What is Benzodiazepine Abuse and Addiction?

Benzodiazepine Abuse and Addiction

Benzodiazepines are a family of medications often referred to as tranquilizers. Well known names include Xanax and Valium. Doctors prescribe them for numerous conditions including anxiety, insomnia, seizure control, muscle relaxation, and to relax patients before procedures. However, the relaxing effects of the drugs make them a popular target for people without prescriptions who seek to use the drug recreationally. Benzodiazepine abuse is common and carries a high risk of dependence. 

 

How do Benzodiazepines work? 

Benzodiazepines work by depressing the Central Nervous System, slowing activity in the brain, relaxing muscles, and easing anxiety. They increase the effect of the brain chemical GABA (gamma amino butyric acid). GABA reduces brain activity which manages rational thought, memory, emotions, and essential functions such as breathing. Therefore, this slowing process creates a sedative effect in the brain and body which can down-regulate panic attacks or induce restfulness to combat insomnia. 

 

Benzodiazepine Tolerance and Dependence

Benzodiazepine medications create tolerance if taken continuously. While great in the short-term for acute situations like panic attacks or stressful periods, if taken for more than a few months your brain becomes used to their effect. For this reason, Benzodiazepines carry a high risk of dependence. 

 

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Stomach upset or Diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle cramps
  • Rapid breathing
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Hallucinations

 

Signs of Benzodiazepine Overdose

When taken at normal, prescribed doses Benzodiazepines are relatively safe. However, when taken at high doses, as is common recreationally, more dangerous side effects can occur. High doses of benzodiazepines can lead to overdose and even comas. From 2004 to 2010, emergency department visits in the US for Benzodiazepine abuse and misuse increased 139%. 

Furthermore, when Benzodiazepines are combined with other depressants such as alcohol or narcotics, the risk of complications increases significantly. 

Signs of an overdose may look different from person to person but can include: 

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Confusion
  • Fingernails and lips turning blue
  • Extreme dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Tremors
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of coordination
  • Stupor
  • Coma

If someone you know is showing any of the above signs of Benzodiazepine overdose, seek medical attention immediately. Hospitals can help through either stomach pump, administering activated charcoal, or in severe cases, injecting flumazenil (Romazicon). 

 

Benzodiazepine Addiction

Although it is a competent of addiction, physical dependence is not the same as addiction. Someone who is addicted to Benzodiazepines will not only be physically dependent but also engage in drug-seeking behaviors. Addicts prioritize their drug use above everything else, despite the negative consequences of their actions. 

Signs of Benzodiazepine Addiction include: 
  • Drug-seeking behaviors such as seeking the drug from multiple doctors or acquiring it illegally
  • Cravings
  • Withdrawal when not using the drug
  • Obsession with obtaining the drug
  • Abusing the drugs for pleasure or intoxication
  • Inability to function without it or inability to carry on regular life functions because of it
  • Inability to stop using despite multiple attempts

Furthermore, long-term abuse and addiction to Benzodiazepines carries health concerns, including placing users at a higher risk of developing Dementia. 

 

Getting Help 

Recreational abuse and addiction to Benzodiazepines can have dangerous results. Detoxing from Benzodiazepines in a clinical setting can offer the safest and most manageable way to come off them. Likewise, a treatment setting can help get to the root cause of addiction and offer the best chance for long-term recovery.

If you or a loved one are struggling with Benzodiazepines, contact us today. We’re here to help and can advise you regarding your specific treatment needs. 

 

Sources

https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/DAWN096/DAWN096/SR096EDHighlights2010.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4657308/

Is It Safe to Use Xanax While Pregnant?

Xanax While Pregnant | Harmony Recovery Center

There is conflicting evidence regarding the safety of using Xanax while pregnant. If you use Xanax and are pregnant or are planning on getting pregnant, you should discuss this with a doctor or addiction specialist. A specialist can help you determine the best course of action and whether or not there is a need for professional treatment.

Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine medication which is commonly used to treat anxiety, panic disorders, and seizures. Women who suffer from these conditions and are pregnant or trying to conceive may be concerned about using medications such as Xanax, and rightfully so. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer, as various studies focused on alprazolam use during pregnancy have revealed different results.

There is also conflicting evidence regarding stress and its impact on a baby in utero. Some research has found neither generalized anxiety or panic disorder increased adverse outcomes in newborns. Still, other studies have found that severe versus mild-moderate stress may have a more dramatic effect on an unborn baby.

Before making a decision, it is vital to talk to a health professional who can conduct a risk-benefit analysis and be able to educate patients on current research regarding Xanax and pregnancy.

For those who feel that the baby will be better off if they quit, detox and/or long-term treatment for drug dependency may be the most beneficial.

Potential Effects on an Unborn Child

In many cases, when a mother uses a substance, the baby is exposed to it as well. Exposure occurs because drugs or alcohol are likely to pass through the placenta to the fetus. All psychiatric medications, including Xanax, travel through the placenta, and some research has shown an increased risk of specific types of congenital disabilities. However, the risk of these effects following prenatal exposure to certain drugs may not be as high as previously believed.

While the use of Xanax while pregnant may increase the risk of some birth defects, research hasn’t ascertained the exact amount of risk. One long-term study that out of 542 women who had taken Xanax while expecting, there were only 13 live births with congenital anomalies and 47 miscarriages. Although it should be noted that these numbers were not statistically significant. The study itself wasn’t deemed to be large enough to be conclusive.

Another report suggested that the risk of cleft lip and palate associated with using benzodiazepines during the first trimester was considered to be relatively small—around 0.7%. Still, a clinical review from the 1970s proposed an increased risk of facial clefts and other malformations. However, the researchers acknowledged that many of the women examined in the study had complex psychological problems and were using multiple medications, which also could have contributed to defects.

