Xanax, which is the brand name of the prescription drug alprazolam, is one of the most popular 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. However, it is also considered highly addictive. Research about Xanax shows that it has a high potential for abuse. And with almost 50 million prescriptions each year, this means millions of people are vulnerable to Xanax abuse. They may take it for anxiety or stress disorder but could end up with an addiction to Xanax. Understanding the long-term effects of Xanax can help you reach out for help when you need it.
How Xanax Addiction Develops
Xanax addiction typically develops when someone takes the drug for an extended period of time or at higher doses than what is prescribed. The chemical changes in the brain caused by Xanax affect the pleasure and reward areas of the brain, creating a physical dependence on the drug. When someone takes too much Xanax or takes it for too long, they can develop an addiction.
Long-Term Health Effects of Xanax
Research shows Xanax helps anxiety disorders but is best used short term. Using this medication in ways other than as prescribed can be harmful. Some of the severe side effects of Xanax include:
One of the long-term effects of Xanax and other benzodiazepines is that people develop a 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.
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.
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.
Xanax withdrawal symptoms often reveal dependence. 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
Xanax abuse also 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 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
Research shows that Xanax and other benzodiazepines produce cognitive impairment. Symptoms caused by the long-term use of Xanax include poor attention span and memory issues.
Impaired Motor Skills
With regular use, Xanax can have a sedative effect. It reduces normal motor skills and can make driving and using heavy equipment dangerous. This worsens and becomes more dangerous with chronic use.
People who take Xanax as a prescription medication to treat anxiety as well as those struggling with substance use issues may suffer liver injury. Xanax metabolizes through the liver and can increase plasma levels. This causes trauma to the liver, but studies show that once the drug is stopped the liver can begin to repair itself.
One study showed that benzodiazepine use is associated with seizures. 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. However, co-occurring disorders (also known as dual diagnosis) make it even more complicated. 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.
Reach Out to Promises Behavioral Health Today
At Promises Behavioral Health, we want to help you through the recovery process. Lasting recovery is possible with the right support and care. Our specialist team of professionals will help you manage your Xanax abuse and withdrawal symptoms. We believe in an individualized treatment plan that addresses underlying mental health disorders so people can heal their lives without substance use. Contact us today at 844.875.5609 or reach out online to learn more about our comprehensive treatment plans.