What Exactly Is Xanax
Xanax, also known as Alprazolam, is a popular medication used to treat and subdue feelings of terror and stress that come from anxiety. The goal of this medication is to balance out the chemicals in our brain that trigger panic attacks and anxiety. Xanax works by slowing down brain activity, which causes a calm and relaxed state for the body and mind. Commonly the effects of Xanax make people who are feeling anxiety calm down and feel normal. However, the effects of Xanax and the speed at which it works make it commonly abused.
What Are The Effects Of Xanax Use
The main effects of Xanax use include a sense of calm and relaxation. When you take Xanax, you may also feel sleepy, content, and quiet. These feelings are different from the sensations experienced when stimulant drugs are taken, as they often produce feelings of high energy.
Because of its sedative effects, Xanax is particularly dangerous when mixed with alcohol. Both Xanax and alcohol are central nervous system depressants, so abusing both substances together can have life-threatening consequences.
Likewise, taking Xanax alongside other drugs can be dangerous. Polydrug abuse is the term used to describe taking multiple drugs simultaneously. Unfortunately, taking Xanax with alcohol or other drugs causes the most significant amount of fatalities.
Long-term effects of taking Xanax alongside other drugs can lead you to experience symptoms such as:
Xanax Effects On Brain Functions
The changes in the neuropathways of the brain that occur as a result of long-term Xanax abuse include, but are not limited to:
- A decrease in the number of neuron receptors for inhibitory neurotransmitters like gamma-aminobutyric acid , referred to as down regulation.
- An increase in the number of neurons that are associated with neurotransmitters that produce the opposite effects of Xanax, referred to as upregulation.
- Significant alterations in the pathways of the so-called reward center of the brain associated with the reinforcing effects of the drug, leading to positive associations with use of the drug.
- Tertiary effects due to other variables, such as changes in behavior, alterations in appetite, and changes in the sleep cycle.
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A Brain Under Construction
It is often forgotten that the teenage brain undergoes a rapid and drastic change in a relatively short time. Even in the late teen years, the prefrontal cortex the region responsible for decision-making, judgment, and impulse and emotional control is still being stitched together. Having said that, the nucleus accumbens, which regulates reward and pleasure, is mostly in place by the teenage years.
This means that while a teenager or young adult might struggle to make sound decisions in the face of temptation, their brain will instinctively recognize what will feel good and pull them in that direction. This is why many teenager exhibit impulsive and risky behavior they may know its not good for them, but the part of their brain that can exercise judgment is still under construction.
How does Xanax come into play here? As a benzodiazepine, the medication works by accessing the communication system of the brain and imposing itself on how nerve cells send and receive signals and process information. Every time Xanax is consumed, the nucleus accumbens releases dopamine, the neurotransmitter that controls those feelings of pleasure and reward.
This is the mechanism behind any form of drug addiction, and in a teenage brain, the effect is even more pronounced. Few experiences can compare with the chemically driven burst of pleasure, so more Xanax is taken , so much so that the body cannot produce its own dopamine.
Cognitive & Behavioral Side Effects
The potential behavioral problems that can be associated with use of Xanax can be numerous and depend on the context in which the drug is regularly used. Alterations in the pathways of the brain can extend to other areas of the brain that are not associated with the drugs medicinal effects, particularly in abusers of the drug. There are numerous potential cognitive and behavioral issues that can occur as a result of chronic Xanax abuse, and these issues are much less more likely to occur in individuals who use the drug medicinally
- Long-term issues with attention and concentration
- Issues with the ability to form new memories and retain information
- Issues with problem-solving and judgment
- Issues with impulse control, especially controlling emotions
- An increased susceptibility to stress
- Cravings to use Xanax.
- Physical dependence on Xanax.
- The development of a substance use disorder
- Behavior alterations, such as not being able to control use of the drug and continuing to use the drug in spite of experiencing negative consequences
- Other psychological issues, such as anxiety, depression, and stress
- Increased vulnerability to be the victim of a crime or to commit a crime
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Xanax Effects Happen Fast
Xanax is intended to be taken only for a short time. It acts quickly to relieve anxiety, but can become habit-forming if taken over a long period. The effects of Xanax happen fast, usually within an hour. Xanax is short-acting, and half of it is gone within about 11 hours. Xanax is typically taken three times a day.
Usually, Xanax is taken to treat transitory feelings of anxiety or until the effect of an antidepressant such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors kicks in. SSRIs can take up to six weeks to be fully effective.
Why Is Xanax Abuse So Common
Xanax abuse has become culturally more apparent since the early 2000s. Popular Soundcloud rappers have incorporated it into their lyrics, merchandise, and images. Xanax has become so popular that presses are available on the black market. Essentially, presses are drugs that are not manufactured by a drug company or distributed by a doctor. The rising rates of depression and anxiety amongst younger people have not helped lessen the abuse of this drug. Understandably, the world has been hectic as ever, especially with the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020. In 2020, The F.D.A. made it mandatory for stronger warning labels to be on medications including Xanax and similar drugs.
