Xanax side effects and addictive potential make this benzodiazepine only safe for consumption for short-term, medically supervised use. This medication is a CNS (central nervous system) depressant that can produce a calming effect (from GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), increasing its potential for abuse. 

While Xanax does have some short-term side effects as well, long-term side effects include a range of debilitating health issues including cognitive issues, addiction, and serious withdrawals. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with Xanax side effects, this blog highlights what to expect, and how you can get treatment for Xanax dependence if you need it.

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What are the Side Effects of Xanax?

Many people use Xanax (often misspelled as zanex , xanes, or canex) to cope with the symptoms of anxiety disorders. You may be wondering, “what are the side effects of xanax?”. 

Less frequently, this drug is prescribed for the treatment of panic disorders. The medication can deliver fleeting relief from the general symptoms of anxiety.

Xanax takes 1 to 2 hours before levels peak in your bloodstream.

Some long term and short term side effects of xanax use are:

  • drowsiness
  • feeling light-headed
  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • irritability
  • talkativeness
  • difficulty concentrating
  • cotton mouth
  • salivation
  • changes in libido
  • nausea
  • constipation
  • lowered or increased appetite
  • changes in weight
  • difficulty urinating
  • joint pain
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Serious Side Effects of Xanax

Serious side effects of xanax include:

  • shortness of breath
  • seizures
  • severe skin rash
  • skin or eye yellowing
  • feeling confused
  • speech problems
  • losing coordination or balance

Often, people misuse alprazolam for its calming effects, without properly considering the possible side effects of Xanax abuse.

Xanax and aggression are often linked as the misuse and abuse of the drug can trigger aggressive and impulsive behavior, depression, and psychosis. The chronic misuse of Xanax can rapidly lead to dependence and addiction.

Tolerance to Xanax quickly builds, meaning you will need progressively more alprazolam to achieve the same result.

When addiction develops, you will experience an array of adverse withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking the medication.

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Common FAQs

Does Xanax Make You Aggressive?

Although Xanax is known as a depressant, making people more relaxed when they take it, it can cause aggression in some cases. You may be wondering, “does Xanax make you aggressive?”. 

Studies done by The National Center of Biotechnology Information (NCBI) concluded that this drug can cause aggression in some individuals, although the Xanax anger side effect may be caused by other factors like personality traits and the size of the dosage.

Does Xanax Cause Weight Gain?  

Xanax does not directly cause weight gain, however it can occur as a result of other symptoms of drug use like fatigue, insomnia, and increased appetite.  

So how long do the side effects of Xanax like weight gain last?

How Long is Xanax Effective?

Effects of taking this drug can last about 2-4 hours. However, this timeframe can change as you build tolerance to it, requiring a higher and higher dosage to create an effect.

The average half life of Xanax use is around 11-12 hours.

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System?

In these instances, it can be very easy to begin to take larger doses, leading to physical dependency or even addiction. This drug only stays in your system for 2-3 days, increasing the risk for accidental detox which can be incredibly disruptive to your daily life. Suddenly stopping the drug is quite dangerous and can be fatal if you try to detox from them on your own.

Call your doctor if you suddenly start experiences of withdrawal, or contact a detox facility to begin detox in a safe, medically supervised way.

Xanax Side Effects in Elderly

Studies have not indicated any geriatric-specific symptoms that would limit the efficacy of Xanax in the elderly.

That said, seniors are more likely to experience unwanted side effects. Xanax side effects in elderly can include:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Clumsiness
  • Drowsiness
  • Unsteadiness
  • Kidney problems
  • Lung problems
  • Liver problems

Slips and falls are also more likely among seniors taking alprazolam.

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Fight Back Against Xanax Addiction

Get evidence-based treatment to overcome Xanax addiction at Renaissance Recovery. Call our team now to learn more about the process.

How Long Do Xanax Side Effects Last?

When you take the drug regularly, tolerance usually builds quite swiftly. When this occurs, not only will you need more of the medication to achieve the same effects, but you’ll also require more time before you feel the effects of the drug.

The rate of absorption, and the rate at which Xanax leaves your body is impacted by variables including age, weight, metabolism, liver function, race, and the use of alcohol and nicotine.

There is an extended-release tablet that delays the onset of peak levels. With Xanax XR, it takes 10 hours for the effects to peak.

So how long does it take for Xanax to kick in? While the effects of Xanax kick in quickly, they don’t last for long. Xanax has a short half-life, meaning the effects peak shortly after you ingest the medication. This truncated half-life is one of the main reasons Xanax has a high potential for abuse. All drugs of this type are liable to be misused.

The fleeting duration of effects means you’ll typically take several doses of the drug each day, from 3 to 4 doses.

