What Are The Long Term Effects Of Xanax Abuse?

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Do you suffer from feelings of anxiousness or uncertainty on a daily basis? Have you ever thought about treating your anxiety with medications? One of the more commonly prescribed medications used to treat anxiety is Xanax. However, being that this drug is so potent, and seemingly “cures” the feelings of anxiousness, it is also highly abused. Xanax abuse can be classified as taking more than prescribed, or even seeking out the medication as a way to “get high” on it. It is important to know the long term effects of Xanax abuse, when thinking of taking the drug.

What is Xanax?

Xanax is the brand name for Alprazolam. It is considered to be a schedule IV drug, and it belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. According to WebMD, these drugs produce a calming effect by acting on the brain and central nervous system. As with all drugs, there are side effects of taking Xanax, some being:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Hallucinations 
  • Trouble Speaking
  • Unsteadiness
  • Memory Problems

Xanax, as a prescription, is meant to only be taken for short periods of time. Although, many doctors prescribe the medication on an “as needed” basis. After a few days, or weeks, the body can become dependent on the drug. Meaning that the body needs the medication to function properly. This dependence can be a risk factor for abuse.  Xanax abuse has been a factor in stricter prescribing guidelines as well as label changes for the drug.  

Why is Xanax So Highly Abused?

When you suffer from anxiety disorders, you feel a certain level of uncomfortably. In turn, when you can take a drug that “cures” these feelings, it is easy to see why you’d want to continue to take it. To be able to feel as though you are living your daily life normally, and not suffering with the symptoms of anxiety can definitely be an enticing thought. However, over time, that feeling of being cured is lessened as the body becomes more and more tolerant of the drug. This can be where Xanax abuse begins. The need or desire to feel better, or feel “normal”,  can generally cause people to take more than prescribed, or even buy medication that isn’t prescribed to them.

Long Term Effects Of Xanax Abuse

Even in the short term, and when taken as prescribed, Xanax abuse can cause physical dependence. Because of this, if you decide to stop taking the drug, or reduce your dose, you may still experience withdrawal symptoms after only a few days or weeks of taking it. Long term Xanax abuse allows for the risk of these withdrawal symptoms to become more severe, and dangerous. Some common symptoms of Xanax withdrawal include:

  • Insomnia
  • Agitation
  • Muscle Aches
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness

While more chronic and severe Xanax abuse can cause auditory and/or visual hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, and more dangerously, seizures. This is why it is best to seek professional help if you decide to stop taking this medication. Being monitored and supported is a vital part of getting off the medication comfortably and safely.

The long term psychological effects of Xanax abuse can present as increased depression, or lowered inhibitions which in turn leads to reckless and unexplained behavior. Long term effects can also manifest themselves as aggression, irritability, or sleep problems. Neurologically, Xanax abuse can lead to cognitive issues, such as memory loss or physically being unable to steady or balance yourself. These side effects are all signs of Xanax abuse, and should be taken seriously to prevent further damage. 

What Happens if You Take Too Much?

Xanax abuse can lead to overdose. Taking too much is a short time frame can result in different symptoms of overdose, such as:

  • Drowsiness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Slow reflex reaction
  • Coma or death

But the risk of overdose isn’t just when you take too much in a short period of time. Xanax and other benzodiazepines are stored in the body’s fat cells, this causes the drug to stay in the system longer and build up over time. Continued use and Xanax abuse can put you at risk for overdose, even with a smaller amount. There is also the risk of overdose when you mix Xanax with other substances that also affect the central nervous system. Xanax coupled with things like opiates or alcohol can cause shallow breathing, lowered heart rate and can also lead to fatal consequences. 

Help For Xanax Abuse In South Jersey

Xanax abuse is dangerous. Continued abuse over a long period of time can have drastic, life long effects on your body. If you are struggling with Xanax abuse, don’t hesitate to reach out and seek help. You don’t have to struggle alone, or run the risk of these neurological and cognitive effects on your body. There is help. At The Healing Center in Cherry Hill, NJ we strive to help those struggling overcome their addiction. We have a variety of programs to help you to comfortably stop using Xanax, and learn to live your life without it. Reach out to our admissions team, and begin your journey of recovery today!