What is Xanax, and how does Xanax affect the brain? That’s a question that we get asked a lot, and in this article, we will answer it. Xanax, which is also known as alprazolam, is a schedule IV narcotic that is commonly prescribed. Doctors most often prescribe Xanax to treat people with anxiety, PTSD, or panic disorders. However, Xanax is far from being risk-free, and it is classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a controlled substance, and it is habit-forming.
Xanax falls in the family of benzodiazepines, and it’s designed to work in the brain. Even though Xanax may help alleviate some symptoms, it can cause side effects on the brain that are less than desirable. Some of the undesirable effects of Xanax can be short-term, and others may be long-term or permanent, and the side effects of Xanax can persist even after the person stops taking the drug.
Facts about Xanax and How it Affects the Brain
Before we get into the article about the effects of Xanax on the brain, let’s learn about different facts about Xanax:
- Alprazolam is the generic name for Xanax
- Xanax is a benzodiazepine and is classified as a controlled substance
- Xanax is prescribed for anxiety, PTSD, or panic attacks
- Xanax is used to increase the amount of GABA (a brain chemical that helps calm people down)
- Sleepiness, dizziness, and memory loss are all side effects of Xanax
- People that take Xanax may suffer from long-term problems such as learning, focusing, and memory loss.
- The brain will stop making its own GABA if you take Xanax for long enough
- Xanax withdrawal can include: insomnia, sweating, loss of appetite, anxiety, and even cardiac arrest.
The Short-Term Side Effects of Xanax
Because Xanax is a short-acting drug, the effects are felt and start working almost immediately when ingested. The onset of Xanax takes about ten minutes, and the peak occurs in roughly two hours. The most common short-term effects of Xanax on the brain are:
- Feeling drowsy
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
- Short-term memory loss
- Mood swings
What does Xanax do to the brain?
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the brain chemical that is increased when a person takes Xanax. GABA is a tranquilizing chemical that the human brain naturally produces. GABA works by stopping certain signals to the brain that would cause anxiety or panic. When GABA is released in higher amounts, a person will feel sleepy or relaxed. Xanax is one of the most powerful benzodiazepines that a doctor can prescribe. Because Xanax is so powerful, it can trigger the reward system in the person’s brain, putting that person at risk of forming an addiction to Xanax.
The Long-Term Effects of Xanax on the Brain
The most common Long-term effect of Xanax is memory loss. Studies have shown that memory loss is much more prevalent in people that have been taking Xanax compared to people that don’t take the drug. Research has shown that even when a person stops taking Xanax, they can have memory problems that last for months or even years. In some instances, a person’s memory loss can be permanent. Some other long-term effects of Xanax on the brain include:
- Visual problems
- A lower IQ
- Information processing
- Learning problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Delayed response time
Most of the research and studies on the long-term effects of Xanax on the brain were conducted while patients were currently taking the drug. It remains largely unknown if the effects of Xanax on the brain will persist if a person were to stop taking the drug.
Does Xanax Have Long-Term Effects on Brain Chemistry?
Our brains are amazingly efficient machines. If a person takes Xanax for a long period, the brain recognizes this and stops making its own GABA, and if a person takes Xanax for a very long period, the brain may quit making GABA altogether. The brain will slow its production of GABA in as little as six weeks. Another side-effect of taking Xanax is the tolerance a person will build toward the drug. If you take Xanax, you will eventually need a stronger dose to achieve the same relief, which leads to dependence and possibly addiction.
Because you become dependent on the drug for treating anxiety, if you were ever to stop taking Xanax suddenly, you may experience even worse anxiety or panic attacks. This phenomenon is widely referred to as rebound anxiety. Because of the strength of Xanax and rebound anxiety, the withdrawal symptoms that Xanax causes are worse than other benzodiazepines. The withdrawal symptoms of Xanax have been known to last for months and include:
- Rebound anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Personality change
- Mood swings
- Loss of appetite
How Do You Treat Xanax Dependency
If a person decides they want to stop taking Xanax, they should always seek medical help in the form of a detox clinic. It is incredibly dangerous to withdraw from Xanax or any other benzodiazepines alone. Better Wellness Group aims to help people safely live a life free from addiction and drug dependence. We hope that you can make the right choices when it comes to substance abuse treatment with this information. If you or a loved one are suffering from a drug or alcohol dependence, call Better Wellness Group at 99999999999, so we can develop a plan of action and get them back to living a full and healthy life.