What is Xanax?
Xanax is the brand name for the drug alprazolam. Alprazolam is a type of benzodiazepine. Doctors prescribe Xanax to patients in the form of a medicinal pill. Benzodiazepines are man-made medications that belong to the class of psychoactive drugs.
What Does Xanax Treat?
Xanax medication treats stress and anxiety and panic disorders. Anxiety disorders are the most commonly diagnosed mental illness in the U.S. In fact, about 30 million Americans used benzodiazepines, or “benzos,” in 2017.
Benzos treat various psychological and neurological disorders including insomnia, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), seizures, alcohol withdrawal, and panic attacks. The effectiveness of these medications are attributed to their ability to enhance the effect of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
What Does Xanax Do to the Brain and Body?
When a person feels anxious, the brain goes into overdrive and tranquilizing transmitters (GABA) send messages to brain cells. The enhanced GABA messages sent by benzodiazepines slow activity down in the brain and alleviate anxiety. In reducing anxiety and activity in the brain, these messages also promote calmness and relaxation in the brain and muscles.
One of the most commonly prescribed and abused benzodiazepines is Xanax. Xanax is both an FDA-approved medication and a central nervous system depressant.
Xanax often affects the brain by causing it to make you have temporary memory loss, feelings of hostility and irritability, and vivid dreams. Taking too much Xanax can also cause you to experience shallow breathing, clammy skin, dilated pupils, and both weak and rapid heart rates. Taking too much Xanax can even lead to coma or death. Unfortunately, once you’ve been taking Xanax for a prolonged period of time, it’s impossible to safely quit cold turkey.
How Long Does It Take for the Effects of Xanax to Kick In?
Xanax is a powerful, fast-acting prescription medication for anxiety. It’s fast-acting because of how quickly the body absorbs it. Xanax enters the bloodstream so quickly that a person taking it can feel its full effects within one to two hours. In fact, in one small scale study, the average onset time of Xanax was as little as 49 minutes.
Similar to the speed at which the body absorbs Xanax is the speed at which the body releases it. Within about 11 hours, the body removes about half the Xanax it absorbs. Because of how fast it moves through the body’s system, doctors advise their patients to take Xanax three times a day, every several hours. Also, because of the intensity of Xanax, it is only meant to be taken for two to four weeks. Still, when taken as directed for short periods of time, Xanax is extremely effective.
Xanax Side Effects
- Loss of sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
- Mood swings
- Dry mouth
- Memory loss
- Problems concentrating
- Nausea Fatigue
- Poor coordination
- Slurred speech
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stuffy nose
Other Drugs That Can Affect the Action of Xanax
As effective as Xanax can be when used properly and as many of the side effects it produces, these effects can change when you mix it with other drugs. For example, if you take Xanax while also drinking or taking another CNS depressant, you can increase the chances of more dangerous side effects. There are also certain medications that when taken with Xanax can make it stay in the body’s system longer and thus lead to overdose.
Azole antifungal medications, cimetidine, certain antidepressants, HIV drugs, macrolide antibiotics, rifamycins, and drugs that treat seizures can also affect how Xanax leaves your body and works all together.
Other medications that cause drowsiness and breathing issues can produce serious side effects when mixed with Xanax. Cigarette smoking can also lead to decreased blood levels when done while taking Xanax.
Because of the power of Xanax and its reaction when taken with other drugs, you should tell your doctor about any other medications you’re taking prior to getting a prescription.
How Addictive is Xanax?
Despite its safety and effectiveness when taken for its intended dosage and length of time, it appears Xanax is being prescribed for longer durations. The over-prescription and extended length of use has caused many people to start abusing the drug altogether. This is a problem because Xanax is very addictive when it’s misused.
Because of increased levels of Xanax abuse, benzos are one of the medications causing America’s addiction prescription drug crisis. In fact, the U.S. government classifies benzodiazepines as being Scheduled IV controlled substances in the Controlled Substance Act. The fact that Xanax is even on the list of scheduled controlled substances hints at the intense level of abuse that is now happening in society.
