While they are increasingly aware of the risks of opioid use, more and more young adults in the United States are becoming addicted to Xanax, Valium, Ambien, and other benzodiazepine-based anti-anxiety medications. These drugs are widely regarded as safe, though trends suggest they are anything but.
Xanax Is Highly Addictive, Regardless of Whether It Is Abused
Xanax and other benzodiazepine drugs can be used to treat anxiety, sleep disturbances, seizures, muscle spasms, and other related conditions. These are typically prescribed for daily use and are highly addictive, even when prescription recipients do not deliberately misuse them. They often provide near-immediate relief and feelings of euphoria, and their effects dull over time, making it particularly tempting for users to increase their dose and virtually impossible for long-term users to avoid dependence. The Royal College of Psychiatrists reports that approximately 40 percent of users who take Xanax and other benzodiazepine drugs as prescribed for six weeks or more become addicted.
Risk Factors for Benzodiazepine Addiction
Addiction centers around the country are reporting a growing rate of Xanax addiction among adolescents and young adults, and an increasing portion of the population is undergoing rehabilitation, being hospitalized for overdoses, and receiving medical care for withdrawal symptoms related to benzodiazepine use.
Benzodiazepines themselves are dangerous, but young adults are especially at risk.
Young adults may be more likely to develop unhealthy dependence on Xanax, Lunesta, Ativan, and other benzodiazepine medications due to the fact that they are:
- More prone to extreme or risky behaviors
- More likely to make impulsive decisions
- More likely to experience intense emotions such as fear
People who live with mental illness or high levels of physical pain or emotional distress are also at a greater risk of developing a dangerous addiction to Xanax.
Plentiful Supply Makes Quitting Benzos More Challenging
Xanax and other benzodiazepine medications (including homemade concoctions) are also widely available, and there are myriad ways for young adults to get their hands on more when their prescription runs out. Young adults who live at home may have access to their parents’ benzo supply or friends who are willing to share. Given the growing prevalence of recreational and prescription use of drugs like Xanax, young adults and adolescents who are addicted to benzodiazepines or inclined to begin taking more may not have to look far to find a supplier.
What to Do When Faced With Benzodiazepine Addiction or Dependence
You must speak up and seek help right away if you or someone you love is displaying any of the following potential signs of benzodiazepine addiction:
- Compulsion to take more of the drug in question, even if it means exceeding the prescribed amount or engaging in other risky behaviors
- Progressively requiring more of the medication in question in order to achieve the same level of relief
- Attempting to obtain more of a prescription benzodiazepine without a legitimate or updated prescription
- Sleeplessness, blurry vision, flu-like symptoms, and other signs of withdrawal after benzodiazepine use is halted for a time
- Irritability, agitation, mood swings, and emotional or personality changes
Be advised that recovery from addiction to benzodiazepine drugs is not possible without supervision. In fact, attempting to quit “cold turkey” can be deadly. Withdrawal symptoms can last for months and become unbearable for benzodiazepine users, making hands-on medical care essential for persons who wish to achieve sobriety.