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Xanax Effects and Withdrawal Symptoms

Xanax: the Drug


What is Xanax?


Xanax is one of the most common brand names for the drug, alprazolam. The drug is in the benzodiazepine class, which means it a psychoactive drug (a drug that effects a person’s perception, mood, consciousness, cognition and behavior). It is made up of chemicals that enhance the effect of the neurotransmitter, gamma-aminobutyric acid. The benzodiazepine is effective as a sedative, hypnotic (sleep-inducing), anti-anxiety, and muscle relaxant. Alprazolam is used to treat moderate to severe anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and moderate depression.  


Alprazolam is a prescription drug. Therefore, a doctor has to prescribe the drug to an individual. It is important to notify your doctor if you are allergic to other benzodiazepines like Librium or Valium. Also, you should not use it if you are pregnant.


Street names / slang for Xanax:


Alprazolam is a prescription drug. It is commonly referred to as Xanax, which is a specific brand name. However, there are many brands of alprazolam.


Slang used for alprazolam include Zanies, Blues, Z bars, Zan Bars, Quad Bars, Tombstones.


How is Xanax used?


There are instant release and extended-release forms of alprazolam. One of the reasons people choose to take this anti-anxiety prescription medication over other types of prescription medication is because it is quick releasing. Alprazolam comes in a pill form and is typically swallowed. However, some people crush up the pill and snort the powder, much like how cocaine is used. Even on extended-release forms of alprazolam, when crushed up and snorted, the side effects of the drug affect the user much faster.


xanaxRarely will Xanax be crushed up and injected by a user. However, if this is done, it is highly dangerous because it does not fully dissolve in water. Therefore, there is an increased risk of clotting the arteries, which can cause serious damage to the user.


Xanax is often taken in conjunction with other types of drugs, which can be highly dangerous and lead to an overdose.


According to Erowid, “Alprazolam first appeared on the pharmaceutical market in the United States in the 1980s. Since then, it has replaced diazepam (Valium) as the #1 medication for anxiety and one of the top-selling drugs in the U.S.“


Xanax: the Side Effects


Short-term Side Effects of Xanax


Xanax is used to calm a person’s nerves, anxiety, and depression.


Although rare, sometimes a person has the opposite reaction to Xanax and has symptoms such as:

-       Fasciculation and tremors

-       Aggression

-       Rage and hostility

-       Agitation

-       Hyperactivity

-       Restlessness


If any one of these symptoms occur, it is important to notify one’s doctor immediately. The person should gradually decrease his dosage and stop taking the medication.


Xanax: Long-term Side Effects and Withdrawal Symptoms


Long-term psychological Side effects of Xanax


According to two clinical studies (see notes 4 and 5), the majority of people that are prescribed Xanax by a medical professional do not develop a substance use disorder, either substance abuse or substance dependence. However, the user may become physically dependent, meaning that over time, the user’s body may become accustomed to the drug. When a user is physically dependent on Xanax, when she stops taking the drug, her body may go through physical withdrawal symptoms.


Physical dependence is a common symptom of Xanax. Therefore, the dosage an individual usage must be gradually reduced. Otherwise, the user’s anxiety or depression may rapidly increase.


Other long-term side effects of using a benzodiazepine-based drug are:


-       Nausea

-       Headaches

-       Dizziness

-       Irritability

-       Lethargy

-       Sleep problems

-       Memory impairment

-       Aggression

-       Depression


While these are symptoms that alprazolam is used to alleviate, after using the prescription drug for an extended period of time, it can have the opposite effect.


Withdrawal symptoms of Xanax


The withdrawal symptoms of alprazolam are similar to the symptoms of sedative-hypnotics and alcohol. Physical withdrawal symptoms of alprazolam include:


-       Mild dysphoria

-       Insomnia

-       Increased anxiety

-       Pain in the stomach

-       Muscle cramps

-       Vomiting

-       Depression

-       Sweating

-       Tremors


Overdose of Xanax:


Overdoses are always dependent on the type of drug used and how much is used over a period of time. Alprazolam is more toxic in large doses and is particularly potent when combined with other drugs, such as cocaine or methadone. Only 1% of overdose deaths are attributed to Xanax overdoses alone (see 111 and 112).


Symptoms of a Xanax (alprazolam) overdose are:


-       Being in a sleepy state

-       Low blood pressure

-       Shallow breathing

-       Impaired motor functions including dizziness, impaired balance, muscle weakness

-       Fainting

-       Coma

-       Death

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