Xanax use is widespread in the US due to being one of the most common prescription drugs. Sadly, it is highly addictive, and even those who have a legitimate prescription are at risk of abusing it.
Over an extended period, Xanax abuse can affect relationships, work, physical health, and mental health. It also affects the brain in the short-term and the long-term, causing a dependence to develop over time.
Drug addiction can feel very scary. You may feel as though you have lost control, and you might find yourself unsure of how to break free from the dependence. Fortunately, there is help and recovery information available.
With support, care, and guidance, you will be able to overcome your Xanax addiction and live a sober life. Likewise, addressing your substance abuse problem will help prevent potential brain damage caused by the drug.
What Is Xanax?
Xanax, or alprazolam as it is otherwise known, is a prescription drug used to treat panic attacks, anxiety, and insomnia. Although it is legal to take Xanax with a prescription, it is illegal to acquire it without one due to the dangers of abuse.
Belonging to a group of sedative drugs named benzodiazepines, Xanax is a depressant drug that increases the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and halts brain signals that would usually cause feelings of anxiety and panic to arise.
Abusing Xanax frequently can have many negative health consequences and can lead to addiction.
What Is Xanax Addiction?
Xanax has a high potential for abuse. An addiction can develop if Xanax is used recreationally or in high doses. Out of all of the benzodiazepines, Xanax is the most commonly prescribed. This may lull people into a false sense of security as they may think that Xanax is not dangerous. Unfortunately, tolerance and dependence on the drug can develop quickly.
Though safe to consume for a short period, Xanax is the second most common prescription drug involved in medical emergency department visits. For this reason, it should be used with caution.
Many people abuse Xanax recreationally, for example, in a party setting. If you have been prescribed Xanax, you may abuse it by not taking it in the doses that a medical professional recommends. Abusing Xanax can be a sign of a substance use disorder and can pave the way for Xanax addiction.
Characterized by a loss of control over drug use and difficulty in coping without the drug, Xanax addiction may cause you to experience withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking it. Though addiction is a chronic disease, seeking addiction treatment can help you break free from Xanax dependence, enabling you to secure appropriate treatment for a mental health disorder.
What Are the Effects of Xanax Use?
The main effects of Xanax use include a sense of calm and relaxation. When you take Xanax, you may also feel sleepy, content, and quiet. These feelings are different from the sensations experienced when stimulant drugs are taken, as they often produce feelings of high energy.
Because of its sedative effects, Xanax is particularly dangerous when mixed with alcohol. Both Xanax and alcohol are central nervous system depressants, so abusing both substances together can have life-threatening consequences.
Likewise, taking Xanax alongside other drugs can be dangerous. Polydrug abuse is the term used to describe taking multiple drugs simultaneously. Unfortunately, taking Xanax with alcohol or other drugs causes the most significant amount of fatalities.
Long-term effects of taking Xanax alongside other drugs can lead you to experience symptoms such as:
- An increased likelihood of developing an addiction to both Xanax and alcohol
- Memory problems
How Does Xanax Affect the Brain?
To work effectively, Xanax needs to reach the brain. As with other benzodiazepines, Xanax works by increasing the production of the brain chemical GABA. Xanax may trigger the reward system upon reaching the brain, leaving you more susceptible to addiction.
As a short-acting benzodiazepine, Xanax works pretty quickly. Some of the short-term effects of Xanax use on brain activity include:
- Mood problems
- Feeling sleepy
- Memory problems
As the brain becomes dependent on Xanax, it forgets how to function effectively when the drug is absent. As GABA is affected, the brain slowly becomes reliant on it to work correctly, causing Xanax to impact thought processes, concentration, muscle coordination, and emotions.
Abusing Xanax long-term can harm your memory. Even upon stopping taking Xanax, the effects on your memory can last for months. In some cases, brain damage and memory problems are permanent.
Some of the other effects of Xanax use on the brain include:
- Lowered inhibitions
- Reduction in intelligence quotient (IQ)
- Difficulty processing information and learning new skills
- Slow response times
- Problems with your attention span
Long-term effects of Xanax use have also been thought to be a potential factor in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in older people. It is also linked with an increased likelihood of developing dementia in later life.
The safest way to protect your brain from potentially irreversible damage is to withdraw from Xanax safely and begin your recovery journey.
What Are Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms?
Xanax withdrawal symptoms can arise if you have been abusing the drug. Though you may think that stopping taking Xanax cold turkey is safe, this is not true. Due to the effects of withdrawal, you should always complete Xanax detox with support and advice from a clinical professional.
If you decide to seek treatment for Xanax abuse, you will first complete a substance abuse assessment. This will ensure that you are offered proper treatment. Typically, treatment starts with a detox.
Xanax withdrawal arises when detox commences under the guidance of a professional treatment center. Supervised at numerous American addiction centers, you will be supported throughout the treatment process, ensuring safety and effective recovery. American addiction centers, such as ours, provide the care and advice you need to cope with the withdrawal symptoms and usually recommend a medical detox.
Withdrawing from Xanax involves slowly tapering the dosage. The effects of Xanax withdrawal include psychological and physical symptoms, such as:
- Muscle aches and pain
- Excessive sweating
- Heart palpitations
- Weight loss
- Trouble concentrating
- Sleep issues
- Memory problems
- Mood swings
- Suicidal thoughts
Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be fatal, and some people experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. It is therefore vital to complete detox with the guidance of medical professionals.
Though uncomfortable, withdrawing from Xanax is the best thing for your health as it can reduce long-term impacts on your brain.
What Addiction Treatment Options Are Available?
Fortunately, treatment options for substance abuse are available to prevent any long-term effects of Xanax abuse and protect your brain from damage. At American addiction centers, addiction treatment begins with withdrawal.
Upon completing detox, you will undergo treatments that reduce psychological dependence. During your time at an American addiction center, you will have a personalized treatment plan which may involve therapy or counseling to help you develop coping strategies and maintain sobriety.
Xanax abuse can have long-term effects on the brain, increasing the risk of memory problems, information processing, and cognitive impairment in old age.
However, quitting Xanax safely via one of the many American addiction centers across the country will help reduce the short and long-term effects using Xanax can have on the brain.
If you are ready to find out more about your treatment options, contact us today.