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Worried Sick about Friend on Xanax

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answered 03:26 PM EST, Fri December 02, 2011
I have a close friend who is addicted to Xanax and I am very worried for her. My question is should I stress to her the need for her to get help with getting off of this drug.

She said she has been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder but her last doctor only prescribed 5mg and had her on anti-depressants Effexor(sp) approx. 5 yrs ago...she said that the anti-depressants only made her gain weight so she stopped taking them but continued taking the Xanax.

Her Dr said he wanted to ween her off the Xanax ...when the Xanax seemed to help her feel "normal" . When the Dr told her that he was wanting to ween her off the Xanax; she then started to buy them off the street out of fear of not having them.

I do not want to be shut off because of my worries and telling her she needs help for this. Just last week the person she gets the Xanax from did not have any for her and she went almost 3 days w/o and it scared the heck out of me. I know you can have serious complications as a result thus is the reason I am searching for answers.

Thank You ,
Worried Sick

Stephanie Adams Says...

Dear Worried Sick,

The harsh reality is that you cannot control your friend's addiction - and it does seem to be an addiction - to Xanax or any other drug. You obviously care about her a lot, and if that was enough I know she would already be doing better. But your care for her sadly isn't enough. It has to come from within herself. It sounds like you see clearly the problems from her addiction to Xanax, but she does not.

That said, I think it's always worth expressing to your friend your concern for her well-being. She just may listen to you if she's never thought of this as a real problem before. The way to do it is to first sympathize with how she's feeling - she won't listen to you or anyone if she thinks you or they don't "get" her situation. The second thing is to express your love for her, and what you're worried about happening to her if she continues down that path. Point out the full extent of the problem as you see it, and offer possible solutions (without taking away the power of choice from her). Offer to support her in getting help - by going back to her doctor and asking for assistance, going to therapy, or seeking another kind of help. 

You have the BEST chance of success in this by focusing on the fact that you care about her and you are worried about her well-being. As hard as it might be, pressuring her to choose a better path right now may shut her down, so I encourage you to offer solutions without making her feel cornered.

To answer your question straight out, I do think it's worthwhile to tell your friend your fears for her, and to try to help. But remember it's her choice to get better, not yours. All you can do is try to help make it easier on her to change. And take care of yourself, too. This is a rough thing for a friend to see. I've been there, and it's hard. But she's lucky to have someone in her life that cares about her as much as you do.

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