Overall, in most studies, the majority of infants were born normally, and the highest risk appeared to be taking benzodiazepines in the third trimester or during labor. Although results from several studies revealed several congenital disabilities in newborns, no causal relationship has, as of yet, been found between Xanax use and congenital anomalies.

Additional Research

It is clear that additional research and more extensive studies are needed to find a more definitive answer. At this time, most experts believe the risk to be rather small—but there is still a risk. For many women, using psychoactive substances while pregnant is scary, and most women choose to err on the side of caution.

When it comes to using substances while pregnant, much of the desire to abstain may have less to do with the actual risk and more to do with the fear of potentially negative outcomes. Moreover, if a child is born with birth abnormalities, the mother will often question whether or not she could have done something (or not done something) to prevent it from happening.

Xanax While Pregnant | Harmony Recovery Center

Benzodiazepine Dependence

Long-term benzodiazepine use can result in dependence in both the mother and the unborn child. This is especially concerning when used late in pregnancy and in high doses. Some infants may exhibit withdrawal symptoms at birth, which may include the following:

  • Sedation
  • Restlessness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased muscle tone
  • Reluctance to suckle
  • Sleep apnea
  • Cyanosis (bluish or purplish skin)
  • Insensitivity to cold
  • Seizures (rare)
Hypotonia

Another example of a potential complication for an unborn baby is hypotonia (floppy baby syndrome). Symptoms of hypotonia may include the following:

  • Lethargy
  • Weak cry or quiet voice
  • Impaired respiration
  • Problems with feeding
  • Poor head control
  • Limpness and hanging limbs

 

It’s crucial to remember that there is still some controversy surrounding the safety of using Xanax while pregnant. Many doctors continue to prescribe it to reduce symptoms of anxiety. In fact, research suggests that as many as one-third of all pregnant women receive psychotropic medications to manage mental health disorders diagnosed before pregnancy.

 

Risks of Untreated Anxiety

Symptoms of anxiety can become worse if left untreated. This can have adverse consequences for both the mother and the infant. For example, pregnant women with an untreated panic disorder may have a higher risk of premature birth and miscarriage. Research has found an increase in symptoms related to anxiety disorders is common both before and after giving birth.

Limited data shows that anxiety disorders occur with higher frequency in postpartum women than in the general population. If it is severe enough, it could impair a mother’s ability to care for her child. In extreme cases, this impairment could even endanger the child. There is also an increased risk of heightened anxiety during pregnancy and the postpartum period.

Discussing the pros and cons of discontinuing Xanax with a medical professional is, ultimately, the best way to make an informed decision regarding the health of both you and your baby.

Getting Treatment for Drug Dependence

If you are currently dependent on any Benzodiazepine and are would like to quit, you may benefit from professional help. Long-term use of Xanax results in dependence and most patients need to undergo a tapering schedule. In some cases, medical detox is necessary to facilitate this process.

Harmony Recovery Center features integrated programs designed to treat all aspects of an individual’s emotional well-being. By treating both substance abuse and mental health conditions, like anxiety, we offer a comprehensive approach. These programs include evidence-based services, such as behavioral and experiential therapies, EDMR, individual and group counseling, group support, aftercare planning, and more.

If you are ready to take the first step toward overcoming substance abuse or addiction, contact us today! We aim to help those who need it most get clean and foster the healthy, fulfilling lives they deserve!

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System?

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System? | Harmony Recovery Center

  • Xanax may be detected in urine 5-7 days after the last dose
  • Xanax may be detected in saliva for up to 60 hours after the last dose
  • Xanax may be detected in the blood for between 1-6 days after the last dose
  • Xanax may be detected in hair after one day and up to 3 months after the last dose

Xanax is a commonly prescribed benzodiazepine that has an average half-life of about 12 hours (between 9-16 hours). Most users, on average, will eliminate the drug from their system after around four days. “Half-life” refers to the amount of time that it takes your body to clear half of a drug from the system.

Several factors can affect how long Xanax stays in a person’s system, including the following:

  • Age
  • Height and weight
  • Genetics
  • Liver and kidney function
  • Metabolic rate
  • Urinary pH
  • Presence of other substances
  • Dosage
  • Frequency of use

How Long Does Xanax Last?

Xanax is not a particularly long-lasting drug, as the effects last for about four hours. While the average half-life of Xanax is about 12 hours, the medication is no longer effective in the system after four hours. For this reason, people who are prescribed Xanax may have to take it several times a day, depending on the doctor’s directions and severity of symptoms.

Uses for Xanax

Xanax (alprazolam) is a prescription benzodiazepine (benzo) and central nervous system (CNS) depressant. It is commonly used to treat anxiety, panic disorders, insomnia, muscle tension, and seizures. Xanax is specifically indicated for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder.

GAD is hallmarked by persistent and excessive worry about everyday life, the anticipation of disastrous outcomes, uneasiness, irritability, sleep disturbances, and muscle tension.

Panic disorder is related to anxiety and occurs when a person experiences sudden panic attacks. These attacks are often accompanied by a range of terrifying symptoms, including feelings of impending doom, changes in heart rate, sweating, shaking, chest pain, derealization and depersonalization, and a fear of losing control or dying.

Effects of Xanax

Xanax, like all benzos, works by enhancing the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA, a neurotransmitter, reduces nerve impulses throughout the body, inducing sedation, relaxation, and relief of anxiety. Xanax becomes effective rapidly, often inducing the desired effects within minutes, and it begins to relieve symptoms of anxiety and panic within hours of the first dose.

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System? | Harmony Recovery Center

Why People Abuse Xanax

Xanax has often been a popular choice for people with substance use disorders or people without prescriptions who are seeking to self-medicate for various psychoemotional difficulties. Xanax can induce many pleasant and sought-after effects, including feelings of relaxation and euphoria, detachment from reality, and deep sleep.

