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What Are the Long-Term Effects of Xanax Abuse?

a man sits with his hands clasped together while starring afar thinking about the long-term effects of xanax abuse

Xanax is part of a class of drugs called benzodiazepines or benzos. These medications have strong tranquilizing properties. Doctors use them to treat medical conditions like insomnia, seizures, anxiety, and panic disorders or to promote muscle relaxation. When benzos like Xanax are used under a doctor’s guidance, they’re safe and effective. But benzos can also be addictive. That means it’s easy for someone to misuse drugs like Xanax, even if they have a legitimate prescription. Xanax addiction treatment addresses the physical and psychological harms of short-term and long-term effects of Xanax abuse. Call A Better State today at 781.412.1488 to learn more about getting help for Xanax abuse.

How Does Xanax Affect the Body and Mind?

A brand name for the drug alprazolam, Xanax is one of the most commonly prescribed benzos or tranquilizers in the United States. Other common benzos include Valium, Ativan, and Ambien. Doctors may prescribe Xanax for panic disorders and anxiety disorders.

Like other benzos, Xanax works on the central nervous system, which affects both the body and the brain. Xanax depresses or slows down central nervous system activity, creating a sedative effect. It also increases the body’s level of dopamine, a chemical responsible for feelings of pleasure and relaxation. The brain normally controls dopamine release, so only a small amount is released at a time. Benzos allow dopamine to “flood” the brain and create a surge of positive feelings. Over time, benzo use can change the way the brain functions. These changes cause several side effects of Xanax abuse.

As people enjoy the pleasant effects of Xanax, they may begin to seek out the drug more and more. In many cases, this desire for Xanax leads to misusing or abusing the drug. For instance, someone may take Xanax more frequently or in higher doses than their prescription allows. Or they may take Xanax, which isn’t prescribed to them. Sometimes, people combine Xanax with alcohol or other drugs to heighten its effect, which results in a dangerous combination that can be life-threatening.

Side Effects of Xanax Abuse

Despite the temporary good feelings that Xanax can provide, misuse of the drug can lead to a range of unpleasant side effects, like:

  • Poor coordination
  • Low blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble with memory

Some side effects of chronic Xanax misuse can even resemble the conditions Xanax is designed to help, such as anxiety and insomnia.

Long-Term Effects of Xanax Addiction

Because Xanax has such a powerful effect on the brain, many of its long-term damages are cognitive. Misuse of Xanax for a long period of time can potentially lead to issues and impairments like:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Lack of motor coordination
  • Trouble concentrating and paying attention
  • Psychomotor impairment, or difficulty controlling the relationship between thought and movement
  • Increased reaction time
  • Drowsiness

These symptoms can significantly limit someone’s ability to engage in daily activities and may even put their lives in danger. Long-term effects of Xanax abuse have been associated with motor vehicle crashes. In some cases, cognitive symptoms continued even after people stopped using Xanax since the damage takes time to reverse.

Behavioral issues may also emerge as long-term effects of Xanax addiction, like:

  • Extreme mood swings
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Trouble controlling impulses and emotions
  • Poor judgment

As with other addictive substances, benzos like Xanax can lead to physical dependence. This means that your body can no longer function normally without doses of the substance. You may also develop a tolerance, meaning that you need higher or more frequent doses of Xanax to achieve the same effect.

If someone attempts to withdraw from Xanax without medical guidance, withdrawal can be just as dangerous as drug abuse. Symptoms like an increased heart rate and blood pressure, hallucinations, agitation, nausea, blurred vision, and more can occur within a few hours of your last dose. The safest way to withdraw from Xanax is in a medical setting, where you can receive care immediately if necessary.

Call A Better State to Learn More About the Long-Term Effects of Xanax Addiction

If you or someone you love is abusing Xanax or other addictive medications, it’s time to get help. A Better State, conveniently located in Hudson, NH, near the Boston area and other New England locations, has the expertise and compassion you need in recovery. Our outpatient programs cater to a variety of needs and schedules. Our diverse and trauma-informed therapy programs range from evidence-based methods like cognitive-behavioral therapy to yoga and art therapy. Find out more about our Xanax treatment program by contacting us at 781.412.1488.