Alprazolam is a benzodiazepine-class drug best known by the trade name Xanax, and doctors prescribe it to treat anxiety disorders, panic attacks and insomnia. There are various reasons why a person might take alprazolam for nonmedical reasons, including the following:
- Self-medicate the symptoms of a mental health disorder
- Ease pain from a traumatic event, memory or situation
- Use the drug for its euphoric properties to get high
Individuals who are predisposed to addiction or who take the medication longer than prescribed can develop an alprazolam abuse problem. This risk exists for both psychotherapeutic and recreational users. Furthermore, though men are twice as likely to develop a drug addiction, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) website notes that gender-related rates are essentially equal for prescription drug addiction.
Female Alprazolam Use
The government’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) compiles detailed data on substance abuse and mental health. The 2011 report includes key data on the nonmedical use of psychotherapeutic drugs like alprazolam, including the following:
- 18.4% of women reported nonmedical use of psychotherapeutics in their lifetime
- This percentage represents 24 million women reporting non-medical use
- 5.7% of women reported past-year use for 2010 and 5.2% past-year use for 2011
- Women aged 12 to 17 reported 8.5% past-year use for 2010 and 7.5% for 2011
- By comparison, males in the same age group reported 6.5% use in both years
The aforementioned NIAAA data added that women are more likely to abuse prescription drugs to self-medicate a problem than to chase a euphoric high. The pattern is the opposite for men who abuse drugs.
Benzodiazepine Abuse Dangers
The abuse of alprazolam and any other benzodiazepine-class drug poses health risks, including the following:
- Triggering or accelerating a mental health or personality disorder
- The deterioration of physical health and possible organ damage
- Discomforting reactions like nausea, stomach pain and headaches
- Mental impairment, delusions, blackouts and other cognitive effects
- Sudden mood shifts that motivate aggressive or violent behaviors
- So-called “rebound effects” in which the anxiety attacks return in force
Alprazolam can also play a role in a potentially fatal respiratory failure. Eighteen women die each day from prescription drug overdoses according to a study by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published in 2013. This number marks a fivefold increase from numbers a decade earlier.
Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment
The most effective way to overcome prescription drug addiction is through professional rehabilitation. Treatment centers typically provide several possible therapies, including the following:
- Tapered detoxification that gradually reduces use under medical supervision
- Diagnosis and integrated treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders
- Holistic options that reduce anxiety, insomnia and other withdrawal symptoms
- Counseling to target triggers (e.g., people, places, emotions) that motivate use
- Behavioral therapies that improve how the mind processes information and reacts
- Group therapy to discuss coping strategies for painful emotions and experiences
Depending on individual needs and preferences, gender-specific programs and facilities are available. Treatment centers can also assist with family-related concerns, such as childcare and relationship counseling.
Alprazolam Abuse Helpline
Call our toll-free helpline to speak with one of our admissions coordinators about benzodiazepine abuse and addiction. We can discuss warning signs, treatment options, facility locations and any specific accommodations that a patient might require in rehabilitation. Many health insurance policies now cover treatment, and we can check your policy for benefits. We are available to help 24 hours a day so please call now.