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Is Xanax a Narcotic?: Side-Effects of Taking Xanax & Addiction Potential

By October 20, 2021January 31st, 2022No Comments

Xanax is one of the many prescription medications, classified as benzodiazepines, that is widely prescribed in order to treat depression, anxiety disorders, and panic attacks. It lowers overexcitement in the brain by calming down the central nervous system. Xanax is not a narcotic, but it can be harmful all the same.

Whether a drug is considered a narcotic or not, they all come with risks. Xanax is one of the most commonly prescribed benzos, but that does not mean there are no side effects that can be experienced. Generally, if used within your doctors’ instructions, Xanax can be a very safe way to manage anxiety and panic attacks, but when misused, it can lead to serious adverse side effects, including heart problems, dependency, and even addiction.

Is Xanax a Narcotic?

While Xanax is not a narcotic, the main active ingredient, alprazolam, is a Schedule IV controlled substance. This means that it is not as addictive or likely to be abused as a Schedule III drug, the risk is still there. Other common benzodiazepines include Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin.

Benzodiazepines are used to calm and relax the brain by depressing the central nervous system. They slow down the brain and overwhelming feelings of anxiety. In addition to depression and anxiety disorders, Xanax is also prescribed to help with insomnia as well.

As one of the most commonly prescribed prescription medications, it is not surprising that the addiction rates, especially amongst younger people, are so high. Alprazolam has several common street names, including Xans, bars, blue footballs, and xannies.

Side-Effects of Taking Xanax & Narcotics

Xanax is not a narcotic but can come with similar side effects that narcotics cause. Within minutes of ingestion, the short-term effects of Xanax become noticeable.

Short-term effects can include:

  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty thinking
  • Difficulty forming sentences
  • Slurring of words
  • Depressions
  • Seizures
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty urinating

In addition to the short-term effects, long-term side effects of Xanax use can include:

  • Seizures and tremors
  • Memory issues
  • Hyperactivity and agitation
  • Symptoms of anxiety
  • Sedative effects that last up to 4 days

These are side effects that can happen when Xanax is taken on its own. When you mix in other drugs, such as opiates, alcohol, or even other benzodiazepines, you can run into some serious problems. The effects can be much more intense and be reinforced by other substances that have been introduced into your system.

Addiction Potential for Xanax & Narcotics

When good things happen, such as winning a race or eating a tasty snack, your brain releases the feel-good chemical, dopamine. Not only does this release make you feel happier, but your brain also wants it to happen again. This results in repeating the action in order to feel that release. This process can quickly lead to an addiction, especially with Xanax since it alters the brain’s signals to release dopamine and make it produce larger amounts.

In addition to the increase in dopamine, Xanax also increases GABA activity, which gives people feelings of disinhibition, relaxation, and light-headedness.

As a fast-acting benzodiazepine, it does not take long at all for significant changes to the brain to take place. Taking Xanax regularly for a short span of time can easily lead to dependence, as it is a highly addictive medication.

Over time, your brain will begin to build up a tolerance to the drug. This can begin to happen in as short as a few days. When your body has a tolerance built up, it takes more and more of the drug to get the same effects you were getting initially. Because this leads to taking a larger amount, it also makes the withdrawal symptoms much more intense when you try to quit.

A Xanax addiction can present itself in many ways. Despite what movies and television show, addiction is not always obvious and can often be hard to spot until you or your loved one are deep into it. There are many signs and symptoms of addiction.

If you are concerned that you or a loved one are experiencing an addiction to Xanax, keep an eye out for some of the common signs of an addiction. These can include:

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Unusual sleeping patterns
  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • The impulse to hurt yourself
  • Suicidal thoughts

Prior to noticing physical and emotional changes, there are often behavioral signs that show up first:

  • Stealing from and lying to family and friends
  • Isolation and decrease in socialization
  • Being defensive when asked about their Xanax use
  • Loss of interest in everyday activities or hobbies

Addiction to antidepressants and benzodiazepines can be tricky to spot initially, especially for those that have been struggling with their mental health for a long time, as a lot of the noticeable changes overlap with the side effects of many mental illnesses. However, if you have even a slight concern that someone is dealing with an addiction, checking on them is never a bad plan.

Narcotic & Xanax Addiction Help

Drug addiction is a hard thing to get through. Long-term heavy use can take a serious toll on your mental and emotional health, and taking large amounts of Xanax means the withdrawal symptoms may be worse than you are expecting. Getting clean is always a good idea, though.

Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sleeplessness
  • Anger
  • Insomnia
  • Tingling in the hands and feet
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

The withdrawal symptoms could become severe and potentially dangerous, but you do not have to face this process on your own. The emergency room at your local hospital can help if you are experiencing serious withdrawals. Otherwise, getting in touch with a recovery facility to come up with a plan to get you through detox and to keep you sober. In fact, seeking help through a premier rehab facility is the most effective way to ensure long-term sobriety as it can help you get to the root of why you were using drugs to begin with and help prevent the chances of returning to drugs in the future. 

When it comes to getting clean, the first step is admitting you have a problem and that you need help. Once you have a plan in place to get you through detox, the rest of your life is waiting. You deserve the opportunity to live a life free from the bondage of an addiction.