If you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks, you may be familiar with a medication called Xanax. Although Xanax is prescribed by doctors, it can have dangerous side effects and poses a high risk for addiction.
What is Xanax?
Xanax (Alprazolam) is a Benzodiazepine medication used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. It is a central nervous system depressant which enhances a brain chemical called GABA, which slows down the nerve cell activity in the brain. Although Xanax has many potentially dangerous side effects, it still ranks as one of the top drugs prescribed in the United States.
Risks of Xanax Use
Xanax is not meant to be a long-term form of treatment, and it is frequently misused. This can happen when people take a higher dose than recommended, or drink alcohol or use other drugs while taking it. For example, when taken with alcohol, it can intensify the effects of both substances.
When taken with other substances, Xanax can stay in the body longer than intended, which can lead to an overdose, which can be fatal. In addition, Xanax may interact with other medications you’re taking and increase your risk of serious side effects.
With Xanax, there is also a high risk of becoming addicted to the medication. Don’t think that this can’t happen to you – Xanax dependency can develop quicker than you may think, and can happen to anyone.
Side Effects of Xanax
Xanax is one of the most popular anxiety medications. However, like with most medication, it can have dangerous side effects. Xanax is prescribed as an oral tablet, and is available in four strengths: 0.25 milligrams (mg), 0.5 mg, 1 mg, and 2 mg. Typically, a doctor will prescribe their patient a low dosage of Xanax, and adjust the prescription accordingly over time.
Some of the most common side effects of Xanax are:
- Impaired coordination
- Change in appetite
- Memory loss
- Abdominal pain
If you experience any of these side effects, it’s important to talk to your doctor as soon as possible. In some cases, side effects may go away on their own, but in other cases, side effects may require medication or treatment. Make sure to keep all side effects of Xanax in mind when making a decision about taking the medication.
The Duration of Xanax in the Body
Compared to other drugs, Xanax leaves the body relatively quickly. Within about 1–2 hours, the concentration of Xanax in the blood reaches its peak. The half-life of Xanax is 11.2 hours in healthy adults, meaning that the body removes half of the drug in that time span. This means that Xanax will be largely eliminated from the system within three days.
The duration of Xanax also depends on a variety of factors, such as the metabolism speed of the person taking it, their weight, the amount consumed, and how frequently they take the drug. In elderly people, the half-life of Xanax is about 16.3 hours, and in a person with obesity, it is approximately 21.8 hours. It’s important to take your own age and health into consideration before taking Xanax, and to carefully follow your doctor’s instructions.
How long does Xanax remain in the body?
Urine – 4 days.
Blood – 1 day
Saliva – 2.5 days
Hair – 1 month
How is Xanax Metabolized?
Xanax is metabolized in the liver and it gets eliminated through the urine. The liver enzyme CYP3A4 is primarily responsible for this drug’s metabolism.
Is Xanax Addictive?
Xanax is an extremely addictive drug, even when only taken for a couple of weeks. For this reason, Xanax should NOT be prescribed to someone who has a history of substance abuse.
Xanax is recommended to be taken for no longer than six weeks to reduce the risk of dependency. Tolerance to Xanax develops quickly, which causes people to abuse Xanax by taking more than the recommended dose, or combining it with alcohol or other drugs.
For some who suffer from severe anxiety issues, Xanax may be the only thing that prevents them from feeling panic-stricken and overwhelmed, which causes them to feel the need to continue taking the drug.
Signs & Symptoms of Xanax Abuse
Xanax can easily be abused, and in many cases, people feel as though they can no longer function without it. People who misuse Xanax may display physical signs of addiction, as well as signs of cognitive impairment and behavioral changes.
These signs could include:
- Slurred speech
- Disorientation and memory problems
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not taking Xanax
- Unable to reduce intake
- “Losing” Xanax prescriptions
Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms
When you stop taking Xanax, there are likely to be withdrawal symptoms. Xanax withdrawal can begin within 24 hours after the last dose and symptoms may last between a few days to weeks.
These symptoms can include:
- Panic Attacks
It is expected that the longer a person has been taking Xanax, the more severe their withdrawal symptoms will be. If you’re considering stopping taking Xanax, talk to your doctor first in order to assess how to best go about this process.
Detox from Xanax Safely
Withdrawing from Xanax can be an uncomfortable and dangerous experience. The abrupt discontinuation of Xanax can result in seizures, severe confusion and disorientation, and even death. For this reason, do not ever attempt to detox from Xanax cold turkey or without medical supervision.
In a medically managed detox, the patient is gradually tapered off of Xanax, and in some cases are administered a relatively longer-acting benzodiazepine before beginning the dose reduction.
If you are looking for a safe place to detox from Xanax in a medically supervised facility, contact our addiction treatment specialists. We offer a stabilization program that allows patients to detox from drugs in a safe environment.