What Is Xanax Used to Treat?
Xanax is a brand-name, prescription drug. So, what is Xanax used to treat? Primarily Xanax is used for the treatment of anxiety and panic disorders. The generic name of Xanax is alprazolam, and it’s part of the benzodiazepine drug class. Other benzodiazepines include diazepam (Valium) and clonazepam (Klonopin).
When someone takes Xanax, it affects the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter. GABA is a naturally occurring brain chemical that functions as an inhibitor. GABA slows overexcitement in the brain. When someone uses Xanax, it increases the amount of GABA available in the brain, creating a sense of calm and relaxation.
Prescribed Uses for Xanax
Some of the specific prescribed uses for Xanax include:
- Panic disorders
- Social anxiety disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
Diagnosable anxiety disorders are not the same as experiencing everyday stress. For example, for someone wondering how to be prescribed Xanax for generalized anxiety disorder, they would have to meet specific criteria. The criteria include excessive anxiety about two or more situations in one’s life for six months or more. Other symptoms in people who are often prescribed Xanax include physical symptoms like rapid heartbeat, palpitations and the feeling of a lump in the throat, and always feeling on edge or vigilant.
Panic disorder is characterized by the regular occurrence of panic attacks with four or more specific symptoms including rapid heartbeat, sweating and the feeling of choking or not being able to get enough air.
Xanax Recreational Use
Xanax is only meant to be a short-term treatment. In most cases, Xanax isn’t prescribed for use for more than a few weeks because it’s a controlled substance with the potential for abuse and addiction. The longer someone uses Xanax, the more likely they are to become addicted. Xanax can create a sense of relaxation and in some cases euphoria, which is part of why it has addiction potential.
Xanax recreational use is a growing problem among people from all backgrounds, including teens. Xanax recreational use often includes not just the use of Xanax on its own. Instead, an even more common scenario is using Xanax with other substances such as opioids or alcohol. This combination increases the effects of the substances, but also significantly increases the risks of an overdose. For example, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 30 percent of overdoses that include an opioid also include a benzodiazepine like Xanax.
When Medical Use Becomes Abuse
Xanax has therapeutic benefits for some people. However, when do you know the line between medical use to abuse has been crossed? When using a potentially addictive drug like Xanax, even by prescription, it’s important to be aware of the risks and to follow instructions carefully. Signs of Xanax abuse can include:
- Taking Xanax without a prescription
- Using it recreationally to get high
- Combining Xanax with other psychoactive substances
- Using a higher dose than prescribed
- Taking it longer than instructed by a doctor
- Feeling out-of-control in terms of Xanax use
If you’re a teen who thinks you could have a problem with Xanax, or perhaps you’re the parent of a teen misusing Xanax, contact Next Generation Village and speak to a representative to learn more about treatment options. Begin a healthier future today.
Nichols, Hannah. “What You Need to Know About Xanax.” Medical News Today, December 7, 2017. Accessed March 27, 2019.
NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Benzodiazepines and Opioids.” March 2018. Accessed March 27, 2019.
Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.