Xanax may be a prescribed medication used to relieve anxiety, but it is also one of the prescription drugs that many people abuse. But what is Xanax and how do people become addicted to it? And what are the side effects of Xanax abuse? This article will shed a light on why Xanax has become so popular as a street drug, and why it is so dangerous.

What is Xanax?

Xanax belongs to the benzodiazepine family, and can also be referred to by its generic name, Alprazolam. It is a powerful drug used to treat panic and anxiety disorders, and works by decreasing the abnormal excitement levels in the brain that lead to the feelings of anxiety. It is fast-acting, and the majority of the benefits usually occur within an hour after taking. Many of Xanax abusers use this drug because of its sedative effects, which can last up to six hours. 

Common Side Effects 

The side effects of Xanax abuse can be both mental and physical. Here are the most common effects:

  • Drowsiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Euphoria
  • Light-headedness
  • Problems of memory and recall
  • Sleeping for long periods of time
  • Decreased coordination
  • Headache
  • Increased salivation
  • Nausea
  • Feelings of lethargy or sluggishness
  • Dry mouth
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Urinary retention
  • Low blood pressure
  • Problems in menstrual cycle

If Xanax is abused and taken in larger doses, it can result in dangerous side effects which include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Loss of coordination 
  • Paranoia
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased risk of dementia
  • Aggression and impulsivity
  • Depression

Xanax Abuse

Xanax tolerance increases quickly and allows the patient to ingest more medicines to achieve the desired results. Those who are addicted to Xanax can take up to 20 or 30 pills per day. A warning that a physical dependence has formed is the start of withdrawal symptoms. Tolerance growth and withdrawal are symptoms of dependence.

When a person develops a dependency on Xanax to function, daily activities including classes, jobs, or the family, are neglected as attention is diverted to seeking out more of the drug. There are other behavioral symptoms of addiction such as:

  • Continued use of Xanax despite leading to personal problems
  • Inability to stop abusing Xanax despite the desire to do so
  • Loss of interest in your daily activities 
  • The eagerness to acquire the pill
  • The inability to control oneself in taking a higher dosage of Xanax
  • Legal problems stemming from risky behavior or drug possession

Xanax slows the normal function of the brain, which could lead to slurred speech, shallow breathing, exhaustion, disorientation, and lack of coordination. Some may become violent at some point, and irritable experiences paranoia and impaired memory, and having the urge of taking their own life. Prescribed tranquilizers may also slow breathing or both heart and breathe and can potentially lead to death by using other substances — alcohol, in particular.

Continuous use can lead to physical dependence and symptoms of withdrawal can arise when the use is diminished or stopped abruptly. Since all remedial calms function by slowing down the activity of the brain, when a person stops taking these, a rebounding effect can occur, which can lead to convulsions and other harmful effects.

Tolerance to the effects of the drug can also occur, which means that larger doses are necessary to achieve similar effects. This may result in users getting higher doses and risk an overdose.

Recognizing the Drug Abuse

People who are addicted to Xanax cannot function without this drug in their life. If they are in denial, they may believe that the Xanax is helping them by decreasing their stress levels. While this may be true to some extent, this drug isn’t meant to be a long-term solution for people who were never prescribed the medication to begin with. If your dosage and use isn’t being monitored by a healthcare professional, you are putting yourself at a major risk for experiencing harmful and dangerous side effects. Tolerance can also build up quickly and when it does, drug addicts will take even larger doses more frequently. 

An individual who is addicted to Xanax will likely exhibit psychological, physical and even behavioral symptoms. A person who has a dependency on Xanax when they exhibit these signs and symptoms:

  • Always drowsy or has feelings of drowsiness
  • Require more Xanax in order to feel the effects
  • Slurred speech
  • Has memory problems
  • Impaired coordination
  • Mood swings and has manic type moods
  • Cannot concentrate properly
  • Has loss interest in daily activities
  • Lacks the motivation to do anything
  • Has strong cravings 
  • Has strained relationships with friends and loved ones
  • Avoids tasks that require them to concentrate
  • Has financial problems due to excessive spending on Xanax

Serious Side Effects

If a drug addict shows serious signs of xanax abuse, he or she must seek medical attention right away. These side effects can be very serious, and may even result in death.

  • Seizures
  • Slow or labored breathing
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dependency on Xanax
  • Swelling in extremities
  • Fainting
  • Liver damage

Xanax mixed with other drugs and alcohol can be dangerous. It increases the risk of being potentially fatal. If not careful, the addict can have breathing issues, sedation, or worse, fall into a coma. Because of this, it is important that this drug is not be mixed with other illegal drugs, alcohol or any kind of medication to avoid a potentially fatal overdose. 

Withdrawal Symptoms of Xanax

A person who has suddenly stopped using Xanax or has decreased the dose significantly will usually experience withdrawal symptoms, which in some cases can be life-threatening. Even if you have accepted that you have an addiction and want to get clean, you should never just quit cold turkey. Individuals are urged to consult a medical provider first before ceasing the use of this drug. Sudden withdrawal from this drug can result in:

  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Muscle cramps
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Blurred vision
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Digestive problems
  • Seizures 
  • Tremors 

If you or anyone you know experienced any of these symptoms seek medical help immediately.

Treatment for Addiction

Before starting a drug abuse treatment process, it is highly recommended to consult a toxicity treatment or medical professional.

For the above-mentioned withdrawal hazards, a period of supervised detox services to stop Xanax will be needed to ensure that the patient passes this difficult process safely. The status shall be monitored during this period to prevent negative consequences. Due to the seriousness and duration of the symptoms of Xanax withdrawal, this drug should be detoxified by trained medical professionals at a reputable treatment center. 

After the detoxification process, monitoring is essential to stay sobriety, to adapt to life without the drug and to improve overall well-being. Addiction is a chronic problem and it is often important that progress made during the initial treatment process is consistently maintained in the long-term.

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.