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Seizures And Xanax Abuse
Some benzodiazepines are prescribed to treat seizure disorders. Sometimes, people who struggle with alcohol use disorder receive doctor-monitored prescriptions for benzodiazepines to ease their bodies off dependence because sudden alcohol withdrawal may induce seizures. The action benzodiazepines like Xanax has on the GABA receptors is very important for people who suffer these conditions.
GABA stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is the primary neurotransmitter in the cerebral cortex. At normal levels, this neurotransmitter is involved in feelings of excitement, energy, and even temporary anxiety at higher levels, anxiety and panic disorders can occur and at even higher levels, GABA imbalances can cause seizures.
Xanax and other benzodiazepines act on the GABA receptors to calm them down, but they have a high potential for dependence, abuse, and addiction trying to end an addiction on benzodiazepines may induce seizures too. Although some people may be able to stop taking Xanax suddenly, and only experience some rebound insomnia or anxiety, others may develop seizure problems, which can be extremely dangerous. As a result, medical detox is always required for Xanax withdrawal.
Does Xanax Cause Addiction
There is no doubt that Xanax can be an addictive substance if taken for a long time. Considering that a staggering 70% of American teens with Xanax addiction use it without a prescription, this is an extremely concerning matter.
Unfortunately, tolerance to Xanax develops really fast, causing a person to take more of this medication to achieve their desired state of mind. People with severe Xanax addiction might take up to over 20 pills per day.
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Why Is Xanax So Addictive
Xanax, also known by its generic name alprazolam, belongs to a class of prescription drugs called benzodiazepines. For some people, Xanax can be an effective treatment for anxiety and panic disorders. However, Xanax users are at high risk for …
You are not alone.DrugAbuse.com is a subsidiary of American Addiction Centers . Get help with finding the right treatment program when you are ready.
Test Of Visual Memory
PAL. Mixed model repeated measures ANOVA with 2 levels of group and 2 levels of time shows that one out of four tests of PAL had significant main effect of treatment for two weeks with F = 14.45, p = 0.001, 2 = 0.376 for PAL mean trial to success F = 0.629, p = 0.435, 2 = 0.026 for PAL total errors adjusted F = 0.740, p = 0.398, 2 = 0.030 for PAL mean error to success and F = 3.396, p = 0.078, 2 = 0.124 for PAL memory score on the first trial. There was significant interaction between treatment for two weeks and PAL mean trial to success with F = 37.47, p< 0.001, 2 = 0.610 indicating that alprazolam impaired PAL mean trial to success significantly over time. Since all the subjects had the value of 4 for PAL stages completed at both time points, analysis of this parameter was not possible and was therefore excluded from analysis .
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Anxiety And The Brain
In a healthy brain, nervousness causes the release of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. GABA binds itself to more stimulating neurotransmitters like acetylcholine, dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine, allowing the penetration of chloride ions that then block those neurotransmitters from firing. In an article written for the National Anxiety Foundation, Dr. Stephen Cox likens GABA to the brakes on a car. GABA slows down the neurotransmitters that would otherwise cause that initial nervousness to spiral into anxiety.
How Xanax Impacts The Brain And Body
Xanax is one of many drugs known as benzodiazepines or benzos. Like all the drugs in this class, Xanax helps to reduce the transmission of messages in the brain and thus fosters a sense of calm, relaxation, and sedation. Because of this, it is often prescribed for conditions such as the following:
- Panic disorder
Moreover, benzos like Xanax reduce central nervous system activity and because of this, they are in a class of drugs known as CNS depressants. Unfortunately, however, this sedative action as well as other interactions of Xanax in the body can lead to unexpected side effects, especially if the drug is being misused.
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Xanax Overdose Symptoms Signs & Treatment
What is Xanax? Xanax, also known generically as alprazolam, is a benzodiazepine medication commonly prescribed for the treatment of anxiety and panic disorder 1 . More infrequent, off-label uses for Xanax include managing agoraphobia (fear of open …
Treatment For Xanax Addiction And Abuse
Xanax addiction can cause serious mental and physical health problems. If you or someone you love is struggling with Xanax addiction, a quality treatment program can ease withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse. At Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms. The Arbor uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues.
No treatment is one-size-fits-all, and at The Arbor, you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan. We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. Through a wide range of programs, individuals can find the treatment that best fits their needs and goals in recovery:
- Residential Care Program
- Relapse Prevention Program
- Alumni Program
These programs mean our team at The Arbor can support and guide individuals through all stages of recovery.
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Risk Of Overdose With Xanax
Theres a risk of overdosing on Xanax. This is especially true in those who combine benzos like Xanax with other substances like opioid pain relievers or alcohol. The FDA has a Black Box Warning about using benzos and opioids together for this reason.
