Short- and Long-Term Side Effects of Xanax (Alprazolam)

Xanax (alprazolam) is a prescription benzodiazepine that is used to treat anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder.1

Benzodiazepines, such as Klonopin, Ativan, and Xanax, are some of the most commonly prescribed sedatives in the United States.1 Misuse of and addiction to benzodiazepines like Xanax has dramatically increased in the last 20 years: Deaths due to overdose in women between 30 and 64 years of age increased 260% between 1999 and 2017, largely due to benzodiazepines and other substances like opioids.2

In this article you’ll find information about:

  • What Xanax is and how it and other benzodiazepines work.
  • The short- and long-term side effects of Xanax use and abuse.
  • How to identify a Xanax addiction.
  • Treatment for a Xanax substance use disorder.

Xanax Effects

The consumption of Xanax can produce several different effects, many of which are short-term while others last long-term. It is important to understand that these effects can develop regardless of if a person is misusing Xanax or taking it as directed. The dosage, the frequency of use, and other factors can contribute to the severity of these effects.

Short-Term Effects of Xanax

Short-term effects, such as drowsiness and fatigue, that someone can experience because of Xanax use occur almost immediately after consumption. These effects can include the following:3,4

  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Disorientation
  • Decreased motor coordination
  • Memory problems (such as memory loss)
  • Poor concentration
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Breathing problems, such as respiratory depression

Long-Term Effects of Xanax

When Xanax is used for long periods of time, a number of various long-term effects can develop. Depending on the severity of this long-term use, some of these effects can include:5,6,7 

  • Tolerance.
  • Dependence.
  • Addiction.
  • Cognitive impairment.
  • Cognitive decline.

Serious Side Effects of Xanax Use

People who take benzodiazepines like Xanax on a long-term basis may have a higher risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, than those who don’t take them.8

Other serious issues include:9

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Seizures.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Skin rash.
  • Yellow discoloration in the skin or eyes.
  • Feeling depressed.
  • Problems with memory.
  • Confusion.
  • Difficulty speaking.
  • Unusual changes in behavior or mood.
  • Harmful or suicidal thoughts.
  • Difficulties with coordination or balance.

Due to the risks of Xanax, it is recommended only for short-term use. The FDA recommends use of Xanax for anxiety disorder for no more than 4 months and for panic disorder, 4 to 10 weeks.10 The risks of Xanax are not limited to the above effects. Xanax also has a known potential for misuse and dependence, and misuse can lead to overdose.10

Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms

Stopping using Xanax suddenly can trigger the onset of withdrawal symptoms, which can range in intensity from mild to life-threatening. Seeking professional help when attempting to end Xanax use is highly recommended to prevent a serious effect such as a seizure or death.

Some withdrawal symptoms that can occur when detoxing from Xanax can include:11

  • Increased anxiety and depression.
  • Irritability.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Tremors.
  • Trouble concentrating.
  • Nausea.
  • Weight loss.
  • Headaches.
  • Muscular pain and stiffness.

Can I Quit Xanax Cold Turkey?

It is often recommended to seek medical support when detoxing from benzodiazepines, including Xanax. Quitting “cold turkey”, which means ending use immediately, can be highly dangerous and can prove fatal. A medical professional can help you end your Xanax use safely in a number of ways, including tapering your doses to avoid health risks.12

In some cases, users may be advised to taper off the drug using a longer-acting benzodiazepine such as diazepam. This can make withdrawal symptoms easier to manage.12

Xanax Addiction Treatment and Rehab Options

When you’re suffering from Xanax dependence or addiction, there are benefits to finding a reputable, research-based addiction treatment facility that can help you safely detox. Xanax is a difficult drug to stop taking safely, and a professional program can help you find effective medically supported detox to stay safe as you overcome your dependence on the drug. It can also provide support, treatments, and therapy that enable you to gain control over your Xanax use so you can remain in recovery for the long-term.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and are ready to take the first steps towards recovery, call us today at . Desert Hope, American Addiction Centers’ drug addiction help in Las Vegas, is ready to get you the professional treatment you need today. Contact our rehab admissions navigators right now who can help answer all of your questions, including those about insurance, treament options, and how to pay for rehab.

Take the first step towards recovery by filling out our to have your insurance verified.



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