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The Effects of Alprazolam Use—Short-Term, Long-Term and Side Effects

Is Alprazolam Harmful?

Alprazolam (trade name: Xanax) is a sedative drug in the benzodiazepine class, indicated for the management of some forms of anxiety and panic disorders.

The substance—like all benzodiazepines—has central nervous system depressant effects on the user. Its use results in the inhibition of certain brain processes and an overall slowing down of various bodily functions, while eliciting a subjective feeling of warmth and inflated sense of well-being in some individuals.

When used as prescribed for the short-term management of a specific health problem, alprazolam can be a drug with benefits that outweigh the associated risks. However, because of the“high” it can create, the drug can be addictive, even when it is taken as prescribed—and it is potentially dangerous when misused.

Data from SDI Health revealed that alprazolam was number 8 on the list of the most prescribed medications in 2010. In 2011, alprazolam was the most frequently prescribed benzodiazepine—with about 49 million prescriptions written.

Long-term use of this substance can lead to:

  • Tolerance—The  phenomenon of needing increasing amounts of the medication to produce the result the user has grown accustomed to.
  • Addiction—When abuse of the substance persists despite the negative outcomes; those in the throes of Xanax addiction will sometimes take extreme, dangerous, or illegal measures to obtain more the drug.
  • Dependence—When the person’s body and mind function sub-optimally without the presence of the substance in their system.

Short-Term Effects of Alprazolam Use

When users get high on alprazolam, the drug’s short-term effects can cause them to feel completely calm, euphoric, and free from worry.

This drug works for people suffering from anxiety and panic disorders because it begins to relieve their anxious feelings and settle their minds soon after taking the medication.

Compared to other similar substances, alprazolam is known for its quick action. Its effects may be felt within 30 minutes and can last for around 6 hours. If it is taken in large doses, its depressant effects are stronger and may cause lapses in memory.

Side Effects of Xanax Use

Using alprazolam can bring about a variety of side effects. Most side effects of Xanax use are not life-threatening, but some may require medical care.

Typical Alprazolam Side Effects

  • Somnolence.
  • Dyspnea or shortness of breath.
  • Nausea.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Hypersalivation.
  • Excessive talking.
  • Decreased motivation.
  • Irritability.
  • Decreased libido.

More Serious Xanax Side Effects

  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Memory problems.
  • Confusion.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Paranoia.
  • Depression.
  • Strange dreams.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Seizures.

If you suffer from any serious medical problem, you should see your doctor right away. If you think you or a loved one may be suffering from a health issue associated with drug use or addiction to Xanax, help is just a phone call away. is a subsidiary of American Addiction Centers, a leading provider in Xanax or alprazolam addiction treatment. Call us for free at today. Our hotline is open 24/7 and you can speak confidentially with someone who will provide helpful information about recovery program options. If you have health insurance, use our free and confidential online insurance checker to see if you’re covered for treatment at one of our facilities.

Long-Term Effects of Alprazolam Use

One serious long-term effect of alprazolam use is the possibility—if not inevitability—of physical dependence and addiction. You may begin to grow dependent on the sedative effects of this substance in a short period of time, and tolerance can begin to develop remarkably quickly with persistent use.

When a patient becomes tolerant to the effects of alprazolam, he or she must take more of the drug to get the same calm feeling. This can kickstart a dangerous cycle of compulsive use, and can ultimately result in sedative addiction. Naturally, continually upping one’s dose of alprazolam raises the risk of overdose.

Alprazolam Overdose Symptoms and Signs

  • Vertigo or dizziness.
  • Profound or difficult-to-rouse-from drowsiness.
  • Syncope or fainting.
  • Marked muscle weakness and/or uncoordinated motor functions.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Shallow breathing.

Although rare, coma and death can occur as a result of alprazolam overdose. Any drug overdose is a serious problem, but overdoses of legal drugs have become more common in recent years.

The risks associated with using alprazolam over an extended period are great. The problem becomes compounded when the substance is used with other drugs or alcohol.

