In the late 1960’s the drug alprazolam, also known as Xanax, was created in Kalamazoo, Michigan as a sleep aid. Xanax was then discovered to be an effective treatment for anxiety, panic, and mood disorders. By the 1990’s Xanax had become one of the most popular prescription medications on the market. Psychiatrists began to prescribe Xanax regularly for anxiety and mood disorders. Xanax is surrounded in controversy due to the widespread abuse of the drug. It has become one of the most abused prescription pills in the country.
Alprazolam or Xanax is a member of the benzodiazepine class. Xanax contains axiolytic, sedative, skeletal muscle relaxant, hypnotic, anticonvulsant, and amnestic properties. Benzodiazepines have a variety of therapeutic and dangerous effects by attaching to the benzodiazepine receptor on the GABA receptor. This modulates the function of the GABA receptor which is the strongest inhibitory receptor in the brain. The GABA receptors translate the effects of Xanax onto the central nervous system. Xanax is listed as a schedule IV narcotic by the DEA.
Xanax is most commonly used and abused in a few different ways. It’s most commonly taken orally. There are those that also use the drug intravenously. Both of these methods produce the same effect with varying levels of intensity and duration.
Xanax has effects on the receptors on the brain which in turn have an effect on the central nervous system. Depending on the dosage the effects of Xanax can last from a couple hours to an entire day. The route of administration is also connected with how long and how intense the effects of Xanax will be. Motor skills and coordination are severely affected by Xanax and can cause serious injury. In excess Xanax impairs the ability for an individual to operate machinery or motor vehicles. The effects of Xanax can be compared to those of alcohol with loss of control and rational thinking. It may also cause symptoms such as being lethargic, having an increased appetite, forgetfulness, loss of coordination and impaired speech.
Drugs that are similar to Xanax include; Librium, Gerodorm, Sepazon, Tranxene, Vival, ProSom, Paxipam, Anxon, Restas, Dormonoct, Ativan, Serax, Phenazepam, Domar, Centrax, Doral, Restoril, Mylostan, and Rilamir. These are all drugs in the Benzodiazepine category. Sleep aids such as Lunesta and Ambien also produce similar effects as Xanax.
Continuous use of Xanax can produce an increased tolerance which can perpetuate dependence on the drug. The possibility of physical dependence on Xanax is likely. It can also be mentally addictive. Individuals who use the drug become accustomed to dealing with situations while under the influence of Xanax. When the drug is taken away this may increase anxiety and promote a feeling that one needs the drug to function normally.
Long-term use of Xanax can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms. Benzodiazepine withdrawal can lead to death in severe situations where high doses of Xanax are taken for an extended period of time. There are many different symptoms of Xanax withdrawal.
Symptoms of Xanax withdrawal include:
- Dilated pupils
- Impaired concentration
- Muscular spasms
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth
- Aches and pains
- Hearing impairment
- Taste and smell disturbances
- Chest pain
- Flu like symptoms
- Impaired memory
- Increased sensitivity to touch and sound
- Numbness and tingling
- Restless legs syndrome
- Elevation in blood pressure
- Postural hypotension
- Mild to severe depression
- Loss of appetite
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Mood swings.
More severe symptoms which can lead to death include; Convulsions, catatonia, coma, suicidal ideation, hyperthermia, delusions, homicide ideations, psychosis, mania and delirium tremens.
Overdose on Xanax can be life threatening. As tolerance increases the body yearns to feel normal. The receptors in the brain become unsatisfied and crave more of the substance. This can lead can to severe injury or overdose. The symptoms of Xanex overdose include; loss of coordination, feeling light headed, weak, fainting and coma.