If you constantly battle with anxiety and panic attacks, your healthcare provider might prescribe you Xanax. It is an effective drug for managing anxiety and panic attacks. Doctors typically prescribe this drug for people with a generalized anxiety disorder or GAD. So, if you have GAD, make sure to go through the information listed here about the safe use and working of Xanax before deciding to use it.
What Is Xanax?
Xanax is the brand name variant of the anti-anxiety medication – alprazolam. It is a drug belonging to the group of medicines known as benzodiazepines.
Doctors prominently recommend drugs in the benzodiazepine class to people with a generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder. Xanax and other benzodiazepines can also help with the short-term treatment of people with severe insomnia, alcohol withdrawal, and prolonged seizures.
How Does Xanax Help With Anxiety?
Xanax and other benzodiazepines work by attaching to the GABA receptors in the brain. When connected with gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors, it produces a calming effect and relaxes the person.
Xanax is helpful for people with anxiety because of its fast action time. It can help relieve anxiety symptoms as soon as you take the medication. The fast-acting property of this drug is especially vital for people who experience panic attacks along with anxiety.
While Xanax’s quick action formula is what makes it so lucrative for people with anxiety, it is not a long term cure for the problem. Doctors often prescribe psychological therapy and other mediation with Xanax for people with severe anxiety who need prolonged treatment.
Xanax works as an immediate damage control tool because other treatments usually take some time, typically a few weeks, before showing their effects. With Xanax controlling the anxiety and panic, other treatments get ample time to work.
How Long The Effects Of Xanax Last?
Xanax’s effects start to show up for most people within 1-2 hours after consuming it. This drug’s half-life (the time it takes the body to eliminate half of this medicine) is somewhere around 6 to 26 hours. The average half-life of Xanax is about 11 hours.
This medicine takes even longer to leave the body of older people. Typically, it takes the body of a healthy older person between 9 to 27 hours to eliminate half of this drug. For this age group, Xanax’s average half-life is around 16 hours.
While it stays in the body for so long, people typically stop feeling its effects after a couple of hours from taking it. Due to it, doctors recommend consuming it more than once a day. It is also crucial to take Xanax as prescribed because consuming too many doses can result in dependence or accidental overdose, which can be fatal.
What Side Effects Can Occur While Using Xanax?
If you are planning to take Xanax, be sure that you know about the adverse effects it can cause. Some possible Xanax side effects are as follows:
- Blurry vision
- Low blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Dry mouth
- Trouble walking
- Manic symptoms
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight loss
- Weight gain
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle cramps
While Xanax is mostly a safe-to-use drug, some people should avoid consuming it because it can cause more harm than good. These people include:
- Children and teens
- Older people
- Pregnant women
- Those with a history of alcohol and substance abuse
- People with specific medical conditions, such as liver or kidney disease, respiratory illness, and others
Those taking this drug should also be aware of the possibility of becoming dependent on Xanax. Some misuse Xanax because of how it made them feel. This misuse can lead to addiction and overuse. When a person frequently consumes higher than the recommended dose, their body will no longer respond to small amounts, which means they have to take a higher quantity to feel this drug’s effects.
People who develop a dependence on this drug cannot function properly without consuming it. They will also experience severe withdrawal symptoms if they try to quit using Xanax.
The following people are at an elevated risk for misusing Xanax:
- People with a personal or family history of substance or alcohol abuse
- Young adults aged between 18 and 35
- People who have a psychiatric disorder
How To Safely Use Xanax?
Because this medicine can cause severe side effects and make you drug dependent, it is crucial to use Xanax under a healthcare provider’s supervision. When starting the treatment, take the lowest possible dose and for the shortest duration possible.
While using Xanax, you should ensure to avoid alcoholic beverages and opioid medications. These substances work in similar ways and can worsen Xanax’s side effects. Using an opioid with this drug can cause severe respiratory suppression making it difficult to breathe, resulting in death. It is crucial to avoid substances having a high risk of misuse and dependence while using Xanax.
If you take other medications along with Xanax, those drugs can increase the stay of Xanax in the system or reduce its efficacy. So, if you have to consume other medicines, it is best to consult a doctor about the safety of combining different drugs.
The following are some of the medications that can interact with Xanax:
- Birth control pills
- Isoniazid – Laniazid, Rimifon, Hyzyd, Stanozide, Nydrazid
- Cyclosporine – Sandimmune
- Diltiazem – Cardizem
- Carbamazepine – Tegretol
- Sertraline – Zoloft
- Paroxetine – Paxil
- Fluoxetine – Prozac
- Cimetidine – Tagamet
How To Safely Stop Using Xanax?
If you want to terminate treatment with Xanax, try asking your doctor for safe ways to stop using it. Xanax is a potent drug that can be addictive even when used as prescribed. Suddenly stopping its consumption can lead to severe withdrawal effects, some of which can be life-threatening—people who abruptly stop using Xanax experience rebound anxiety, which causes the anxiety symptoms to return. These rebound symptoms are usually worse than the person was experiencing before the treatment.
Seizures are the most severe withdrawal symptoms and can be life-threatening. Severe signs of withdrawal are more likely to occur within 1-3 days after you stop taking Xanax.
Xanax withdrawal symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- Decreased appetite
- Increased sensory perception
- Altered sense of smell (Dysomia)
- Muscle cramps
- Muscle twitching
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mental confusion
- Unusual skin sensation (Paresthesias)
At the time of ending the treatment, doctors typically lower the dosage gradually to prevent withdrawal symptoms. They usually decrease the amount over a couple of weeks, so your body will become accustomed to the lack of Xanax in the system.