You’ve been prescribed anti-anxiety medication because you suffer from severe anxiety attacks, or maybe you suffer from panic attacks and you’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. You’re taking your pills, and they seem to be working great at first. Your symptoms are all but gone and you feel like yourself again. But as time goes on, you find that you need to take them more and more to feel the same effects or any effects at all. Have you developed an addiction to your medication? Or do you simply need to learn how to control the way you use them?
Differentiating Between Abuse, Addiction, and Dependence
Although abuse, addiction, and dependence are sometimes used interchangeably in casual conversation, they all refer to different stages of substance use. The key difference between them is their scope: abuse and addiction are problems that occur on a broad scale within society as a whole, while dependence describes an individual’s physical response to a substance. Dependence doesn’t just refer to substance abuse—it can apply to food or exercise too—but it is often used when discussing substances. For example, someone who can’t function without an afternoon cup of coffee may be dependent on caffeine; conversely, people who think they need two drinks to start having fun at parties might be abusing alcohol.
Although there are some very specific symptoms that you can look for, it’s hard to tell when someone is suffering from abuse, addiction or dependence. This is because many of these signs overlap and differ depending on what substances are involved. If you think you or someone close to you might be suffering from substance abuse, addiction, or dependence it’s important to speak with your doctor immediately. The doctor will probably perform a physical exam and ask about your family history and recent lifestyle choices before giving you advice about how to address your problem.
There is no black and white answer as to when you should stop taking anti-anxiety pills—it all depends on how they help you and what benefits they offer. However, if they cause extreme side effects or interfere with everyday life, then reducing your dose may be enough to live with them safely. Speak with your doctor first, though; he will advise whether it’s safe for you to take anti-anxiety medications at all and let you know if reducing doses is an option.
Understanding Physical Dependence
Physically dependent on benzodiazepines means your body has adapted to having it in your system so that when you don’t have enough, you experience withdrawal symptoms. While not everyone who uses Xanax will become physically dependent on it, there is a risk. Take benzos only as directed by your doctor; if you find yourself taking them more often or in higher doses than prescribed, be sure to talk with your doctor about ways to lessen your dependence.
Physical dependence isn’t all bad. It’s good because it means that your body is becoming more and more accustomed to functioning with benzos in your system. As long as you take them as directed by your doctor, you should not experience any issues when you taper off them. Talk to your doctor about ways to taper off of benzodiazepines and get support if you are having trouble weaning yourself off of them.
As with many other medications, Xanax is only intended to be used in low doses for short periods. Overdosing on can cause many serious side effects, including death. Taking higher than recommended doses also increases your risk of becoming physically dependent on benzos. If you have questions about how much Xanax is safe to take, ask your doctor for advice about taking any additional medications when you’re already taking Xanax.
Signs of Psychological Addiction
Individuals who are psychologically addicted to anti-anxiety pills might experience an array of symptoms including mood swings, depression, withdrawal symptoms and anxiety when attempting to quit. Friends and family members need to know about these psychological signs of addiction to seek help immediately. But what should you look for exactly?
Behavioural Signs of Addiction
Behavioural signs of addiction include a drastic change in eating and sleeping habits, isolating yourself from friends and family, lying about your use, illegal activity such as buying pills off street corners to feed your addiction and more. Keep an eye out for these signs to know if you need help. Be aware that not all symptoms are universal; everyone responds differently to anti-anxiety medication.
Medical Signs of Addiction
On top of these behavioural signs, you may experience medication side effects if you’re psychologically addicted to anti-anxiety pills. These symptoms include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and dizziness. Medical intervention is necessary if your addiction becomes life-threatening; if you’re experiencing any of these signs be sure to contact your doctor immediately for help and advice on getting better.
Informational Signs of Addiction
If you’re using anti-anxiety pills but they aren’t providing any additional benefits to your life, be aware that you might be addicted. Use informational resources like websites and books to help you combat withdrawal symptoms and cravings, as well as tips for finding alternatives to anti-anxiety medication that work for you. Professional help is also available; keep an eye out for support groups in your area if you think an addiction might be getting out of control.
Get Treated for Addiction at Freeman House Recovery
If you need help managing your addiction to anti-anxiety pills, Freeman House Recovery is here for you. Our drug and alcohol rehab centre specialises in treating patients with mental health issues as well as substance abuse. Call today at
+27 12 1111 739 to get started on your road to recovery!