What Are Xanax Bars?

I spent most of my life struggling with addictions to various substances until finally getting sober in 2009. I abused opiates and before that, alcohol and cocaine, and while I’d have periods abstaining from those drugs—I always took Xanax to manage my anxiety. Xanax was my one constant. I never felt I was abusing it, and I never considered it a problem; where all other drugs made me crave more of that drug, I never went beyond the prescribed amount with Xanax and I often took less than prescribed. Also, I was taking Xanax for a legitimate reason: to manage my anxiety—something I’d struggled with since childhood. What I didn’t realize was that I had become what’s called “therapeutic dose dependent” and it would ultimately become the hardest and last drug I gave up. Before I go any further into my addiction let’s talk about what the drug is.


Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam which belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. They are used to treat generalized anxiety disorders, muscle spasms, panic disorders, and anxiety due to depression. They work really well, and that’s part of the problem. It’s very easy to become dependent on these pills. Xanax bars refer to the 2 milligram pills which are two to four times the average dose used to treat anxiety. They are long rectangular pills that are scored so they can be broken into halves or quarters, thus making them more cost effective than pills prescribed at a specific dose. As the street name implies, “Xanax Bars” look like bars and are sometimes called zanibars or planks on the street. But Xanax doesn’t only come in bar-shaped 2 milligram tablets, it also comes in 1 milligram, 0.5 milligram, or 0.25 milligram pills. There is also a time-released 3 milligram triangular pill and a liquid form as well. Xanax and the generic alprazolam also come as football shaped pills and round pills.


The following descriptions are for the brand name Xanax only:

  • White rectangular: 2 mg.
  • Blue elliptical/football shaped: 1.0 mg.
  • Orange elliptical/football shaped: 0.5 mg.
  • White elliptical/football shaped: 0,25 mg.

The generic versions come in round, oval, and rectangular pills as well and vary in color. The generic 2 mg “bars” come in white, yellow, blue, and green.

My Xanax Addiction

            Xanax is prescribed twice as much as any other benzodiazepine, such as Valium or Klonapin. All benzo’s has a profound effect on your brain chemistry—which is why it should only be used under medical supervision. When I was first prescribed benzodiazepines I was very young. I didn’t know why they worked and, honestly, I didn’t care. I just knew that these pills calmed my anxiety. But later on I found it helpful to understand a bit about how benzodiazepines work on the brain.

            Benzodiazepines work by influencing and strengthening an important brain chemical called GABA (gamma-amino-butyric-acid). GABA is a neurotransmitter—it sends messages from one brain cell to another—but the message it sends works like the brakes in your car. It tells the neurons in your brain to slow down and remain calm. Because of this calming effect, the neurotransmitters that are more excitable: epinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine are quieted and there is an overall sense of relaxation and euphoria. Benzodiazepines enhance GABA’s natural properties. But the excitatory neurons it calms are necessary to normal functions such as alertness, memory, heart rate and many other necessary functions.

            Because I’d taken Xanax for so many years, I became completely dependent on it—even at my small prescribed dose for anxiety and sleep. I couldn’t leave home without what I called a “911 Xanax” in my pocket.   I was experiencing a rebound effect: without a dose in my system, I felt even greater anxiety and panic than I normally would have. The thought of running out of Xanax would send me into a tailspin and I didn’t see myself as ever being able to live without this drug. I also functioned at a high level while taking it. I was a successful television executive and my career rose and rose though all the while taking Xanax. I never saw it as a problem, until my world blew up.                   

            I eventually became addicted to opiates along with the Xanax and I was sinking under the weight of the cravings and withdrawal that accompany opiates. I’d considered my Xanax use a footnote to my addiction and had no intention of ever stopping Xanax, until my doctor told me that he’d treated thousands of patients and none could stay off opiates if they didn’t also get off the benzodiazepines. I was determined to at least try to get off the benzos (along with everything else). I admitted myself to a drug treatment facility and braced myself for the benzo withdrawal.

            Coming off benzodiazepines should never be done without medical supervision as the withdrawal can lead you to have a seizure. You must be given anti-seizure meds and monitored. There are different ways to come of benzos as well. I preferred the quick, let’s be down with this, path. I stopped taking them at once, but was given other medications to calm me. While I like the fast approach—I’d rather slice the knot in half than unravel it slowly—some people may need a longer taper. There’s well-known system for getting off benzodiazapines called The Ashton Manual created by renowned British scientist, Heather Ashton. This method subscribes to a long, slow taper. You must find what’s best for you.

