Tag Archives: Xanax

Xanax, Valium Abuse Increasing, According to US Survey Data

Xanax, Valium Abuse Increasing, According to US Survey Data

Approximately 20 percent of people who take Xanax, Valium and other benzodiazepines (benzos) are not using them as directed by their doctor, according to the results of a US survey. The results also show that adults are using this potentially-addictive medication more than twice as often as previously reported.

Nearly 13 percent of those surveyed said they had used benzos within the past 12 months.Studies conducted in 2013-14 estimated that four-six percent of adults were taking them.

What are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines are prescribed by doctors to treat anxiety and panic attacks, along with insomnia. Drugs in this class commonly produce a sedative effect in patients and can also cause weakness or unsteadiness.

Approximately 25.3 million adults stated they used benzodiazepines as prescribed by their doctor during the past year. The researchers said they were surprised to discover that middle-aged respondents (between ages 50-64) are taking benzodiazepines more often than any other age group. Just over 14 percent reported they had used this class of drugs during the previous year.

Another 5.3 million respondents said they had misused their medications. Misusing a prescription means using it in a way other than directed by a doctor, including taking a higher dose, taking it more often or longer than prescribed.

Benzodiazepine Misuse Common Among Young Adults

Lead researcher Dr. Donovan Maust commented that young adults in the 18-25 age group are most likely to misuse benzodiazepines. He is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Maust said that misuse for this type of drug is “as common as prescription use,” which he described as being disturbing.

Overdose Deaths due to Benzos “Snowballed” in Last 10 Years

These survey results, which were published in the journal Psychiatric Services, are similar to reports released earlier in 2018 which warned that overdose deaths related to benzodiazepines have snowballed over the past decade. The overdose rate coincides with a steady increase in prescription rates for this class of drugs.

Benzodiazepine-related overdoses increased sevenfold in the years 1999-2015, jumping from 1,135 to 8,791 deaths. These figures originally appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine (February 2018).

Xanax Abuse Rates

Xanax Abuse Rates Rising

With all eyes on the opioid problem in America, many people are missing the fact that millions of people are also abusing other prescriptions, such as Xanax. These anti-anxiety drugs have a very high potential for abuse and addiction and there is evidence that it is becoming even more prevalent.

Xanax Seen as Safer than Other Drugs

Addiction specialists are expecting a continued increase in the number of teens and young adults addicted to Xanax and other sedatives belonging to a class of anti-anxiety drugs called benzodiazepines (“benzos”). A number of young people feel that Xanax is safer and more readily available than other drugs, but it is certainly just as dangerous. The drug is abused by itself and also commonly taken with other substances, such as painkillers or alcohol.

Like most other substances, people can develop a tolerance over time, requiring more of it to achieve the same effect. This can lead people who have legitimate prescriptions for the drug to eventually become dependent and sometimes even farther down the path toward addiction.

Often, teens are finding the pills in their parents’ or grandparents’ medicine cabinets, not realizing they can be just as dangerous as opioids or illicit drugs. The risk to health and life increases when Xanax is taken with other drugs and/or alcohol.

Risk of Addiction Higher with Younger Start

When Xanax use starts early in life, the risk of addiction increases. A recent US Surgeon General’s report on drugs and indicated that close to 70 percent of young people who experiment with an illicit drug before the age of 13 will become addicted within the next seven years. Waiting to try illicit drugs until after the age of 17 lowers the risk of addiction to 27 percent.

Addiction professionals are seeing a significant increase in the number of teens and young adults who are addicted to Xanax. Many of them are taking high doses of the drug on a daily basis, sometimes in combination with opioids and alcohol.

Sharon Levy, the director of adolescent addiction treatment at Boston Children’s Hospital, explained that hospitals see trends first. She stated that benzo use among adolescents has “skyrocketed” and that more young people are being admitted to hospitals for withdrawals due to the possibility of dangerous seizures. At the same time, fewer teens are seeking help for prescription opioid addiction.

Prescription Drugs Involved in Assaults on Campus

assault victimSafety on college campuses has become a much-publicized issue, and rightfully so. Instances of rape and sexual assault are often reported on in the news and many college campuses are broadening their efforts to educate and prevent on campus sexual violence. In keeping with this, a group of researchers has determined that non-medical use of prescription medication was linked to instances of this type of criminal behavior in large numbers compared to any other drug besides alcohol. This is important information because many colleges, students and parents may be overlooking this connection.

After surveying 1,755 college students throughout the country, the investigative team from the University of Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions found that 500 admitted to recreational use of prescription medications. Of these 500 students, 14% were a part of a sexual situation that they regretted. Among the female students in this group, 7.1% reported being sexually assaulted while under the influence of prescription medication. The study also asked students to specify which drugs they were taking when the abuse or unwanted sex took place. Both the females and males stated that they were misusing prescription sedatives like Xanax at the times of these incidents.

It is important that people understand that this study is not pointing fingers at those that have been abused after taking prescription medication. “The responsibility for rape or any sexual assault always falls squarely with the perpetrator,” explained Kathleen Parks, senior research scientist. However, students can protect themselves by refraining from abusing prescription sedatives. These drugs have the potential to cloud a person’s judgement, cause them to lose consciousness, or overdose – especially when paired with alcohol.