Once extended Xanax abuse starts causing you to experience withdrawal when you don’t have it in your system, you are addicted.
Behavioral Xanax Addiction Symptoms
- Stealing to get xanax
- Slurred speech
- Missing work
- Avoiding social activities
- Having mood swings
- Having fits of anger
- Higher levels of anxiety
- Spending all your money on Xanax
- Needing more and more Xanax to get its effects
- Willingness to put yourself in harm’s way to receive more Xanax
- Exhibiting more risky behaviors than normal
- Not being able to stop taking Xanax if when you try
Physical Xanax Addiction Symptoms
- Dry mouth
- Fluctuations in weight
- Swelling of hands and feet
- Shortness of breath
Emotional Xanax Addiction Symptoms
Reasons to Either Discontinue or Not Start Your Use of Xanax
- You take antifungal medications
- A history of being allergic to benzodiazepines
- Existing breathing problems, such as sleep apnea or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Having depression
- Experiencing suicidal thoughts
- A history of experiencing seizures
- You suffer from addiction to drugs and/or alcohol
- Presence of kidney or liver disease
- Currently pregnant or breastfeeding
- Being under 18 years old
How to Safely Discontinue Xanax Use
It’s not uncommon for people who have been prescribed Xanax for longer durations of time to decide they no longer want to take it. There are many reasons why someone would want to discontinue using Xanax. It could be due to unwanted side effects. Regardless of the reasons for wishing to stop, it’s important to taper from the drug slowly under the guidance of a medical professional.
Discontinuing Xanax, especially for durations beyond four weeks, should be done under medical supervision. Why? Because the withdrawal symptoms from Xanax can be deadly.
Recently, rapper Lil Xan went public about experiencing seizures after quitting Xanax cold turkey. The young rapper opened up to TMZ about his scare, “I was in the hospital cause I had stopped taking drugs cold turkey. ’Cause I didn’t want to be on drugs no more, but the withdrawals actually gave me seizures.”
Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms
Xanax abuse and addiction has become such a problem in America that is often a common denominator found in celebrities’ toxicology reports. Once a person abuses Xanax to the point of physical dependence or addiction, weaning people off the drug can take weeks or months, depending on the dose.
Weaning yourself off of Xanax can be particularly hard if you’re experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Xanax withdrawal symptoms can become dangerous and even deadly if you try to quit cold turkey.
Quitting Xanax cold turkey puts an individual at risk for:
- Trouble sleeping
- Worsened (rebound) anxiety
- Blurred vision
- Panic attacks
Xanax Addiction Treatment
If you choose to receive Xanax addiction treatment, you will likely receive a combination of therapeutic and medical services to do so. The most common form of therapy used to treat Xanax addiction is cognitive behavioral therapy.
The medical services for Xanax addiction treatment will primarily be during the detox stage of your treatment. Due to how hard it is to quit Xanax, you’ll most likely have a longer-than-normal detox period.
Part of the reason why detox for Xanax is so long is because of the fact that it is so dangerous to quit cold turkey. Thus, detox for Xanax must occur slowly over time. The good thing about Xanax addiction treatment, though, is that once you detox yourself from Xanax, you will not need to take any other medication during treatment. That is, unless it’s for a seperate mental illness that you have.
Receive the Best Professional Addiction Treatment at Harmony Ridge Recovery Center
If you or someone you love is struggling with Xanax abuse, we’re here to help. Harmony Ridge Recovery Center is a nationally recognized drug and alcohol treatment facility.
We have our very own benzodiazepine treatment program. Other addiction treatment programs at Harmony Ridge include ones that treat alcohol, ambien, barbiturates, cocaine, fentanyl, and heroin.
Addiction is a medical disease and should be treated by medical professionals. Just like you’d want to seek treatment from an oncologist for cancer, you want to receive treatment from experienced addiction professionals. Research shows that individuals who enter and remain in treatment can manage their addiction and quality of life.
Are you ready to break free from addiction and live a fulfilling life of sobriety? Contact us today!