Can Xanax Cause Anxiety?
What Is Xanax?
Xanax is the brand name of the prescription benzodiazepine medication Alprazolam. It usually comes in tablet form, swallowed or orally disintegrating tablets that can be dissolved under the tongue. The effectiveness of Xanax on symptoms of anxiety disorder is on par or better than many other benzo medications, but can Xanax cause anxiety?
Xanax is an addictive substance, especially for people who have a history of addiction or are used in ways not prescribed by their doctor. The brain quickly becomes accustomed to Xanax and will stop producing the GABA neurotransmitter, responsible for dopamine levels and other brain chemistry, on its own. For this reason, Xanax is a schedule IV controlled substance and is usually prescribed for short periods, only recommended for use for up to six weeks. Unfortunately, even with the risks of taking Xanax known to the medical field, benzodiazepine drugs are often prescribed without much medical oversight or instruction. People who misuse Xanax often experience an increased risk of side effects like physical dependence and addiction, overdose, and even death.
What Is Xanax Used For?
Xanax is prescribed by a health care provider. It is an anti-anxiety medication used to help calm a person by slowing breathing and heart rate, putting a “dampening” effect on the central nervous system (CNS depression). It is usually prescribed for people suffering from:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Stress disorder
- Panic disorders
- Insomnia and trouble sleeping
- Seizure disorders
What Does Taking Xanax Feel Like?
Taking benzodiazepines feels different for everybody, as it is a prescription medication, and each person reacts differently to these types of drugs. When taken to treat anxiety and panic, alprazolam Xanax can alleviate uncomfortable, anxious feelings and stress, helping people feel “normal.” It does not produce a “high” or euphoria but instead a tired quietness, relaxing muscle tension. Xanax can cause you to fall asleep or pass out, and higher doses have more potent effects like memory loss and blacking out completely. Tell your doctor or seek immediate medical attention if you begin to experience respiratory depression, blurred vision, or other dangerous Xanax side effects.
Signs and Symptoms of Xanax Abuse
Xanax abuse is called when a person misuses their prescribed medication. This includes:
- taking more than they were prescribed at one time
- taking Xanax more often than prescribed
- taking it when they do not need it
- using somebody else’s Xanax prescription
- mixing Xanax with other drugs or alcohol (causing dangerous and even deadly drug interactions)
- using the drug in ways it was not meant to be used, like crushing and snorting tablets
Some signs to look for if you suspect you or a loved one are abusing Xanax include:
- Taking medications at random times each day
- Taking medications more often than what is on the label
- Mixing Xanax with other drugs, pills, or alcohol
- Seeing more than one doctor or going to more than one pharmacy
- Having “extra” medication on you or hidden in stashes around the house
- Wanting to be alone, isolated from friends and family
- Issues with memory, confusion, sleep, hygiene, energy levels, and irritability
- Talking and thinking about Xanax often
- Acting or feeling defensive when you talk about Xanax use
- Having a history of drug abuse or alcohol use issues
Signs you may be suffering from a substance use disorder involving Xanax include:
- Gaining a higher tolerance to Xanax, and needing to take more to achieve the same effect
- Having intense cravings/urges to use Xanax
- Constantly worrying about when you get to use Xanax again, and making sure you have a reliable supply of the medication
- Using Xanax even when you don’t need to, or using it for more extended periods than intended
- Continuing to use Xanax even when your home, work, and school life begins to suffer, or you begin to experience health or financial issues due to drug use
- Giving up important activities or hobbies to use Xanax instead
- Spending a lot of your time using Xanax and recovering from it
- Being unable to stop using Xanax or cut back,
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop
If these signs and symptoms of addiction sound familiar to you, call your doctor to discuss methods to stop taking Xanax safely.
How Xanax Affects the Brain
Xanax is a medicine that doctors usually prescribe to calm or sedate a patient by raising the neurotransmitter Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, also known as GABA. GABA is generally responsible for feelings of energy, excitement, and temporary anxiety, and if levels are high may cause anxiety and panic disorders and even seizures. Using Xanax depresses this part of the nervous system, producing a “quietening” effect on the brain.
If you are wondering, “can Xanax cause anxiety?” the answer is complicated, but the short answer is yes, in a few ways:
- For some users, a side effect of starting a Xanax prescription is increased anxiety. This is usually a short-term effect as the body adjusts.
- If your brain begins to depend on Xanax to slow down GABA neurotransmitters, and you become addicted, then when you try to end your dependence on this medication, you may experience “rebound anxiety,” where the symptoms of anxiety come back stronger than before. This is a temporary issue in most people but may last months or years after stopping Xanax.
Long Term Effects of Taking Xanax
The long-term effects of taking Xanax include the brain “forgetting” how to operate effectively when you do not have Xanax in your system. Long-term effects of alprazolam use may cause potential side effects like:
- Forgetfulness and memory impairment
- Cognitive impairments and slowed thought processes
- Loss of control over emotional responses
- Issues with muscle coordination and balance, slurred speech
- Loss of consciousness
- Dry mouth
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Violent, aggressive, and hostile behavior, and feeling irritable
- An increase in risky behavior like driving under the influence, unsafe sex practices, and picking fights
- Difficulty concentrating on tasks at home, work, and school
- Hallucinations and paranoid delusions
- Brain cell damage
- Depression and suicidal ideation
There is also a potential link between Xanax use and dementia. Medication-induced seizure disorders are also a considerable risk, especially if you:
- Have been taking high doses of Xanax
- Have been ingesting the drug more often than prescribed
- Using Xanax for nonmedical reasons
- Are of older age, as older adults are more sensitive to prescription medications
Addiction to Xanax requires a medically assisted detox to keep you safe as you wean off this drug because the body may produce dangerous and extremely uncomfortable withdrawal reactions alongside strong drug cravings. Common withdrawal symptoms that occur when stopping Xanax include:
- Increased heart rate/palpitations
- Muscle pain and stiffness
- Weight loss
- Difficulty breathing
- Headaches/body aches
- Panic attacks
- Depression/suicidal ideation
- Insomnia/nightmares/sleep trouble
Seizures, severe depression, and hallucinations can occur in serious addictions that can be extremely dangerous or life-threatening. This process is why it is essential to never try and quit any benzodiazepine drug on your own, especially not all at once. A slow taper monitored by medical professionals in a medical detox setting is the safest way to stop using Xanax.
Xanax Addiction Treatment Program at Muse
At Muse Treatment, we provide a holistic treatment program for people who want to quit Xanax. This includes medical detox, inpatient and outpatient rehab, using integrated treatments.
Detoxing from Xanax in a professional, medical setting using a medically assisted treatment (MAT) program will provide you with full-time monitoring in a safe and sober environment. You will stay inside the facility full-time, as the temptation to relapse will be powerful as your drug cravings, physical pain, and psychological disturbances may feel impossible to overcome on your own.
In our medical detox program, you will have medical care and therapy, counseling, and the option for FDA-approved prescription medications at the lowest possible dose to help you through the most difficult of your withdrawal symptoms without creating a new addiction. You will not suffer unnecessarily in a Muse medical detox program.
A 30+ day stay in inpatient rehab, followed by our partial hospitalization program and our intensive outpatient program, will provide vital support, medical and psychiatric care, friendship, and community you need to help you when times are tough. It is okay to stumble on the road to recovery, and we will be there to help you pick yourself back up again. Through our inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, you will be able to stop using Xanax, heal your mind, body, and spirit, and regain control over your life. If you are taking the drug and wondering can Xanax cause anxiety, we are here for you. Call us at (800) 426-1818 today to learn more about our Xanax rehab, outpatient programs, and safe and effective MAT detox program.