Xanax is a powerful Benzodiazepine used to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and insomnia. Though Xanax is the most prescribed psychiatric medication in the United States, it is often abused and can become highly addictive. Xanax is usually prescribed short-term and should only be used under a doctor’s watch as dependency and addiction can cause life-threatening effects.
Understanding Xanax (Alprazolam)
Xanax is the brand name for the Benzodiazepine, Alprazolam. As a Benzo, this drug works by acting on the central nervous system and enhancing the amount of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain, producing sedative and calming effects. As a central nervous system depressant, Xanax works by slowing down heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature, reducing feelings of stress, anxiety or panic.
The effects of Xanax typically are felt within the first 2 hours after taking the drug, and can stay in the system for up to 15 hours. The calming and relaxing effects Xanax produces means abuse of this drug is highly common and very dangerous.
Xanax Effects and Abuse
Xanax is most commonly prescribed as a short-term treatment for anxiety and sleep disorders, yet many people abuse this drug, becoming dependent on it. Any type of Xanax use, not as prescribed by a doctor is considered drug abuse. For instance, taking Xanax without a prescription, injecting or snorting the drug, taking more of the substance to enhance the effects, or mixing it with other drugs are all examples of common ways people abuse this medication.
Taking Xanax for a long period of time, or taking large amounts of the drug increases the chances of developing a tolerance and dependency. Xanax tolerance is when the user requires more of the drug to reach the same effects, whereas dependency is when the user needs the drug in order to feel normal. Uncomfortable and dangerous withdrawal symptoms may occur once the user stops taking the drug. Xanax withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe and includes:
- Blurred vision
- Nausea or vomiting
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle pain
- Loss of appetite
- Numbness in fingers
Xanax withdrawal effects may also include increased anxiety, paranoia, panic attacks, and seizures. Xanax use should not be stopped “cold-turkey” without the support of medical professionals to prevent severe health complications.
Mixing Xanax with other drugs, specifically other central nervous system depressants, is highly dangerous and can lead to overdose and death. Xanax overdose requires medical attention immediately to ensure the safety and survival of the user.
Signs of a Xanax overdose includes:
- Slowed heart rate
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of coordination
A tolerance to Xanax can quickly develop, causing the user to seek out a higher dosage in order to feel the same effects. They are likely to experience withdrawal effects once they significantly lower the dosage or abruptly stop taking the drug. Both tolerance and withdrawal symptoms are signs someone may be addicted to Xanax.
Xanax addiction is a severe mental health disorder and may cause the user to act in ways they normally would not. Signs of a Xanax addiction include:
- Xanax is the main priority in the user’s life
- Engaging in risky and illegal behavior to obtain more Xanax
- Continued use of Xanax despite negative consequences
- Inability to stop the use of Xanax
- Issues with personal life responsibilities (financial and relationship problems, etc.)
Xanax addiction can lead to destructive behavior and can become a life-threatening disorder quickly. Those addicted to this drug will require medical and detox support to prevent possible relapse and health issues.