As one of the most widely prescribed drugs in the United States, many people assume Xanax is harmless. In reality, people taking the medication can become addicted to the substance within 3 to 4 weeks. Luckily, understanding the dangers of Xanax can help combat prescription drug addiction. If you or a loved one have been prescribed Xanax, here’s what you need to know.
Remember, this is not medical advice. Always make sure to talk to a medical professional whenever you start or stop taking a new prescription medication.
What Is Xanax?
Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam, a prescription drug designed and used to treat severe anxiety, panic attacks, and insomnia. Typically, doctors prescribe Xanax for a short period of time, such as 2 to 6 weeks, in order to prevent addiction. This is because Xanax’s effect on the brain makes the substance highly addictive.
Xanax works by increasing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, a chemical that occurs naturally in the brain. GABA acts as the body’s natural tranquilizer, calming you down when you become overly anxious or nervous. Xanax binds to the GABA in your brain, triggering signals in your nervous system to relax. Unfortunately, Xanax’s calming effects don’t last long, causing many users to misuse or abuse the substance.
Why is Xanax So Dangerous?
The dangers of Xanax aren’t solely related to the drug’s high risk of dependence and addiction. Xanax can also permanently affect your health, emotions, and memory. Additionally, mixing Xanax with other substances can be fatal.
Xanax Can Increase Your Risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Research shared by Harvard University shows that taking benzodiazepines like Xanax for 3 to 6 months can increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 32%. The same data shows that using Xanax for more than 6 months can make you 84% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than someone not taking Xanax.
Elderly people are especially vulnerable. This is because, as we age, our kidneys and livers process drugs more slowly, allowing substances like Xanax to remain in the blood for a longer period of time. Elderly individuals also take more medication, which can enhance the effects of Xanax, making the drug more addictive.
Mixing Xanax With With Alcohol Can Be Deadly
People often mix Xanax with alcohol to amplify the medication’s calming effects, but doing so can be deadly. Alcohol, like Xanax, slows down activity in the central nervous. When the nervous system slows down too much, you can experience:
- Slurred speech
- A slow pulse
- Loss of consciousness
- Respiratory depression, a breathing disorder characterized by slow, ineffective breathing
- Organ failure
Xanax Can Increase Your Risk of Accidents
Because Xanax sedates users, taking the medication can increase your risk of accidents. As activity in the central nervous system slows down, so does your response time. Xanax can also make you less alert, making you more likely to cause or experience an automobile or machinery accident. Large doses of Xanax can sedate users for days, increasing their risk of physical harm if they’re left or found in a dangerous environment.
Real Recovery For Real People
Anxiety, panic attacks, and insomnia are real conditions that require real treatment. But if taking prescription medication, like Xanax, has developed into an addiction, we can help. The majority of our executive board members are in active recovery. They know what it takes to overcome addiction and remain sober. They can help you get there. All you need to do is contact us today to get started.