Since substances like alcohol also act as depressants of the central nervous system, benzos and alcohol can slow the bodys essential functions so much that the person goes into a coma or dies from an overdose.
Brain Damage From Benzodiazepines
Last week, Britain’s Independent newspaper published a bombshell for psychiatry and medicine: the country’s Medical Research Council had sat on warnings voiced 30 years earlier that benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax can cause brain damage. As 11.5 million prescriptions for these drugs were issued in 2008 in Britain alone, my post on the revelation focused on the consequences of the cover-up for the millions of people affected.
Given the feedback I received from numerous recovering patients in Britain and the U.S. attesting to their profound difficulties quitting such medication, as well as their continued impairment from the drugs many years later, I want to retrace the drugs’ controversial history, to help explain why the suppression of evidence about their side effects is deservedly national news in Britain, and why it should be here in the U.S., too.
Concern about the adverse effects of this group of drugs dates to the 1970s when vast numbers of people began taking them for stress and anxiety. Once the most-popular minor tranquilizers in Britain, the U.S., and much of Europe, benzodiazepines include such household names as Valium, Xanax, Librium, Ativan, and Klonopin.
With SSRIs represented in the 1980s and 90s as well-tolerated and nonaddictive, as distinct from the extensive, well-documented side effects of benzodiazepines, the resurgence of prescriptions for benzos in the early 2000s is not only striking but a serious concern.
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What Are Neurotransmitters
A neurotransmitter is a chemical messenger that carries, boosts, and balances the signals between nerve cells and the target cells all over the body. The target cells may be in muscles, glands, or other neurons. There are literally billions of neurotransmitter molecules constantly working to keep our brains functioning. Neurotransmitters manage:
- Psychological functions such as fear, pleasure, joy, and overall mood
Who Should Avoid Xanax
According to the Food and Drug Administration, Xanax is riskier for certain populations.
You may want to talk to your doctor if you have:
- Plans to become pregnant or breastfeed: Benzodiazepines like Xanax can move through the placenta and harm your unborn child. The drug can also pass into your breast milk.
- An age of 65 or older: You will probably digest Xanax more slowly than younger adults. You are also more likely to have serious side effects.
- Liver or kidney disease: Your liver and kidneys act as filters for your body. If they don’t function well, you can have a harder time metabolizing Xanax.
- Lung disease: Xanax can affect your breathing, which is dangerous for people with poor lung function.
- History of depression: Xanax may cause manic symptoms in some people with depression.
- History of addiction: You may have a heightened risk of getting addicted to Xanax if you have been addicted to other depressant drugs like opioids or alcohol.
Important: Xanax and alcohol do not mix. Combining the two can increase risk of overdose, liver and kidney damage, psychosis, and in severe cases death. Those who drink heavily are at greater risk, but anyone who consumes alcohol while taking benzodiazepines are playing with fire. Alcohol isn’t the only drug interaction to be aware of with Xanax.
Xanax can interact with other drugs including the following:
- Antibiotics: erythromycin , clarithromycin
- Antidepressants: fluoxetine , fluvoxamine , paroxetine
- Some herbs: St. John’s wort
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Workout Recovery And Muscle Building
A 2019 research study asked 21 healthy males to take a supplement with whey protein or whey protein plus GABA once a day for 12 weeks.
The participants performed the same resistance training exercises twice a week, and the researchers measured the results. The researchers found that the combination of whey protein and GABA increased levels of growth hormone compared to whey protein alone.
Although this was another small study, the researchers concluded that GABA supplements might help to build muscle and assist in workout recovery. They recommended that researchers conduct more studies.
Treatment For Xanax Use And Addiction
Many effects of Xanax addiction, including short-term memory loss, are treatable and can get better in time. Although some mental effects of Xanax use can in some cases be permanent, the brain is also a complex organ that is capable of healing with proper treatment.
The first step for many people seeking help for Xanax use is to enter a medical detox program. Although Xanax withdrawal is rarely deadly on its own, it can be dangerous to undergo without medical support. Medical detox services are commonly integrated into inpatient addiction programs to help patients safely withdraw from moderate to severe drug dependence.
Inpatient programs also offer other effective services such as dual-diagnosis programs and behavioral therapy. These can be helpful during the recovery process to help patients learn coping strategies for dealing with their triggers and working through other emotional struggles.
Recovery from Xanax addiction is possible, and youre not alone. Contact us today to find the right treatment program for you or a loved one today.
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Xanax Abuse And Dependence
Xanax abuse can rapidly result in dependence. This is because, over time, the user may experience increased tolerance, a condition in which the body becomes accustomed to the drug, and the effects diminish as a result. This often compels the person to use more of the drug to achieve the desired effect.
This type of overuse can cause the persons system to reach a point where it can no longer function normally without the drugs presence. This is known as chemical dependence and results in withdrawal symptoms when the user attempts to quit or drastically cut back. When the person also acquires a psychological dependence and drug use becomes uncontrollable, full-blown addiction has developed.