            The withdrawal wasn’t easy. I had a host of symptoms from jitters to muscle pain to blurred vision. I had to retrain my brain to react to stress and anxiety naturally without a sedative, and I made a few really bad decisions in the early days of Xanax withdrawal. What’s important to know: the withdrawal probably won’t be nearly as bad as you think and you will get through it. The worst symptoms I had during withdrawal were actually those brought on by my fear of withdrawal. If you want to get off benzos the most important thing you’ll need is determination and support and there are treatment programs that can help you.   I haven’t taken a benzo in ten years and my mind, body, and soul, is profoundly better.

            If you’re struggling with this addiction Laguna View Detox treatment center can give you the crucial support you need while medically overseeing the process so that you are kept as safe and comfortable as possible. Getting off benzodiazepines was the best decision I made. Help is out there.

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Addiction In The Families and Love Ones

It can be extremely difficult to admit that addiction has come to rule your life or the life of someone you care about. Even if you aren’t the one who is directly suffering from addiction, the problem itself will still affect you. It can even start to ruin your life, no matter how you’re related to the individual.

Addiction makes people selfish; it changes the way they would normally react to others. It can make them forget about their responsibilities to themselves and to you, and it can cause rifts to form between people who care about each other deeply. Sometimes, it can tear families apart.

Being able to recognize that an addiction is affecting your relationships with your loved ones is the first step toward making a change, but it is also just one effort in a long line of difficult actions. Whether addiction has affected your child, your parent, your spouse, your friend, or even you, you will have different ways of looking at the situation as well as different requirements and opportunities for creating real change.

We want to help every person who needs professional treatment for drug or alcohol addiction to find the care they require and to be able to begin their road to recovery as safely and effectively as they can. But what should you do to help someone you love based on your relationship to the addicted individual? And if you are the one who is seeking assistance with a long-term addiction, how can professional treatment in a rehab center truly help you?

What to Do When You Are Addicted

What to do if you are an addict

If you are reading this section, we can assume that you are in need of help when it comes to your own addictive behavior. It’s important to understand, then, why addiction occurs. First off, addiction is not an issue of weak will or an inability to take drugs or drink alcohol without giving into their effects.

Addiction is a mental illness as well as a biochemical reaction that occurs in the brain of many people who abuse drugs and alcohol. Some people become addicted when they do this while others may not, but it is not a question of strong versus weak.

Instead, there are many factors that increase one’s likelihood of becoming addicted to one or more substances. Having addiction in your family tree is one such factor. Environment, development, and other factors also play a part. So, remember, experiencing an addiction has nothing to do with your lack of will or strength. And if you have realized that you need help, that is a healthy reaction to your struggle with addiction.

Are You Addicted?

Ask yourself the questions below in order to determine if your substance abuse has already morphed into a full-blown addiction.

  • Do you find yourself using or drinking more than you intended?
  • Do you require more and more of your drug of choice to experience the same effects?
  • Do you ever experience withdrawal effects when you are unable to use?
  • Have you started to isolate yourself from people who used to matter to you?
  • Are the activities that were once important to you no longer holding your interest?
  • Have you experienced any severe side effects from your drug or alcohol abuse, be they physical, psychological, legal, professional, etc.?
  • Do you feel that you won’t be able to stop using on your own?

The final question is the most telling about the experience of addiction because the nature of addiction involves an inability of control. Of course, it’s important to discuss this issue with a doctor for a true diagnosis, but if you answered yes to more than one of these questions, you are very likely already addicted.

What Should I Do?

If you think you are struggling with an addiction to drugs, alcohol, or both, follow the steps below to get help.

  • First, reach out to someone. It is much easier to go through recovery with the help of those who love you, and you will be especially in need of support at this time.
  • If you feel comfortable, it is often helpful to seek a professional opinion from your doctor. That way, you can be certain that you are dealing with a full-blown addiction.
  • Seeking professional rehab treatment is the safest, most effective way to overcome addiction. At Laguna View Detox, we offer detox, inpatient, outpatient, and sober living for individuals just like you who want to get clean and start their lives over. Call 1-866-819-7187 or visit us at lagunaviewdetox.com today.
  • Remember, when you tell people about your addiction and your desire to get help, you are doing the best thing for your own recovery. Although it is difficult to admit that you are in need of help, it is better to ask this of the people who care about you than to assume they won’t understand. In fact, they will likely want to see you make a change for the better, which means they will do all they can to support you.

What to Do When Your Child Is Addicted

Whether young or old, we all want what’s best for our children, and seeing your child struggle with addiction can be heartbreaking. Many parents feel they are at the end of their rope before they start seeking help for their children, but the truth is that change can occur and things can get better, especially if you and your child take steps toward recovery with professional addiction treatment.

What Should I Do?

