Xanax is an anti-anxiety drug that falls under the benzodiazepine group. The Benzodiazepine group of drugs is a depressant and causes sedative, sleep-inducing and anti-anxiety type effects. Xanax works in a couple of ways. Firstly, it causes the central nervous system to work at a bare minimum which leads the way for this drug to do its job. Without the central nervous system being suppressed, it wouldn't have any effect. Secondly, it dramatically slows down the ability of the brain's capability to fire off neurons which in turn slows down brain activity. And lastly, with the previous steps in place, Xanax is then able to reduce brain activity and cause a calming feeling. These effects and the way that Xanax works, combined with a patient's previous medical and psychological history (usually some form of an anxiety disorder) can lead to Xanax abuse.
Unlike antidepressants, Xanax is not specifically designed to be nonaddictive. In fact, it's the complete opposite. Xanax can be so highly addictive that most dosages of the drug only last a couple of weeks. Some countries even have special laws to help prevent Xanax addiction and abuse such as Great Britain where the longest prescription of Xanax allowed is only four weeks. Not only that but the quick uptake and absorption into the body by Xanax means that the effects can be felt very quickly, making it all the more attractive for someone who is looking for a quick fix or a short term solution.
One of the most common causes of Xanax abuse is psychological reasons within patients. Usually, a patient may feel a panic attack coming on, be exposed to a stressful situation that causes them to feel anxious or may just simply be frightened of having to go through another panic attack. This can lead to a person taking more Xanax than what has been prescribed to them by their doctors. Because of this, Xanax is usually prescribed as a last resort. To help prevent Xanax abuse, doctors will usually give their patients a placebo at first or a much weaker anti-anxiety medication.
- Constant drowsiness (due to the drugs sedative effects)
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Impaired coordination and a loss of motor skills
- Dizziness and confusion
- Nervousness and jitteriness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Cardiovascular problems
- Sensory problems such as loss of vision or hearing
- A dramatic change in weight in either direction
These are only some of the short-term problems that abuse can bring on. The long-term effects of abusing Xanax are far worse.
Firstly, due to its addictive nature, dependence can be formed. The user will feel the need to take Xanax much more regularly than what was originally prescribed by their doctor in order to continue the feeling of calmness that Xanax provides. This dependence only grows stronger over time. Eventually, the body will begin to grow a certain level of tolerance towards the drug and the original effects felt by taking it will be reduced. By this time, a combination of chemical dependence on the drug as well as a psychological dependence sometimes leads to addiction. This is only the beginning stage of Xanax abuse.
Next, as the user continues to increase the dosage of Xanax taken in order to continue the feeling of calmness, the brain begins to permanently slow down. While the drug is originally intended to help slow down the brain's ability to fire off neurons that can cause anxiety problems, the prolonged exposure to the drug means that the brain is constantly being told to slow down. Eventually, the brain will simply adapt and continue to operate at the decreased level regardless of whether or not the drug is taken due to it being told to slow down for an extended period of time.
And finally, if prolonged exposure of this magnitude is continued, death can occur if there is an overdose. Overdosing on Xanax causes the brain to slow down so much that it no longer has the ability to operate vital key components of the body. Body organs can begin to shut down one by one and eventually may lead to death.
Xanax abuse isn't something that should be taken lightly. While the short-term effects may seem worth it in order to help get rid of any anxiety or to simply help you calm down, the long-term effects can cause far greater problems than just anxiety.