Alprazolam, a prescription drug best known by the brand name Xanax, slows chemical processes in the brain to treat anxiety, insomnia, and panic attacks. Though widely used medicinally, this benzodiazepine-class drug produces euphoric effects that motivate recreational use. If a person struggles with work-related stress, doctors and friends may recommend alprazolam, but the drug is typically intended for short-term use of up to eight weeks. For this reason, an alprazolam user who struggles with chronic stress can develop an addiction through either medicinal or recreational use.
Unhealthy Job Stress
Most people spend many of their waking hours on the job, and work-related stress is a common occurrence. Job insecurity, dysfunctional coworkers, and responsibility overload can all contribute to stressful conditions, and unhealthy coping mechanisms can have far-reaching consequences. According to the Mayo Clinic website, stress can produce a number of undesirable effects, including the following:
- Physical discomforts like headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, chest pain, and stomach problems
- Behavior responses such as overeating, outbursts, social withdrawal, and substance abuse
- Mood-related issues like anxiety, irritability, depression, panic attacks, and insomnia
Stress can disrupt normal states of physiological balance, and when this occurs, people may turn to anti-anxiety medications like alprazolam. A doctor may prescribe the drug to help a patient through a stressful period, but people also acquire the drug illicitly from family, friends, dealers, and shady online sites to self-medicate the stress. Moreover, company-sponsored health benefits can also aid in alprazolam acquisition by covering much of the cost.
Stress and Alprazolam Abuse
“The Influence of Stress on the Transition From Drug Use to Addiction,” a 2008 article published in the Alcohol Research & Health journal, states that stress can trigger drug cravings while addiction often impairs healthy stress responses. Alprazolam may temporarily help manage stress levels, but if a physical dependence or addiction develops, the user’s problems can quickly multiply. Long-term use can result in numerous undesirable effects, including the following:
- A rebound effect in which anxiety, panic attacks, and insomnia forcefully return
- Sudden mood swings epitomized by aggressive, angry, and even violent behavior
- The introduction of suicidal thoughts in approximately one out of 500 users
- Physical discomforts such as nausea, headaches, dry mouth, and joint pain
- Health risks such as seizures, shortness of breath, jaundice, and confusion
Overdose and interactions are other major concerns. The government’s Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) report tracks drug-related emergency room (ER) visits, and the report for 2011 listed 124,000 medical emergencies related to nonmedical alprazolam use, which nearly matched the combined ER total for the next three benzodiazepine-class drugs combined.
Alprazolam and Stress Treatments
If an addiction problem develops, rehabilitation centers can provide the most effective recovery services, including the following:
- Tapered detoxification that gradually reduces dosage under medical supervision
- Dual Diagnosis treatment for concurrent mental health and mood disorders
- Implementation of healthy stress management techniques and strategies
- Counseling to identify and address cues that trigger stress and drug cravings
- Stress-relieving holistic tools like acupuncture, meditation, and breathing exercises
- Group therapy to share experiences and discuss healthier coping skills
Treatment centers understand the influence that employment exerts over addiction recovery, and many facilities can help patients plot out new career paths and improve job-seeking skills.
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