This is What Xanax is Really Doing to Your Body

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Human biology is a very enigmatic and fickle thing. We tend to take states of optimal health for granted as if we should just remain naturally health on our own without any conscious thought or effort. However, that’s certainly not the case. Throughout each day, we make a number of decisions and behave in ways that either promote or curtail our health, from deciding what and when to eat to choosing to take the elevator rather than the stairs. There’s this assumption that a person will remain healthy until some outside force depletes his or her health, and while there are plenty of external sources that can diminish our health, the average person’s health conditions can frequently be traced to poor lifestyle choices.

When a person suffers from some sort of health problem, he or she must determine whether it’s something that will pass on its own or whether it warrants professional evaluation and treatment. Generally, any sort of health conditions that don’t impose on one’s day-to-day life are simply dealt with, but when the affliction is debilitating in some way, we will visit a doctor, physician, or some other medical professional who can help us.

Depending on the affliction, we may be prescribed a medication that’s intended to mitigate whatever issue we’ve been experiencing. Even though many medications have some type of side effect or effects, we determine that we’d rather deal with the adverse effects of the medication than to deal with the health problem.

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This becomes quite complicated when the health problem is severe, but the adverse effects of its medicinal treatment are severe as well. Especially when the health condition is chronic and, therefore, requires a person to take medication either for an extended period of time or indefinitely, there’s an argument to be made that the adverse effects of the medication negate any relief it might offer, essentially taking away one problem while leaving a different one.

This is often the case with many psychological afflictions and particularly those that are mood-oriented rather than cognitive impairments. Xanax is a prime example, which is why the following will explain what the Xanax effects are, what it’s intended to treat, and the health effects that have been associated with long-term Xanax use.

How Does Xanax Work and What is it Used For?

Xanax is the more widely known brand name of a drug called alprazolam, which is in a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, or “benzos” for short. Benzodiazepines are psychoactive drugs that alter the brain’s neurochemical level. Most notably, benzodiazepines amplify the effects of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which causes sedative, anxiolytic, hypnotic, muscle relaxant, and anticonvulsant effects.

Since they induce relaxation, lethargy, and drowsiness, benzodiazepines are used to treat conditions involving anxiety and panic attacks, insomnia, muscle spasms or tension, headaches that result from high blood pressure, epilepsy, and some other conditions. Moreover, benzodiazepines have been so widely used for medicinal treatment because they’re fast-acting and get either be short-, moderate-, or long-acting as well.

In addition to Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin, Xanax is one of the most widely used and recognizable benzodiazepines on the market. The reason that Xanax has been preferred over other benzodiazepines for treating anxiety-related conditions is because Xanax effects are moderate in strength, moderately fast-acting, but also short-acting. This means that in the event that a person needed to take Xanax for something like seizures or panic attacks, the drug’s effects would alleviate his or her symptoms and wear off not long thereafter.

This makes the minimum period of time between doses much smaller, which is helpful for conditions like epilepsy where a person may need to take the drug multiple times in a day without fear of intoxication or overdose. Of the many conditions that Xanax has been prescribed to treat, some of the most common include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), anxiety derived from depression, epilepsy, insomnia, and many types of phobias such as social phobia.

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The Long-Term Xanax Effects

Although we’ve found that it’s risky for people to take benzodiazepines for extended periods of time, there are countless people who have been taking Xanax for years or even decades for chronic health conditions. Any substance that alters a person’s neurochemical levels is inherently dangerous but it becomes exponentially more dangerous when it’s taken repeatedly for a period of time.

Much like someone who abuses alcohol or drugs habitually, the body of someone experiencing the effects of Xanax regularly must adapt to the near-continuous presence of the drug and its effects. For instance, due to the Xanax effect of inhibitory neurotransmitters that cause relaxation, the body accommodates the Xanax by making less of neurochemical on its own. This causes cognitive instability during the times when a person is without Xanax, making it difficult for the individual to think, causing unstable moods, and poor memory.

With continued use of Xanax over years or decades, more serious effects become apparent. A person will begin exhibiting serious memory impairments, much more profound and comparable to dementia or amnesia. The main long-term Xanax effects include:

  • rashes on the skin
  • dizziness
  • difficulty concentrating
  • shortness of breath
  • drowsiness
  • memory loss
  • difficulty urinating
  • reduced libido

These become much more pronounced over decades of use and may impact the person’s speech. In particular, it will seem that he or she has difficulty saying certain words or will exhibit slurred speech as if he or she was intoxicated from alcohol. There are also often issues with:

  • respiratory depression
  • occasional states of delirium
  • severe depression
  • potential violent episodes
  • impulsive behavior
  • occasional states that resemble psychosis

Like almost any drug, experiencing the Xanax effects over n extended period of time will eventually take its toll. Addiction tends to creep into every aspect of a person’s life as it consumes his or her finances, relationships, social life, and natural cycles. However, quitting Xanax cold turkey is not recommended either, as the withdrawal symptoms can easily be dangerous and ineffective without proper medical supervision.

