What is Xanax?
Xanax is the most frequently prescribed psychiatric drug in the USA. In 2016, Xanax was the 19th most prescribed medication, with over 27 million prescriptions in America.
Xanax comes under the benzodiazepine drug class, classified as a ‘sedative’ or ‘tranquilizer’ that depresses the central nervous system. Other benzodiazepines include Ativan, Valium, etc. but Xanax is the most popular benzodiazepine.
Xanax is the brand name version for generic drug alprazolam. Alprazolam is a white colored crystalline powder insoluble in water, and a central nervous system active compound.
How does Xanax work ?
Before or sometimes, after taking Xanax, many people wonder, “How does it work?” The question is relevant, more because Xanax is such a widely used drug.
There are 15 types of benzodiazepines approved by the FDA for the treatment of anxiety disorder, insomnia, and panic disorders. These medications also act as anticonvulsants, muscle relaxants, and sedative-hypnotics.
Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants. Central Nervous System is responsible for maintaining primary functions such as heart rate regulation, breathing, body temperature, and blood pressure. Taking Xanax slows down these functions.
Xanax acts on the neurotransmitters of the brain. Neurotransmitters are natural communication chemicals in the brain that relay messages to the body.
Xanax stimulates inhibiting GABA neurotransmitters responsible for the effects of calmness and relaxation. GABA (Gamma Amino Butyric Acid) is meant to be the natural tranquilizer of a person. Still, if you have anxiety or panic disorder, Xanax binds to these receptors and stimulates its production.
Xanax diminishes the increased neuron activity of the brain caused due to excessive stress and anxiety.
Common uses of Xanax :
Xanax is helpful for the management of anxiety disorder, panic disorder, short term treatment of anxiety, and depression related to anxiety.
Generalized anxiety disorder is unrealistic or excessive worry or anxiety about life circumstances for six months or above. During this period, a person experiences some or many of these symptoms:
- Trembling, twitching, or feeling shaky.
- Muscle tension, aches, or soreness.
- Restlessness or tiredness.
- Shortness of breath.
- Palpitations, or accelerated heart rate.
- Sweating, or cold and clammy hands
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Feeling keyed up, exaggerated response, or difficulty concentrating.
- Trouble falling or staying asleep.
Regular or recurrent panic attacks characterize panic disorder. Panic attacks are short periods of discomfort or intense fear, having some of the below signs begin to show and reach a peak within 10 minutes of use:
- Accelerated heart rate, pounding heart, or palpitations.
- Sweating, trembling or shaking.
- Choked feeling.
- Shortness of breath.
- Chest pain or distress
- Nausea or abdominal discomfort.
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, faintness, or unsteadiness.
- Depersonalization or derealization
- Fear of losing control or dying.
- Chills or hot flushes.
- Numbness or tingling sensations.
The above signs and symptoms of anxiety and panic disorder are responsive to Xanax.
Key Facts on Xanax :
- Xanax is a famous brand name for alprazolam.
- Xanax is a benzodiazepine and a CNS depressant.
- Xanax is a standard prescription to treat anxiety and panic disorders.
- Xanax causes dependence, withdrawal, addiction, and abuse.
- Xanax is accessible on the street by unusual street names such as yellow school bus, hulk Xanax, stick, football, green monster, schoolboys, and pink school girls, on account of its color and shapes.
- Xanax is the lion’s share of prescription medication in America.
How long the effects of Xanax last?
How long the effects of Xanax last remains in the fact that what type of drug is Xanax. Xanax is a short-acting benzodiazepine, so the results start to show as early as 5 minutes after intake and last only for a few hours.
The half-life of Xanax ranges from 6.3 hours to 26.9 hours. 97% of the drug clears out from the body after four to five half-lives.
The average half-life of Xanax is 11.2 hours.
Several factors determine how long Xanax lasts in a person’s body, including the person’s:
- Liver functioning
- Recurring medications
- Smoking habits
- Alcohol intoxication
What are the side effects associated with Xanax?
Commonly reported side effects by the use of Xanax to include:
- Sleep problems
- Memory impairment
- Poor balance or loss of balance
- Loss of coordination
- Speech problems including slurred speech
- Difficulty concentrating
- Excessive sweating
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blurred vision
- Stomach upset
- Loss of appetite or appetite changes
- Weight gain or loss
- Swelling of body parts, especially hands and feet
- Muscle weakness
- Decreased sex drive
Long term effects of Xanax use
In the long run, tolerance of Xanax develops, and its efficacy decreases. Xanax becomes less useful for a tolerant patient.
