Xanax Side Effects and the Difficulties of Quitting

You’ve heard of Xanax, but can you spot Xanax side effects?

What is Xanax, what are the Xanax side effects, how does it work, and why is it so dangerous? Xanax is a brand name for Alprazolam, which is under the category of benzodiazepines. There are numerous sub-categories under the umbrella of the benzodiazepine family, all ending with “pam”– so, to make remembering a bit easier, we’ll bundle these drugs into one simple term and refer to them as, “the “Pams.”

Regardless of whatever less formal name I, or any of the world gives them, nothing can mask or undermine the insidious nature of this drug. Xanax (or any of the Pams) is currently prescribed to roughly 46 million Americans according to Psychology Today and that just accounts for those who are legally prescribed the drug. The number of people taking one of the Pams recreationally, is exponentially higher and highly concerning due to its potential for misuse and the ramifications such abuse can lead to.

To be fair, many people have found much needed relief from benzodiazepines; people who need them and have been prescribed the medication by a doctor. Xanax’s chief role is to alleviate anxiety, alongside irritability, depression, and insomnia. Xanax (or any of the Pams) works by binding to receptors in the brain that are responsible for regulating the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA. GABA is responsible for reducing excitability throughout the nervous system. By binding onto these receptors, the Pams alleviate very real panic and anxiety disorders and prove to be very effective when used short-term.

Prolonged use of Xanax can lead to a dangerous cycle of pronounced anxiety, depression, and panic attacks followed by a need for elevated amounts of the drug to counterbalance the adverse side effects.  Overuse of the Pams results in a stunted or ineffective production of GABA in the brain (remember, GABA is the chemical that helps regulate excitability, nervousness, and muscle tension).  That’s the catch-22 when it comes to the Pams – Xanax abuse can hyper-activate the original problem that it was intended to cure. Furthermore, with Xanax side effects, you might also experience loss of memory and appetite, intense mood swings, muscle spasms, sleeplessness, bowel irritability, slurred speech, vision problems, and overall agitation.

Now that you are aware of the dangers of Xanax abuse and Xanax side effects, you may be able to spot Xanax addiction in yourself or a loved one and get the help needed to reduce your risks of Xanax withdrawal.

Xanax addiction doesn’t care of your status; Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac went on record to describe her 8-year battle with Xanax dependency as if “someone opened up a door and pushed me into hell.”  In an interview with The Daily Beast, her candid recollection of Xanax withdrawal was so eerie that it has been quoted in countless rehabilitation articles since:

My hair turned gray and my skin molted. I could hardly walk. You can detox off heroin in 12 days. Coke is just a mental detox. But tranquilizers — they are dangerous. I was terrified to leave, and I came away knowing that that would never happen to me again.” ~ Stevie Nicks, Daily Beast 2009. 

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.