Drug Use

What is Xanax?

Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam. Another Xanax drug is Xanax XR (xanax extended relief). Xanax, a controlled substance, is a prescription drug used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Xanax is a type of benzodiazepine or benzos. This type of drug is also called benzos, downers, poles, tranks, yellow Zs, blue Zs, and zannies. Xanax is a depressant drug that slows down the messages between the brain and body. Xanax xr is an extended-release tablet, making it useful to treat people with intermittent panic attacks throughout the day.

Xanax, along with certain SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) like fluoxetine can be effective anti-anxiety medications when used properly and under the care of a physician. They're used to treat both panic attacks and anxiety disorders, and older adults are especially sensitive to Xanax and other benzodiazepines. Sometimes benzodiazepines are used in conjunction with fluoxetine or other antidepressants to manage depression, sleep disorders, anxiety, panic attacks, and complex mood disorders. This should only be done under a healthcare provider’s care, however, and unfortunately, both prescription drugs and illicit drugs can result in addiction, especially when they are opioids or benzodiazepines.

The use of Xanax and other benzodiazepines is on the rise. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported that the number of prescriptions of benzos, a dangerous and highly addictive drug, increased 67% from 1996 to 2013. Another trend with Xanax and other benzos is using them in combination with other drugs including opioids. This dangerous practice is resulting in an increase in overdoses.

There are different types of benzodiazepines. The structure of some is more helpful in reducing anxiety, while others are more effective in inducing sleep. In addition, some benzos are fast acting and others are longer acting. Xanax is a type of benzo used to help with anxiety and not as much for sleep. This type of drug has a quicker onset but a shorter length of effectiveness. Other benzodiazepines include: klonopin, ativan, valium, libium, restoral, diazepam, and clonazepam. All of these drugs, along with Xanax, and Xanax XR are highly addictive, even when administered in low doses.

How Does Xanax Affect The Body?

Xanax comes in a pill, capsule or liquid and is usually swallowed or snorted. Sometimes people also inject benzodiazepines. Depending upon the method of consumption the effects can be felt within minutes (when snorted) to within about 30 to 45 minutes when swallowed.

Xanax works on neurotransmitters in the brain and enhances their activity. This addictive drug works on the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors which promote calmness and relaxation. In addition, they decrease levels of excitement in the brain which has been found to be helpful in treating both panic and anxiety disorders.

While those who suffer from anxiety and panic disorders may think that taking Xanax or another type of benzo is the answer, it’s vital to understand that Xanax is an addictive and dangerous drug. The body can be impacted in detrimental ways from Xanax, particularly Xanax abuse, that is permanent.

Side Effects of Xanax

There are numerous side effects of taking Xanax. The exact side effects an individual experiences is dependent on several factors including their size, the amount taken, the type consumed, and if the individual has consumed other substances including alcohol.

Short-term side effects can include:

  • Sleepiness or drowsiness
  • Slowed or slurred speech
  • Issues with coordination of motor control
  • Dizziness
  • Light-headedness
  • Concentration issues
  • Memory issues
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth

Long-term side effects can include:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Weight loss
  • Irritability
  • Aggression
  • Problems with clear thinking
  • Lethargy
  • Sleep issues
  • Headaches
  • Rashes
  • Exasperation of liver disease with preexisting condition
  • Addiction

As Xanax slows the central nervous system there are some potentially serious side effects that could be life-threatening to watch for when someone is taking any benzodiazepine. Some potential side effects are:

  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Over-sedation/drowsiness
  • Over sleeping
  • Light-headedness
  • Unconsciousness
  • Jitteriness
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Memory impairment
  • Aggression

If you see any of these or other concerning signs when someone is taking Xanax seek immediate medical attention.

Signs and Symptoms of Xanax Addiction

Addiction to Xanax can occur within just a few weeks of when it’s first taken. Many people mistakenly think that because it is prescribed by a doctor, that it’s safe. It’s important to understand that addiction to Xanax can be serious and deadly. If you or someone you love is using Xanax, there are certain signs of addiction to know.

Physical Symptoms

  • Withdrawal symptoms when drug is not taken

  • Lack of good personal hygiene

  • Cravings

  • Nausea

  • Constipation

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Exhibiting compulsive drug-seeking behaviors

  • Running out of medication early

  • ‘Borrowing’ or stealing Xanax from others

  • Legal and financial troubles

It’s important to note that many of the signs of addiction for other substances are the same for Xanax addiction. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Fifth Edition (DSM-V) lists 11 criteria for addiction. These are all signs and symptoms of Xanax addiction as well.

Signs and Symptoms of Xanax Withdrawal

When an individual who has been using Xanax for any period of time stops there can be dangerous and even deadly side effects. Xanax should never be stopped cold turkey as seizures and other life-threatening issues are possible. In addition, these conditions can also occur when the drug is tapered off so it’s vital to seek professional treatment for Xanax addiction.

Withdrawal from Xanax and other benzos can be very difficult. Some of the symptoms include:

Physical Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Headaches

  • Twitches

  • Aches and pains in muscles

  • Dizziness

  • Tremors

  • Stomach issues

  • Poor coordination

  • Insomnia

  • Seizures

Behavioral Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Irritability

  • Hallucinations and delusions

  • Anxiety

  • Altered perception

  • Distorted senses

  • Strange dreams

  • Inability to concentrate

If you or someone you love is addicted to Xanax seek professional help to safely detox and heal from addiction.

Treatment for Xanax Addiction

As mentioned, it’s vital for anyone who wants to stop using Xanax to seek professional help. Once an individual becomes addicted to Xanax, there is a physical and psychological addiction and both must be treated.

Safely detoxing the body from Xanax is the first step in substance abuse treatment for Xanax. Once the person has been stabilized, evidence-based treatments helpful with other types of substance use disorders (SUD) have also been found helpful to treat the psychological aspects of a Xanax addiction.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical-behavioral therapy, and other types of programs including 12-Step groups like Narcotics Anonymous have been successful in helping people with a dependence on Xanax recover.

If you or someone you love is taking Xanax and can’t stop without experiencing withdrawal, reach out for help. Caron helps people just like you find the strength, support, and tools to recover from addiction to Xanax and other substances every day. We want to help you too. At Caron, we believe recovery isn’t just possible—it’s probable. We’re only a call away and ready to help. Contact us today online or call 1-800-854-6023.

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