Xanax has interesting effects that vary depending on who takes it. Studies have not been able to determine with certainty why Xanax causes euphoria in some people but not others. Because of its potential to produce euphoria, relaxing properties, and availability, Xanax has a strong potential for abuse.

How Xanax is Used

Dr. Leo Sternbach created the first benzodiazepine in 1956. He did this to create a safer and less addictive alternative to tranquilizer drugs, which were popular but potent and habit-forming.

Xanax became increasingly popular after being introduced to treat anxiety. Xanax’s rise in popularity was primarily because it was fast-acting, helping to eliminate anxiety in some within a week of taking it.

It was also thought to be very useful because the effectiveness of the drug did not decrease with long-term use.

Xanax is an anxiolytic sedative that works by binding to GABA receptors in the brain, decreasing overall brain activity. The activation of the GABA receptors allow Xanax to reduce feelings of panic and anxiety.

The medication is typically taken orally. The dosage prescribed is related to an individual’s medical condition, their age, and their overall response to the treatment.

The drug can be habit-forming, so it is important to take it as directed. Never increase your dosage or take it more frequently than advised.

Euphoric or Not?

According to The Ochsner Journal, benzodiazepines are some of the most prescribed drugs in the United States. They have been known to help with anxiety, insomnia, muscle relaxation, and spasticity problems associated with the central nervous system.

It is accepted generally that benzodiazepines cause a sedative effect, but there is a bit of contention as to whether or not they cause euphoria.

In some people, Xanax can cause mild-to-moderate euphoria. The euphoric effect coupled with high distribution rates and ready availability gives Xanax a high potential for recreational use and abuse.

For others, taking Xanax does not produce euphoric effects. The higher the dose taken, the more likely it is that a euphoric effect will occur, even in those resistant to it.

Higher dosages, taken more frequently, are more likely to result in dependence on the drug.

Side Effects

Most drugs have positives and negatives, and Xanax is no exception. While Xanaxhas been shown to be effective in treating anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, and seizure disorders, it can cause adverse side effects.

Common Side Effects Associated With Xanax Are:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Skin rash
  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Face swelling
  • Unusual levels of fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Trouble passing urine or changing amounts of urine
  • Muscle cramps
  • Confusion
  • Forgetfulness
  • Depression
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Trouble speaking
  • Feeling faint
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Mood swings

If you or someone you know experiences any of these side effects while on Xanax, inform your doctor so they can take appropriate action.

Xanax has long-term risks as well. Because Xanax works by interacting with the GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) system in the brain, altering the levels of certain neurotransmitters, dependence is a possibility with long-term abuse.

Dependence

Over a long period, Xanax causes the system to produce more of certain neurotransmitters. The brain adapts and begins to expect the chemicals provided by Xanax. If use ceases, withdrawal effects are experienced, as the brain attempts to rebalance its chemistry.

Xanax, in particular, is known for having some of the strongest and most dangerous withdrawal symptoms out there. This is partly because the effects of Xanax come on quickly and wear off quickly as well.

Like the drug, the withdrawal symptoms associated with Xanax can set in fast and be very potent. The drug is highly potent, and as such, it is usually not recommended for long-term use. Xanax is about 10 times stronger than Klonopin or Valium.

With sustained use, Xanax can cause dependence even at recommended dosages.

Withdrawal From Xanax

Some of the most common Xanax withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Difficulty focusing
  • Headaches
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Sweating
  • Panic attacks
  • Heart palpitations
  • Increased anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Seizures
  • Nausea
  • Stiffness
  • Muscle pain

To estimate how long withdrawal will take, you have to account for the length of time Xanax was used and the severity of use. Those who have been using the drug for a long time typically have a harder time with withdrawal.

Some withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening, so medical supervision is required to taper off the drug. Usually, a physician will move the person to a long-acting benzodiazepine and then slowly taper the dosage of that medication.

Per a study published in Pharmacy, 73 percent of patients on a tapering program for benzodiazepines were managing successfully after three years without anxiolytic medication.

Benzodiazepine Prevalence

According to a study published by Psychopharmacology, it is estimated that more than 100 million benzodiazepine prescriptions were written in the United States in 2009.

Even so, there are no robust studies that show these medications are particularly effective. The findings of the study show that drugs like Xanax are among the most widely prescribed, misused, and abused prescription drugs out there.

Some of these medications have a small window of effectiveness that is accompanied by severe and life-threatening side effects. The study concluded that using medicinal aid to discontinue use of benzodiazepine “seems appropriate.”

More research related to the management of benzodiazepine cessation through randomized clinical trials is recommended to create more effective treatment solutions.

Withdrawal Timeline

Those who use Xanax for a long time can expect a withdrawal period of at least five days. Xanax withdrawal can begin as quickly as six hours after the last dose.

While most of the physical symptoms of withdrawal should fade away in a week on average, many other issues accompany withdrawal, such as anxiety and insomnia that can take weeks or even months to clear up. It is the psychological aspect of withdrawal that is often the most difficult to deal with for most people.

A study published by the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that benzodiazepines are prescribed more frequently to patients who are already at risk for adverse effects to the drugs. This just compounds the likelihood of abuse and misuse.

The first two days of withdrawal are considered early withdrawal. Symptoms typically include:

  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Moodiness
  • Rebound anxiety

Days 3 through 6 are known as the acute withdrawal stage. This is typically when withdrawal symptoms peak. These symptoms include but aren’t limited to:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Sensory hypersensitivity
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry heaving
  • Dysphoria
  • General anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Headache
  • Hostility
  • Aggression
  • Hypertension
  • Mental confusion
  • Muscle aches
  • Cramping
  • Nausea
  • Racing heart
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Weight loss
  • Tremors

Days 6 through 12 make up the late withdrawal stage. Typically, after about a week, the worst of the withdrawal symptoms have passed. Late-stage withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Cravings
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Sleep disturbances

Use and misuse studies of Xanax have repeatedly shown the risks of long-term use.

Conclusion

For most people, Xanax is viewed as a relaxing, sedating drug. For some people, it can result in feelings of euphoria or heightened well-being.

Regardless of how Xanax affects you, abusing the drug is very dangerous. It can result in dependency and addiction incredibly quickly.

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