Menu Close

How Does Xanax Affect the Brain?

graphic of brain deteriorating

Xanax, a commonly prescribed anxiety medication, can result in serious side effects that may become permanent.  Doctors often prescribe the drug as a sedative for people who experience chronic anxiety or panic attacks, but many patients are not made aware of the way Xanax can affect the brain.  Xanax also has a high potential for abuse, and can have dangerous effects when combined with other substances such as alcohol. In addition to users that have been prescribed the drug, Xanax is commonly sold on the street and used inappropriately by those looking to sedate themselves or induce artificial euphoria. Xanax is a benzodiazepine that works by inhibiting the signals in the brain that may lead to anxiety.  As a benzodiazepine, Xanax is unique in that it can trigger the brain’s reward system much like alcohol and other addictive drugs.  Additionally, Xanax is often used to heighten the effects of alcohol, even though this combination can be very dangerous, and even deadly.  Xanax’s potency, along with its increasing popularity as a recreational drug, have added to rates of abuse and addiction in recent years. Even those who attempt to use Xanax properly may develop a tolerance over time, which can prompt some individuals to increase their dosage and develop a dependency.   Xanax has been shown to cause memory loss, spatial awareness issues, lowered IQ, and difficulty concentrating.  There is a lack of research confirming whether these effects may become permanent, or only persist while Xanax is currently being used.  Long-term effects we can be sure of, however, involve the brain’s production of a chemical called GABA. GABA is naturally produced in the brain to induce a calming effect, and Xanax can intensify this process.  Over time, a brain on Xanax will begin to rely on the drug, therefore producing less GABA on its own. Symptoms of anxiety and panic may then become worse when a person who has been abusing Xanax attempts to quit.  

Xanax addiction can cause serious mental and physical health problems.  If you or someone you love is struggling with Xanax addiction, a quality treatment program can ease withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse.  At Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms. The Arbor uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues.  No treatment is one-size-fits-all, and at The Arbor you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan. We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit, so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness.  If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 844-413-2690.