The long-term effects of Xanax are not uncommon. 41.1% of tranquilizer abusers report using the drug to relieve tension. 20.9% of users report taking tranquilizers as sleep aids while 15.8% use tranquilizers to cope with emotions. 6.7% of tranquilizer users do so experimentally.
What Is Xanax?
Xanax is a medication that is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. It is a member of the benzodiazepine class of drugs, which act as central nervous system depressants. Xanax works by binding to GABA receptors in the brain, which increases the effects of the neurotransmitter GABA and leads to feelings of relaxation and sedation.
While Xanax can be effective at treating anxiety in the short term, it can also be abused. When taken in higher doses than prescribed or for non-medical reasons, Xanax can lead to feelings of euphoria and relaxation.
How Was Xanax Created?
Xanax was created in the 1960s by Upjohn Laboratories as a treatment for anxiety and panic disorders. It was approved by the FDA in 1981 and has been on the market ever since.
Who Is Most at Risk of Misusing Xanax?
Those most at risk of Xanax misuse are:
- People with a history of substance abuse.
- People with mental health disorders, such as anxiety or depression.
- People who have difficulty coping with stress.
- People who are taking multiple medications.
- People who have easy access to Xanax, such as through a friend or family member.
Depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion in lost productivity each year. 1 in 5 U.S. adults experiences mental illness each year. 1 in 20 U.S. adults experiences serious mental illness each year.
6.7% of U.S. adults experienced a co-occurring substance use disorder and mental illness in 2020 (17 million people). 46.2% of U.S. adults with mental illness received treatment in 2020. 64.5% of U.S. adults with serious mental illness received treatment in 2020.
How Do People Gain Access To Xanax?
There are a few ways that people gain access to Xanax:
- A doctor may prescribe it for anxiety or panic disorder.
- People may get it from a friend or family member who has a prescription.
- It may be bought illegally online or on the street.
What Are the Long-term Effects of Xanax Abuse?
The long-term effects of Xanax abuse can be both physically and psychologically damaging. Some of the more common long-term effects of Xanax abuse include:
- Dependence: When someone takes Xanax on a regular basis, they can develop a dependence on the drug. This means that they will need to take larger and larger doses of the drug to experience the same effects.
- Tolerance: Tolerance to Xanax develops quickly, which means that people who abuse the drug will need to take increasingly larger doses to get the same effects.
- Withdrawal: When someone stops taking Xanax abruptly, they may experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, and irritability.
- Addiction: Long-term abuse of Xanax can lead to addiction, which is a chronic relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite negative consequences.
The brain is a complex organ, and Xanax (alprazolam) is a powerful drug that affects its function. When taken as directed, Xanax can be a helpful tool for managing anxiety disorders. However, when abused, this medication can have long-term effects on the brain that may be irreversible.
The signs and symptoms of long-term Xanax use can vary depending on the individual. Some common signs and symptoms include:
- Euphoria: feeling a sense of happiness or well-being that is not based on reality
- Slurred speech
- Impaired coordination
- Memory problems
Polydrug use, or using multiple drugs at the same time, is common among people who abuse Xanax. Mixing Xanax with other substances can increase the risk of overdose and other serious side effects. Some of the most commonly abused substances that are often mixed with Xanax include alcohol, opioids, and marijuana.
People abuse Xanax in the long term because it is a powerful drug that can help them escape their problems. However, long-term abuse of Xanax can lead to addiction and other serious health problems.
How Does Xanax Dependence Occur?
Xanax dependence can occur when the drug is taken for long periods of time or in high doses. When someone becomes dependent on Xanax, they will experience withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to stop taking the drug.
Addiction is a chronic relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite negative consequences.
The withdrawal timelines for benzodiazepines can vary depending on the individual. However, most people will start to experience withdrawal symptoms within a week of stopping use. Symptoms can peak after two weeks and can last for several months.
During the first week, people may experience anxiety, insomnia, and irritability. They may also have headaches, muscle aches, and sweating. The second week usually brings the peak of symptoms, which can include hallucinations, delusions, and seizures. After the second week, symptoms will start to slowly improve but can still last for several months.
The withdrawal symptoms of long-term Xanax use can be severe and even life-threatening. Symptoms of withdrawal can include anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and hallucinations.
The short-term effects of Xanax include: feeling relaxed, drowsy, and dizzy. Physical side effects can also occur with long-term use, such as:
- Slowed breathing
- Impaired coordination
- Slurred speech
Emotionally, long-term Xanax abuse can lead to:
- Mood swings
Psychologically, long-term Xanax abuse can lead to:
- Impaired judgment
Xanax overdose is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. Symptoms of an overdose may include:
- Slurred speech
- Impaired coordination
- Slow breathing
If you think someone has overdosed on Xanax, call 911 immediately. An overdose of Xanax can be fatal.
How Important is Detox for Xanax Addiction Recovery?
Detox for the long-term effects of Xanax use is important for several reasons.
- First, it allows the body to rid itself of the drug and its metabolites. This can help reduce symptoms of withdrawal and minimize the risk of relapse.
- Second, detox can help to restore normal brain function and neurochemistry.
- Finally, detox can help to prepare the individual for long-term recovery by providing a stable foundation on which to build.
There are several different approaches to Xanax detox, but all should be overseen by a medical professional. The most important thing is to ensure that the process is safe and comfortable for the individual. Withdrawal from Xanax can be uncomfortable and even dangerous, so it is important to have professional guidance throughout detox.
What Are Other Treatment Options for Long-term Xanax Use?
Treatment options for long-term Xanax use include:
- Therapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that can help to change the way a person thinks about and responds to certain situations. This can be helpful in long-term recovery from Xanax abuse, as it can help to reduce the risk of relapse.
- Support groups: There are many different types of support groups available for people in recovery from substance abuse. These groups provide a space for people to share their experiences and support one another in recovery.
- Medication: In some cases, medication may be used in combination with therapy to treat long-term Xanax abuse. Medication can help to ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings, making recovery more manageable.
How Potent Are Benzodiazepines?
Benzo’s are some of the most potent drugs available and their effects can be felt quickly. The half-life of Xanax is only 11 hours, which means that it only takes a few days of regular use for someone to develop a tolerance. This means that they will need to take more of the drug to feel the same effects. Tolerance can lead to dependence and addiction.
Why Are Medications for Mental Health Disorders Abused?
Medications that are prescribed for mental health disorders are often abused because they can cause feelings of euphoria. Xanax, in particular, is abused because it can help people to feel relaxed and calm. It is also easy to obtain since it is a prescription medication.
Magnolia Recovery City Is Here to Guide You
In Houston, our versatile detox center provides the care and guidance you need to get through withdrawal and on the road to long-term sobriety. Our evidence-based program is designed to help you heal physically, mentally, and emotionally.
We offer a variety of therapies and activities that will help you identify the root causes of your addiction and develop healthy coping mechanisms. If you or someone you know is struggling with the long-term effects of Xanax, please reach out for help today.
Dr. Olaniyi O. Osuntokun is a Neurology & Psychiatry Specialist based in Conroe, Texas, and Lafayette, Indiana. He has extensive experience in treating Individuals with substance use disorders and addiction. He earned his medical degree from University of Ibadan College of Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years.