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Anti-Anxiety Medications Have Addictive Nature

Posted on July 19, 2010 in Prescription Drug Addiction
Anti-Anxiety Medications Have Addictive Nature

Anxiety is a familiar feeling for thousands of people on a daily basis, ranging in severity from mildly uncomfortable to life-debilitating. Though not a commonly known term to the lay public, anti-anxiety medications and drugs to help treat panic disorder are also called anxiolytic drugs. These medications bring about a sense of calm, but should not be prescribed without close supervision, due to their addictive properties.

Within the category of anxiolytic drugs several classes exist; commonly known classes are barbiturates and benzodiazepines. Both are considered very addictive and users tend to need higher doses over time to achieve desired effects. Benzodiazepines are the most often prescribed forms of anxiolytics, such as Valium and Xanax. In fact, about 15 percent of the U.S. population receives a benzodiazepine prescription each year.

Symptoms of anxiety disorders can vary, but experts accept these common traits on the person’s emotions: strong feelings of dread and worry, trouble paying attention, restlessness, persistent thoughts about negative outcomes and the sensation of the mind having gone blank. Physically, people who suffer from anxiety may experience heart palpitations, perspiration, nausea or upset stomach, shortness of breath, chest discomfort and trouble sleeping. Several visits to medical doctors or misdiagnoses can occur before anxiety disorders are considered.

As their addictive nature has become more apparent, many patients and physicians are using newer medications to treat anxiety and sleeplessness, such as Zoloft or Paxil. Even herbal therapies can be anxiolytic in nature, including chamomile and St. John’s Wort, and it is recommended that patients taking them should seek a physician’s approval.

Side effects of taking anxiolytics include extreme tiredness, problems with awareness and impaired thoughts or judgments. Some physicians recommend non-benzodiazepine forms of anxiolytics, like buspirone (Buspar), because they aren’t typically associated with these side effects. Anxiolytics should not be taken with alcohol, and are associated with withdrawal symptoms similar to those for alcohol withdrawal – such as confusion or a state of disorientation.

As teenage abuse of prescription medications continues to rise, including anxiolytics, parents and health officials may want to consider monitoring the use of the antihistamine chlorpheniramine. Commonly known by names such as Aller-Chlor or Chlor-Trimeton, the drug seems to have an anxiolytic effect. A 2009 study conducted by researchers in Tokyo suggests the drug can reduce panic attacks, lower the impact of phobias and help with mood elevation. The drug is available in some over-the-counter forms, making it easily accessible to teens.

Detoxification, usually on an in-patient basis, may be necessary for patients who become addicted to anxiolytics, especially if they have preexisting mental illness. Longterm recovery strategies are recommended, such as group therapy sessions. In addition to anxiolytic drugs, exercise, meditation, biofeedback and even hypnosis have also been shown to help patients with anxiety disorders.

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