may benefit those who suffer from anxiety disorders or panic attacks by encouraging calm. Benzodiazepines, sometimes known as benzos and other names on the street, are a class of medications that includes Xanax. Your central nervous system’s activity is slowed as a result of how it operates, which may make you feel more at ease and relieved of anxiety and fear.
Xanax is a depressant that increases the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid, a brain chemical that produces serenity and a sense of relaxation. The medication aids in promoting sleep and reducing anxiety for many individuals.
Until you know how Xanax affects you, it is not advised to operate equipment or motor vehicles while you are taking it since it may also make you feel sleepy, lightheaded, and less intellectually aware.
Other side effects of Xanax can include:
- Dry mouth
- Impaired memory
- Libido changes
Signs of a Xanax overdose can include:
- Extreme sleepiness
- Problems with coordination
- Decreased use of reflexes
An overdose can result in death.
Xanax is often prescribed for the temporary relief of anxiety symptoms, but it isn’t recommended for long-term use, as this can lead to addiction and serious side effects related to withdrawal, including seizures.
It’s also a drug that’s often abused. It’s not an opioid, but it is sometimes mixed with them and has been found in many patients who overdose on opioids.
Xanax effects happen fast
Only a brief period of time is recommended for using Xanax. It reduces anxiety immediately, but if used often, it may become a habit. Xanax’s effects start to take action quickly, generally within an hour. Because Xanax has a short half-life, it wears off in around 11 hours. Three doses of Xanax are common each day.
Typically, Xanax is used to relieve momentary anxiety or while waiting for an antidepressant such selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to start working. The full effects of SSRIs might take up to six weeks to manifest.
Mixing Xanax with other drugs or alcohol
Despite its benefits, Xanax can be dangerous. It’s not good to mix Xanax and alcohol, as both are central nervous system depressants and slow the activity of the brain. Mixing alcohol and Xanax can raise your risk of experiencing more severe side effects of the drug, such as dizziness, slowed breathing and extreme sleepiness.
It’s also not recommended for people with addiction problems and suicidal tendencies.
People who should not take Xanax also include:
- Those who are prescribed certain antifungal medications, such as itraconazole or ketoconazole
- Those who have an allergy to alprazolam, the active ingredient in Xanax, or any of the other ingredients in Xanax
- Those who have an allergy to other benzodiazepine medications
Those taking nefazodone, fluvoxamine or cimetidine should avoid taking Xanax or make sure their dosage is adjusted before use, as these medications can raise the concentration of Xanax in the body and raise the risk of experiencing side effects.
If your doctor prescribes Xanax, be sure you mention all the other drugs you are taking and the dose because this can affect how the Xanax will react in your system and how the drugs you are already taking will react to Xanax. This includes opiate medications for cough or pain.
Xanax is especially dangerous when taken with opioids. Opioids are typically prescribed to relieve pain. A 2016 study in Pain Medicine found that overdose death rates among patients taking opioids and benzodiazepines together were 10 times higher than among those only taking opioids.
Because of the dangers of mixing these drugs, in 2020 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began to require “black box” warnings on the labels of benzodiazepines and opioids that warn of the dangers of using these drugs together. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that doctors avoid prescribing Xanax and other benzodiazepines with opioid pain medication.
Potential for abuse
Xanax is a controlled substance. The active ingredient alprazolam is a Schedule IV controlled substance, which is less likely to be abused than a Schedule III drug, but it still has the potential for abuse.
For people who become addicted to Xanax or stop taking the drug suddenly, getting off the drug can be as difficult as breaking any drug habit. Symptoms of withdrawal can include:
- Increased sensory perception
- Concentration impairment
- Loss of the sense of smell
- Brain fog
- Muscle cramps
- Muscle twitches
- Blurred vision
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
Other withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety and insomnia.
Xanax is an effective but potentially dangerous drug. It is safe when taken as prescribed for the temporary relief of anxiety and panic attacks, but it isn’t a long-term solution. It can also be addictive and abused. The FDA warns doctors to prescribe Xanax carefully, and advises the smallest dose for the shortest period.