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Can Xanax Abuse Cause Anxiety?

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

June 14, 2019

Xanax is a commonly abused prescription benzodiazepine. While this drug is used to treat symptoms of anxiety, abuse of Xanax can actually increase anxiety. Formal treatment is often needed to overcome an addiction to Xanax.

Xanax, which is the brand name for alprazolam, is a prescription medication used in the short-term treatment of anxiety and panic disorders. This drug is the most commonly prescribed psychiatric medication in the nation. When abused, this medication can result in a number of side effects including increased anxiety.

Alprazolam belongs to the benzodiazepine class of drugs. This medication works by increasing GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for feelings of calm and relaxation. When taken as prescribed, Xanax can reduce symptoms of anxiety and panic disorders.

Xanax is rarely prescribed for longer than six weeks at a time. Long-term use of this drug can increase the chances of dependence and addiction. When a person is dependent on Xanax, he or she will likely abuse the drug to avoid withdrawal symptoms and other negative side effects.

Side Effects Of Xanax Abuse

Abusing Xanax can quickly lead to a tolerance to be built up. Tolerance is when a person needs more of the drug to experience the same effects. Continually increasing the amount of Xanax taken can lead to physical and mental dependence.

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Tolerance to Xanax can also cause the drug to become less effective at managing symptoms of anxiety and panic disorder. As a result, someone may take high doses of Xanax but still experience anxiety.

Additional side effects of Xanax abuse include:

  • decreased appetite
  • drowsiness
  • depression
  • trouble concentrating
  • memory problems
  • mood swings
  • confusion
  • coordination and balance problems

What’s more, when a person regularly abuses Xanax, he or she is likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when not on the drug. Symptoms of Xanax withdrawal can range from mild to severe and may include increased anxiety and seizures.

Treatment For Xanax Abuse And Addiction

Xanax abuse and addiction can result in a number of consequences and negative side effects. Seeking treatment for a substance use disorder is the best way to overcome addiction reclaim your life in sobriety.

Formal treatment programs such as residential treatment are commonly recommended for Xanax addiction. Inpatient programs help individuals get and stay sober through various forms of therapy and addiction counseling. Once a treatment program is successfully completed, support groups and/or aftercare programs are encouraged for long-term sobriety.

To learn more about how Xanax abuse can cause anxiety, contact a treatment specialist today.

Medical News Today - What you need to know about Xanax

RxList - Xanax

Emedicinehealth - Benzodiazepine Abuse

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