Are there safer alternatives to Xanax?

When a person becomes addicted to the Xanax effects, he or she can overcome the dependence by finding an effective benzodiazepine addiction treatment program. However, once a person has been using Xanax for an extended amount of time and has begun to experience more profound effects, it’s likely too late to hope that getting off Xanax would restore a person to their former health. As such, it’s important for people to know that there are, in fact, alternatives to Xanax effects and other benzodiazepines that are safer and even a number of ways to manage symptoms of anxiety or depression without any medication at all.

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Call the Palm Beach Institute and get help for benzodiazepine addiction

There are millions of people who are currently suffering from addiction, and we believe that each and every one of them deserves a second chance at health and happiness. If you or someone you know would benefit from a free consultation with one of our caring, experienced recovery specialists, give us a call at 855-960-5456. We’re available anytime, day or night, and are ready to match you or your loved one to the right rehab, so call now.

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Staff Writer

The Palm Beach Institute employs a diverse staff of writers that share a common passion for helping those who are struggling with substance abuse find the care they need. With years of experience in the substance abuse treatment industry and decades of experience in writing and research, our team of writers constantly strive to present accurate and helpful information that is easily digestible and encourages people to seek help.

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  • I have heart problems fast heart beat and congestive and fibermyalgia am on 3 times a day plus hydrocodone 3times a day7.5 and blood thinner 5mg 1tme per day have been for years am I in danger have sever heada he and when walking get faster heart rate and outta breath sometimes I stumble legs give out am I in danger from this combinarion of drugs

  • 9 years ago i had a Doctor prescribe me xanax, ambien, and zoloft. I had told him i didn’t like the xanax. Instead of finding another solution, he said he wanted me to keep taking xanax and upped my dose to bars and i could just break them in half.
    I also was taking the original ambien… i ended up sleep driving and getting 3 dui’s.
    Please could you explain those 3 different drugs to me and then those drugs together…i am still trying to recover from that time as it has greatly affected my life.

  • Lesley – holy crap. Look up a woman named Dr Heather Ashton. She has studied benzos and z-drugs (ambien is a z-drug) and has an excellent method of weaning people off the drugs at a comfortable rate. If you no longer need to take the medication and the intra-dose withdrawal effects are the only reason you’re feeling generalized anxiety, work with your doctor on weaning off the meds. Print up Dr. Ashton’s manual down at Kinko’s and take it to your doctor. It’s shocking how many doctors, psychiatrists even, are so completely ignorant about the effects of long-term benzo usage.

    Good luck!

  • I’ve been taking xanax for 18 years, gradually upping the dose to 1mil. 4x per day. It’s a drag but there ain’t no way I’m going to even attempt to get off them. My panic attacks are epic. Plus my Psych says I can be on them for the rest of my life, no problem. Well, I’m sure it is a problem but I don’t really care. The alternative is unthinkable at this point in my life. I’m 52 now so I don’t think I’m going to be making any changes now.

  • Xanax is terrible for you. If your doctor has prescribed it for you, do yourself a big favor and throw your prescription away and get yourself a new doctor. It is a miracle drug at first, especially if you do have legitimate anxiety issues. Nothing works better for anxiety and nerves….nothing. Nothing can make your anxiety and nerves worse either…..nothing. If you are only going to use it a few times, for instance after the death of a loved one then it will probably be fine. If you think you are going to use it long term and benefit from it then I would suggest you get online and read as many stories about long term use as possible. I have not used it for about three years and I am still dealing with insomnia and god-awful rebound anxiety… joke. Improve your diet, get lots of exercise, join a support group if need be. Just do not make the mistake of using this devil’s brew for a long period. You have been warned.

  • Why is it that a benzo like Xanax isn’t told to be taken PRN or “as needed” to patients who might benefit from it like that? WHY make people go on the black market to get something so they can take it for themselves less harmfully than what the doctor wants you to get addicted to?!?

    1. I have had a script for Xanax over 15 years. The bottle says once daily. my doctor used this as a maximum for the pharmacy to fill. He explained I could use it as needed but not to exceed that dosage.

