Adverse Effects and Possible Dependence on Xanax

April 9, 2021

Xanax, a popular brand name with the generic name alprazolam, is a prescription drug used to treat panic disorder, depression-related anxiety, or merely the symptoms of anxiety itself. Like other benzodiazepines or drugs, it helps treat the said symptoms. However, it is usually only recommended for use up to six weeks. The science of it is that it acts on the brain and nerves to produce calming effects by enhancing a natural chemical in the body known as GABA. 


What are the Side Effects of Xanax?

As with all benzodiazepines, Xanax builds up the production of neurotransmitters called GABA, thus calming nerve impulses that lead to anxiety and panic attacks. Though many people find it effective and feel a vast improvement in symptoms, it is crucial to consider the side effects commonly experienced. Some experience mild side effects, while some feel severe adverse effects. Patients may experience fatigue, drowsiness, anxiety, dizziness, difficulty speaking, memory loss, irritability, loss of balance and coordination, and irregular menstruation.  

Furthermore, users may  also experience more serious adverse effects such as: 


  • Palpitations (strong pounding heartbeat) 
  • Involuntary muscle movements or tremors 
  • Increased energy (hyperactivity) 
  • Hostility 
  • Feeling of agitation
  • Concentration difficulties 
  • Confusion
  • Mild to severe depression 
  • Daring behaviors 
  • Suicidal tendencies 
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations 


Some patients get amazed by the effectiveness of the drug in managing their anxiety symptoms. This leads them to assume that taking more of the drug would have an even greater effect. They then misuse it by taking in larger doses or using it for too long, often without their doctor knowing it. Dependency or addiction to the drug happens before they even realize it. Some assume they cannot cope without the drug, thus, the need to keep using or abusing it.   


Is it Possible to be Dependent on Xanax?

There are 10-20 percent of individuals who use benzodiazepines like Xanax for prolonged periods will end up tolerant to the drug’s effects and become dependent on the drug. According to the Washington Post, withdrawal symptoms from Xanax can set in as soon as five hours after the last intake. It could be even sooner for those who consume it more frequently. Some people may try to decrease their dose and they experience withdrawal symptoms that are even worse than their initial anxiety disorder. This poses a major concern for the long-term effect of these adverse reactions in a patient’s body, most especially among young people.


Those who use or abuse Xanax may develop a dependence on it. When people abuse this drug for a long time, the brain starts to develop a tendency to ‘look for the drug’  for it to feel functional. Xanaxthen takes control of the patient’s emotional responses, consciousness, thinking ability, memory, and even neuro-muscular coordination. Xanax becomes less effective and eventually becomes ineffective in treating the patients of their anxiety or panic disorder as the tolerance to the drug develops. In time, it can also produce intense mood swings resulting in violent and aggressive behavior. 


Some of the possible implications of Xanax dependence are aggression, irritability, recklessness, and inattentiveness. Also, decreased inhibitions make users more daring to take risks. You notice depression and even suicidal tendencies in abusers of benzodiazepines such as Xanax. Those who abuse it can also experience hallucinations and paranoid delusions. According to Harvard Health Publications, more recent research has discovered a potential link between the use of Xanax and dementia.   


What Are Some Dangers of Quitting Xanax Cold Turkey? 

Given the possible adverse effects and the possibility of dependence especially when abused, some may want to stop taking Xanax. Some people may be able to stop taking Xanax abruptly without experiencing serious side effects. Some may just experience mild anxiety or insomnia. However, some may develop more serious problems, even worse than the initial conditions being treated. Quitting the use or abuse of drugs abruptly with no weaning period and no professional assistance could lead to severe withdrawal syndrome.  


A cold-turkey Xanax withdrawal can result in dangerous side effects, including: 

  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Irritability 
  • Anxiety and/or panic attacks 
  • Trembling 
  • Inability to concentrate 
  • Nausea 
  • Heart palpitations 
  • Muscle pain and stiffness 
  • Headaches 
  • Serious side effects include: 
  • Seizures 
  • Psychosis 
  • Hallucinations  
  • Return to Xanax use 


What else do you need to know about Xanax Dependence?

Generally, people have confidence when a pharmaceutical product is FDA approved, but that doesn’t make them 100 percent safe from harm. Alarmingly, few people who abuse benzodiazepines are aware of how dangerous they can be, even when taken as prescribed. A person could shock his system by abruptly quitting the use of this drug. When someone takes Xanax away from their body becomes cold turkey, the body “forgets” how to respond.  As a result, it tries to compensate for the loss of GABA activity. It tries to reset the brain’s normal neurotransmitter production levels. It is almost impossible to go cold turkey and not have withdrawal side effects. Moreover, just when the withdrawal symptoms start to wane, and individuals get a little relief, they often tend to use the drug again and just give in to their body’s needs.  


The withdrawal side effects can appear instantaneously and can be really hard to handle. There can be convulsions, seizures, psychosis, paranoia, tremors, and nausea. The withdrawal side effects are quite dangerous when it happens in times the patient is alone. As reported by the American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, a female patient died after four days when she used 200 mg of Xanax for six days and then abruptly stopped.


What is the Right Way of Quitting?

Medical detox assisted by a medical professional is the safest method, like the method done by this drug rehab serving mesa az. Any other form of withdrawal from Xanax is not recommended. The only way to quit is to gradually decrease the dose. If a person has been abusing large amounts of Xanax, the tapering process may take longer. Those who use smaller doses do still need supervision.

Overcoming drug dependence is not as simple as just stopping the use of the drug. It is common for people with mental health disorders to abuse drugs or alcohol; that is why systematic therapy is necessary to address the underlying issues that led to Xanax abuse. Alternative treatments can address both issues – the Xanax abuse issue and the mental health disorder that may come with it. 

It is possible to heal from dependence on Xanax, and professional help is available. If you or someone you love is currently fighting their dependence on Xanax or other substances, there is an Arizona rehabilitation center that is designed to help every patient break free from addiction with professional addiction programs. You or your loved one may make the initial step to recovery by contacting Buena Vista Health and Recovery Centers through this link: This is your first step to a healthier and happier life. 


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