These effects can drive some people to experiment with Xanax for recreational purposes for the high feelings it can provide. And because it also reaches peak blood concentration in 1-2 hours and has a short half-life, this allows potential abuses to take it repeatedly and in rapid succession.

Xanax Use Disorders

As with many substance use disorders, people who use Xanax initially do so either out of curiosity or via recommendation from another. To obtain it, those without prescriptions must know someone who does or purchase it on the black market.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half (55%) of non-medical users received prescriptions such as Xanax for free from a friend or relative. Also, 17% misused medications that were prescribed by their own doctor, 11% purchased them from a friend or relative, 5% stole them from a friend or relative without asking for permission, and only just 4% obtained them from a dealer.

Of note, if used long-term, even those with legitimate prescriptions can become dependent on Xanax. For this reason, prolonged, regular use of Xanax is not routinely recommended.

Signs of a Xanax use disorder include the following:

  • Obsession with obtaining and using the drug
  • Going through medication faster than prescriptions are ready to be refilled
  • Taking higher doses than prescribed
  • Administering Xanax non-orally, such as by crushing pills and snorting them

Xanax Dependence

Dependence on Xanax can develop in just two weeks, but more commonly, it will take between 1-2 months. Physical dependence occurs when the body has become accustomed to having a certain amount of the substance in the system. In the case of Xanax, the body will cease to produce GABA in adequate amounts on its own, thus relying solely on Xanax for feelings of calm and relaxation.

Dependence is also hallmarked by the onset of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms upon cessation of use. These symptoms can include rebound anxiety and insomnia, and in extreme cases, even life-threatening seizures.

Adverse Side Effects

Side effects of Xanax use or abuse may include the following:

  • Memory problems
  • Forgetfulness
  • Loss of pleasure
  • Impaired coordination
  • Appetite changes
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Loss of inhibition
  • Depression
  • Apathy

Also, according to Harvard Medical School, using benzodiazepines for longer than six months increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 84%. Severe interactions with other psychoactive substances can also occur, including those involving alcohol, other sedatives and hypnotics, antihistamines and other allergy medications, and opioids, among others.

Overdose and death are rare while using Xanax alone, it is commonly involved in fatalities related to polysubstance abuse. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the total number of overdose deaths in the U.S. involving benzos dramatically rose between 1999-2017, reflecting a ten-fold increase of around 1,100 deaths to more than 11,000.

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System? | Harmony Recovery Center

Why People Are Tested for Xanax

People are most commonly tested for Xanax use as part of a compliance program for those with substance use disorders or a history of abuse. Testing may also be performed if an overdose is suspected or confirmed.

Urine tests are the most frequently used, as they can test for all prescription and illicit drugs. Blood tests can detect everything that urine tests can, but they are more expensive and, therefore, less common. Hair testing can be conducted for all illicit drugs and some prescription medications, and this form of testing is primarily used by the justice system to identify chronic drug use.

Treatment for Xanax Addiction

Detox from Xanax should happen gradually using a tapering schedule as directed by a doctor or addiction specialist. Discontinuation of prolonged Xanax use can result in a life-threatening syndrome similar to alcohol withdrawals (including delirium tremens) and should therefore never be attempted without professional help.

Harmony Recovery Center offers comprehensive treatment programs for substance abuse that include outpatient detox, behavioral therapy, psychoeducation, counseling, peer support, medication-assisted treatment, and aftercare planning. We offer treatment in partial-hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and outpatient formats.

We employ a team of highly-trained addiction specialists who facilitate services to clients with care and expertise. We are dedicated to ensuring that every client receives all of the tools and support they need to be successful at recovery and experience long-lasting sobriety, health, and well-being.

If you or someone you love is dependent on Xanax, other benzos, prescription or illicit drugs or alcohol, contact us today. Discover how we help people break the cycle of addiction for life!

How Long Does Klonopin Stay in Your System?

How Long Does Klonopin Stay in Your System? | Harmony Recovery

How Long Does Klonopin Stay in Your System? – Klonopin (clonazepam) is a prescription drug commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, panic, and seizure disorders. Klonopin is classified as a benzodiazepine, a group of central nervous system (CNS) depressants that also includes Valium, Xanax, Ativan, and Restoril.

Clonazepam is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance indicating that while it has a legitimate medical purpose, there’s still a potential for abuse, dependence, and addiction.

Clonazepam has a relatively long elimination half-life. Half-life refers to the length of time it takes for half of one dose of a drug to clear from the body. For clonazepam, this time frame ranges from 30 to 40 hours, meaning that it takes between 2-3 for 50% of Klonopin to leave a person’s system.

Based on clonazepam’s 30-40 hour half-life some amount of the drug is likely to remain in the system for approximately 6-9 days after the final dose. It’s worth noting, however, that some medical providers contend that clonazepam has a wider-ranging half-life of 18-60 hours. If this were to be the case, it could take anywhere from 4-14 days to completely clear from the body.

Some factors that may also influence how long it takes for Klonopin to leave a person’s system include the following:

  • Age
  • Height and weight
  • Body fat and mass
  • Genetics
  • Food intake
  • Hepatic (liver) function
  • Metabolic rate
  • Urinary pH
  • Dosage amount
  • Frequency of use
  • Duration of use
  • Use of other drugs

What Is Klonopin?

As noted, clonazepam is a benzodiazepine commonly sold under the brand name Klonopin. Klonopin helps calm hyperactive electrical signals in the brain—this overactivity has been associated with anxiety, muscle spasms, insomnia, seizures, and other CNS disorders.

Klonopin is frequently used to treat seizures in people with neurological disorders (e.g., epilepsy). It’s an intermediate-acting benzodiazepine that can decrease the risk of seizure activity for several hours after the drug is administered. Klonopin may also be prescribed to patients who experience restlessness, fidgeting or other uncontrollable movements as side effects of using antipsychotic medications.

