What Does Xanax Do to the Brain: Uses, Side Effects, and Addiction

Xanax, with the generic name of alprazolam, is a potent drug that belongs to the group called benzodiazepines. It is commonly prescribed to treat symptoms of anxiety and panic disorders. When taken as directed by a physician, Xanax can help people manage stressful situations. 

However, it should be noted that recent research shows how Xanax can have considerable side effects you don’t want to overlook.

Learn in This Article

  • What Is Xanax and What Is It Used For
  • How Does Xanax Work
  • What Does Xanax Do to the Brain: The Most Dangerous Effects
  • What’s Recovery Like
    • Short-Term Effects
    • Long-Term Consequences
  • Does Xanax Cause Addiction
  • Treatment for Xanax Addiction
  • Key Takeaways

What Is Xanax, and What Is It Used for

Xanax is a brand name for the prescription medication alprazolam, which belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. 

Benzodiazepines work by slowing down the nervous system, making them practical for treating anxiety and panic disorders. Xanax is approved for short-term treatment and is generally considered safe and well-tolerated. However, like all medications, there are potential risks and side effects associated with its use.

How Does Xanax Work

Benzodiazepines work by binding to the GABA-A (gamma-aminobutyric acid-A) receptors in the brain and enhancing this neurotransmitter’s effects. 

This increases the inhibitory effect of GABA, causing a sedative effect. Benzodiazepines like Xanax are typically only prescribed for short-term use due to the risk of addiction and tolerance. However, they can be very effective in managing anxiety symptoms.

What Does Xanax Do to the Brain: The Most Dangerous Side Effects

While Xanax can be extremely effective in reducing anxiety symptoms and promoting calmness, it has its drawbacks. Read on to find out the short-term and long-term Xanax side effects on the brain.

Short-Term Effects

The most damaging and immediate Xanax effects include drowsiness, headache, dizziness, blurred vision, dry mouth, constipation, and changes in appetite or weight, among others.

If you experience these side effects after taking Xanax, you should consult your doctor promptly to discuss alternative treatment options or adjust your dosage accordingly. While these side effects may seem minor on the surface, they can be pretty disruptive to one’s day-to-day activities and overall quality of life.

Long-Term Consequences

Some of the potential long-term consequences associated with the use of Xanax include tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Tolerance occurs when the body becomes so used to a drug that either a higher dosage or an entirely new medication is needed to achieve the same desired effect. Dependence occurs when the body becomes physically reliant on a drug in order to function normally. Addiction is a mental disorder characterized by compulsive drug-seeking behavior and continued use despite negative consequences.

Additionally, in the long term, Xanax might cause memory loss and forgetfulness, along with aggravating irritability, aggression, and impaired judgment.

Does Xanax Cause Addiction

There is no doubt that Xanax can be an addictive substance if taken for a long time. Considering that a staggering 70% of American teens with Xanax addiction use it without a prescription, this is an extremely concerning matter.

Unfortunately, tolerance to Xanax develops really fast, causing a person to take more of this medication to achieve their desired state of mind. People with severe Xanax addiction might take up to over 20 pills per day.

Treatment for Xanax Addiction

If you decide to stop taking Xanax, the withdrawal effects, such as brain zaps, might be disastrous. Feelings of anxiety, insomnia, and restlessness will most likely increase. However, it’s never too late to recover from this addiction.

One of the most popular treatments for Xanax addiction is cognitive-behavioral therapy. This helps patients identify and change the negative thought patterns that contribute to their addiction. Other common treatments include medication-assisted detoxification and 12-step programs.

In many cases, a combination of these different approaches is most effective. Regardless of the specific treatment plan, the goal is always to help the patient overcome their addiction and regain control of their life. With the right help and treatment, it is possible to achieve lasting recovery from Xanax addiction.

What Does Xanax Do to the Brain: Key Takeaways

Xanax’s benefits can outweigh the risks when used as directed to help people struggling with mental health issues. However, the risks that come with taking this medication still shouldn’t be overlooked. 

If your therapist believes Xanax might be too potent of a drug for you, starting with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and less risky benzodiazepines like Serax can be a safer option. Not to mention, these medications can be equally effective in reducing stress and anxiety.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does Xanax do to your eyes?

There are Xanax effects on the eyes that shouldn’t be overlooked. It can dull your senses and even cause temporary vision problems, such as blurred vision or difficulties with depth perception.

Additionally, this medication can affect certain parts of the eye, leading to changes in pupil size or altered tear production. While these side effects are generally mild and temporary, they should be considered before taking Xanax.

How many days in a row can you take Xanax?

Because it’s extremely addictive, Xanax is only recommended for use for up to six weeks. Taking more than the recommended dosage can lead to serious side effects, including tolerance, addiction, and, ultimately, overdose.

When should you take Xanax?

When dealing with anxiety and panic disorder symptoms, taking a regular dose of Xanax can provide much-needed relief. So, what does Xanax do to the brain and why do people take it?

Doctors typically prescribe Xanax to help reduce feelings of worry or unease, and many people find that it works better than other types of similar medications.
However, it is essential to talk to your doctor about when you should take Xanax to get the maximum benefits and reduce potential risks from this potent drug.