Xanax is the 5th most prescribed drug in America, so it’s important to fully understand the short-term and long-term Xanax side effects that are expected. These prescription medications are part of a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines treat symptoms of anxiety. They have a calming effect on the central nervous system (CNS). They can also help with panic attacks and insomnia.
Xanax is often prescribed as an extended-release tablet although the effects kick in rather quickly. Xanax is the brand name of the drug. There are other alternatives on the market with different names, but with the same active ingredient.
With that said, Xanax is incredibly effective. It’s meant to be taken for no longer than 4 months. Some patients will experience short-term effects of Xanax when they first start taking the drug. This effects will usually subside with time. Long-term users and addicts will experience long-term effects of the drug. Side effects can be quite serious. They may require medical attention. Here’s a look at the short-term and long-term effects of Xanax use.
What Does Xanax Do to the Brain
Xanax is a relatively fast-acting drug. Once it is ingested, the GI tract will absorb the active compounds into the bloodstream. The compounds are then carried to the brain. The active ingredient is alprazolam. This is a type of benzodiazepine.
So, what does Xanax (alprazolam) do the brain? How does it act on the receptors there?
Much like with all other types of benzodiazepines, Xanax acts on GABA brain receptors. It causes the central nervous system (CNS) to release excess amounts of this neurotransmitter. GABA is a molecule that calms brain and nervous system activity. It causes your nerves to stop firing into overdrive. Its actions create a sense of relaxation and calmness. This is how Xanax reduces anxiety. It’s also why this prescription drug is used to treat anxiety disorders, panic disorders and panic attacks. To make things even simpler, Xanax and alcohol have similar effects. A single dose of Xanax can treat anxiety and panic attacks. It can easily treat a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
The Dangers of Xanax Addiction and Abuse
Although Xanax is effective in treating anxiety and panic attacks, it can be a bit dangerous for someone who already has low levels of Xanax in their body. Those who take Xanax are disrupting the central nervous system’s natural production of GABA molecules. To adjust for the artificial influx of GABA molecules, the brain may decide to make less and less of it.
As a result, patients often feel worse when they’re not on Xanax. They develop a physical dependence on this drug and become tolerant to it. This leads to substance abuse. Patients will need a larger and larger dose of Xanax to achieve the same results. Those who try to quit will experience withdrawal symptoms. Xanax withdrawal symptoms can be intense and overbearing. They can easily get a person to relapse.
Short-Term Effects of Xanax Abuse
Non-adherence to the prescribed schedule or non-compliance with dosage can lead to unwanted short-term effects. Patients are more likely to experience short-term effects of Xanax use when they stop taking Xanax. It may also happen if they have a missed dose or if their dosage changes. Some patients will experience short-term side effects when they first begin to take these prescription drugs.
The short-term side effects of Xanax will vary from patient to patient. Some patients may experience intense side effects, while others may not have any difficulties with it at all. Short-term side effects will generally subside with time. They’re not usually considered a problem. If the side effects worsen or persist, then you should highly consider telling your doctor.
Xanax side effects can also happen if the patient is taking other medications. Some drug interactions can be problematic. Some of the most common short-term effects to look out for include:
- Confusion or disorientation
- Difficulties thinking
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Drowsiness or a sedated feeling
- Dry mouth
- Extreme exhaustion, fatigue and tiredness
- Increased saliva production
- Sexual dysfunction
- Slurred speech
Hallucinations, memory impairment and impaired coordination are a severe side effect of alprazolam. If you’ve just started taking the drug and experience these side effects, seek immediate medical attention. Call your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.
It’s also important to note that Xanax use has been associated with depression. This is another one of the many dangerous potential side effects of taking Xanax. Some patients may also get an allergic reaction from taking Xanax. If that ever happens, call your doctor immediately. Xanax is not a suitable drug for you.
Long-Term Effects of Xanax Use
Xanax is quite potent. If taken in large doses over a long period of time, the patient is likely to develop long-term side effects. These effects are more pronounced and apparent in patients who have taken large doses. They’re also more apparent in patients who have taken the drug for a longer period of time or with a more rapid schedule. Anyone who tries to abruptly start or stop the medication may also experience serious side effects.
If you experience any of the side effects below, call your doctor. You need immediate medical attention. Your doctor may also need to either lower your dose or take you off of the drug completely. They may want to consider prescribing other drugs used to treat panic attacks or anxiety. Xanax may just not be suitable for you. Some common long-term effects of Xanax use include:
- Blurred vision
- Depression or suicidal thoughts
- Difficulties thinking
- Impulsive or aggressive behavior
- Memory impairment
- Muscle twitching and involuntary movement
- Psychotic and manic episodes
- Respiratory depression
- Shortness of breath
- Slurred speech
Overall weakness can also happen. In worst case scenarios, patients may go into a coma. Many patients also claim that they cannot concentrate or retain information while they were taking Xanax. They feel as if they’re sedated all the time. This is also the reason why someone taking Xanax should not drink alcohol. Xanax and alcohol shouldn’t mix. Dangerous drug interactions can appear. If you want to drink alcohol, you’ll need to stop taking this prescription medication for some time.