Sometimes health providers prescribe Klonopin for the treatment of panic attacks or severe anxiety. However, it usually isn’t prescribed for the short-term treatment of insomnia or anxiety as other medications, such as Xanax and Ativan. These other two benzos are more effective in treating these disorders because they start working within minutes and their effects are not as long-lasting as clonazepam.

Klonopin Abuse and Addiction

As a benzodiazepine, Klonopin has the potential for addiction. Even those who use the drug as prescribed may find themselves rapidly progressing to problematic levels of use. Like other benzodiazepines, Klonopin induces feelings of relaxation and well-being.

It’s these pleasurable feelings that often cause a person to use the drug more frequently or in higher amounts than prescribed. The desired effects of Klonopin typically onset within an hour of use and effects can last anywhere between 6-24 hours.

Klonopin can lead to tolerance and dependence if use continues for a prolonged period. Tolerance is a condition in which the body adapts to the presence of a substance and gradually reduces the effects of that substance. When this occurs, the person is compelled to use more of the drug to achieve the desired effects.

Dependence develops after prolonged exposure to a substance, and the body becomes so accustomed to its presence that it can no longer function correctly without it. Once dependence is established, a person will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms if they try to discontinue drug use. Tolerance and dependence are hallmark signs of addiction, which is also characterized by compulsive drug-seeking behavior despite the incurrence of adverse consequences.

Klonopin Overdose

How Long Does Klonopin Stay in Your System? | Harmony Recovery

Anyone who uses the prescribed dose of Klonopin in high amounts or too frequently is at risk of an overdose. Although it is difficult to fatally overdose on clonazepam on its own, when it is combined with other CNS depressants, such as opioids or alcohol, the depressant effects of all substances are compounded and can be life-threatening.

Symptoms of a Klonopin overdose include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Amnesia
  • Blurred vision
  • Stupor or unresponsiveness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hallucinations
  • Impaired coordination
  • Low blood pressure

If you or someone you know experiences these symptoms after using Klonopin, please call 911 immediately.

Getting Treatment for Klonopin Addiction

Once a person has developed an addiction to Klonopin, it can be very difficult to stop. Those who use Klonopin regularly and for long periods of time will likely experience unpleasant withdrawal effects when they stop using, which is often the main reason why they continue to use even if they want to stop.

Recovery from Klonopin addiction is certainly possible, however, and the first step to getting help is admitting that you have a problem.

Harmony Recovery Center uses a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to addiction recovery that includes detox, psychotherapy, counseling, treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders, group support, and more.

If you or someone you know is addicted to Klonopin or other substances, help is available. You don’t have to go through this journey alone. Contact us today!

Ativan Side Effects of Long-Term Use

Ativan Side Effects of Long-Term Use | Harmony Recovery Center

Ativan Side Effects of Long-Term Use – Ativan is the brand name for a prescription drug known as lorazepam, a medication that belongs to a family of depressants called benzodiazepines (benzos).

Ativan can be prescribed for several reasons, including for the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, alcohol withdrawal, muscle spasms, and seizure disorders. Nonetheless, Ativan can be habit-forming, particularly if it is used for recreational purposes or if the person takes more than their prescribed dose. Over a prolonged period, Ativan can have a negative impact on an individual’s physical and emotional health, as well as on his or her overall quality of life.

Long-term abuse of Ativan can lead to:

  • Sedation and fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Memory impairments
  • Learning problems
  • Mouth sores
  • Abdominal bleeding
  • Kidney problems
  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Pale or bluish skin
  • Seizures
  • Withdrawal symptoms

Also, in severe cases, social effects of chronic Ativan use may include family conflicts and relationship strain leading to divorce. Other possible effects include financial and/or legal problems and unemployment.

Effects on the Body

Like other benzos, Ativan is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that reduces activity in the brain. For this reason, Ativan helps to relieve symptoms of anxiety, such as tension, restlessness, irrational fears, feelings of panic and irritability or agitation.

But within just a few weeks, the CNS begins to adapt to the effects of Ativan, and tolerance to the drug’s effects increases. The development of tolerance requires the person to use higher doses of the drug to achieve the desired calm, relaxing feelings. With extended use, the user can become dependent on Ativan, thus requiring the drug to function physically or mentally.

Recreational use of Ativan significantly increases the risk of dependence and addiction. But even a patient who takes Ativan as directed by a doctor’s can become dependent on the medication over time. For this reason, lorazepam and other benzos are often prescribed for relatively short periods.

One of the most significant risks of Ativan misuse is the possibility that Ativan dependence can progress into an addiction. In addition to tolerance and dependence, addiction is characterized by a psychological compulsion to seek and use drugs despite the incurrence of negative consequences.

Although Ativan does not usually induce severe suppression of the respiratory systems, a lethal overdose can occur when the drug is used in addition to other CNS depressants. Mixing Ativan with alcohol or other sedatives significantly increases the risk of respiratory depression, overdose, and death.

Behavioral Changes

Ativan Side Effects of Long-Term Use | Harmony Recovery Center

Ativan abuse can cause problematic changes in a person’s behavior. Favorite activities and family responsibilities may be neglected in favor of obtaining and using the drug.

Some of the common behavioral signs of Ativan abuse include the following:

  • A loss of interest or pleasure in activities once considered important
  • Withdrawal/isolation from social events and family relationships
  • Sleeping too much
  • Unusual irritability or anxiety
  • Confused, drowsy appearance
  • Neglect of personal hygiene and grooming
  • Borrowing or stealing money
  • Being secretive or deceptive about one’s activities
  • Poor performance at work or school

Drug-seeking behaviors are common among those who abuse prescription drugs like Ativan. These behaviors may include visiting multiple doctors (doctor shopping), exaggerating or lying about anxiety symptoms, and forging prescriptions. Formerly honest individuals can adopt unethical behaviors such as lying, stealing, or selling drugs as a result of addiction’s effect on their mental health.

