“She needs a Xanax.” It’s a line you’ve heard in movies and on television. You may have even heard it from friends or family. Xanax has become a literal representation of the figurative “chill pill.” But do you really need Xanax? And should this prescription drug really be on the tip of everyone’s tongue?
What is Xanax?
The reason why people (somewhat) jokingly recommend taking Xanax is that this pill has a calming effect. It’s a prescription medication that’s used to address moderate to severe anxiety and panic attacks. It may also be used alongside other medications to treat depression.
Its generic name is Alprazolam; Xanax is the brand name. This drug is part of a class called benzodiazepines, and it’s as dangerous as it is common.
Part of the reason why Xanax isn’t going anywhere is that it works.
Xanax is actually very effective when used properly. In fact, an Addiction study found that the benefits of benzodiazepines outweigh the risks when patients use them for at least 2 to 4 weeks.
Xanax side effects
Xanax typically delivers on its desired effect, but that’s not all it delivers. Like most prescription medications, Xanax comes with a long list of common side effects.
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth
- Increased sweating
- Loss of coordination
- Memory problems
- Muscle weakness
- Reduced sex drive
- Slurred speech
- Stuffy nose
- Swollen hands and/or feet
- Trouble concentrating
- Upset stomach
Keep in mind that this isn’t an exhaustive list of side effects. These are simply the most commonly reported effects. Whenever you start a new medication, consider whether the potential side effects are worth any potential benefit. You are at risk for experiencing any of the side effects if you take the medication.
Xanax abuse is on the rise
Although Xanax is common and relatively easy to get in our society, we don’t often hear about a Xanax overdose or a Xanax junkie. This may be why people are lulled into a false sense of security when taking the drug.
It’s truly not as addictive as heroin or opioid painkillers, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe. As a benzodiazepine, Xanax is a Schedule IV controlled substance. This means that they’ve been identified as having a low potential for abuse. But benzodiazepines were involved in 30 percent of overdose deaths in 2013, and this drug just keeps getting more popular. Xanax-driven emergency room visits nearly doubled from 57,419 in 2005 to 124,902 in 2010. So, it seems as though these drugs may be more dangerous than their label.
Who shouldn’t take Xanax
Because Xanax does come with a risk of abuse, anyone with a personal or family history of substance abuse should consider avoiding Xanax. Although Xanax has become a popular street drug, anyone without a prescription should avoid taking benzodiazepines. Xanax has proven to be effective at treating certain conditions, but it should only be taken under a doctor’s supervision.
If you have a problem with alcohol, do not take Xanax or any other benzodiazepines. These drugs are central nervous system depressants, and they can cause extreme sedation when combined with alcohol. Similarly, anyone who is taking prescription painkillers (opioids) should avoid Xanax. Opioids are another central nervous system depressant. When you combine Xanax with any other central nervous system depressant, the results can be fatal.
The dangers of normalizing drugs
Xanax has become a household name, so people are less likely to consider the ill effects when they’re presented with the opportunity to take these drugs. We think it must be safe if everyone else is doing it, but this is faulty logic. It’s crucial for everyone to research drugs for potential side effects and interactions before taking them, regardless of where you got it or how many other people are on it.
Xanax abuse can be deadly, so ask yourself whether it’s worth the risk.
If you’re having trouble with anxiety, consider a natural approach to treatment. Meditation and yoga have both been shown to have positive effects on the brain chemicals involved in anxiety and depression. These natural treatments are also free of side effects.
About The Author:
Rachel is a freelance content writer. She has written for a variety of industries including health, fitness, travel, and beauty. Aside from writing, Rachel enjoys hiking, traveling, and playing at the beach with her two dogs.