Xanax addiction does not happen overnight. Comprised of the dual issues of psychological dependence and physical dependence, the psychological cravings for the drug can be triggered with the first use in some people, but the physical dependence characterized by tolerance to the drug can take weeks to develop.
When physical dependence upon Xanax defined by tolerance is an issue, it can cause withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can be difficult to deal with and, in some cases, overwhelming to the patient. Patients who have developed a tolerance to Xanax are advised to seek medical help when they decide it’s time to stop using the drug. It is never advised that they stop taking the medication abruptly at home and without medical supervision.
If someone you love has built up a tolerance to Xanax and is in need of treatment, contact us at Axis today. We offer a comprehensive treatment program that will help them address both their physical dependence on the drug and their psychological dependence as well.
How Does a Tolerance to Xanax Develop?
How does tolerance work? When a patient first gets a prescription for Xanax, they are given a minimal dose. This allows the doctor to monitor the effects of the substance in the patient. After adjustment, with long-term use, the dose may again need to be increased in order to maintain its symptom-relieving effects. Because the body adjusts to the level of Xanax in the body, more of the drug is required to mitigate the symptoms treated by the pills. When this happens, it is described as “building a tolerance” to the drug and it signifies a physical dependence that is common among all who take Xanax for an extended period of time.
Why Is Tolerance to Xanax a Concern?
The development of a tolerance to Xanax will happen to almost every patient who takes the medication for any length of time, but tolerance to the drug in and of itself is not the concern. What is worrisome is when the patient begins drug-seeking behaviors when their prescription is no longer enough to treat their symptoms of anxiety or panic, and they look for other means of addressing the issue, including:
- Taking more Xanax than prescribed
- Taking other illicit substances in order to increase the effects of their Xanax prescription
- Changing their method of ingestion with the goal of increasing the potency of the pills (e.g., crushing the pills and dissolving them in water to inject them)
- Dropping Xanax use altogether in favor of stronger drugs
What Are the Risks of Developing a Tolerance to Xanax?
Because a tolerance indicates a physical dependence upon the drug, the biggest risks are the development of an addiction and an overdose on the pills. All it takes is the addition of a psychological dependence to create an addiction and with addiction comes a whole host of problems, including:
- Chronic health problems including respiratory ailments and toxic buildup in the liver and kidneys
- An inability to continue working
- Financial problems due to the high cost of Xanax pills compounded by the inability to work and pay for the medication
- Relationship issues, including loss of primary relationships
Additionally, if the patient attempts to override the tolerance and take increasingly higher doses of the medication or in some way increase its effect, then overdose is a threat as well.
Is It Possible to Prevent the Development of Tolerance to Xanax?
The only way to prevent it is to find other ways of dealing with the symptoms that do not include taking Xanax. Long-term and regular use of the drug will almost always cause the body to adjust to the medication and require more of the substance in order to continue to feel its original effects.
How Is Tolerance to Xanax Treated?
Because it is not recommended that patient abruptly stop taking Xanax once a tolerance has developed, they will need to lower their dose incrementally over time in order to stop taking the drug without triggering withdrawal symptoms. When there is no psychological dependence upon Xanax, this is the easiest way to address the problem. However, when the patient experiences cravings for the drug or feels unable to function without the pills, then a comprehensive drug addiction treatment program is recommended.
A medically supervised detoxification program that is immediately followed by intensive psychotherapy that lasts as long as necessary is the ideal way to handle the problem of Xanax addiction. Contact us at Axis today to explore the opportunities in recovery provided by our evidence-based rehab program.