Withdrawal Symptoms

After a person has been using Ativan for a long time, he or she may experience an intensification of symptoms that used to be relieved by the drug, such as anxiety, seizures, or muscle spasms. This rebound effect can also occur during withdrawal when the person attempts to discontinue Ativan use.

Additional signs of withdrawal may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Shakiness
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia

Withdrawal from benzos such as Ativan without medical supervision can be hazardous, especially for long-term users. Discontinuing the drug abruptly can result in potentially fatal seizures as part of a syndrome, not unlike delirium tremens, an extreme effect of alcohol withdrawal. The safest method of withdrawing from Ativan is by way of a medical detox, a process in which patients are monitored as they are gradually weaned off the drug.

Getting Treatment for Ativan Addiction

As noted, to prevent the potentially life-threatening side effects of Ativan withdrawal such as seizures, a medically-supervised detox and/or a gradual drug taper are recommended. Medical detox provides a structured, supportive environment where clients are kept medically stable until they are ready to begin the more intensive work of recovery.

Although prolonged Ativan abuse can take a severe toll on a person’s physical and emotional well-being, it is never too late to seek help for addiction. Harmony Recovery Center offers comprehensive rehab programs, including a full range of therapeutic services, such as psychotherapy and counseling.

If you or someone you love is dependence on Ativan, other benzos, prescription or illicit drugs, or alcohol, please contact us today to discuss treatment options. Discover how we help people free themselves from the chains of addiction indefinitely!

Xanax and Hydrocodone: A Dangerous Combination

Xanax and Hydrocodone

When taking medications, understanding any possible drug interactions is a critical but often overlooked component to one’s health. Before taking medication, one should know its associated side effects and any adverse reactions it could have with other substances.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax (alprazolam) is a commonly prescribed and abused prescription drug. It’s classified as a benzodiazepine, and as such, it is most often prescribed to treat anxiety or panic disorders. Chronic anxiety is among the most prevalent psychological disorders, which is the main reasons why Xanax is so frequently prescribed.

When a person uses Xanax, the active ingredient attaches itself to the brain’s GABA receptors, which reduces neural activity and relieves symptoms of anxiety. Less commonly, Xanax is prescribed for conditions that involve seizures, insomnia or detox from alcohol. Common side effects of Xanax include drowsiness, dizziness or lightheadedness, concentration difficulties, and digestive problems.

Among the most serious risks related to Xanax are abuse, dependence, and addiction. There is also the potential for Xanax to be habit-forming, which is why doctors are encouraged to only prescribe it for short-term use. Moreover, it’s possible to become addicted or physically dependent after just a few weeks of use, and Xanax can interact with other substances including alcohol and narcotic pain relievers such as hydrocodone.

What is Hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone is an opioid painkiller that is commonly found in brand name pharmaceutical drugs such as Vicodin and Norco and is indicated for the treatment of moderate-severe pain. As is the case with the aforementioned medications, hydrocodone is frequently found in formulations that also include the pain reliever acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol.)

Hydrocodone is a controlled substance as it has a relatively high potential for addiction. The non-medical use of this drug and other prescription opioids have risen dramatically in recent years.

Hydrocodone works by binding to specific receptors in the user’s brain that depress central nervous system (CNS) activity as pain sensations are relieved. Unfortunately, it’s relatively easy to become addicted to hydrocodone and other opioids.

Among the most common symptoms of hydrocodone use include drowsiness and euphoria, nausea and vomiting, lightheadedness and headaches. Other adverse symptoms include confusion, anxiety, fear, mood swings, lethargy, and mental impairment.

Can I Take Xanax and Hydrocodone Together?

Unless carefully prescribed by a physician, you should never take Xanax and hydrocodone at the same time. There can be severe, even fatal consequences that can result from combining Xanax and hydrocodone. Xanax and hydrocodone both reduce CNS activity, a system that is responsible for the essential functions that keep the body alive, including breathing and heart function.

If someone uses more than one substance that affects the central nervous system in this manner, it can depress respiration to the point of oversedation. A user may also slip into a coma or ultimately die from multidrug intoxication. Many emergency department visits related to overdoses are the result of someone combining benzos and opioids.

These overdoses often occur because someone is using Xanax and hydrocodone recreationally, and they use too much in an attempt to get high. There is a significant risk of overdose or death when using Xanax in combination with hydrocodone, but there is also a dramatic increase in the chance of becoming dependent or addicted to one or both of these drugs.

What is CNS Depression?

The central nervous system includes the brain and spinal cord. It is responsible for the regulation of most bodily functions by transmitting messages between the brain and other nerves by way of the spinal cord.

CNS depressants are drugs and other substances that reduce activity in the CNS. Many CNS depressants, including Xanax, work by increasing the activity of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical that suppresses the delivery of messages between cells.

Symptoms

Mild symptoms of CNS depression include:

  • lack of coordination and muscle weakness
  • lethargy
  • dizziness and disorientation
  • slurred speech or stuttering
  • slight shortness of breath or shallow breathing
  • slightly reduced heart rate
  • constipation
  • restlessness and agitation
  • euphoria
  • blurred, altered, or double vision

Symptoms of severe CNS depression include:

  • reduced heart rate
  • low breathing rate – less than 10 breaths per minute
  • extreme confusion or memory loss
  • nausea and vomiting
  • poor judgment
  • blue lips or fingertips (cyanosis)
  • irritability and aggression
  • clammy or cold skin
  • sudden and intense mood swings
  • slow reflexes

If a person is experiencing these symptoms, medical care should be sought immediately. Ultimately, severe symptoms can lead to an overdose, which can result in unresponsiveness, coma, and death.

Treatment for Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is a chronic, destructive disease that impairs the ability of the person suffering to function mentally, emotionally, professionally, academically, and socially. Drug addiction is most effectively treated through the use of a supervised medical detox followed immediately by long-term therapy and counseling.

