that benzodiazepines had little to no effect on panic disorders. Upjohn compensated Dr. Sheehan for his “research” that helped with the government’s approval of Xanax.
Xanax and to a lesser degree, Valium, not only cause a feeling of relaxation, but initially they cause a feeling of euphoria and enthusiasm, or a rush, that is followed by an artificial feeling of relaxation. Many have reported that after taking Xanax for one to two weeks, they began to have physical withdrawal symptoms, most commonly headaches that were only relieved by taking more of the drug. This addictive potential is more pronounced in Xanax than any of the other benzodiazepines.
However, the DEA (the Drug Enforcement Agency of the United States Department of Justice) under the Controlled Substance Act classifies medications according to their potential medical benefit in relation to their potential for abuse and addiction with a Schedule of classification from I, being dangerously addictive, such as heroin, to a Schedule V. Xanax, along with the other benzodiazepines, are rated as a Schedule IV, which translates to drugs that have a low potential for abuse, have medical therapeutic acceptance and have limited risk of physical dependence or psychological dependence. Addiction professionals report that benzodiazepines are as highly addictive, both physically and psychologically, as opiates and other Schedule II narcotics. In some ways Xanax is more problematic than opiates in that abrupt stoppage of the drug can cause seizures, requiring medically assisted withdrawal, whereas opiate withdrawal is painful, but not medically threatening.
With Xanax being so easily prescribed for help with common stress and/or sleeplessness, there have been many elderly patients that have unwittingly become addicted to their “nerve” medicine and when attempting to withdrawal have found that their original complaints are now more severe.
Everyone should read and understand the side effects of any psychoactive medications before accepting a prescription to help ensure that the outcome of a regime of treatment isn’t worse than the original complaint.
Xanax has the following documented side effects:
- Difficulty Breathing,
- Swelling of the face, lips, tongue and/or throat
- Decreased inhibitions (a lack of fear when facing dangerous tasks)
- Hallucinations, agitations and hostility
- Dizziness, light-headedness or fainting
- Urinating less than usual or not at all
- Headaches, fatigue, joint pain and unusual weakness (flu-like symptoms)
- Speech problems,
- Complete memory loss (amnesia) and concentration problems
- Changes in appetite (including weight gain)
- Blurred vision, unsteadiness and clumsiness (impaired coordination and balance)
- Decreased sex drive (not a problem, however, since we have another drug to compensate)
- Dry mouth or increased salivation
- Nervousness, restlessness, sleeplessness and sweating
- Pounding in the chest or rapid heartbeat (panic attacks)
- Skin inflammation
- Muscle twitching, tremor and seizures (convulsions)
This list of side effects should stop anyone from taking the chance that Xanax might be of benefit. However, those persons that are addicted to benzodiazepines or those in withdrawal from other drugs will compromise their better interest to find quick relief, only to find that they now have added addiction problems.
If you need help for someone with a Xanax addiction, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Be informed about the side effects of other drugs.
Drug Prevention, Education, and Information Department