Xanax is a benzodiazepine drug used to treat anxiety disorders, insomnia, and panic disorders. Forty million Americans suffer from anxiety, so it is not surprising that Xanax is a widely prescribed drug. However, it carries a high risk of abuse and addiction. There is a higher rate of overdose from prescription drugs than street drugs, and in 2016, 5.3 million people were misusing benzodiazepines.
Substance abuse can cause devastating effects for those suffering as well as their loved ones. If you or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse involving Xanax it is helpful to understand addiction and addiction treatment better so that you can decide whether you wish to seek treatment. There are many different colored Xanax pills. The only difference is that different pharmaceutical companies produce them.
What is Xanax and What is Blue Xanax?
Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam, one of the benzodiazepine family. It is a central nervous system depressant and works by increasing the activity of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the body so increasing its activity slows aspects of the central nervous system such as breathing and heart rate. This causes effects of calming and relaxation and is therefore useful in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, and insomnia.
Xanax is a schedule IV controlled substance which means it is considered to be one of the safest scheduled drugs. Schedule III drugs have the risk of causing moderate or low physical and high psychological dependence. Schedule IV drugs are defined in comparison to this as being less potent compared to Schedule III drugs.
When you are prescribed Xanax by your doctor, you will usually start on a low dose such as 0.25 mg. Once your body is accustomed to this dose, your dose can be adjusted. Typically, people take a maximum of 4 mg per day over three or four doses. Alprazolam pills can be found in many different colors and shapes.
Differences in prescription dosage and appearance
The shape is often an indicator of the quantity of alprazolam contained in the pill, for example, oval-shaped pills tend to contain 1 mg of alprazolam, while Xanax bars typically contain 2 mg. These are not strict rules however, and the real amount of alprazolam will be imprinted on the pill e.g., a blue Xanax bar with “XANAX 2.0” imprinted contains 2 mg.
Different colored bars or pills are an indication of which pharmaceutical companies produce them. People who use Xanax recreationally will be familiar with Xanax bars which typically contain 2 mg of alprazolam and are divided into smaller sections with lines that make them easy to break into smaller doses.
Pfizer manufactures white Xanax bars. Technically these are the only alprazolam pills that are called Xanax as this is the brand name for Pfizer alprazolam. However, many people use Xanax as a general term for alprazolam pills. Some different colors of alprazolam bars include:
- Blue Xanax bar – manufactured by Breckenridge Pharmaceutical
- “School bus Xanax” – a yellow Xanax bar manufactured by Actavis Pharma
- Green Xanax bar – manufactured by Dava Pharmaceuticals – divided into three sections rather than the typical four
- Orange (or peach) Xanax bar
- Purple Xanax bar
It is also possible to get fake Xanax such as Red Devil Xanax bars. These are counterfeit pills that are dyed red and are meant to contain 5 mg of alprazolam. Additionally, you can get fake pills that are made to look like prescription drugs commonly looking like white Xanax bars. These are sold on the street or online.
However, fake Xanax can be very dangerous as you cannot be sure of the alprazolam quantity and it may be mixed with other drugs. A common addition is fentanyl which is a very potent opioid, about fifty times more potent than heroin. In 2021 the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reported that four out of ten pills that contain fentanyl seized contained a potentially fatal amount of fentanyl. As more counterfeit pills continue to contain fentanyl this is a very worrying fact.
When you take a blue Xanax pill the onset of effects is usually felt within an hour and the concentration in your blood peaks at about one to two hours. People who abuse Xanax commonly crush the pills and snort them. This leads to a much quicker onset with effects starting as soon as minutes after taking.
Benzodiazepines were first synthesized in 1955 in Hoffman-La Roche labs. They were made to replace the use of barbiturates in treating anxiety because they had a high risk of causing tolerance, dependence, addiction, and overdose. However, benzodiazepines are also risky drugs with the potential for abuse and addiction.
Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse
- Taking more frequent doses than prescribed
- Taking larger doses than prescribed
- Taking someone else’s prescription
- Taking in a different way than prescribed e.g., snorting or injecting
- Taking fake Xanax
If someone is snorting blue Xanax you may be able to notice this from frequent nosebleeds, sniffing when not sick, and razors or crushing implements.
Blue Xanax abuse can start with taking prescription or illicit drugs. For example, you may have been prescribed Xanax to help deal with an anxiety diagnosis, or you may self-medicate your anxiety by buying street Xanax. When you stop taking Xanax you experience rebound symptoms, which are the anxiety symptoms you are trying to treat.
You may therefore continue to use them to prevent yourself from feeling this, seeking the relaxation and sedation that the drug brings. Other people use Xanax combined with other drugs, for example to enhance depressant effects, ease a stimulant comedown, or alleviate a bad psychedelic trip.
Using blue Xanax for a short period of time is generally considered to be low risk. It is recommended that you do not take Xanax for more than two to four weeks at a time. However, people who are particularly sensitive to Xanax may become dependent on it in as little as one week.