Our medical and mental health providers present our clients with the opportunity to obtain the knowledge and skills that they need to fully recover from drug addiction, regain their lives, and experience the happiness and HARMONY they deserve.

What Happens When You Withdrawal from Benzos?

Effects of Crystal Meth | Harmony Recovery Center | North Carolina

It seems harmless, taking a pill that you or someone you know got from a doctor to help them calm down. It just doesn’t make sense that a doctor could give you something that could be addictive or even deadly. However, in the case of benzodiazepines, and especially when they are used other than how prescribed, addiction and death are a real threat.

Benzos are most commonly used to treat:

More often called downers or benzos, depressants are some of the most commonly abused prescription medications on the market. What has become one of the most popular “party drugs” among people under 30; benzodiazepines are bringing with them, not only a probable blackout but also a brutal benzo withdrawal.

Typically, users will pop a few of them alone, or in conjunction with stimulants, alcohol, opiates, and even hallucinogens. They are addictive even when prescribed, and even more so when taken recreationally. Some of the most well-known depressants are prescription drugs such as Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, Ativan, Restoril.

The Dangers of Benzo Withdrawal

It’s the same with any hard or liquid drug. Over time, and with continued use, these substances that were designed to be potent and designed to work, develop a tolerance in the brain and body. The brain becomes accustomed to having high levels of these substances at all times, and when they aren’t present, it sends hormone receptors into a mild state of shock. Hence, benzo withdrawal.

For people that use benzos on a daily basis, whether as prescribed or not, the chemistry of the brain actually begins to restructure itself to rely on the drug being present. Therein, when it isn’t, the Serotonin and Dopamine levels plummet, creating intense anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts or attempts.

Anywhere from 2 months to multiple year use of these drugs can cause:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Increased Anxiety
  • Panic

When these drugs are combined with other medications or recreational substances, it can cause even more of a problem for the user when they experience the benzo withdrawal.

If a person who frequently uses these medications decides to suddenly stop, those receptors fly off the radar even farther. This is what commonly sends people into seizures, stroke, psychosis, and commas.

 

What to Expect from the Withdrawal

Even users who have only been taking benzodiazepines for a month, the risk of tolerance and addiction can already have started. For this reason, it is always wise to speak with your doctor before you stop taking your medication, and seek a professional and medical detox center when you do plan to go through benzo withdrawal.

The most common withdrawal symptoms of these medications are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Hallucinations
  • Convulsions

There isn’t really a specific timeline that benzo withdrawal follows as it is largely dependant on how long the person has been using them, the dosage, other drugs used, the prevalence of mental illness and their overall health when they choose to stop.

Most benzo withdrawal symptoms start to occur within the first 24 hours and can sometimes have lingering effects that can last a few months. The most intense or the “acute phase” usually lasts around two weeks. This is the most dangerous time for people undergoing benzo withdrawal, and the symptoms can peak after the last dose.

  • The Early Phase – anywhere from a few hours to the first few days after the last use.
    • Anxiety, insomnia, and depression return or occur
    • Users can experience a “rebound” effect of everything they used the drug to cover up
    • This process is usually managed through a tapering process at a detox center
  • The Acute Phase – A few days to a few weeks
    • Anxiety, panic, insomnia, aggression, irritability
    • Muscle spasms, tremors, tension, sore muscles, and even seizures
    • Vomiting, diarrhea, blurred vision, nausea
    • Trouble concentrating, decreased appetite, intense cravings for the drug, and even hallucinations
  • Post-Acute Withdrawal – lasting anywhere from a few months to several years
    • Mood swings, trouble concentrating and difficulty managing emotions
    • Suicidal thoughts
    • Cravings for the drug
    • Tingling sensation in hands, arms, legs, and feet
    • Experiencing anxiety, insomnia, depression

It’s not a fun process, and the thought of going through benzo withdrawal is often what keeps people from stopping using the drug. However, not everyone who takes or has abused these drugs experiences all of these symptoms and for that entire length of time. Again, it is often dependant upon how long they used, what other mental disorders might be present, other drugs used in conjunction, and if they choose to utilize treatment and therapy.

Detox, Detox, Detox

There are two major substances known throughout the medical community that are considered to be absolutely vital to detox in a professional setting for and that is alcohol and benzodiazepines.

There are more deaths from benzo withdrawal than from any other substance besides alcohol, and there continue to be more and more cases of people becoming addicted to them. The environment of the rap game has pushed Xanax abuse on millions, portraying it into a light of “the cool new drug.” Meanwhile, teenagers and young adults by the thousands are checking into substance abuse facilities with an accidental addiction to a drug they got from a friend or from their family medicine cabinet.

The tricky thing about benzos is that some people really do need them and really are helped by them. This is what allows the drug to remain in circulation, however, these drugs were made to be temporary band-aids that are supposed to be used in conjunction with aggressive psychotherapy and counseling. They aren’t supposed to be a lifelong cure.

If you or your loved one is struggling with an addiction to benzodiazepines and would like more information on the process of benzo withdrawal or where to get help, Harmony Ridge can be an ally. It is always a good idea to speak with your medical provider to discuss other options if you are taking the medication as a prescription for a mental or neurological disorder, as there are other options for medications.

Benzo withdrawal is no fun and truly can be deadly. Going through this process in a professional detox setting may not be the first choice of “fun things to do” on most people’s lists, but it sure beats a funeral and a comparison to lil peep.

Getting Help for Benzo Addiction

If you or loved one is in trouble with benzo abuse, there is a safe and comfortable way out. Our benzodiazepine treatment center is customized to treat several types of addiction including all types of addiction. Our drug treatment center can take your patient history, help you slowly detox in a safe and controlled manner, and help you build the path away from addiction.

Benzo abuse is a real problem in the US, but you don’t have to be a number about growing abuse – get help today.