The rapid onset of effects means this drug is useful as an on-demand medication for panic attacks, and it also makes the medication unsuitable for the long-term treatment of anxiety.

The side effects of this drug can be divided into short-term and long-term effects, so what can you expect if you take this medication?

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a woman's image is blurred to represent xanax side effects.

Long Term Effects of Xanax

All benzos cause an increase in the production of GABA, a neurotransmitter associated with calming the nerve impulses that can trigger emotional expressions like panic and anxiety.

Tolerance to Xanax easily forms, and the medication starts becoming less effective. In time, it will stop treating emotional disruptions effectively.

If you take higher doses of Xanax, you’re likely to develop an addiction more rapidly, although even small doses of this medication can lead to dependency in less than a month.

Over time, Xanax can trigger dramatic mood swings, something resulting in hostile, aggressive, or violent behavior.

Using benzos routinely causes changes to appetite, involving either weight loss or weight gain. Benzos can lead to episodes of binge eating, with surges of insatiable hunger experienced.

Although Xanax stimulates neurotransmitters in your brain, the medication can make you feel quite tired and drained. Lethargy is a common by-product of opioid use, and this can often indirectly lead to weight gain.

Taken long-term, the drug can induce noticeable issues with memory, to the extent others are likely to pick up on your forgetfulness.

Benzos can also play havoc on your coordination. This can manifest in problems with both speech and balance.

Long Term Effects of Xanax (Cont.)

Using benzos long-term can also lead to increased problems with focus.

If you continue using Xanax for several months, you risk causing damage to brain cells. Persistent use of this drug changes the way your brain operates, decreasing inhibitions and exposing you to risks you would otherwise not take. From driving under the influence to unsafe sex, these risks can be deadly.

Abusing Xanax over the long-haul will often lead to depression and suicidal ideation. The same applies to all benzos, a class of drug that is best reserved for strictly short-term use.

The number of people treated for adverse outcomes in ER-associated with Xanax use spiked by 172% from 2004 to 2011.

The confused state that this drug can cause about sometimes leads to hostile and provocative behaviors totally out of character for the person in question. Less frequently, abusing benzos long-term can cause hallucinations and/or paranoid delusions.

Some current research hints at a possible link between long-term Xanax use and dementia. One study of 2000 seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and 7000 seniors without this degenerative condition showed a 32% higher risk for Alzheimer’s in those who had used the drug for 90 to 180 days. When Xanax use was ongoing for 6 months or more, the chance of getting Alzheimer’s increased by 84%.

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Quiz: How to Know if You Need Detox

How can you tell if you or a loved one requires a supervised medical detox from Xanax?

Ask yourself the following questions:

Xanax Detox Quiz

1. Do you need to take higher doses to achieve the same effect?

2. Have you tried and failed to moderate or discontinue Xanax use?

3. Does thinking about Xanax occupy lots of your time?

4. Are you anxious about always having a supply of Xanax?

5. Have friends and family noticed your absence at social occasions you would normally attend?

6. Do you keep taking it despite being aware of the negative consequences?

7. Do you get withdrawal symptoms like insomnia, anxiety, or muscle twitches if you cut down on your dosage or stop using the medication?

If you find yourself responding positively to several of these questions, you could be addicted to Xanax.

How Can I Get Detox Treatment?

Medical detox is typically the safest way to stop taking Xanax safely and to begin transitioning back into a fully functional life. If you have been taking this drug as part of an overarching treatment plan for panic disorder or anxiety disorder, you’ll need to engage with treatment addressing the underlying condition. This can take the part of another non-benzo medication, psychotherapy like CBT and DBT, or techniques like yoga, meditation, and mindfulness.

You should not attempt to abruptly stop taking Xanax without medical supervision. If you ensure you have the right care and support in place during detox and withdrawal, you’ll find you can soon get back up and running without relying on the crutch Xanax provides.

Xanax Addiction Treatment at Renaissance Recovery

If you started taking Xanax to get short-term relief from anxiety and became addicted, it is inadvisable to quit abruptly and without medical supervision.

When you stop using this benzo after sustained use, you can expect to experience a range of adverse withdrawal symptoms similar to barbiturate withdrawal or alcohol withdrawal. Xanax withdrawal can be uncomfortable, dangerous, and possibly even deadly.

For most people, the optimum route to recovery from drug addiction is a medically-assisted detox followed by addiction treatment tailored to benzo addiction. This will usually take the form of a tapered reduction in Xanax dosage, medication-assisted treatment, counseling, and psychotherapy.

Here at our California rehab, we specialize in the outpatient treatment of benzo addiction, offering you the support and structure you need without the costs or restrictions of residential rehab. Kickstart your recovery today by reaching out to admissions at 866.330.9449.

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