Warning Signs, Symptoms and Side Effects of Xanax Abuse

Warning Signs, Symptoms and Side Effects of Xanax Abuse

Xanax is a potent benzodiazepine which is not suitable for long term use due to its habit forming abilities. Being the most commonly prescribed psychoactive drug in United States, it is most frequently abused. Not only is the recreational use of the drug considered abuse but:

  • Taking it in higher amounts than prescribed
  • Taking it more frequently than prescribed

is also considered abuse. The potential of developing an addiction is significantly increased when it is abused. In some cases, the patients do not even realize that they are addicted to the drug. In others, the addicts may try to keep their addiction a secret to avoid the painful treatment. In the later case, looking for signs and symptoms of abuse can help.

Signs of Xanax abuse:

As the addiction is developed, a number of behavioral and social signs and symptoms can be noticed in the addict.

  • Frequent mood swings can be noticed in people abusing Xanax. An absence of drug results into irritability and a bad mood.
  • Poor performance at school or work is also a common indicative of drug abuse. The addict may frequently skip school or office.
  • The addict loses interest in activities he previously enjoyed. All he is interested in is getting the drug.
  • The addict may seem to be excessively sleepy or lethargic due to sedative action of the drug.
  • The user exhibits secretive behavior as he tries to keep his addiction hidden. He may also lie when question about his behavior.
  • The addict makes frequent visits to different doctors in an attempt to get a prescription for Xanax. This behavior is also called as ‘doctor shopping’.
  • The addict can crush and snort the drug in an attempt to achieve better and quick effects. In this case, any leftover powdered drug can be noticed.

Side effects of Xanax abuse:

Xanax is a potent central nervous depressant frequently used by a large population due to its calming effects. However, the use of Xanax is not free from side effects. The biggest danger associated with Xanax abuse is development of addiction. Other than that, a number of physical and psychological side effects are produced by the drug.

Physical side effects:

  • Excessive sleepiness /drowsiness /lethargy
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased production of saliva
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in sex drive and sexual performance
  • Skin rashes
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Joint pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Seizure
  • Convulsions

Psychological side effects:

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Decreased cognitive abilities
  • Problems with memory
  • Talkativeness/ increased social skills
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusion
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Loss of coordination
  • Suicidal tendencies

The most common side effect associated with Xanax and other benzodiazepines is lethargy and excessive sleepiness. The person feels drowsy most of the times. These effects are particularly strong when the drug is used frequently. Serious side effects such as hallucinations and seizures are quite rare. If they appear, the treatment should be sought for the addiction without any further delay.

Long term health effects of Xanax:

The long term health effects of Xanax are not clearly known since they take quite long to develop. However, some of the visible effects produced by the drug include:

  • Elevated heart rate or tachycardia is experienced by some of the users. Some addicts can even develop heart problems due to prolonged drug use.
  • Since liver is the major organ associated with Xanax metabolism, liver damage is resulted when large doses of Xanax are taken at once. The liver has to process large amounts of drug for prolonged periods of time.
  • Another serious long term health effect produced by the drug is impaired memory and decreased cognitive abilities. The person is no more able to learn new things efficiently or retain the things he has learned.
  • Long term Xanax abuse has also been known to cause depression, hallucinations, anxiety and paranoia.

Xanax overdose:

Compared to other benzos, Xanax is a more toxic drug. Still, it is difficult to overdose on Xanax alone. Hundreds of milligrams of the drug will be needed to produce any significant adverse effects. However, when it is combined with other drugs, the risk of overdosing is significantly increased. Combining it with alcohol is particularly dangerous since both are CNS depressants. The mental and bodily functions can be suppressed to such a level that life is no more sustained.

Planning an intervention:

Many people addicted to Xanax do not even realize they have a problem. Since it is a prescription medication, it is a common belief among people that its use is not associated with any significant side effects. If you observed symptoms of addiction in a loved one, it is important to approach them carefully to avoid any unpleasant consequences. The patient can lie or even become aggressive when questioned about their addiction. A dialogue should be prepared in mind and rehearsed before confronting the patient.

A professional interventionist can be helpful to facilitate the process of talking between the patient and his loved ones. Interventionists are trained to understand the mind of an addict. They are also aware of the typical excuses and lies an addict may come up with. Staging an intervention is important to start a proper treatment for the addiction.