Long Term Side Effects of Xanax

Long-Term Side Effects of Xanax | Harmony Recovery Center NC

Long-Term Side Effects of Xanax – Xanax is an anti-anxiety medication that can result in unpleasant and potentially dangerous side effects when used long-term. Occasionally, people misuse Xanax to self-medicate when symptoms worsen, or for conditions not indicated initially. Others use Xanax illegally for the calming and euphoric high it can produce. Regardless, due to the many side effects that Xanax can produce, this abuse can lead to chronic, adverse health effects.

How Xanax Impacts the Brain and Body

Xanax (alprazolam) is one of many drugs known as benzodiazepines or benzos. Like all the drugs in this class, Xanax helps to reduce the transmission of messages in the brain and thus fosters a sense of calm, relaxation, and sedation. Because of this, it is often prescribed for conditions such as the following:

  • Seizures
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Panic disorder
  • Insomnia

Moreover, benzos like Xanax reduce central nervous system (CNS) activity and because of this, they are in a class of drugs known as CNS depressants. Unfortunately, however, this sedative action – as well as other interactions of Xanax in the body – can lead to unexpected side effects, especially if the drug is being misused.

Short-Term Physical Side Effects

Side effects can range in intensity from mild to severe and will vary between individuals. They may include the following:

  • Reduced physical coordination
  • Slowed or labored breathing
  • Heart palpitations or chest pain
  • Stuffy nose
  • Blurred vision
  • Upset stomach or changes in bowel movements
  • Swelling of hands or feet
  • Excessive sweating

Psychological Effects of Xanax Use

Long-Term Side Effects of Xanax | Harmony Recovery Center

As noted previously, Xanax works to slow message transmission in the brain and produce calmness. It accomplishes this by increasing the availability of a brain chemical known as GABA, which intervenes with other chemicals traveling through the brain. For this reason, the drug may also produce mental side effects, some of which can impede the individual’s ability to function normally.

These include the following:

  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances and fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Memory loss or difficulties
  • Dependence and tolerance

How Long-Term Side Effects of Xanax Progress

Many of the aforementioned symptoms can become more serious as a result of the long-term use of Xanax. One of the more common problems is related to an increased risk of developing dementia. Recent research has shown that those who use benzos like Xanax on a long-term basis have a greater risk of developing dementia-related illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease than those who do not.

Other long-term issues may include the following:

  • Heart damage and arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
  • Hypoxia (low oxygen in the brain) as a result of impaired lung function
  • Addiction
  • Edema (swelling) in extremities

Because of the problems that can manifest with the long-term use of Xanax, it is often recommended that this drug is not used regularly for longer than six weeks.

Xanax Abuse and Dependence

Xanax abuse can rapidly result in dependence. This is because, over time, the user may experience increased tolerance, a condition in which the body becomes accustomed to the drug, and the effects diminish as a result. This often compels the person to use more of the drug to achieve the desired effect.

Long-Term Side Effects Xanax | Harmony Recovery Center

This type of overuse can cause the person’s system to reach a point where it can no longer function normally without the drug’s presence.

This is known as chemical dependence and results in withdrawal symptoms when the user attempts to quit or drastically cut back. When the person also acquires a psychological dependence and drug use becomes uncontrollable, full-blown addiction has developed.

Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms

Discontinuing use of the drug abruptly can produce adverse withdrawal symptoms, such as:

  • Seizures and tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Aggression
  • Increased anxiety
  • Depression and suicidal ideations

Is the Damage Reversible?

Some long-term effects of Xanax may be reversible upon cessation of the drug, but others may not. For example, chronic use can result in memory impairment and dementia, mental health conditions which may not be possible to reverse. Conversely, some physical side effects, such as heart palpitations and edema, may return to normal after the medication has been discontinued.

Treating Xanax Abuse and Addiction

Xanax withdrawal can be dangerous and even deadly. People who regularly abuse or are addicted to Xanax should consult a doctor/addiction specialist and inquire about a tapering method – a process used by medical professionals to safely wean a person off the drug and avoid severe side effects.

Following a tapering and/or medical detox, patients should immediately transition to a reputable addiction treatment program for long-term therapy, counseling, and support.

Treatments include:

  • Individual Behavioral Therapy
  • Group and Family Therapy
  • Individual and Group counseling
  • Peer support groups, such as 12-Step programs
  • Exercise and nutritional support

With these and other treatments, clients can learn to regain their lives without the use of Xanax or other drugs or alcohol, avoid relapse, and experience the happiness and wellness that they deserve! We can help – please call us as soon as possible!

Take A Look At Our Facility

Our treatment center is a free-standing building in the heart of Charlotte that is both warming and comforting and is supportive of the recovery process.

It comprises of multiple group rooms, therapist and case management offices, medical offices, and more. All of our clinical and medical services, from the point of intake and assessment to discharge, are delivered at our treatment center.

At Harmony Recovery, we offer a multitude of different Addiction Treatment Programs in Charlotte that are able to help treat those struggling with addictions to some of the most dangerous substances.

 

Can You Overdose on Xanax?

Can You Overdose on Xanax?  | Harmony Recovery Group

Can You Overdose on Xanax? – Xanax (alprazolam) is a prescription medication indicated for the treatment of anxiety and panic disorder. Because Xanax depresses the central nervous system (CNS), drinking alcohol or consuming another CNS depressant while on Xanax can cause an overdose.

Xanax belongs to the drug class benzodiazepines or benzos. Benzos function by inciting the production of a chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that slows down the central nervous system and thereby induces feelings of contentment, relaxation, and euphoria.

Normal Xanax Dosages

Ordinarily, a daily dose of between 0.25 and 0.5 mg is prescribed. Since Xanax enters and exits the body rapidly, Xanax is usually taken in multiple doses throughout the day. When starting a therapeutic regimen, a low dose of Xanax is administered then increased until the desired effect ensues, and thus, a final daily dose can exceed 10 mg.

