The prescription medication alprazolam is in a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines, which are available only by prescription. One brand name for alprazolam is Xanax. There are many facts about Xanax that are important for the individual taking this medication, particularly how its use and misuse could lead to an addiction.
What Does Xanax Do?
Xanax is primarily prescribed for anxiety disorder and panic disorder. It can also be prescribed for the treatment of sleep difficulties or help with alcohol withdrawal. A common condition for which Xanax is used, generalized anxiety disorder involves excessive anxiety or worry that could include symptoms such as fatigue, low energy, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, irritability, and muscle tension.
Panic disorder, which Xanax can also be prescribed to treat, occurs when an individual experiences unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear. Physical symptoms of panic disorder can include shortness of breath, dizziness, sweating, heart palpitations, and nausea. The person experiencing panic disorder may also fear future episodes.
Xanax works by attaching to a receptor in the brain known as the GABA-A receptor. By binding to this receptor, the drug has a calming effect in the brain, reducing the effects of these disorders. It can usually help relieve the anxiety symptoms relatively quickly.
How Long Does Xanax Last?
Even though it may act quickly on the symptoms of panic or anxiety, the effects of Xanax can be brief. Most people who take the drug will feel its strongest effects for about two to four hours. The individual may feel lingering effects for several more hours. How long Xanax lasts can depend on several factors, including the person’s age, weight, metabolism, and if they are taking any other medications.
It is important to avoid drinking alcohol and to not take any illegal drugs while taking Xanax. These substances may decrease the benefits and increase the adverse effects of the medication. Most importantly, the use of alcohol can increase the risk of an accidental overdose when taking Xanax.
While it is in the system, Xanax can cause drowsiness. Combining it with other medications that can also cause drowsiness can also be dangerous. Medications that should be avoided when taking Xanax include antihistamines such as Benadryl; codeine cough syrup; narcotic pain medication such as morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone; sleeping medication such as Ambien; and other anti-anxiety, antipsychotic, anticonvulsant, and antidepressant medications.
How Long Does It Take to Get Addicted to Xanax?
Xanax can be habit-forming. A person can build up a tolerance to Xanax fairly quickly. They may notice that it takes longer than usual to feel the effects with each dose and that the calming effects of the drug wear off sooner than usual. Although alprazolam is safe and effective when used appropriately, a physical dependence on the drug can develop after two or more weeks of daily use. An emotional or physical dependence can build up even when the medication is used as directed by a healthcare professional.
Someone who has a prescription for Xanax should not take a larger dose, take it more often, or take it longer than was originally prescribed. When an addiction forms and the individual tries to stop its use suddenly without professional help, they can experience withdrawal symptoms. These can include shaking, headache, blurred vision, seizures, sleep difficulties, nervousness, depression, aggressive behavior, weight loss, difficulty concentrating, and irritability.
How Long Does It Take for Xanax to Wear Off?
When taken properly, Xanax will remain in the average adult’s body for about 11 hours. Everyone metabolizes medications differently, though, so that number could be different depending on other factors such as age and body weight. Xanax has been known to remain in the body from between 6.3 to 26.9 hours.
Addiction and Mental Health Support for Men
At PACE Recovery, we optimize your recovery success with integrated treatment that will address both your addiction to drugs or alcohol, including an addiction to Xanax and other medications, and mental health issues. We address your whole person, including your spiritual, medical, psychosocial, and relational facets.
The professionals at PACE understand the challenges you are facing during this period of isolation and uncertainty. We’re here to help. Our men’s-only programming has transformed hundreds of lives over the years, and we believe that you can recover. To learn more about our mental health and addiction services, contact our Admissions team.