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Xanax Use Causes Lingering Chemical Unbalances & Harmful Withdrawals

Xanax is a benzodiazepine. Also known as a benzo, many health professionals prescribe this type of medication to treat mental health issues, such as anxiety and panic disorders. There is, however, growing concern about its illicit use among teenagers and young adults. Many young people are abusing Xanax and other benzos, either by illegally purchasing them off of dealers or obtaining Xanax prescriptions. When someone takes this drug at a low dose, they will experience a sense of “relaxation,” tiredness, and a reduction in visual acuity. However, long-term abuse of Xanax can lead to severe and devastating consequences to the brain and body.

How Does Xanax Affect Your Brain?

The medical use of Xanax is to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Xanax’s chemical composition moves through your blood-brain barrier, a wall within the human body, that helps keep toxins out of your brain.

Doctors prescribe Xanax to people who have low GABA-A receptors and high levels of adrenaline, which indicate a chemical imbalance in the brain. When Xanax is inside your brain, it starts modifying various GABA-A receptors and neurons that control anxious activity in order to slow your brain down. As a result, you will notice that your alertness and memory may begin to diminish, as well as any lingering anxiety.

However, many people who abuse Xanax do so without understanding their GABA-A receptor numbers or the chemicals in the brain. They can react very strongly to a low dose throwing off their chemical balances in their brain. In addition, taking a large dose of Xanax can be deadly – it can lead to amnesia, sudden unconsciousness, and even coma.

Xanax Dependence and Withdrawal

If you take Xanax without a medical diagnosis, you can experience several unpleasant and severe symptoms. Consistent abuse of Xanax will lead to dependency and addiction, with a need to increase intake in order to feel the same effects. With benzos, addiction can develop very quickly. When you stop taking Xanax, your brain will notice the drug depletion in the system initiating a reaction to make up the difference by raising anxiety levels. To stop the increase in anxiety, Xanax use will be repeated again and again to stop these effects.

With consistent Xanax use, dependency and a tolerance to it develops. To gain the same “high” as experienced before, more Xanax is needed. Unfortunately, the more Xanax taken, the more severe corresponding withdrawal symptoms will be. In addition, these withdrawal symptoms can last for weeks after your last usage of the drug.

Common symptoms of Xanax withdrawal include:

  • Seizures
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Paranoia
  • Numb fingers
  • Muscle pain
  • Panic and anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Diarrhea
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tremors

A person can quickly spiral into a cycle of taking Xanax:

  1. Getting high off the drug
  2. Experiencing difficult and painful withdrawals
  3. Taking more Xanax to stop withdrawal symptoms and receive the same high
  4. Experiencing difficult and painful withdrawals
  5. Repeat the above steps in sequence

With the increasing dosage, Xanax users put themselves at risk of coma and death.

Long-Term Effects of Xanax

Long-term use of Xanax can increase your risk of overdose, dependence, and addiction. This can culminate into severe effects compromising mental, physical, and social health. Combined with the cycle of abuse and withdrawal, Xanax abuse often leads to significant trauma and strain.

Common physical side effects of prolonged Xanax abuse include:

  • Dizziness and blurred vision
  • Trouble breathing
  • Weight and appetite changes
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness and sedation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Skin rashes
  • Jaundice, or the yellowing of the skin and eyes

In addition to the physical damage, you can develop severe psychological side effects due to Xanax abuse as well.

Common psychological damage related to Xanax abuse includes:

  • Depression
  • Increased irritability
  • Violent or aggressive behavior
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Auditory hallucinations
  • Increased thoughts of suicide
  • Increased energy and talkativeness, also known as mania

Xanax and Risk of Overdose

Too much Xanax taken in a very short period of time can present symptoms of an overdose. Benzos, like Xanax, store themselves within body fat, allowing them to stay in our systems for an extended length of time.

Repeated use of Xanax can lead to overdose due to the build-up of the drug in the body, as well as when larger dosages are taken at once. The risk of Xanax overdose increases with using depressants such as alcohol – and the results can be deadly.

If you experience any of the following symptoms after taking Xanax, seek medical help immediately:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Impaired coordination
  • Slowed reflexes
  • Difficulty breathing

When to Seek Help for Xanax Abuse

Xanax abuse can be incredibly dangerous and harming the body in many ways. In addition, using Xanax can put you at an extremely high risk of overdose, coma, and death. If you are struggling with consistent Xanax abuse and have fallen into a cycle of abuse and withdrawal, seek help from a drug rehab center as soon as possible. Do not attempt to quit Xanax cold turkey – check into a rehab center to receive medically-assisted detox for a safe withdrawal from the drug.

Choose a Scottsdale Drug Rehab Center that Focuses On You

Do you or someone you care about need treatment for Xanax abuse in the Scottsdale, Arizona area? Acceptance Recovery Center can help. We understand that it can be intimidating and upsetting to come to terms with a Xanax addiction. However, you are not alone in this struggle – and you have many pathways to regain sobriety and control over your life.

When you enroll in any of our treatment programs at Acceptance Recovery Center, you receive individualized care backed by evidence-based research. We build our programs around your individual expectations and specific needs, as well as the tried-and-true 12-step philosophy toward sobriety. We offer therapy options to fit everyone, from individualized therapy to group yoga sessions and many other options in between. In addition, our medically-supervised detox provides a gentler way to taper from Xanax dependency while minimizing withdrawal symptoms.

Are you ready to begin your journey to sobriety? Contact us today to learn more about our programs, and discuss how you can enroll today.

Schedule Your Free Behavioral Health Assessment Now

About Dr. Greg Gale, MD

Dr. Greg Gale has been practicing and providing leadership in the field of psychiatry, substance use, and integrated care in the Phoenix metropolitan area for over 11 years. He joins us from his role as a national medical director overseeing behavioral health, substance use, and integrated care services for Humana Behavioral Health. Previously, he was CMO and VP of Clinical Services at Partners in Recovery, a not-for-profit behavioral health and substance use service organization, which operates five clinics throughout Maricopa County. Read more about Dr. Greg Gale, MD 

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