Medications like Xanax may be helpful in alleviating symptoms of anxiety but evidence shows that long term use can lead to addiction and also be harmful to the brain. The drug's damaging effect on the brain can lead to mental and behavioral abnormalities like dementia.
Xanax can be especially harmful when abused or taken longer than is prescribed by a doctor. Young people often seek drugs like Xanax for the "high" that it provides without being aware of the dangers that can come with using this type of sedative.
Users of Xanax should be cautious of the addictive nature of this drug and avoid taking it for prolonged periods to prevent any negative effects on the brain.
Physical Side Effects of Xanax
Xanax is a type of Benzodiazepine, a category of drug that has been in existence since the late 60s for help with insomnia, anxiety, seizures, and muscle pain. Benzos are an increasingly common medication accounting for one out of every five prescriptions for controlled substances.
Valium and Xanax are the type of Benzos that are most often abused and each are known to cause brain damage. These drugs work by depressing the central nervous system which creates an effect of relaxation and calming that can help patients with anxiety.
The side effect of this drug on the central nervous system is often impaired mental alertness, problems with physical coordination and mechanical performance. Long term use of the drug can have brain-disabling effects including cognitive dysfunction ranging from short-term memory impairment and confusion to delirium.
Behavioral problems as a result of its effects can include extreme agitation, psychosis, paranoia and depression.
Withdrawal Symptoms and Addiction
Although the evidence of the serious side effects of Xanax has been well-documented, the number of prescriptions for the drug grew from 69 million to 83 million in the early 2000s. Studies have shown that most of the serious adverse effects caused by taking Xanax only become apparent long after clinical trials are over.
Xanax and other Benzos have the effect of suppressing both spontaneous and evoked electrical activity of the large neurons throughout all regions of the brain. Long term use of the drug can cause the brain to adjust to this different activity and suddenly stopping the use of Xanax can be harmful to the brain.
Quitting Xanax can lead to some serious withdrawal symptoms such as high blood pressure, shaking and intense anxiety. In some cases, withdrawal from a very severe addiction can lead to death. The danger of addiction to Benzos is very high because they work so quickly.
Xanax is meant to relieve panic attacks and intense anxiety so it can work effectively immediately. The fact that they work so instantaneously however greatly increases the risk for developing psychological dependence.
One of the worse effects of Xanax is the fact that it has a short half-life. This means that is goes in and out of the body very quickly and people can begin to experience subtle withdrawal symptoms in between doses.
Doctors now believe Xanax can only be effective and safe when used for a shorter period of time as long term use is generally more dangerous for both developing an addiction and experiencing the drug's harmful effects on the brain.