For example, combining alcohol and Xanax can result in serious health conditions like coma or death, because they each act as a depressant. Together, their cumulative effects can slow breathing to dangerous levels. This, paired with impaired judgment and decision-making, can have grave consequences.

Xanax: A Growing Problem

Prescription drugs cause the majority of the more than 26,000 fatal drug overdoses each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

woman looking concerned

Consider these other alprazolam statistics according to the Drug Enforcement Administration:

  • There were more than 31,000 calls to poison control in 2010 related to benzodiazepines—11 of them resulting in death.
  • There were almost 350,000 emergency room visits related to benzodiazepines in 2010; alprazolam accounted for more than a third of these.
  • More than 20 million people over the age of 12 have reported misuse of benzodiazepines at some point in their lives.

Learn more about the dangers of benzodiazepines like alprazolam at our blog, 5 Alarming Facts About Benzo Addiction.

Alprazolam Dependence

Substance dependency occurs when you begin to feel like you need a substance to function normally. A person struggling with alprazolam dependency will typically take the drug every day regardless of their symptoms.

Someone with an alprazolam addiction, or Xanax use disorder, may demonstrate a number of problematic behaviors. These may include:

  • Taking more of the drug than they need at one time.
  • Ignoring doctor’s recommendations when taking the medication.
  • Mixing alprazolam with other drugs or alcohol.
  • Continuing to take the drug even after it is medically necessary.
  • Using the substance without a prescription.

Becoming dependent on prescription drugs is a serious problem for many. A situation of prescription drug abuse presents its own unique set of challenges, because many people begin taking the drugs in question for legitimate, underlying medical purposes. This makes addiction even harder to accept and understand, as many people do not intentionally set out to misuse their medications.

Other signs of dependence on alprazolam include:

  • Feeling uncomfortable, irritable, or anxious without the substance.
  • Experiencing mood disturbances, such as depression.
  • Believing that the substance is vital to your everyday functioning.
  • Using the substance to escape, avoid, or ignore reality.

Alprazolam Withdrawal Treatment

In some instances, withdrawal from alprazolam and other benzodiazepines is a medical emergency. People taking a high dose of the medication or those who have been using the substance for an extended time should never stop the use of this medication suddenly without first consulting with a medical professional; doing so can result in seizures, coma, or death.

Alprazolam Withdrawal Symptoms and Signs

  • Headaches.
  • Sensitivity to light and sound.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Sweating.
  • Nervousness.
  • Agitation.
  • Seizures.
  • Convulsions.

It is strongly recommended to consult with an addiction treatment or medical professional prior to embarking upon a substance abuse treatment process.

Supervised Medical Alprazolam Detox

To address the aforementioned withdrawal dangers, stopping alprazolam use will require a period of supervised detoxification services to usher the patient safely through this difficult process. Learn about 3-day, 5-day and 7-day detox programs.

During this period, the patient’s status will be monitored to avoid any negative consequences. Because of the severity and duration of alprazolam withdrawal symptoms, detox from this drug should be completed at a reputable treatment center under the care of trained medical professionals. Inpatient rehab centers can treat your alprazolam addiction effectively and confidentially.

Withdrawal from an alprazolam addiction typically involves a process of weaning, or tapering the body off of the drug. Weaning is when a medical professional continues to provide the substance to you at lower doses until the amount of medication is reduced to zero. This process can take longer, but the symptoms of withdrawal will be diminished.

Aftercare or Follow-Up Care

Following the Xanax detoxification process, follow-up care—or aftercare—will be essential. This helps the person to maintain sobriety, adjust to life without the substance, and improve their overall well-being. A range of options—like outpatient drug and alcohol treatment, mental health care, and community services—will aid in this process. Addiction is a chronic issue and often must be continuously managed in the long-term in order to maintain the progress made during the initial treatment period.

How to Find Xanax Addiction Treatment

If you or a loved one is struggling with Xanax misuse, help is available and recovery is possible. Professional treatment can start anyone battling a substance use problem on the path to a happier and healthier life. American Addiction Centers (AAC) runs trusted facilities across the country. To learn more about rehab programs and treatment options that are available, please contact a caring admissions navigator with AAC free at .

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