Xanax, which is the brand name of the prescription drug alprazolam, is one of the most widely used anxiety drugs in the United States. It is used to treat mental health issues like anxiety disorders and panic disorders. It is among the most frequently prescribed medicines in the benzodiazepine family. It is also considered highly addictive.
Research about Xanax shows that it has a high abuse liability, which means it can easily be misused or abused. With almost 50 million prescriptions each year, this means millions of people are vulnerable to Xanax abuse. They may take it for an anxiety or stress disorder but could end up with Xanax addiction. Benzos like Xanax account for one-third of suicide attempts.
Long-Term Health Effects of Xanax
Research shows Xanax helps anxiety disorders but is best used short term. There can be detrimental health effects of Xanax abuse. These can affect those with valid drug prescriptions as well as drug abusers using Xanax illicitly. Here are some of the severe side effects of Xanax:
Tolerance. One of the long-term effects of Xanax and other benzodiazepines is that people develop tolerance quickly. This means they need more of the drug to achieve the same effect. The drug also becomes less effective for anxiety treatment. As a result, people may take high doses of Xanax beyond what a doctor would prescribe. They end up getting the drug illegally.
Psychological dependence. Someone with a psychological dependence on Xanax makes sure they always have the drug on hand. They may think about it a lot of the time, imagine how it’ll make them feel and rely on it to get through the day.
Addiction. Tolerance can develop without a person showing obvious signs of physical dependence. Because of this, addiction to Xanax can sneak up on them. A person may not recognize they are addicted until they stop taking Xanax.
Withdrawal. Physical dependence is often revealed by Xanax withdrawal symptoms. They can set in if the person with physical dependence stops taking the drug. Someone in withdrawal may experience a host of problems such as:
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle pain
- Blurred vision and light sensitivity
Psychological symptoms. Xanax abuse has serious psychological effects. Anxiety can come back in an even more intense way. Panic attacks, paranoia, mania and depression are common. People may also experience delirium and psychosis. These symptoms often require a trip to the emergency room and/or medical detox. If people do not seek medical assistance, one of the most distressing long-term effects is remaining dependent on Xanax.
Feeling out of it. Long-term effects of Xanax may include a host of symptoms that slow people down in life such as:
- Always feeling under sedation
- Loss in alertness
- Feeling drowsy and sleepy
Cognitive problems. Research shows that Xanax and other benzodiazepines produce cognitive impairment. Symptoms caused by the long-term effects of Xanax include poor attention span and memory issues.
Aggression. One of the long-term effects of Xanax is aggressive behavior due to chronic use.
Impaired motor skills. With regular use, Xanax can have a sedative effect. It reduces normal motors skills and can make driving and using heavy equipment dangerous. This worsens and becomes more dangerous with chronic use.
Liver damage. People who take Xanax as a prescription drug to treat anxiety, and those dealing with drug abuse issues, may suffer liver injury. Xanax metabolizes through the liver and can increase plasma levels. This causes trauma to the liver. Studies show that once the drug is stopped the liver can begin to repair itself.
Seizures. One study showed that benzodiazepine use is associated with seizure. The link is strongest among people who were on a higher dose of the drug or had a history of prolonged use or multiple exposures.
Recover from the Effects of Xanax Abuse
Xanax abuse can wreak havoc on a person’s life. It is even more complicated when there are co-occurring disorders (also known as a dual diagnosis). There are many treatment options for anxiety disorders and panic disorders that do not include addictive medicines.
Substance abuse treatment and medical drug detox can help reverse the long-term effects of Xanax. Treatment options range from residential Xanax addiction treatment to outpatient treatment and support groups. Some of the most effective addiction therapies are cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. Make today the day you break free from Xanax addiction.