  • I am a 33 year old female. My primary physician started giving me low dosages of xanax for anxiety. When my body got used to it he told me he couldnt give me a higher dosage and i would have to go see a psychiatrist. He gave me a number to one and i called. I must admit they helped alot. Because I had anxiety, panic attacks, and feared doing a lot of things. When i started seeing the psychiatrist she upped my dosage a couple of times during the years. Now im worried and really want to stop taking xanax but i have tried on my own and the withdrawal symptoms are unbearable. But i wont stop getting the help i need to get completely off of this drug. My body has a dependency on it.Worse feeling in the world when you trying your best to quit something but your body wont let you..Help someone!!!! I have been taking them for 6 years. Now up to 2mg twice a day..Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Veyonca,

      Please check the email you provided when leaving this comment, or give us a call at 1-855-960-5456 so that we can provide you with assistance.

  • I took Xanax for 6 years ….. I went thru withdrawals because I decided to get clean on my own , too many bad things happened while I was taking them and the worst part is I don’t even remember, I even landed in jail for 24 days and have no recollection of what happened … My advice to you is please stop u can do it if u really want . And just so u kno I’m worst I’ve been clean for two years and my nerves are fucked up now I can even drive .

  • I really need some advice and help plz.I waa on xanax 1mg×3 for 14+yrs. My Primary care dr.left my dr.I have now cut me off of my xanax.I had to be forced to stop Cold Turkey.It’s been almost 5 months I’ve been having alot of paps,electric waves through my heart when im sleeping.Pounding heart and rapid pulse. My resting pulse is,80-100 when I get up to clean my house or use the bathroom or bath it easly goes to 145.I had a tilt test, ecg, ekg, heart holter,stress test an blood work in April.I am so afraid that something maybe wrong :(. Is there anyone out there who has or us going through this I am terrified.Please let me know. THANKS ♡

    1. I have taken xanax for 19 yrs. A new Dr came in and cut me off cold Turkey in March 2017! It has been pure HELL!!! I thought I would die, my panic attacks are back, I can’t sleep, my brain is going to explode. I don’t mind being taken off xanax but it is cruel to do it cold turkey. I am 60 yrs. old if I die and it is because of this cruelty my daughter better sue the shit out of this Dr.

    2. Well,Peggy and especially Robbie,Robbie I’m 63 and have taken Xanax for 21 years now..In that time I’ve had 1 doctor and 2 different psychiatrists,I just got a new psychiatrist a month ago..I’m taking a 3mg extended release tablet that lasts 24hrs I’m also taking 2 1mg tablets as needed…I have never had a problem getting refills from any of my psychiatrists.I tried to ween myself off on my own about ten years ago but when I got below a certain point my panic/ anxiety got worse than they ever had been..Now after so many years two different psychiatrists have told me I’ve taken them so many years I’ll never been able to get off.My brain has just gotten so use to them that I’m stuck with them.My new psychiatrist is giving me something to help drop my doses but says if I need to take the 2 mg’s to go ahead but even if I can just get rid of one it’s better than 2…..Robbie I was told that if I tried to stop now at my age and taking them about as long as you ,And stop cold turkey I’d start having seizures most likely and my attacks would have me going crazy….If your going to a regular dr. They will cut you off if you go to a psychiatrist and tell them what’s going on there going to give you what you need to feel half way normal again.They understand your problem..The people here saying just to throw your meds away are idiots,they have obviously never had attacks as strong as your having right now.No one but your psychiatrist should be telling you to stop..Peggy your brain is making you think there’s something really wrong with yourself.Of course get checked out by your doctor.I’ve been waken in the middle of a deep sleep two different times with chest pains and my wife’s rushed me to the hospital both times.They ran every test imaginable and everything was perfect…Panic Attacks can make you think the tinyest thing is something that’s going to kill you because that tiny thing gets magnified more every time you think about it..Xanax helps get rid of that.Over all if Xanax works for you better than anything else they’ve tried just take.It’s better than going crazy and blowing your brains out…So both of you see a psychiatrist tell him or her what’s happening since your dr.cut you off.And they will get your life back on track.I’m sure many people here will disagree but taking the Xanax as prescribed outweighs not taking it and suffering your life.Like I said I’ve takin this for over 20 years and it hasn’t affected me mentally other than helped,good luck,see a

  • Yes. You need to find a doctor that isn’t worried about himself, and a pharmacist that is compassionate and personable. Avoid big chain pharmacys, cause you have 10 pharmacists that don’t know what you are going through. I had an urgent care doctor accuse me of snorting them, cause if they get the slightest bit wet thay desolve into powder. Not only did I hate the the doctor, I also didn’t know my pharmacists. Some are nice. Some are mean. Kinda like judges. Thank god for my pcp. Im fortunate,, that I have a doctor that is great.

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