Long-Term Effects of Xanax Abuse

Though Xanax can be a helpful treatment for anxiety and sleep disorders, it carries the risk for adverse effects, some of which may affect individuals on a long-term basis. Since Xanax and other drugs in the benzodiazepine class are frequently prescribed, there is greater potential for abuse and addiction. When misused, the detrimental long-term effects of the drug are compounded.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax is a commonly prescribed sedative-hypnotic drug that is approved for the treatment of some disorders that affect the nervous system. The drug is a benzodiazepine that can counteract the increased nervous system activity of someone with anxiety, insomnia, or certain seizure disorders. The drug induces a state of relaxation and calm, even mild euphoria.

Xanax may be misused when doses higher than prescribed are taken or when there is no medical need for it. For instance, if a person does not have a hyperactive nervous system that causes anxiety and they take Xanax, they are more likely to feel the drug’s euphoric effects, which is why the drug has such a high potential for abuse.

In addition, people with a pattern of drug abuse tend to use Xanax concurrently with other substances. This carries a greater risk of toxicity and overdose as it can put a strain on important functions of the body like breathing and heart rate.

Short-term effects of Xanax

Xanax is a short-acting benzodiazepine, which means the effects are felt immediately though they are not felt as long as other benzodiazepines. In addition to the therapeutic effects of the drug, Xanax also has potential adverse effects that come on in as little as 30 minutes. These effects include:

  • Impaired coordination
  • Low blood pressure
  • Drowsiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased libido
  • Confusion
  • Light-headedness
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Decreased alertness
  • Memory impairment

Long-term effects of Xanax

Xanax also carries with it the risk of long-term detrimental effects as a result of prolonged use of the drug. It’s important to note that these are possible when Xanax is used exactly as prescribed. The severity of these effects may vary depending on how long an individual is taking Xanax and how much of the drug they regularly take. These long-term effects include:

  • Tolerance, which occurs when a person needs a higher dose of Xanax to achieve the same effects.
  • Dependence, which occurs when the body and nervous system have adjusted to having a certain amount of Xanax and cannot function without it.
  • Cognitive impairment and decline affecting various cognitive functions like memory and problem-solving.
  • Addiction.

Potential serious side effects

Xanax is recommended only for short-term use due to the potential for serious side effects. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), clinicians should only administer Xanax for a maximum of 4 to 16 weeks depending on the disorder being treated. Some potential serious side effects associated with long-term use include:

  • Dementia
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Memory problems
  • Depression
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Yellowing of skin or eyes
  • Hallucinations
  • Poor coordination and balance
  • Overdose

Xanax overdose

Overdose from Xanax use may occur when extremely high doses are taken, leading to severe toxicity. The likelihood of overdose is compounded when Xanax is abused in conjunction with other substances, especially substances that also function to slow down the activity of the nervous system such as opioids or alcohol.

Signs of Xanax and benzodiazepine overdose include:

  • Labored breathing
  • Drowsiness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Loss of coordination or balance
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma

Since benzodiazepine overdose could be deadly, medical professionals should handle treatment. If you suspect someone is overdosing on Xanax, it’s imperative to call 911 immediately and wait with the person, ensuring their airway remains open until help arrives.

Xanax withdrawal symptoms

When a person becomes physically dependent on Xanax, suddenly terminating use can cause withdrawal symptoms. These may be mild or severe depending on the extent of the dependence, how long Xanax has been used, and other factors. These symptoms may include:

  • Rebound anxiety and panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Tremors
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches

It may be difficult to manage these symptoms, which is why it’s not recommended to quit Xanax “cold turkey.” Medical detox can help those withdrawing from Xanax to feel more comfortable during the process, reducing the potential for dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

Xanax abuse and addiction treatment

Xanax addiction treatment almost always begins with detox. Medical detox is typically done at an inpatient facility where there is round-the-clock medical care in the event of serious changes to a person’s vitals. Medical professionals can also help by providing medication that can alleviate symptoms of underlying medical conditions.

Following successful detox, many individuals continue on to comprehensive inpatient treatment. This phase of addiction treatment is designed to provide individualized therapeutic interventions, teach important life skills and relapse prevention techniques, and help individuals build stronger ties with supportive peers. This is usually followed by outpatient treatment which can be structured in a similar way as inpatient treatment but allows individuals to live and sleep at home.

By progressing through these steps, individuals recovering from Xanax addiction can improve their mental well-being and establish better coping mechanisms to help support long-term abstinence. Addiction treatment is also geared toward addressing underlying and co-occurring mental health illnesses.

Xanax Addiction Recovery at Riverwalk Ranch
A Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Area Addiction Treatment Center

At Riverwalk Ranch, we can assist you in managing Xanax and other prescription medication abuse as part of our comprehensive addiction treatment services. Located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, our professionals use only trusted therapies to help you safely and comfortably recover from Xanax abuse and addiction. Our facilities can serve as an encouraging and safe haven to overcome addiction, surrounded by addiction specialists and other like-minded individuals all working toward a healthier addiction-free life.

If you or a loved one is suffering from Xanax addiction, contact our addiction treatment center today at (877) 863-3869. Whether you live in Texas or you want to begin your recovery journey in a new environment, Riverwalk Ranch can provide a therapeutic and supportive home for you. Everyone deserves a happy and healthy life free from addiction, and we are committed to helping you overcome Xanax abuse in order to get you there.

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