December 14, 2023

Xanax Side Effects: Short Term & Long Term Effects

A woman stares out the window after learning about the Common side effects of Xanax

Xanax, a branded form of alprazolam, is a benzodiazepine that acts as a CNS (central nervous system) depressant. It is often prescribed to address conditions like anxiety disorders and panic disorders. Although the short-term use of Xanax can effectively treat panic and anxiety, long-term use and any misuse of benzos can trigger a range of long-term effects.

What Are the Side Effects of Xanax?

There are many negative effects of Xanax that may present alongside its intended calming effects. Xanax side effects may include drowsiness and dizziness, for instance. Combining Xanax with other substances may lead to severe sedation which can be life-threatening. Xanax is known for its high addictive potential, with physical dependence capable of developing within a few weeks of consistent daily use. The effects of Xanax can manifest both in the short term and over the long term.

Short-Term Side Effects of Xanax

When taken orally, Xanax is absorbed quickly, with calming effects delivered within 30 minutes and lasting for six hours or so.

The most common side effects of Xanax in the short-term include:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Impaired coordination

Adverse reaction to Xanax may also involve any of the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Worsening depression
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Nausea, vomiting, upset stomach
  • Memory impairment
  • Light-headedness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Decreased mental alertness
  • Blurred vision
  • Xanax rash
  • Drowsiness, fatigue
A woman looks in the mirror in thought after experiencing some of the Long term side effects of Xanax

Long-Term Side Effects of Xanax

Extended use of Xanax, particularly beyond prescribed durations, can lead to a range of long-term effects, impacting both physical and mental well-being. These may include:

  • Tolerance development: Long-term Xanax use may result in the development of tolerance, where the body adapts to the drug’s presence. This leads many people to use more of the medication to achieve the same therapeutic effects, increasing the risk of dependence.
  • Physical dependence: Prolonged use can trigger the development of physical dependence, where the body relies on Xanax to function normally. Abrupt discontinuation or a significant reduction in dosage can trigger withdrawal symptoms, reinforcing the need for continued use.
  • Sexual side effects: Xanax sexual side effects may include increased libido.
  • Cognitive impairment: Persistent use of Xanax may contribute to cognitive impairment, affecting memory, focus, and overall mental sharpness. This can impact daily functioning and overall quality of life.
  • Increased risk of accidents: Long-term use of Xanax, especially at higher doses, may result in persistent drowsiness, dizziness, and impaired coordination. This increases the risk of accidents, falls, and injuries.
  • Mood changes: Chronic use of Xanax may lead to alterations in mood, including symptoms of depression, apathy, or emotional blunting. The drug’s impact on the central nervous system can contribute to shifts in emotional well-being.
  • Rebound anxiety and insomnia: Discontinuing Xanax after long-term use may lead to rebound symptoms of heightened anxiety and insomnia. These symptoms can be more pronounced than the original issues the drug was intended to treat.
  • Social and occupational impairment: Long-term use can contribute to social and occupational impairment. Individuals may find it challenging to engage in daily activities, maintain relationships, or perform optimally at work due to the drug’s lingering effects.
  • Increased risk of substance use disorders: Extended use of Xanax increases the risk of developing an addiction (substance use disorder). The drug’s addictive nature can lead to compulsive use, making it difficult for people to control or cease their consumption.
  • Diminished quality of life: The cumulative impact of long-term Xanax use may result in a diminished overall quality of life. Persistent physical and psychological effects can contribute to a sense of disconnection, fatigue, and a reduced capacity to enjoy life.

Anyone using Xanax to manage anxiety or related conditions should work closely with healthcare professionals to monitor their medication usage. Regular assessments and open communication can help address emerging concerns and explore alternative treatment approaches when necessary. If you or someone you know is grappling with long-term Xanax use, seeking professional guidance for a comprehensive assessment and tailored intervention is recommended.

What to Do for a Xanax Overdose

Recognizing the signs of a Xanax overdose is crucial for prompt intervention. If you suspect that someone may be experiencing a Xanax overdose, take the following steps:

  • Call emergency services immediately: Dial 911 to request immediate medical assistance. Time is of the essence in overdose situations.
  • Provide necessary information: Clearly communicate the situation to the emergency dispatcher, providing details such as the person’s age, weight, any pre-existing health conditions, and the amount of Xanax ingested if known.
  • Monitor vital signs: Stay with the person and monitor their vital signs, including breathing and heart rate. If they lose consciousness, check for a pulse, and be prepared to administer CPR if necessary.
  • Do not leave them alone: Avoid leaving the person alone, especially if they are exhibiting severe symptoms. Stay present and attentive until medical professionals arrive.
  • Refrain from giving other substances: Do not attempt to counteract the effects of Xanax overdose by giving the person other substances, as this could potentially worsen the situation.
  • Provide first aid if necessary: If the person stops breathing or their breathing becomes irregular, begin CPR if you are trained to do so. Otherwise, wait for professional medical assistance.
  • Stay calm and offer reassurance: Stay calm and offer reassurance to the individual. Anxiety and panic can inflame the situation, so remain composed.
  • Be prepared to share information: Upon the arrival of emergency medical personnel, be prepared to share any relevant information about the person’s medical history, the circumstances leading to the overdose, and any medications they may be taking.

Remember, a Xanax overdose is a medical emergency, and seeking professional help immediately is paramount. Timely intervention can make a significant difference in the outcome. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance misuse, seeking guidance from healthcare professionals, or contacting a local helpline can provide valuable support and resources for recovery.

An image of the Gratitude Lodge facility, where addiction treatment is available

Get Treatment for Xanax Addiction at Gratitude Lodge

Xanax addiction responds favorably to evidence-based treatment and we can help you with this at Gratitude Lodge in Long Beach and Newport Beach, California.

Begin your Xanax addiction treatment with supervised detoxification at one of our pet-friendly beachside treatment centers. With medications to streamline withdrawal and ongoing clinical care to mitigate complications, you can address the issue of Xanax dependence with a tapered reduction in dosage before moving into ongoing inpatient treatment.

All Gratitude Lodge programs offer personalized treatment that may include any of the following interventions:

Call 888-861-1658 for assistance in living Xanax-free.

Want to learn more?

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Joe Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
Jenni Bussi

Jenni Busse MS, LPCC

Jenni Busse MS, LPSS is the Clinical Director at Gratitude Lodge. Jenni oversees the clinical program and the clinical team at Gratitude Lodge as a whole. Jenni has worked in treatment for almost 14 years. Her background as a licensed therapist and her passion for helping others intersected with addiction recovery when she started working primarily in detox residential treatment.

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