One of the best ways to avoid drug addiction is to be informed about the drugs you’re taking and know their risks and potential benefits.
That’s true whether you’re talking about illicit substances, over-the-counter medications, or even the prescriptions you get from your doctor.
Yes, your doctor and pharmacist are responsible for helping you avoid addiction and giving you alternatives if you have a higher risk of addiction than average. However, you are ultimately responsible for knowing what you take, the risks, and how to manage your medications properly.
That’s why we’ve put together this guide to Xanax. Like many prescription drugs, Xanax can be dangerous when used incorrectly or abused, but it can also be helpful for people who need it. So, let’s talk about how long Xanax stays in your system, what the drug does, the risks of taking it, and how you can recognize if you’re dealing with an addiction and need treatment.
That’s a lot to cover, so let’s get started!
What Is Xanax?
The first thing you should know if you’ve been prescribed Xanax is what Xanax is and what it does.
Let’s start with what Xanax is.
Xanax, generic name alprazolam, is a benzodiazepine, which is a class of medications that are commonly used in the treatment of anxiety and panic disorders and which can also be helpful in some cases with the anxiety caused by depression and other mental disorders.
In some cases, doctors may also prescribe a small amount of Xanax, or other benzodiazepines, to help deal with stressful situations.
For example, someone who is afraid of flying, but needs to fly cross-country for an important business trip, might get a small dose of benzodiazepine to help reduce the stress of flying and make it easier for them to relax on the plane.
There are also two types of Xanax, immediate-release tablets and extended-release tablets. One is meant for more immediate kinds of anxiety, while the extended-release tablets usually provide a smaller amount of relief over a longer period. Both can be used every day, but they should only be used as prescribed, and you shouldn’t ever take more Xanax than you need because the drug can be addictive, and you may experience dangerous side effects if you take more than you need, including an overdose.
What Is Xanax Meant To Be Used For?
Xanax is generally used for panic disorders, anxiety disorders, some cases of depression, and other mental health issues. It is also used to get people through the acute stress of a specific situation instead of long-term use.
It’s not meant for use by people who have had an allergic reaction to any benzodiazepine, who get serious side effects from the drug, or who can’t avoid driving or operating machinery while on the drug.
If you’re someone who could potentially benefit from taking Xanax but are worried about the risk of addiction or side effects, it’s best to bring up those concerns with your doctor right away. Alternative medications may offer a similar kind of relief while also avoiding the side effects and risks of Xanax.
Does Taking Xanax Have Risks?
Xanax comes with some risks in addition to the potential benefits, and some people may have more risks from taking Xanax than others.
For example, if you have a history of addiction, Xanax might not be the right medication for you because it has addictive properties. Additionally, some people report a similar high or euphoric feeling to other drugs while taking Xanax.
There is also the risk of drug interaction, the risk of overdose, and the risk that you will have more severe side effects than average.
We’ll discuss side effects in more detail, so let’s concentrate on the other risks of Xanax.
The first one is drug interactions. Drug interactions with benzodiazepines like Xanax can be a serious problem, especially for people who don’t know how long Xanax stays in your system. Drinking alcohol too soon after taking Xanax, for instance, can have many potentially dangerous side effects, including making it difficult to breathe or remember to breathe.
If you are taking Xanax because of a mental health disorder, it can also take some time to find the right dose. This may mean that you are too sedated by Xanax or that Xanax doesn’t adequately cover your symptoms, at least until you find the right dose.
If you’re taking Xanax while going to work or school, either of those problems can cause serious disruption to your normal life and day-to-day function.
Another serious risk of Xanax is that the drug can be highly addictive. People taking it with a prescription may not realize that they have an addiction right away, especially if they can continue using the drug as prescribed most or some of the time.
That can be a big issue if you need to change medications, run out of medication, or find yourself tempted to get Xanax from an overseas pharmacy or other illicit drug sources.
Fortunately, there are options for people dealing with addiction, and we’ll talk about one of your treatment options at the end of this article.
Like all medications, the last risk to touch on is the risk of becoming allergic to Xanax. Medication allergies are relatively rare when it comes to benzodiazepines, but they aren’t impossible and can often require medical attention.
If you suspect you might be allergic to any medication, get in touch with your doctor immediately to get advice. If you have severe symptoms of an allergic reaction to any medication, you should go to the closest emergency room for help.
How Long Does Xanax Stay In Your System?
There are two forms of Xanax, immediate and extended-release, and which one you take has a big impact on how long the Xanax stays active in your system.
Remember that Xanax is still in your body after it stops working, so you might not be feeling the effects of Xanax. However, you can still have enough of the drug in your system to cause negative interactions with other drugs, including alcohol.
Xanax is typically detectible for up to a week after taking the drug and up to 3 months on the most advanced tests.
Typical Xanax needs to be taken 3 times a day for full-day coverage and will wear off a little more overnight than it does through the day, which means that the effective time is usually between 4-6 hours.
Extended-release Xanax, on the other hand, is designed to last a full 24 hours, which means that there is no gap between doses when taken properly. However, it also means it can take a little longer to clear Xanax from your system after you stop taking the drug or if you need to switch medications at some point.
Side Effects Of Xanax Use
Remember that all drugs have some potential side effects and that for most approved drugs, most patients have few mild side effects.
For a drug to be approved, it has to show that it has benefits that outweigh the potential risks of taking the medication.
In the case of Xanax, addiction is a risk of the medication. However, it isn’t necessarily a side effect, so we won’t list it here.
However, taking more Xanax than needed can increase your risk of addiction and your risk of getting more serious side effects while taking the medication.
Here are some of the common side effects of Xanax:
- Memory loss
- Low blood pressure
- Dry mouth
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty speaking
- Changes in sex drive
- Changes in appetite
- Weight fluctuations
- Difficulty with balance
More serious side effects can include more serious versions of all the side effects we’ve already listed, along with the following:
- Liver problems
- Abdominal pain
- Severe allergic reactions
If your doctor is considering Xanax for you, you also need to know that Xanax doses do not change depending on your weight. The right dose for you is very individual and depends on what dose you respond to.
Higher doses have higher risks for addiction, more severe side effects, and other negative outcomes, even when the medication is used properly.
Can You Get Addicted To Xanax?
Unfortunately, one of the realities of all benzodiazepines is that they can be addictive. When used properly, these medications are incredibly useful, but that can make the problem more difficult.
That’s because treating someone with a mental health disorder other than a substance use disorder who also develops an addiction can be tricky. Therefore, people who benefit from Xanax are at greater risk of negative outcomes if they become addicted to the medication.
The good news is that addiction treatment centers have the specialized treatments needed to take care of even the most severe or complicated cases of addiction. It can help people get the quality of life they’re looking for, even when there is more than one disorder that needs to be dealt with.
If you’re ready to see what life can be like, contact Ocean’s Recovery, we can help.
- Xanax: Uses, Dosage, Side Effects & Warnings. Drugs.com. Published December 1, 2021. Accessed January 7, 2023. https://www.drugs.com/xanax.html
- Marshall H. Xanax: Side effects, dosage, uses, interactions, and more. Published August 8, 2022. Accessed January 7, 2023. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/drugs-xanax