2.8 million (11 percent) of Women Over the Age of 59 Abuse Prescription Drugs.

by Kristen McCLure
(Charlotte NC)

One of the worst things I see in my practice is clients who are addicted to prescription drugs, specifically Xanax.

Xanax is the trade name of a drug called Alprazolam. Xanax is a drug in the benzodiazepine family along with Valium, Liberal and Restoril and is used to treat anxiety.

If you are going through a particularly stressful time, and have responsibilities that require your attention, Xanex or these other benzos can be helpful in the short term. In fact, you'd be surprised how many people in the mental health profession use Xanax so they can continue to keep working despite difficult personal circumstances.

The problem in using Xanax to treat anxiety is that it isn't really a treatment. The way to to treat anxiety is to dispel its power within your mind, regain awareness of its effect on your body and challenge the meaning of your experiences. We create the state of anxiety in ourselves, and in order to decrease it we need to learn new skills. We also need to learn not to give so much power to the experiences that trigger our anxiety. People who have overwhelming anxiety and stress, however, do get relief with Xanax. This relief is similar to the kind of relief you get when you have a few drinks. It works almost immediately to put you in a different state, but does nothing to solve the problem.

Another problem is the addictive quality of Xanax. The more your take the more you need. This is a serious problem. Some psychiatrists are cautious enough when prescribing Xanax and some are not.

Peter Breggin in his book Toxic Psychiatry reports that the FDA studies on Xanax and Panic Disorder actually demonstrate that those on Xanax show and increase in 350 percent of panic related symptoms during the taper off period.

People with anxiety disorder need to make changes in how they live their lives. There is not easy fix, it takes a commitment to changing and challenging your habits. Xanax on the other hand, although it allows a temporary escape from anxiety, interrupts the learning cycle that needs to take place to break free from from anxiety. This is true for trauma treatment as well.

Breggin, Peter,R., MD. Toxic Psychiatry: Why Therapy, Empathy and Love must Replace the Drugs, Electroshock, and Biochemical Theories of the New Psychiatry.New York: St Martin's Press. 1991

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