Long Term Effects of Xanax Addiction

Written by Chloe Nicosia

The long term effects of Xanax addiction can be devastating, but treatment can help you end your addiction for the long term.

Xanax is a brand of the generic drug alprazolam, a benzodiazepine medication that’s prescribed for anxiety and panic disorders. Also an anti-convulsant, Xanax is a central nervous system sedative that promotes feelings of calm and wellbeing. When used as prescribed, Xanax is an effective medication, but when it’s abused, it has the potential to lead to addiction. The long term effects of Xanax addiction can be severe, and ending an addiction to Xanax is essential for good health and wellbeing.

How Xanax Addiction Develops

When you abuse Xanax–or any other benzodiazepine, such as Klonopin or Valium–it causes changes in your brain’s physical structures and chemical functions. Xanax causes an increase in the function of the neurotransmitter GABA, which produces feelings of calm and relaxation. It also increases the activity of dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of pleasure.

Dopamine is an important chemical in the brain’s reward system, which is designed to keep our species alive by driving us to engage in pleasurable activities like eating and procreating. But when the dopamine system is repeatedly overloaded, the brain’s memory center records a memory of the intense pleasure, and the learning center begins to form ironclad associations between using the drug and the pleasure it produces. At some point, the learning and memory centers communicate with the area of the brain responsible for planning and executing tasks, and this causes drug-seeking behaviors as well as intense cravings for the drug.

The changes in the brain resulting from addiction affect the way you think and behave, leading to unhealthy thought and behavior patterns. Addiction is characterized by compulsive drug abuse despite the negative consequences it causes in your life, which often include relationship, financial, and mental and physical health problems as well as legal troubles and other problems. The long term effects of Xanax addiction can be devastating to your health and wellbeing.

The Long Term Effects of Xanax Addiction

Xanax addiction takes a toll on your mind, body, and spirit. Abusing Xanax for the long term can cause cognitive, or thinking, problems, and it can affect your short term memory, making it difficult to concentrate and maintain the attention you need to effectively communicate or process information.

Other long term effects of Xanax addiction include sedation, which can last for several days. Using alcohol with Xanax or other benzodiazepines can increase this sedation as well as lead to dangerous shifts in body functions, such as respiratory depression. Depression, delirium, psychosis, and aggressive or impulsive behaviors are also common with long term Xanax abuse.

Xanax Dependence

The long term abuse of Xanax can lead to dependence, which isn’t the same thing as addiction. Dependence occurs when your brain function changes in order to compensate for the presence of the drug. At some point, brain function may shift so that the brain operates more comfortably when you’re on Xanax. Then, when you stop using it, normal brain function rebounds, and withdrawal symptoms set in. The side effects of Xanax withdrawal include:

  • Insomnia.
  • Numb or tingling extremities.
  • Digestive problems.
  • Depression and anxiety.
  • Tremors.
  • Seizures.

Because detoxing from Xanax can be dangerous or even fatal, detox involves tapering off the doses over time to prevent dangerous side effects of Xanax withdrawal from setting in. The Xanax withdrawal timeline depends on a number of factors, including how much Xanax you’re taking and how long you’ve been taking it. While there are no medications available to shorten the Xanax withdrawal timeline, a high quality treatment program will offer medical detox, which will help ensure your comfort during the withdrawal period.

Treatment Works

Getting help for a Xanax addiction can help you end your addiction for good while improving your life on many fronts. Treatment through a high quality, holistic program will help you change harmful thought and behavior patterns, address the issues that underlie the addiction, and help you learn to relax and enjoy life without Xanax.

Treatment works for most people who engage with their treatment plan, and it can work for you or someone you love.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.