Lethal Xanax Dosages

A lethal amount of Xanax varies from person to person and depends on multiple factors, including the following:

  • Weight
  • Age
  • How well your body metabolizes Xanax
  • The presence of other conditions, such as of the kidney, liver, or heart
  • The presence of other substances in the system

According to scientific research on rats, the lethal dose of Xanax ranges from 331 to 2171 mg/kg. This fact suggests that a person would have to consume a hundred to a thousand times the usual dose of Xanax to lethally overdose. Nevertheless, overdose is still possible at any dose higher than those prescribed by a physician and generally comes about by other means.

The risk of serious side effects, including overdose, is increased for people over the age of 65. Elderly patients are more sensitive to Xanax’s effect and are generally prescribed smaller doses to prevent adverse reactions.

Xanax Interactions

Can you overdose on Xanax? | Harmony Recovery Center

Most often, a lethal overdose of Xanax transpires because it interacts with other substances in our system.

After Xanax is ingested, our body rids itself of this foreign substance and does so by breaking it down with enzymes. However, some substances can inhibit the activity of these enzymes, making it very difficult for the body to clear out the Xanax. As such, Xanax concentrations can build up and become toxic, particularly when accompanied by substances with a similar mechanism of action, like opioids or alcohol.

Medications which block the activity of these monooxygenase enzymes include the following:

  • Sedatives
  • Alcohol
  • Some antifungals, such as ketoconazole and itraconazole
  • Opioid painkillers, such as oxycodone and fentanyl
  • Muscle relaxers
  • The antidepressant Serzone (nefazodone)
  • Fluvoxamine, a medication that treats obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Tagamet (cimetidine), a heartburn medication

Common Xanax Side Effects

Like other medications, even low doses of Xanax often cause relatively mild side effects, which include the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Poor sleep patterns

These side effects are typically minor and short-lived, subsiding within a few hours or days following Xanax use. If such side effects occur during a prescribed therapeutic regimen, this does not necessarily indicate an overdose. If these side-effects present intensely and impair daily life, however, your physician will likely decrease the dosage or switch medications altogether.

Signs and Symptoms of a Xanax Overdose

The symptoms of an overdose on Xanax or some other benzo can range from mild to severe, and, in some cases, life-threatening. The majority of severe or fatal Xanax overdoses occur when it is consumed alongside other CNS depressants, such as opioid medications or alcohol.

According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 10,500 people died in 2016 from an overdose related to benzos. Considering that medical examiners don’t always report all the drugs found (sometimes just cause of death) that number could be considerably higher, and indeed, has continued to rise sharply over the past few years.

The prescriber should be aware of other medications or substances you may be taking, including over-the-counter medications, nutritional supplements, and vitamins, or if you drink alcohol regularly. If an interaction is suspected by your physician, an alternative to Xanax is likely to be prescribed to avert dangerous complications.

The severity of overdose symptoms depends on several factors, including the following:

  • How much Xanax was consumed
  • Overall body chemistry
  • Sensitivity to depressants
  • Other substances present alongside Xanax

Mild Xanax overdose symptoms include the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Slowed reflexes
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Loss of balance
  • Impaired coordination
  • Blurred vision
  • Tremors
  • Uncontrolled muscle movements

Severe Xanax overdose symptoms include the following:

  • Slurred speech
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Fainting and unconsciousness
  • Hallucinations
  • Abnormal or erratic heart rhythm
  • Low blood pressure
  • Chest pain
  • Respiratory depression or difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Coma
  • Death

If you suspect that you or a loved one is overdosing on Xanax, contact emergency medical services at 911 immediately.

Treating an Overdose

Can you overdose on Xanax? | Harmony Recovery Center

If an overdose occurs, medical personnel will immediately transport the overdosing individual to the closest emergency room. While en route, they will administer activated charcoal, which can absorb some of the medication after ingestion and mitigate potentially fatal symptoms.

Once at the hospital, the doctor may pump the individual’s stomach to clear out any undigested medication, thereby preventing an even greater problem. Also, they will usually administer a chemical called flumazenil, which is a benzo agonist that blocks and reverses the effects of Xanax in the brain. Finally, they may run fluids intravenously to rebalance the system with vital nutrients and reverse any dehydration.

Xanax and Suicide

If someone you know is under the influence of Xanax and appears to be at immediate risk of suicide, self-harm, or other violent or erratic behavior:

  • Call 911 or another local emergency number
  • Stay calm and remain with the individual until help arrives
  • Confiscate or clear away any weapons, drugs, or anything else that can be used to cause harm
  • Listen to them without threatening, yelling, judging, or arguing

Treatment for Xanax Addiction

Can you overdose on Xanax? | Harmony Recovery Center

If you or someone you know is abusing or has overdosed on Xanax, another drug, or alcohol, please seek help as soon as possible. Xanax is a drug with a high potential for misuse, tolerance, and dependency.

Xanax addiction can be treated using a variety of therapeutic techniques, such as cognitive behavior therapy, individual and family counseling, and group support.

Research has shown that addiction is best approached using a comprehensive plan that also includes holistic practices such as yoga, meditation, and art and music therapy.

Detox is usually the first step in the recovery process, following directly by residential inpatient treatment and intensive outpatient treatment (IOP). Inpatients receive around-the-clock medical and mental health care, while outpatients visit the center several times per week for therapy sessions and counseling.

Many patients continue with IOP following inpatient treatment while they transition back to normal life, sometimes residing in a local sober living environment. Still, other patients opt only for IOP due to time restraints, as it allows them the freedom to attend to essential life responsibilities such as school, employment, and family.

Following intensive therapy, we offer aftercare planning services to ensure that former patients can connect with resources outside of the center and engage in therapy and counseling for ongoing recovery maintenance. We also host alumni activities for the promotion of long-term peer support and comradery.