Xanax is a highly addictive brand name for alprazolam, a sedative and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) drug. Though being one of the most prescribed medications in the US, it is very dangerous because of it’s effects and easy accessibility.
When Xanax is taken, it’s metabolized and moved to the brain where there is GABA activity. GABA is a gamma-Aminobutyric acid that sends messages between cells in the nervous system. Xanax creates a calming effect relatively quickly and as someone continues to take Xanax, it decreases the natural production of GABA, thus building up a tolerance to the drug. This tolerance is one of the first indicators of dependence and abuse of the drug.
To protect the privacy of certain individuals the names and identifying details have been changed.
“The best way to describe it would be the whole world fading into a black and white,” describes Clara. “You still see color but it’s fading and dull.” When Xanax is taken, one can expect to feel drowsy and relaxed, and any anxiety someone previously had will be tranquilized.
Used for short period of time, or prescribed times, it can help reduce restless, physical tension, and uneasiness that comes with anxiety. Abuse of this drug can lead to emotional changes, long-term memory damage, and an increased likelihood of suicidal thoughts or tendencies. According to Harvard Medical School, using Xanax for three to six months raises the risk of developing Alzheimers by 32%, and using for over six months raises the risk to 84%.
“I took it because I felt helpless and trapped inside my own brain,” Clara said. Many false assumptions about Xanax is that it will take away anxiety completely or make someone feel better, but in fact this is not true. The drug calms one’s mind but does not help with a “trapped,” or “helpless” feeling.
Another false assumption is that after a day the drug is completely out of your system. It takes four days for this benzodiazepine to leave the human bodies system.
Combing Xanax with other abused substances such as alcohol can lead to slowed breathing and even death. Both are central nervous system depressants that slow down brain activity and physical reactions. Combining two strong sedatives leads to a synergistic effect where the drugs amplify each other.
“I didn’t like feeling like that thing was suppose to be bringing me peace, it was giving me bad depression,” describes Clara. “I don’t personally see any long term positive effects to taking Xanax.“