Side Effects of Xanax Abuse

Are you or a loved one experiencing the side effects of Xanax abuse?

Even people who take medication exactly as prescribed can become addicted to it without realizing; Xanax (brand name for Alprazolam) is the most frequently prescribed benzodiazepine drug in the United States, and – being highly addictive – it explains the common appearance of side effects of Xanax abuse in patients who take the drug.

The Alprazolam component affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause anxiety, by interacting with a receptor that in turn increases inhibitory brain activity, thus tempering any problematic excitement. It has potent and therapeutic anti-anxiety, anticonvulsant and sedative effects and is often prescribed for mental health disorders related to anxiety, including:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Various phobias

Because of its fast-release action, potency and the actual long-term effects of Xanax, the medication is usually prescribed for a period of time that should not exceed six weeks.

However, patients with this prescription don’t need to take the medication for a long time before they become addicted to its sedative characteristic and experience some of the negative side effects of Xanax abuse.

Some of the common side effects of using Xanax are trouble with cognitive skills and difficulty producing words properly. People using the drug may slur their speech and sound like they are intoxicated when they speak. The effects can also become more dramatic causing confusion or disorientation.

Even when adhering to the prescribed dosing and scheduling (the recommended six weeks) a patient can easily witness the long-term effects of Xanax in their system. Some of those effects are:

  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Weight changes
  • Memory problems
  • Depression
  • Unusual changes in mood
  • Sleeping for extended periods of time

The medication is a central nervous system depressant, which means that it slows down aspects of a patient’s mental and physical health. One of the most problematic long-term effects of Xanax is how it makes the brain forget how to operate effectively without the drug.

Xanax harnesses control over emotional responses, thought processes, memory, consciousness, and even muscular coordination.

All benzodiazepines ramp up the production of neurotransmitters known as GABA, which are responsible for calming nerve impulses that lead to emotional expressions like anxiety and panic.

In addition to these common side effects of Xanax abuse, one can easily identify the symptoms of Xanax addiction that require immediate attention.

These symptoms include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Irritability
  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Lack of focus
  • Swollen hands or feet
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Tremors

Other symptoms of Xanax addiction are far more serious and life-threatening. The drug is known to slow down respiratory rates of people that abuse it. Alone, this can be dangerous as the breathing slows, but the situation becomes more troubling when the substance is mixed with alcohol. Since they are both depressants, their combined effect could lead to serious injury, coma, or death.

The side effects of Xanax abuse often lead the patient to a feeling on “being stuck”; the depression and loneliness feelings that are naturally part of the symptoms of Xanax addiction, more often than not cause extreme manifestations which include:

  • Suicidal thoughts and actions
  • Thoughts of self-harm
  • Hostility
  • Hallucinations

A person who has become dependent on this drug – which means they have come to rely on Xanax psychologically as well physically – will need rehabilitation before they can embark on a new, sober life.

The long-term effects of Xanax will very often make the patient feel that life will be unbearable without that drug. This is one of the reasons that an addicted person will fight the idea of rehab.

Very often, they are just taking the drug to feel “normal,” so they can function in daily life. Once the medication is taken away, they may not believe they can cope with life.

When a person is addicted, they have found an escape from life’s problems and now they must learn how to have a productive, enjoyable life while also not needing this kind of escape. This normally takes some time and also takes learning sober living skills.

Medical detox is the safest way to wean off Xanax and move back into a healthy and fully functioning life. If people started taking Xanax as part of a treatment plan for anxiety or other conditions such as panic disorder, they will require treatment that addresses the original condition.

Detoxing from Xanax should never be attempted alone. With the right care during withdrawal and continuing treatment, users can get back on their feet and manage substance abuse and mental health issues with appropriate treatment options that are suited to their long-term needs.


If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.