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Xanax Effects: what does Xanax feel like?
Xanax is a popular benzodiazepine, a medication that can treat anxiety and panic disorders. The medicine usually takes less than an hour to start working and imparts the effects of calmness and relaxation.
The medication is a brand or trade name for generic Alprazolam. Its effects quickly take place and rapidly go away. Some people also abuse the medication or take it recreationally for its calming and relaxing effects. The fast-acting action of Xanax leads to its misuse.
Xanax is a medication for the management and treatment of anxiety issues and panic. However, if someone takes it recreationally, it poses severe health risks, especially when combined with other central nervous system depressants such as alcohol.
Xanax Effects on Body and Brain
The Food and Drug Administration of the United States (US FDA) approved Xanax to treat some types of anxiety conditions, including panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The medication can treat GAD symptoms such as elevated levels of anxiety, muscle tension, and restlessness.
The medication (Alprazolam) is a central nervous system depressant (CNS depressant). It falls under the benzodiazepines medications class, which consists of medicines that slow down the central nervous system.
Xanax pills work by increasing the levels of a brain chemical known as GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). The GABA receptor produces a relaxed feeling and promotes calmness. The medication reduces the excessive excitement in the brain to manage anxiety and panic disorders.
People experience the following Xanax effects after taking it orally:
- Relief of anxiety
- Ease of muscle tension
- Relief from insomnia or depression
Taking Xanax affects the mind. It causes temporary memory loss, irritability, and hostility, and vivid or disturbing dreams.
Abusing or taking too much Xanax can produce the following effects:
- Clammy skin
- Shallow breathing
- Dilated pupils
- A rapid or weak heartbeat
- Coma or even death in cases of overdose
The United States government scheduled Xanax as a controlled substance (Schedule IV) under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) due to its abuse and misuse potential. The classification makes it easier for the government to track the distribution and prescription of Xanax.
Duration of Xanax Effects: How long does Xanax last?
Compared to other benzodiazepines, the body much quickly absorbs Xanax, so its effects take place rapidly. Within about 1-2 hours of oral administration, Xanax reaches its peak effects in the body.
Xanax effects start appearing within 1 hour, with one study finding the average onset time with oral administration as 49 minutes.
Being a quick-acting medication, the medication also leaves the body rapidly. Xanax’s half-life is about 11-12 hours in healthy adults, signifying that the body will remove nearly half of the medicine it absorbed within just 11 hours.
Xanax Side Effects
While taking Xanax, people may experience undesirable side effects. The most common of them include:
- Dry mouth
- Slurred speech
- Blurred vision
- Nausea or vomiting
- Difficulty concentrating
Not every person taking Xanax medication will have its side effects. There are some factors that influence the occurrence of Xanax side effects, including:
- Xanax dosage
- Concomitant use of other medications
- Age and overall health
- Medical and health conditions
- Use of other central nervous system depressants such as alcohol
People usually feel the side effects at the beginning of treatment or when their doctor increases the dose. With continued use, side effects generally disappear.
Xanax Withdrawal Effects
People using Xanax can become dependent on it. The medication has a potential for abuse, particularly for those individuals who have a history of substance addiction, abuse, or misuse.
As the body quickly absorbs Xanax, its effects take place faster than those of other benzodiazepine medicines. The medication also has a shorter half-life, which signifies that its effects rapidly disappear. These characteristics increase the potential for Xanax abuse.
After using Xanax pills for a long time, the body gets used to the medication, so the person taking it may experience Xanax withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking it. Decreasing the dose slowly over time reduces the risk and severity of these symptoms.
Doctors recommend decreasing the dose by no more than 0.5mg every 3 days. They will determine the most appropriate discontinuation dose for every individual patient, as the tolerance and dependence may differ from person to person.
Xanax withdrawal effects include:
- Muscle cramps
- Stomach cramps
- A mild feeling of dissatisfaction or depression
Some other withdrawal symptoms such as rebound insomnia, psychosis, delirium, and rebound anxiety are more common with Xanax than other benzodiazepines.
Substance Affecting Xanax Effects
Combining Xanax and alcohol (or any other central nervous system depressant) increases the risk of severe side effects. Certain substances can result in an increased half-life of Xanax, which can also lead to an overdose.
The prescribing doctor should consider the use of other medications that may slow down the central nervous system, such as anticonvulsants, antihistamines, and others. Some medications interact with Xanax by reducing or blocking the effects of liver enzymes that help eliminate Xanax. These medications include fluoxetine, birth control pills, and others. As alcohol is also a CNS depressant, people should not take Xanax and alcohol together.