Studies like the ones conducted by Parks and her team serve to educate society and students about the dangers of all types of substances, even those seemingly less harmful. Illustrating the exact consequences associated with the misuse of prescription sedatives shows students concrete outcomes. This study, paired with the increased media attention of college rapes and assaults may serve to save many others from similar situations. The study will appear in the December issue of the journal Addictive Behaviors.

If you have a loved one who has a prescription drug problem, contact us today for more information about successful treatment options.

Dangers of Easing Travel and Stress with Anxiety with Drugs

travel stressAs the holidays have come to a close and the new year begun, many people are finally easing back into the routine of their daily lives. Oftentimes the holidays are filled with work parties, family parties, frantically running around to different stores collecting presents, cooking, cleaning and traveling. Experiencing varying levels of anxiety is normal, however some people rely heavily on prescription drugs to ease some of this anxiety. The danger of doing this is that anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax and Klonopin can also be very addictive.

In addition to the potential of abuse, there are other side effects of the drugs to watch out for. Even though the holidays are over, there are many people who now are doing a lot of traveling for work again and still find themselves in stressful situations.

“Travel and holiday stress have a lot to do with expectations. So keeping your expectations realistic is important. It is ok to say no to people when you think you have taken on too much to make sure you don’t go crazy trying to make sure all the decorations are perfect or all the presents you bought are perfect, that everything in your home looks perfect. It is really a time to slow everything down and try to remember that most people don’t really care about that stuff,” explained John Tsilimparis, MFT.

Experts also warn that people who rely on anxiety medication like Xanax may be using too much and once the holidays are over they develop a tendency to keep taking more often, resulting in a dependency. Addiction to these types of drugs, called benzodiazepinnes, oftentimes requires severe medical intervention because the medication is so harmful to the body, especially when there is an abrupt cessation of the drug. People going through benzo withdrawal can experience hallucinations, insomnia, extreme anxiety, cravings, mood swings and seizures.

Those who take benzodiazepines to travel may accidently take too much and suffer from lapse in consciousness and/or judgment, experts warn. The drugs have the potential to cause people to act in ways that they never would otherwise, and any type of behavior or mood swings while traveling can be dangerous for the individual as well as others around them.

These drugs should be reserved for people who have more severe problems, and many advocates recommend other ways to reduce stress from things such as the holidays, travel, work and family obligations. These can include practicing mindfulness techniques, breathing exercises, meditation and other calming activities.

If you have a loved one who is in need of help for abusing anti-anxiety medications or any other types of drugs, contact us today to find out more about successful treatment options.

Drivers Under the Influence of Xanax Increase

xnxXanax, or alprazolam, is an anti-anxiety drug that is widely prescribed to people who struggle with mental health-related issues. Many people suffer from such severe anxiety disorders that they are required to take the medication on a daily basis. Other people only use Xanax when they are in situation that produces anxiety for them, like a plane or an important event. Alprazolam is also a drug that causes impairment, and people taking it should not be driving or operating machinery.

Xanax is one of the most abused prescription drugs on the market, and many people develop a severe dependency to the drug, whether taken by itself or in combination with other substances. The millions of people who have taken the drug, either abusing it or using it by prescription, has increased the number of people cited for driving under the influence of the drug. In fact, Xanax has actually become the second-most common drug in DUI cases, having surpassed marijuana.

“I have no doubt that people who use Xanax for anxiety get some relief from these drugs. But we should steer away from medicines that require daily use for an extended period of time,” explained Peter Hendricks, a chemical psychologist. His point being that drugs like this can cause a serious dependency and addiction that can become more damaging than the original problem. Many professionals are now recommending finding other ways to deal with mental health problems, if possible, before resorting to medications that have a high potential for abuse.

Benzo Use More Common Among Older Generations, Women

benzouseBenzodiazepines are a class of drug targeted to treat anxiety. These drugs are powerful medications, which include Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Librium and others, and they have a high potential for abuse. Researchers have found that as people get older they rely more on drugs like Xanax to get them through the day. Unfortunately, because the drugs are so potent, they carry with them extreme side effects and after a person has become dependent on the drugs they are likely to experience intense withdrawal symptoms that could even lead to death.

The healthcare community has long been wary of these drugs, stating numerous time that the high risk for taking pills like Xanax need to be heavily weighed before issuing prescriptions. However, those warnings haven’t curbed the over-prescribing of the drugs enough.

In an attempt to figure out what population was demanding these drugs, a study was conducted by researchers at the National Institutes of Health that was published in JAMA Psychiatry. Data was collected dating back to 2008 and it included information from people aged 18 to people aged 80. It was discovered that of the people who were 18 to 35, 2.6% of them were issued long term prescriptions for benzodiazepines. However, those that fell into the 65 to 80 year old category saw a marked increase in prescriptions, 8.7% of these people were given long term prescriptions for benzos. It was also found that women were twice as likely to be taking the drug than men.

“These new data reveal worrisome patterns in the prescribing of benzodiazepines for older adults, and women in particular. This analysis suggests that prescriptions for benzodiazepines in older Americans exceed what research suggests is appropriate and safe,” explained Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health.

Potent drugs like Xanax can be extremely dangerous because they are highly addictive and cause intense, sometime life threatening withdrawal symptoms. High levels of anxiety, insomnia, inability to eat, tremors, suicidal thoughts and depression and seizures are all potential withdrawal symptoms when coming off of drugs like Xanax.

Hopefully more medical professionals and treatment practitioners will be more cautious of prescribing drugs like these in the future, and perhaps seek other ways for patients to successfully deal with anxiety-related issues.