The long term effects of Xanax use include:
- Memory impairment
- Long term insomnia
- Drug tolerance
- Dependency on Xanax
- Severe withdrawal symptoms on quitting
- Addiction, abuse, and misuse of the drug.
What is Xanax addiction?
Xanax is a potent benzodiazepine and highly addictive in long term use.
Xanax tolerance and dependence develop very quickly. A tolerant person requires more drugs to achieve the desired effects. It eventually results in addiction.
People with Xanax addiction takes at least 20 to 30 pills per day.
The development of dependence, tolerance, and withdrawal are indications of addiction.
Xanax addiction affects daily life activities such as school, work, or family responsibilities, redirecting all the energy to drug-seeking behavior.
Behavioral signs of Xanax addiction include:
- Continuing the use of Xanax even though it contributes to personal difficulties.
- Inability to stop Xanax despite the wish to do so.
- Losing interest in activities once enjoyed.
- Obsession of Xanax use.
- Loss of control over the dosing of Xanax. Consuming high doses of Xanax bars.
- Risk-taking behavior such as driving or using heavy machinery under the influence of Xanax.
What is Xanax abuse?
Xanax abuse is taking more than the prescribed dosage of Xanax or using it without prescription. However, people who follow a prescription of Xanax and take the medication as directed are also at risk of addiction.
Xanax abuses include:
- Taking multiple pills at a time.
- Snorting Xanax.
- Injecting the drug.
- Taking Xanax via blotting paper.
- Combining it with other drugs or alcohol.
Xanax is a common drug of abuse because it causes feelings of calmness and relaxation.
To achieve a high, people also use Xanax with other CNS depressants (the drugs that cause central nervous system depression such as alcohol or heroin).
People abusing Xanax show the following signs:
- Sleeping for longer periods
- Cognitive impairment
- Nausea or vomiting
- Recurring headache
- Slurred speech
- Seizures during withdrawal
- Impaired coordination
Prevention and cure of Xanax addiction
Prevention of Xanax addiction or dependence include:
- Use of non-pharmacological such as psychological and behavioral therapies.
- Use of other less addictive medications instead of Xanax.
- Prescribing and using Xanax for less than three weeks.
- Limiting Xanax use to 1-2 weeks.
Once an addiction to Xanax takes place, it is not easy to get rid of it.
Overcoming Xanax addiction is difficult, but people do it every day.
There are various Xanax detoxification programs and treatments for people who are Xanax addicts and want to get out of their addictive lifestyle.
Most common treatment option available in the USA include:
- Xanax Detoxification Centers and Withdrawal Treatment Programs
- Inpatient Xanax Rehabilitation
- Intensive Outpatient Rehab Programs
- Aftercare Centers
- Addiction Counseling Sessions
- Sober Living Seminars
Facts on Xanax addiction
- 55% of non-medical users acquire Xanax for free from friends or relatives.
- 17.3% of people abuse Xanax when prescribed by their doctor.
- 4.8% of people sneak Xanax from relatives, friends, or loved ones.
- Only 4.4% of people buy Xanax from a legal dealer.
- 70% of teenagers fighting Xanax addiction acquire the medication from their family’s medicines cabinet.
- Emergency room visits by abusing Xanax increased from 57,419 in 2005 to 124,902 in 2010.
- Prescription rates for Xanax took a speedy elevation from 2005.
What is Xanax withdrawal?
Withdrawal from Xanax can be fatal, and it is of utmost essential to consult a doctor or a health care expert if you are suffering from Xanax withdrawal symptoms.
The fact that Xanax causes withdrawal lies in the consideration “what type of drug is Xanax.” Xanax is a central nervous system depressing drug that causes physical dependence.
People using Xanax for longer durations or at higher doses are more likely dependent on the drug. However, Xanax can cause dependence even at directed doses.
Like alcohol, abrupt cessation from Xanax causes seizures, increased heart rate, hypotension, and agitation.
To prevent Xanax withdrawal syndrome, gradually reduce doses of the medication. Never quit Xanax cold turkey. Slowly taper Xanax daily recommended dosage.
If symptoms of withdrawal are severe or re-occurring, doctors can recommend medications, inpatient hospitalization, or outpatient therapy.
What are the types of Xanax?
There are many types of Xanax based on their formulation, strength, and color.
Based on formulation, there are two types of Xanax:
- Xanax pills: The most famous formulation of Xanax is Xanax bars. Xanax bars are rectangular pills that resemble the shape of a bar. Xanax pills also come in round, oval, elliptical, elongated, and triangular shapes. Xanax pills often come pre-scored.
