Need Help Overcoming Addiction?
Call Us Today! 1-888-747-7155
Need Help Understanding Your Addiction Treatment Options? Call 1-888-747-7155.

The Effects of Xanax Use

  1. Table of ContentsPrint
  2. About Xanax
  3. Short-Term Effects of Xanax
  4. Side Effects
  5. Lasting Health Effects of Xanax
  6. Xanax Dependency
  7. Xanax Withdrawal
  8. Treatment for Xanax Addiction

Tired man with Xanax

About Xanax

Xanax (generic name: alprazolam) is a powerful benzodiazepine drug that was first introduced in 1976. The medication comes in tablet form or an extended-release capsule. It has strong anti-anxiety, anti-convulsant, muscle relaxant, and sedative effects, when taken as prescribed. The substance is often prescribed for mental health disorders related to anxiety, including:

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

Xanax is the most frequently prescribed benzodiazepine drug in the US, with about 49 million prescriptions written in 2011. It is prescribed at much higher rates than other benzodiazepines such as:

  • Ativan (27 million prescriptions).
  • Klonopin (nearly 27 million prescriptions).
  • Valium (about 15 million prescriptions).
  • Restoril (about 8.5 prescriptions).

Benzodiazepines all share many similar properties, with the biggest difference being the speed of onset and the duration of the effects. Xanax is a drug that acts quickly in the body with most of the desired effects occurring within the first hour of use. The total effects from the drug will last for at least 6 hours.

Xanax's Potential for Abuse and Addiction


Like most benzodiazepines, Xanax has great potential for tolerance, addiction, abuse, and dependence when used long-term. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Xanax can become addictive if the medication is used in large quantities or for a prolonged period of time. Despite its potential for benefit, the medication also has various side effects that can occur, which may prove dangerous.

Adding to the danger associated with Xanax use is the risk of physical injury if the medication is suddenly stopped.

If you're struggling with an addiction to Xanax and need help finding a treatment center in your area, call 1-888-747-7155.

Short-Term Effects of Xanax

When taken as prescribed, the short-term effects of Xanax are beneficial. It will reduce the physical tension, restlessness, and feelings of unease common in anxiety.

You don't have to use Xanax for a long time to experience some of the negative effects of the medication. Common effects of Xanax are trouble with cognitive skills and difficulty producing words properly. People using Xanax may slur their speech and sound like they are intoxicated when they speak.

When you use Xanax in larger quantities, the effects become more dramatic. Some people also become confused or disoriented when they take the medication.

Physical Effects of Xanax

Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, are used for physical benefits like:

  • Sedation.
  • Inducing sleep.
  • Reducing physical tension.
  • Treating muscle spasms.
  • Prevention of seizures.

Mental Health Effects

Xanax will also aid the mental health symptoms of anxiety by:

  • Reducing racing thoughts.
  • Limiting worry.
  • Reducing fears.

Xanax Effects question 2

Side Effects

All prescription medications have side effects, including Xanax. The medication has multiple side effects with some being more serious than others. The common side effects of Xanax include:

    Signs of Xanax Overdose
    Overdose of Xanax can occur when someone takes more than their prescribed dose, takes the prescribed dose in a shorter time span, or when someone has recently started or restarted use of the substance. Signs of benzodiazepine overdose can include:

    • Blurred vision.
    • Slurred speech.
    • Weakness.
    • Respiratory depression.
    • Coma.

    When you see the signs of an overdose, don't wait. Learn what to do at our blog, Taking Action: How to Intervene During an Overdose.

  • Drowsiness.
  • Headaches.
  • Fatigue.
  • Dizziness.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Changes in sex drive.
  • Inability to perform sexually.
  • Increased salivation.
  • Weight changes.
  • Difficulty urinating.
  • Constipation.
  • Skin rashes.
  • Seizures.
  • Depression.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Memory problems.
  • Unusual changes in your mood.

Xanax Effects question 3
Xanax Effects question 4

Lasting Health Effects of Xanax

The Danger of Xanax Graphic
Chronic use or abuse of sedatives, such as Xanax, is associated with:

  • Depression.
  • Psychotic experiences.
  • Aggressive and impulsive behavior.
  • Delirious states.
  • Cognitive deficits.

