According to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine medication that acts as a central nervous system depressant. Benzodiazepines produce sedation, induce sleep, relieve anxiety and muscle spasms, and prevent seizures. Benzodiazepines are also called tranquilizers. So, is Xanax an opioid?
While Xanax is an addictive prescription medication, that does not mean that Xanax is an opioid. In fact, Xanax is a Benzodiazepine, which is another classification or type of drug. There are many different names that Xanax may also be referred to, such as Xannies, Zanny Bars, Xanbars, Bricks or Benzos
Just because Xanax isn’t an opioid doesn’t mean that it is not dangerous. Opioids and benzodiazepines are two of the most abused prescription drugs in the world, and incidentally, they are often prescribed together. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2015, 23 percent of people who died of an opioid overdose also tested positive for benzodiazepines.
Xanax is prescribed to help with anxiety-related disorders such as General Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and others. Since these anxiety-related disorders send the brain and body into overdrive, causing debilitating anxiety and panic attacks, benzodiazepines like Xanax are a helpful tool to help calm the mind and body and relieve these life-altering symptoms.
However, since benzodiazepines are highly addictive, misuse of Xanax can easily occur. This is because due to the tranquilizing effects of Xanax, a euphoric high can be produced that triggers the brain’s reward system. When this system is triggered, the mind is tricked into thinking that whatever is happening is good and should be repeated. This is how misuse begins with tolerance building, dependency and, ultimately, addiction.
Opioids can produce some of the same side effects as benzodiazepines, such as slowed movements, slurred speech and slowed brain function. However, instead of anxiety-related disorders, opioids are prescribed for pain. They work by binding to the signals sent from the pain point to the brain, essentially tricking the brain into not knowing it is in pain. It depresses the nervous system similarly to benzodiazepines, but they are not the same type of drug.
According to MedicineNet, some of the effects that Xanax produces that opioids do not include lightheadedness, confusion, memory problems, balance problems, weight gain, changes in appetite, decreased sex drive and fatigue. Alternatively, some of the effects that opioids produce that benzodiazepines do not include dizziness, itching, addiction, abdominal pain and headache.
Withdrawal from Xanax
Anyone who is prescribed Xanax needs to be slowly tapered off of it, and this includes people who are taking it as prescribed and under medical supervision. Stopping Xanax cold-turkey can produce some debilitating withdrawal symptoms, such as:
- Muscle spasms
Depending on the length and severity of the Xanax addiction, withdrawal symptoms can occur anywhere from 1-2 weeks after the last dose. In more severe cases, acute withdrawal symptoms can remain for months or years. This is why it is very important to detox from Xanax safely with medical detox.
It is extremely important to be slowly weaned off of both opioids and benzodiazepines. Once the brain is wired to think that the drug is required for survival during addiction, it can take a period of time for the body to readjust back to its normal state. During this adjustment period, the aforementioned withdrawal symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable and debilitating, and cravings are at an all-time high. It is during this time that relapse is most likely, so it is key to make sure that this period of time is treated with medical detox.
Medical detox will help ensure the client’s comfort during this adjustment period by slowly weaning them off, allowing the body to adjust to new levels slowly until it is eventually tapered off completely. This method is less of a shock to the system, and withdrawal symptoms will be kept to a minimum. In addition, the client will be able to enter behavioral therapy more quickly and begin the work needed to live a sober life.
About Pinelands Recovery Center
When asking “is Xanax an opioid?” it is important to remember that just because it is not an opioid, doesn’t mean that it is not an extremely dangerous and addictive drug. It is especially difficult to wrap your head around not taking Xanax, especially if you have medical needs for it, such as suffering from an anxiety disorder. However, there are ways to treat your anxiety disorder without the help of Xanax. Living a life free of Xanax, and of your anxiety disorder, can be possible. At Pinelands, we treat both the addiction and co-occurring disorders, such as anxiety or depression.
Pinelands Recovery Center of Medford is widely known as one of New Jersey’s finest, most respected addiction treatment facilities. With comfortable 60-bed accommodations and 24-hour professional staff, we can offer clients a serene, relaxing environment amid the lush piney woods. This stress-free setting with its sense of warmth and welcoming enables you to feel comfortable and confident about your clean and sober life ahead.
We will establish clear goals, both general in nature and specific to your needs. We continue to monitor those goals, to make sure that our clients are progressing and buying into their recovery plan. We thrive on assisting clients in feeling connected to the recovery community, share and demonstrate effective coping techniques, help clients to modify attitudes and patterns of behavior and everything else you will need to be happy and productive living a sober, healthy life.
We ensure that clients complete their planned concrete tasks, encourage hope, optimism and healthy living. Our recovery program is not a revolving door treatment program; it is a recovery model designed to help clients go on to lead productive, happy lives. For more information, contact Pinelands today.