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Xanax Misuse Side Effects: Everything You Should Know

By Ashley Hinson
Xanax is a common prescription drug that is frequently misused. Learn about some side effects of Xanax that could affect you or a loved one if you misuse the drug.

Xanax is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders, but misuse of the benzodiazepine is common. Side effects of Xanax misuse can alter your mood and behavior, and they can become dangerous, according to Medline Plus. Read on to learn more about four side effects of Xanax misuse that could help alert you that it’s time to get help. 

You’re using Xanax on a long-term basis outside of medical supervision.

What does Xanax do? Xanax, known as alprazolam, acts on the brain and CNS to create a calming effect. However, it's not meant to be used for long periods.

“[Xanax is prescribed] short-term, for less than two weeks, for use by mouth under the supervision of a qualified physician while awaiting the benefits of safer, long-acting anti-anxiety medication,” Christopher Johnston, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Pinnacle Treatment Centers in New Jersey, tells WebMD Connect to Care. 

If you’ve been using Xanax for a long time, and without the supervision of a doctor, this is a sign of misuse. 

You’re experiencing falls or injuries with Xanax use.

The calming effect created by Xanax can lead to misuse, substance abuse disorder, or addiction. Misusing the drug puts you at risk of serious health conditions and makes you vulnerable to injury. 

“Longer-term use increases the risk of dementia later in life and increases the risk of falls and injuries in the short term,” Johnston says. 

You’re having an increase in Xanax tolerance and anxiety. 

About one in five people taking Xanax are misusing the drug. But how does addiction develop?

“After the second week of use, the calming effects diminish, and more milligrams are needed to have the same effect.” Another name for this occurrence is “tolerance”.  

“If there is a delay in taking the next dose, the anxiety gets a lot worse than before the medication was first taken,” Johnston adds. 

You’re withdrawing from your friends or normal life.

Signs of Xanax misuse can manifest as erratic behavior or social withdrawal. 

Someone misusing Xanax will have “unsuccessful attempts at cutting down and cravings. They’re missing out on enjoyable things because of overuse. They’re needing more and more just to get ‘normal’ and will experience withdrawal if running short on Xanax,” Johnston says. 

Xanax addiction may also be linked to abandoning responsibilities. 

“It makes people forget what they are supposed to do and causes difficulty walking and speaking clearly. People tell me they like the quick escape from everything,” Johnston says. 

Don’t Wait. Get Help Now.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, WebMD Connect to Care Advisors are standing by to help.