- Liquid Xanax: Liquid Xanax comes in small bottles containing a liquid formulation of alprazolam. It is the same as the Xanax pills. One milliliter of liquid Xanax is equivalent to 2 milligrams of Xanax pills.
Different color of Xanax bars comes in various strengths and shapes.
Types of Xanax based on colors include:
- White Xanax: White Xanax bars are rectangular pills containing alprazolam in the strength of 2 milligrams. It is a scored tablet and one of the most popular types of Xanax bars. White Xanax also comes in round, rectangle, oval, and triangle shapes with strengths varying from 0.25mg to 2mg.
- Yellow Xanax: Yellow Xanax bars also comes in 2-milligram strength. It is the generic form of the drug. It has the same efficacy and effectiveness as the white Xanax bars due to the same strengths of bars. Yellow Xanax also comes in forms of 1-milligram four-sided rectangular pill and oval tablets.
- Green Xanax: Green, yellow, and white Xanax bars have the same strengths and effectiveness. The difference in the color of the pills is due to different manufacturers producing them. Green Xanax also comes in rectangle, triangle, oval, and round shapes in strengths varying from 1 to 3 milligram.
- Blue Xanax: Blue Xanax is the oval or elliptical shaped pills having 1 milligram of alprazolam. The tablets are pre-scored to divide them into two doses of 0.50 milligram each.
- Peach Xanax: Peach or orange Xanax is a lower dose of alprazolam containing 0.50 milligrams of a drug. These are oval-shaped pills, prescribed in less severe cases of anxiety. Orange Xanax comes in the strength of both 0.25 and 0.50 milligrams.
- Pink Xanax: Pink Xanax are round or oval-shaped pills containing 0.50 milligram of alprazolam for treating initial or less severe symptoms of anxiety.
Doctors should warn the patients about what type of drug is Xanax and what consequences it can cause.
Patients with the prescription of Xanax should follow the warnings, including:
- People should inform the doctor about their history of alcohol abuse or current alcohol consumption before taking Xanax. It is not advisable to use alcohol while using benzodiazepines such as Xanax.
- Inform your doctor about all the concurrent medications, including OTC (over-the-counter) medicines. Xanax causes interactions with medicines, and it is not safe to take Xanax with many other drugs.
- Xanax is not recommendable for pregnant women. While you are taking Xanax, inform your doctor if you become pregnant or planning to have a child. Xanax is not safe in pregnancy as it can affect the unborn child and cause severe withdrawal symptoms in the newborn.
- Consult a doctor if you are breastfeeding mother. Xanax passes through the breast milk into the infant and causes CNS depression and other symptoms of withdrawal.
- Do not drive a vehicle or operate hefty machinery until you experience precisely how Xanax affects your brain.
- Never increase the dosage of Xanax without consulting your doctor, even if you think the existing doses are not sufficient anymore. Talk to your doctor and always take directed doses to avoid dependence and addiction.
- Never stop taking Xanax abruptly without proper consultation with the doctor. If you no longer require the medication, inform your doctor. The doctor will gradually decrease your daily dosages to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
- Taking Xanax in several cases could be dangerous. Inform your doctor right away if you have:
asthma or breathing problems
kidney or liver diseases
history of alcohol or substance abuse
depression or suicidal thoughts
hypersensitivity to Xanax or other benzodiazepines.
Precautions for Xanax use
- Alcohol or Smoking: Xanax increases the effects of alcohol. Do not drink alcohol while taking Xanax. Xanax concentrations reduce up to 50% in smokers than in non-smoker patients. Quit smoking before starting the medication of Xanax.
- Allergies: Do not consume Xanax if you are allergic to benzodiazepines or if you have a known hypersensitivity to Xanax or any inactive ingredients of the medication.
- Pregnancy: A child born of a Xanax receiving mother may have withdrawal symptoms from the drug during the postnatal period. Flaccidity and respiratory issues in neonatal are common.
- Nursing: Xanax excretes in human milk. Infants become lethargic and tend to lose weight as a result of consuming Xanax through mother’s milk.
- Geriatric people: Older adults are more sensitive to the side effects of Xanax. They exhibit a higher concentration of Xanax in plasma and a reduced clearance of drugs when compared to younger adults. Doctors should schedule the dosage very cautiously for elderly patients.
- Pediatric patients: Xanax is not safe for children below 18 years of age. There is not an establishment of the effectiveness of Xanax for individuals under 18 years.