Trusted Content

Why Is Xanax Dangerous?

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

Medically reviewed by

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

June 10, 2019

Xanax, a common prescription medication used to treat anxiety, comes with a number of risks. These include physical and mental dependence as well as addiction. Seeking treatment for Xanax abuse or addiction can help prevent dangerous side effects.

Xanax, which is the brand name for alprazolam, is one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the country. This drug is most often used to treat symptoms of anxiety and panic disorders. It may also be prescribed for insomnia and situational anxiety.

Xanax is part of the benzodiazepine class of drugs. Other medications in this category include Valium and Librium. Benzodiazepines act as central nervous system depressants to slow activity in the brain. As a result, people often experience a reduction in symptoms of anxiety.

Many people have heard of Xanax, know someone who takes the drug, or is on the medication themselves. Due to its popularity, individuals may underestimate the dangers of this medication. However, Xanax can be a dangerous substance, especially when abused.

The Dangers Of Xanax

There are several factors that make Xanax a potentially dangerous substance. One of these is the drug’s short half-life. The half-life refers to the amount of time it takes for the substance to reach peak concentration in the blood.

Xanax’s short half-life means that the drug’s effects can be felt within a short period of time, often 15 to 20 minutes after ingesting. The quick effects of this medication increase the potential for abuse and addiction.

Another factor that contributes to the dangers of Xanax is how the drug works in the brain and body. Xanax increases GABA activity in the brain. This chemical is responsible for feelings of calm and relaxation. While these effects are certainly helpful in individuals experiencing anxiety, they can also be addictive.

People who take Xanax for an extended period of time or who abuse the drug are also at risk of building up a tolerance to the substance. This means that more of the drug is needed to experience the same effects. Continuing to increase the dose of Xanax can put individuals at risk for dependence and addiction.

Dangers Of Long-Term Xanax Use

In addition to dependence and addiction, using Xanax long-term can pose additional dangers. One of these is the risk of experiencing mental and health problems. These may include suicidal ideation, drastic mood changes, and memory impairment.

Additional side effects that may arise from long-term Xanax use include:

  • confusion
  • depression
  • damage to the brain cells
  • decreased appetite
  • severe mood swings
  • trouble concentrating
  • fatigue
  • balance problems
  • speech issues

What’s more, long-term Xanax use or abuse can also result in withdrawal symptoms when the drug is stopped. Xanax withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include insomnia, increased heart rate, and seizures.

Getting Help For Xanax Abuse And Addiction

If you or a loved one is struggling with Xanax addiction, seeking treatment can help prevent the dangers that come with Xanax abuse. Formal treatment is often recommended for those trying to overcome an addiction to benzodiazepines.

Inpatient or residential treatment programs are among the most successful forms of treatment for substance use disorders. These programs provide individualized treatment plans to meet the needs of each patient.

To learn more about what makes Xanax dangerous, contact a treatment specialist today.

Medical News Today - What you need to know about Xanax

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