What is Xanax?
Alprazolam, commonly known as Xanax, is used to treat general anxiety disorder, short-term symptoms of anxiety, and panic disorders. Xanax is a benzodiazepine, a class of central nervous system (CNS) depressants used to slow down brain activity and release muscle tension. Xanax is only accessible by doctor’s prescription and comes in the following dosage forms: an extended-release tablet, an orally disintegrating tablet, and an oral liquid.
What Does Xanax Do?
Xanax acts on the brain and central nervous system (CNS) to relax nerves and limit exertion in the brain and body. It stimulates and binds the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Alprazolam is primarily prescribed for individuals battling or developing a panic or anxiety disorder and is the most commonly prescribed psychotropic medication in the United States.
Check with a medical professional before taking Alprazolam if any of the following apply to you:
- Struggle with substance misuse or a substance use disorder (SUD)
- Liver problems
- Decreased kidney function
- Decreased lung function
- Depression or suicidal thoughts
- Overweight or underweight
Not only are anxiety disorders the most common mental illness in the US, but it also nearly affects over 19% of the population in the United States—approximately 40 million adults. About 2.7% of the US population struggled with a panic disorder (PD) last year.
Xanax Side Effects
The most common side effects of Xanax may include the following:
- Easily distracted
- Lack of coordination
- Drowsiness and sleepiness
- Loss of interest
- Easily irritated
- Slurred speech
- Lack of motivation
- Lack of appetite
- Low libido levels
- Trouble sleeping
- Trouble speaking
Less common side effects of Xanax:
- Blurred vision
- Fever and chills
- Dark urine
- Dry mouth
- Irregular heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Itching or rash
- Muscle aches or pain
- Body shakes
- Dissociating from reality
- Difficulty with concentration
The more severe and harmful side effects of Xanax are often experienced when the depressant is used outside of the recommended dose or circumstances.
How Long Does It Take to Get Addicted to Xanax?
Xanax misuse typically occurs when users seek more relaxation or stress release and, most commonly, a better night’s sleep. The depressant is also widely obtained illegally for recreational use. While it is the most frequently used drug in the United States, it is also the most abused. Xanax abuse begins when users take more than the recommended or prescribed dose, take it with other substances, or use it without a prescription (recreational purposes). Depending on the amount and how often you’re consuming it, an addiction to Xanax can develop within weeks.
Xanax is a highly addictive drug due to its desirable relaxing effects on the body and mind. It’s no surprise that everyone could benefit from some stress relief and relaxation—however, without a prescription, it shouldn’t come from Xanax. Addiction to Xanax begins when users start depending on their daily dose for relief. When a medical professional prescribes Alprazolam, it’s intended for a short-term basis and to be used as a building block to treat anxiety—not the foundation.
As you’re taking Xanax, you should use other holistic relaxation methods to help relieve the relief. Implementing healthy relaxation alternatives will make it much easier to wean off the prescription and avoid extreme withdrawals from occurring.
How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System?
Due to its potency, Alprazolam is prescribed in small doses and recommended for short-term use. Xanax tolerance is developed very quickly, whether taken recreationally or by prescription. After consuming the specified amount, the effects can be felt within minutes; however, it typically takes 1-2 hours to reach peak concentration. Xanax rapidly moves through the bloodstream, and its effects will wear off after about 10 hours.
What to Avoid When Taking Xanax
When you’re taking Xanax, it is recommended that you stay away from other substances—-alcoholic beverages, other benzodiazepines, and opioids, as this can often lead to an overdose. Prescription medications, such as itraconazole and ketoconazole, should be checked out by a medical professional before taking them simultaneously with Xanax.
A CNS depressant as potent as Xanax should not be taken with other substances, known as polysubstance use. The side effects of polysubstance use with Alprazolam are unpredictable, undesirable, and potentially lethal. Check with your physician to make sure the medications are compatible before taking them at the same time.
Due to the tired and euphoric side effects of Alprazolam, you should avoid driving or operating any machinery while taking it. If pregnant or breastfeeding, check with your doctor immediately before beginning or continuing Xanax.
How to Safely Taper Off Xanax
When it comes time to taper off Xanax, depending on how long you’ve been taking, it will depend on the route you will have to take. Frequently, reducing how much you’re taking and how often you’re taking it is the most effective method—however, this doesn’t work for everyone.
If someone has been on Xanax for years, their dependency will be much stronger than someone who’s only been on it for a couple of months. Whether someone is abusing Xanax or has been on prescription for years, they’re more likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when weaning from the medication.
Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms
Some withdrawal symptoms from Xanax are more severe than others. While some people might only experience minimal symptoms, others with a stronger dependency on Alprazolam might experience more extreme side effects.
Mild to severe Xanax withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Increased anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Suicidal thoughts
- Muscle aches and pains
- Memory loss
If you or a loved one is struggling with Xanax addiction, abuse, or experiencing withdrawal symptoms, our medical detox and treatment options are available to provide you with professional support and supervision. Call for help now; one of our trained staff can answer all your questions and assist you on the road to recovery.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (2022). Polysubstance Use Facts.
- National Center for Biotechnology Information. (2022). Alprazolam.
- National Institute of Mental Health. Panic Disorder.