Xanax Addiction, Signs & SympToms

Xanax is a popular sedative often used to treat depression and anxiety. Xanax abuse can result in cognitive impairment that makes it difficult to concentrate or interfere with memory capabilities.


Introduction to Xanax

Xanax is the brand name of the generic medication Alprazolam. This medication is a powerful tranquilizer that is primarily used to treat anxiety, depression, and panic disorders. It belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines (or ‘benzos’ for short) class which includes other well-known medications including Valium and Klonopin.  Xanax, however, is the most potent of the drugs in this class. It is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States, and a common target for abuse.

How Does It Work?

Xanax creates an intense feeling of calm by works by increasing the levels of GABA neurotransmitters in the body. They then attach to their corresponding neurons in the brain and the central nervous system, effectively blocking them from receiving messages such as pain or anxiety. This prevents receptors from reacting to stimuli as they normally would resulting in pain relief or increased pain tolerance. This medication hits its peak around an hour or two after use, although it can still be in the body long after its effects have faded.

It is short-acting and takes approximately 15 minutes for it to take effect. Once in the body, it can take over 20 hours to metabolize, making the possibility of a toxic-amount of the substance to build up in the body. Toxic buildup is a danger of all sorts of prescription drugs, as many other ordinary medications like antibiotics gastrointestinal aids or can prevent this drug from being filtered out of the body. 

Xanax Side Effects

Long-term use of Xanax is known to cause disruptions in the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system. Even when taken as directed, Xanax can cause long-standing neuron pathway changes resulting in cognitive and behavioral issues. The likelihood of these neurochemical alterations increases significantly with Xanax abusers, who often take higher dosages and do so much more frequently than is safe. 

Short-Term Side Effects

  • Lightheadedness 
  • Slowed breathing
  • Lower heart rate and blood pressure
  • Slower reflexes
  • Nausea
  • Confusion

Long-Term Side Effects

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Memory loss
  • Respiratory infection
  • Tachycardia
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Liver and kidney damage

Recognizing the Signs of a Xanax Addiction

Xanax has a high likelihood of building up within the body and can easily lead to physical dependency. While the side effects of a Xanax addiction are relatively mild (although the cognitive impairment is worrisome), it is the symptoms of a Xanax withdrawal that have the greatest potential danger. Symptoms generally occur 1-2 days after the last dose and can last for 2-4 weeks.

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