Xanax is twenty times more potent than diazepam, another benzodiazepine commonly known by the brand name Valium. Xanax is a short-acting benzodiazepine so the effects of it are quick but also pass quickly. This makes it more prone to abuse as you need to take it more frequently to maintain its effects. Tolerance simultaneously builds requiring you to take larger doses to get the same effect. As you take more frequent and larger doses of Xanax your chances of developing dependence and addiction increase.
With time your brain chemistry changes and it becomes hard to feel normal without taking Xanax. When you stop taking it you no longer only feel rebound symptoms but also experience withdrawal symptoms. Xanax withdrawal symptoms can be extremely unpleasant and even fatal due to seizures.
When you experience withdrawal symptoms after you stop taking a drug this is known as dependence. You can be both physically and psychologically dependent on Xanax which means you will experience both physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.
Addiction is usually close behind dependence. It is a brain disease that causes you to compulsively seek out and take the substance to which you are addicted. Many believe that addiction is a choice or a sign of moral failing. But there are risk factors that make it much more likely that some people will develop an addiction than others.
Risk Factors for Addiction
- Genetics – up to half of your propensity for developing an addiction is thought to be genetic
- Exposure in the environment – people using drugs in your environment either at home or in your social circles increases your chances of developing an addiction
- Family history of addiction – this links to the first two factors, family history of addiction would suggest that genetics is involved and that you may have been exposed to drugs and normalized to drug use
- Childhood neglect and abuse can lead to an increased risk of addiction as you use drugs to cope
- Mental health – like with trauma, people with mental health problems may use drugs to cope. They may also have mental health problems relating to trauma
Signs of Addiction
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Continuing to use Xanax despite negative consequences to health and relationships
- Poor performance at school or work
- Lack of interest in activities that used to bring joy
- Going to multiple doctors for prescriptions (doctor shopping)
Side Effects of Blue Xanax
As with any other prescription drug, blue Xanax pills cause desired effects but can also cause adverse side effects. While they vary depending on the person taking it, the following are common symptoms to look out for.
- Constipation and urination problems
- Slurred speech
- Poor coordination
- Difficulty breathing
- Dry mouth
- Muscle weakness
- Weight gain or loss due to appetite fluctuations
- Erectile dysfunction
- Reduced anxiety and aggression
- Loss of time
- Poor concentration and memory
- Emotional blunting
- Depression and suicidal thoughts
- Mood swings – blue Xanax can cause opposite effects such as irritable and hostile moods
Long-term effects of Xanax include problems with learning, memory, and attention. There may also be an increased risk of developing dementia though the evidence is still inconclusive.
Effects of Snorting Xanax
It is common for those who use Xanax recreationally to snort it. Snorting Xanax can lead to additional negative effects including:
- Loss of smell
- Irritation of nose
- Inflammation of nose
- Damage to the nasal cavity
- Sinus infections
- Perforated septum
- Respiratory tract blockage
- Lung damage
The negative effects of Xanax are more likely with higher doses.
In 2020, 12,290 people died from overdoses involving benzodiazepines. The dose needed to cause an overdose varies from person to person, depending on factors such as age, weight, sex, and how long and heavily you have been taking blue Xanax.
The risk of an overdose is particularly high if you take fake Xanax. As mentioned, fake Xanax can contain other drugs such as fentanyl. Mixing drugs increases your risk of overdose and fentanyl is a particularly dangerous substance.
Signs of Overdose
- Slurred speech
- Blurred vision
- Poor coordination
- Irregular heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing and swallowing
- Memory loss
- Loss of consciousness
If you see anyone experiencing these symptoms, call 911 immediately.
If you or a loved one wishes to seek medical help for a blue Xanax addiction, the first step in your treatment journey is detoxing. It is recommended to undergo detox under medical supervision since it can be extremely unpleasant and even fatal. Generally, you will taper off the drug, decreasing your dose gradually until you are no longer taking any. Detox involves the management of withdrawal symptoms.
- Blurred vision
- Hypersensitivity to light and sound
- Muscle pain
- Anxiety and depression
- Trouble sleeping including insomnia and nightmares
- Suicidal thoughts
Detoxing is not the end of the treatment process. Addiction recovery can be a long and arduous process. But do not lose hope, with the right support many people live happy and fulfilling lives. Therapy is important following detox. It can help you to understand your reasons for taking drugs in the first place such as mental health problems or trauma, replacing drug use with other healthier coping mechanisms. It can also help to strengthen your motivation to stop taking drugs and to understand your relapse triggers. It is important to know that if you do relapse this is not a sign of failure. For many, this is a part of the recovery process.
Get Help Today
Reaching out for support and the treatment process itself can be very difficult. At Alina Lodge, we understand this and are here to help you. We offer a range of treatment programs depending on your specific needs. You may start with us for twenty-eight days or as long as two years.
The causes for and recovery from addiction are different for everyone so we offer different treatment options to suit you including:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Trauma therapy
- Grief therapy
- Family therapy
- Dual-diagnosis treatment for those suffering from co-occurring addiction and mental health problems
- Aftercare planning
- Alumni care
If you are ready to reach out for support or would like further information please call us on 908 224 9099 or visit our website.