  • Have a conversation with your child. Wait until they are sober, as it won’t be effective if they are not. Talk to them about your concerns, but speak with love and support, rather than with blame.
  • If a simple conversation is not effective, it might be time to try an intervention, which is a more formal way of telling someone you want them to get professional help for addiction. It can be beneficial to gather some of your child’s closest friends, relatives, etc. so that you will have other people to back up your claims. Make sure everyone writes down what they want to say ahead of time. It can also help to hire a professional interventionist.
  • The only way an intervention works, though, is if you set boundaries. Think about what you will say. Something like, “If you do not agree to get help today, I won’t be able to give you money anymore,” is a good step. Remember, though, this cannot be a hollow threat. It needs to be a solid consequence that you will be able to enforce if your child does not agree to seek help.
  • Once your child is in treatment, it is often extremely effective for their overall recovery if you stay involved. Family therapy is an important part of rehab, and you and your child will be able to work through some of your problems while in a safe space together.

Always remember that your child’s addiction is not your fault any more than it is theirs. Instead, it is important to seek effective treatment in a safe environment where they can learn to cope with and eventually manage the effects of their addiction. It can also be helpful to your own recovery and ability to reconcile with your child if you seek therapy or another kind of treatment for yourself.

The process of getting a family member into addiction treatment—especially an older one and most especially a parent—can be extremely difficult. On one hand, adult children are often afraid to confront their addicted parents, opting instead to try and smooth things over. But often, this kind of solution only works for so long.

It can be helpful to follow the same type of trajectory for helping a parent recover from addiction as for helping an adult child. Having a conversation, setting boundaries, and requiring that the parent seek professional addiction treatment are all helpful and important. However, since your relationship is one of a parent and child, it will make setting boundaries hard, even after the effects of addiction may have switched your roles. Seeking help from a professional interventionalist or a therapist can allow you to learn the skills you will need to do these things in an effective way.

Addiction can strike any time in a person’s life, although it is usually an issue that occurs with younger people. Always remember, just because someone is older doesn’t mean they have to live with addiction. Professional treatment can benefit everyone, allowing them to have a safer, happier life.

What to Do When Your Significant Other Is Addicted

Couples Addicted

Many people struggle with the issue of an addicted boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse. This is especially troubling because addiction often hits those closest to the addicted individual the worst. Realizing someone you are in love with is dealing with a disease this severe can be devastating, especially if your spouse refuses to seek help. 

At Laguna View Detox, you can overcome drug and alcohol addiction by staying together with your partner. We have a friendly team of staff that help couples to give up on their addiction. We help them get rid of addiction by focusing on the root cause of their addiction and helping them fight it. Also, we support couples to mutually help their partners to overcome the drug addiction.

What to Do When Your Sibling or Friend Is Addicted

Addiction with Love Ones

Similar tactics can be utilized here to get your spouse into treatment. Boundaries such as refusing to allow your spouse to see your children or to live in your shared home if they do not seek help are sometimes necessary in order to clarify the severity of the situation. In some cases, talking with your spouse and telling them you want them to get help can work, but if that has not been successful, it is necessary to set these types of boundaries.

Spouses of addicted individuals often need therapy of their own to work through their feelings of anger and betrayal. In addition, couples therapy can be a helpful tool during and after your spouse’s rehab to mend the strained areas of your relationship.

This can be a tricky situation. If someone you care about deeply but are not in a position of authority or a place of intimacy with is dealing with addiction, it can be hard to set boundaries.

Still, think about what your sibling, friend, or the significant individual important in your life has done since they started using. Do they borrow money from you? Have you been covering for them with their job? With your parents?

These kinds of actions can sometimes be signs of enabling or trying to protect the addicted individual in a way that actually makes it easier for them to use. Going to a therapist and discussing the effects of enabling can help you put an end to this problem and allow you to find the boundaries you need to help your loved one into treatment.

What to Do When Trying to Get Your Loved One to Seek Help for Addiction

  • Use “I” statements, such as “I feel…” or “I am worried…” This seems less accusatory to your loved one and will be less likely to escalate their feelings of being antagonized.
  • Tell your loved one that you support them and will continue to do so if they seek treatment. However, you will not be able to support their habit, which is where setting boundaries comes in.
  • Remind your loved one that they will not need to go through recovery alone. Tell them you will go to family or couples counseling with them and that you will help them work through their recovery every step of the way.
  • Avoid getting angry and raising your voice. Whatever you do, stay calm. This will keep the discussion from being able to escalate too far.
  • Reach out to professional interventionists and therapists. You shouldn’t have to go through this process alone.
  • Before talking to your loved one, it can be extremely helpful to reach out to a professional rehab center first, so you have someplace already set up for your friend, family member, or spouse to go. Call 1-866-819-7187 to speak with a treatment advisor for Laguna View Detox now and learn more about our facility.