What Does Taking Xanax Feel Like?

Xanax is perhaps one of the more widely recognized drug names, most likely because of what it feels like when taken. Created in 1981 the drug’s full medical name is Alprazolam and is categorized with the group of drugs named benzodiazepines. In the United States, it is the single most prescribed psychiatric medicine, used to treat people with intense anxiety and panic disorders.

It is known the most for the fast-acting qualities of calm it produces. A central nervous system depressant, Xanax slows processes in the body, bringing about an intense feeling of relief from anxiety or panic. Not surprisingly, these seemingly positive effects lead thousands of people to abuse the drug and begin a life of addiction.

What is Xanax meant to be used for?

As mentioned before, Xanax works by slowing down the movement of brain chemicals, which decreases excitement in the brain and produces a significant calming effect. For people with panic disorders, defined as a psychiatric disorder where debilitating anxiety and fear arise frequently and without reasonable cause, you might imagine the positive effects Xanax would have on their everyday lives. In addition, an individual with an anxiety disorder, a mental health disorder defined by feelings of worry, fear, and anxiety that are strong enough to affect one’s daily life, would ideally now be able to function “normally” when using Xanax appropriately.

In short, Xanax should be used only when prescribed by a medical professional, exactly as the doctor has prescribed it, and after the individual has been educated about its effects and the possibility of addiction.

How does Xanax physically affect you?

The biggest initial effect of Xanax on the body is the perceived sense of calm and lack of panic and anxiety. This may present itself in forms of low energy, drowsiness, or even a sense of euphoria because the feelings of negativity the user may have been experiencing are now “gone.” The drug typically begins working 30 minutes after taking it and can last up to 2-3 hours.

However, Xanax also has many side effects to be aware of. These include but are not limited to:

  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Impaired coordination
  • Memory impairment
  • Decreased libido
  • Muscle twitching and cramps
  • Inflammation of the skin
  • Abnormal dreams

Despite these negative reactions and others, it is common for Xanax users to begin to misuse the drug and become addicted.

How Does Xanax Use Become an Addiction?

The path to Xanax addiction can come in many forms. Whether prescribed appropriately and then misused, initially sought out with the intent to misuse, or somewhere in between, the result is always detrimental and dangerous to the individual who uses it.

Due to the initial positive effects of the drug, relief from panic, and calm, you can only imagine how one might want to increase their dosage regularly. This is where addiction begins. When a drug such as Xanax is used at an inappropriately high amount, dangerous physical effects such as blackouts and impaired brain function often occur.

So how does one actually addicted? Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just a bad habit. The drug stimulates the release of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain – when abusing Xanax, your brain becomes dependent on the release of GABA and the addiction is born. It can be so intense that if the user doesn’t get “enough” of Xanax, a term called “rebound anxiety” occurs which is a feeling of increased anxiety, often more intense than before the Xanax use.

Xanax Addiction Statistics

As with most addictions, being aware of the problem and educated enough to teach others is vital in the fight to help individuals that are using. Below are some statistics on the use and misuse of Xanax from DrugAbuse.com:

  • Xanax is legally available by prescription only but is one of the top 3 prescription drugs moved to the black market.
  • A 2013 study showed that young adults, ages 18-25, are the most likely to have used Xanax for non-medical purposes.
  • According to the CDC, more than 93,000 people died from a drug overdose in 2020.
  • Xanax, when misused, is commonly mixed with alcohol and other drugs, increasing the risk of overdose and other negative effects.

Xanax Addiction and Overdose Warnings

A Xanax addiction can be a hard reality to accept whether it’s yourself misusing or a loved one. In many cases, the individual who is addicted was prescribed Xanax and began to misuse it. However, the negative effects of addiction far outweigh the non-lasting sense of relief felt with Xanax.

Here are some common signs of Xanax addiction to look out for:

  • Continued use of Xanax even after it is causing personal difficulties
  • Loss of control over the amount consumed
  •  Inability to physically stop using Xanax even if the desire to stop using is present
  • Obsessing over the thought of the next use and how to obtain more
  • Common risk-taking behaviors occurring

Addiction to Xanax can unfortunately often lead to an overdose. An overdose can be fatal and should not be taken lightly. If you or a loved one misuses Xanax and any of the following symptoms occur, seek immediate help.

  • Fainting
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness or “nodding off”
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Loss of balance
  • Muscle weakness

Getting Treatment

A Xanax addiction can be dangerous and scary, but treatment is available. If you have questions or are ready to start your recovery journey, we’re here to help. Contact our skilled addiction and mental health professionals at Emerge Healing Center to learn more about Xanax addiction treatment and our program options.