Disclaimer: Never try to stop taking Xanax without talking to a doctor first. Stopping Xanax can lead to seizures and other dangerous side effects.
Xanax Has Been Normalized, When it Shouldn't Be
Xanax is something that was normalized for me very early in life. I had a Xanax prescription from my doctor for when I had trouble sleeping starting around age 20. I always saw it as a glorified sleeping pill.
Then my friend started stealing my xanax from my house. She was a good friend, who had been close with my family for years, and it was shocking to me that she would do steal from my house, let alone my prescription drugs. It took a sad confrontation to get her to admit that yes, she was stealing them, and we haven't really spoken since.
My friend chose not to confide in me whether or not she herself was addicted to the pills or if she was selling them for money. All I know is that she gambled away a lifelong friendship for these pills. That's when I knew that Xanax was not a joke. I started doing some research on the drug, what I found had me looking for alternatives to Xanax for anxiety and sleep issues.
Xanax Creates a Physical Dependence and Withdrawal Symptoms Even if You Only Take it Sparingly
I essentially found out that while Xanax does calm you down and reduce anxiety, in doing so it changes your brain chemistry.
Our brain creates natural anxiety reducers called GABA, and when you start taking Xanax, your brain thinks you need less GABA, so it stops making as much.
The issue is, once you decide to go off of Xanax, it takes some time for your brain to start making normal amounts of GABA again. And in this time, you suffer severe withdrawal symptoms.
Hallucinations, extreme depressions, panic attacks, nightmares...a magnification of the horrible feelings that lead a person to want to try Xanax in the first place. Going off of Xanax too suddenly can cause seizures and severe mental suffering.
The more I read about this drug, the more it seemed like it was a bandaid solution for the bullet wound that is anxiety. And it sounded like ripping off the bandaid was so painful that it probably wasn't even worth it in the first place.
So why is Xanax so commonly prescribed if all it does is push off the issue of anxiety and lead to addiction and dangerous withdrawal?
I believe it is because we are living in a society where anxiety is so common and so disturbing for many of us, that we don't know where else to turn. So we begin to take drugs that we hope will help us, only to realize with time that they have caused new problems.
This is by no means to suggest that people who are prescribed Xanax or taking it off prescription should or need to stop, but it is important to research the drugs you are taking and make the personal decision if it's what you want to be putting in your body.
If you decide you no longer want to take Xanax, consult your doctor and come up with a plan of action for finding a safe alternative to xanax.
After researching Xanax, I have decided it's not for me. I want to feel good about what I put in my body, period. It gives me peace of mind knowing that I am developing habits that won't lead to addiction or have side effects later in life.
I think about my friend, and I hope that she has found a way out of her dangerous habit, whether it was selling or taking Xanax. Her experience was a wake up call for me, and I hope it was for her as well.