People who use Xanax for an extended period of time can experience long-term side effects. One of the common long-term side effects of Xanax is memory impairment. While the impairment is mild and it mostly affects your short-term memory, it has a lasting effect. This occurs because it becomes difficult to maintain the needed levels of attention and concentration to receive and retain information from conversations or material that is read or observed.

Another long-term effect of Xanax is sedation. It is possible that people who use Xanax may experience periods of sedation that last up to 4 days. This sedation can also occur by mixing Xanax with alcohol. Since each substance serves as a depressant, their combined effects are amplified. Because of this, using alcohol while taking any benzodiazepine, like Xanax, is never recommended.
Xanax Effects question 5

Xanax Dependency

Some people begin using Xanax as an experiment to experience the Xanax high. When you take Xanax, it relaxes your entire body and helps you sleep better. People who take Xanax for an extended amount of time may build up a tolerance for the drug. When tolerance occurs, your body requires a larger dose of Xanax or an increased frequency of use to achieve the same or similar effect that the substance had on you when you began taking it.

If you continually use Xanax, especially in larger quantities, you can develop a chemical dependency to the medication. When this happens, your body doesn't function properly without it. It is possible to become physically dependent on the drug even if you use it as prescribed.

You can also experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using Xanax. Some users may continue taking it in avoidance of experience withdrawal symptoms. This may be an indication of addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction occurs when a chemical dependency is combined with a strong desire to consume the substance.

To help someone addicted to or dependent on Xanax, call (800) 943-0566 to speak to a treatment support representative.

Credit: Fox 47 News

Xanax Effects question 6

Xanax Withdrawal

The negative effects of Xanax withdrawal are counter to the desired effects of the drug. They include:

  • Insomnia.
  • Muscle tension.
  • Digestive upset.
  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Tremors.
  • Seizures.
  • Tingling, pins and needles, or numbness in extremities.

No one deserves addiction. If you think you have a problem with Xanax and need help finding a treatment program that's right for you, call (800) 943-0566.

Treatment for Xanax Addiction

drugabuse_istock-57054868-nurse-comforting-rehab-patientWhen you first arrive at a Xanax treatment center, you begin the detoxification process according to the duration, dose, and frequency of your usage. It takes about a week for your body to detoxify from Xanax. During this time, the medication will be reduced and removed from your body. You might experience the above listed withdrawal symptoms at this point.

Depending on your situation, it might be recommended to end your Xanax use altogether or be weaned off over the course of several weeks.

Hospitals, detoxification centers, and rehab centers have trained medical staff on hand to help you cope with your withdrawal symptoms. If your symptoms are persistent, the staff can administer medication to help the symptoms subside and aid your comfort.

Once the detoxification process is over, your treatment will shift to include addressing the reasons behind your use and will generally include some forms of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and counseling (individual and group). They may also use other techniques such as contingency management, which incentivizes positive behaviors.

Outpatient treatment programs offer more flexibility than inpatient programs. However, some people need the additional structure that an inpatient program provides. It's important that you review all of your options and choose a program that's right for your physical health, mental health, and overall well-being.

Outpatient treatment programs allow you to work and spend the evening with your family. There is a wide range of options for outpatient treatment including:

  • Individual and group therapy. This helps target the underlying factors in your addiction or dependence.
  • Nonprofessional/ community-based support groups. In recovery, there are many programs (such as AA and NA) and peer support groups that can be helpful in maintaining distance from a problematic substance.

Inpatient treatment programs require you to live at the facility for the duration of your treatment, typically 30, 60 or 90 days. During your stay, your days focus entirely on your recovery. A typical day at a treatment facility could include group therapy sessions, individual therapy sessions, recreational activities designed to help you learn how to function without drugs, book study groups, skills training, and optional church services.

If you're ready to start your recovery, don’t wait. Call (800) 943-0566 today.

Need Help Understanding Your Addiction Treatment Options? Call 1-888-747-7155.