What are the Long-Term Effects of Xanax?

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What are the Long-Term Effects of Xanax

Xanax is a commonly prescribed psychiatric medication. It belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines.

Xanax and other benzodiazepines have the potential for misuse and addiction. People who take Xanax must watch for signs of addiction and seek treatment if they recognize a problem.

This article will explore the long-term effects of Xanax abuse. You will learn:

  • The effects and risks of Xanax
  • The long-term effects of Xanax abuse
  • How to find treatment for Xanax addiction

Xanax addiction is a complex condition that requires holistic treatment and continuing support. Contact the specialists at Archstone Behavioral Health to learn more about Xanax abuse and addiction or to learn about our comprehensive treatment programs.

What is Xanax (alprazolam)?

Xanax (alprazolam) is the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine in the United States. Doctors may prescribe it to help patients manage symptoms of several conditions, including:

Xanax works by increasing the amount of a chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. Medical and mental health experts believe that higher GABA levels can reduce symptoms of anxiety and produce feelings of calm or sedation.

Xanax depresses central nervous system (CNS) activity. People may abuse Xanax because they like the way it makes them feel. Xanax abuse includes:

  • Taking a higher dose than prescribed
  • Taking Xanax more frequently than prescribed
  • Taking Xanax for a longer period than prescribed
  • Using Xanax without a prescription (recreationally)

Xanax abuse can have serious, complex effects on a person’s mental and physical health. It is important to be aware of the dangers of Xanax abuse and seek treatment as soon as you recognize a problem.

The Effects and Risks of Xanax

Doctors prescribe Xanax to help patients reduce symptoms associated with panic, anxiety, and sleep disorders, including:

  • Feelings of fear
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Racing thoughts

Xanax is most effective when people use it for a short period. Doctors often advise patients to take it to treat situational anxiety, such as before flying, or to curb panic attacks.

Once someone ingests Xanax, the drug works quickly. People who take it may experience short-term side effects of Xanax, including:

  • Feeling of calm
  • Slowed breathing and heart rate
  • Sedation

People may experience adverse side effects when taking Xanax, including:

  • Confusion
  • Impaired memory
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Nausea
  • Worsening symptoms of depression
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Poor concentration
  • Loss of coordination

People who abuse Xanax by taking high doses are at higher risk of having adverse side effects. Prolonged periods of Xanax use and abuse can lead to physical dependence and addiction.

Overdose is a significant risk of Xanax abuse. Taking a large dose of Xanax or combining this medication with other substances, including alcohol, can lead to a life-threatening overdose.

Symptoms of a Xanax overdose include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Slow breathing
  • Slow or weak pulse
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Poor muscle control
  • Altered mental status

A Xanax overdose is a life-threatening medical emergency. If you or someone near you is experiencing an overdose, call 911 immediately. Remain with the person until EMS arrives to offer treatment.

What are the Long-Term Effects of Xanax?

People who become addicted to Xanax face an increased risk of several severe, long-term health complications. Here is an overview of the long-term dangers of Xanax abuse.

Cognitive impairment

Research shows that Xanax abuse can harm the brain. The effects of this damage may lead to significant cognitive impairment, including:

  • Difficulty with memory
  • Loss of verbal skills
  • Difficulty learning new words
  • Slower response time to mental and physical stimuli
  • Difficulty with spatial orientation and vision

These and other cognitive effects can impact a person’s functioning.

Mental health

Long-term Xanax abuse may lead to lasting changes in a person’s mental health. People may develop mental health symptoms, including:

  • Paranoia
  • Delusional thoughts
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia

Xanax abuse may worsen existing mental health symptoms or cause new ones to develop.

Physical health complications

Xanax abuse can lead to severe, long-term health complications, including:

  • Uncontrolled movements and muscle spasms
  • Increased risk of seizures
  • Chronic dizziness
  • Disorientation
  • Liver disease

Addiction is one of the most significant problems associated with Xanax abuse. Xanax addiction is a complex problem requiring stabilization and care in a treatment facility.

Xanax Addiction Treatment

If you or someone you love lives with Xanax abuse or addiction, you must seek detox and treatment as quickly as possible to avoid potentially life-threatening complications. Holistic treatment programs can help you safely stop using Xanax and develop the coping skills to prevent relapse.

During treatment, doctors, mental health specialists, and other healthcare professionals will assess your needs and develop a tailored treatment plan. Your Xanax addiction treatment plan may include:

  • Medications to manage withdrawal symptoms
  • Mental health treatment
  • Individual, family, and group therapy
  • Relapse prevention education
  • Holistic therapies, including mindfulness, exercise, nutrition support, and more
  • A safe, secure environment
  • Aftercare planning

If you or a loved one require professional treatment to overcome Xanax addiction, contact the Archstone Behavioral Health specialists to learn about our rehab and support programs.

References:

  1. National Institute of Health (NIH): Alprazolam
  2. Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Xanax alprazolam tablets
  3. MDPI Neurology Journal: Benzodiazepines: Uses, Dangers, and Clinical Considerations
  4. Springer Link: Xanax (Alprazolam)
  5. Sage Journals: Experiences with benzodiazepine use, tapering, and discontinuation: an Internet survey
  6. NIH: A Review of Alprazolam Use, Misuse, and Withdrawal