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Is Xanax Bad For You?

Also Known As: alprazolam, bars, ladders, school busses



Short answer

Xanax works quickly and can provide almost immediate relief. However, because of its habit-forming properties and risks associated therewith, it can have disastrous consequences. If you choose to take xanax, do not exceed your doctor's recommended dosage.



Long answer

Xanax is a member of the benzodiazepine class of drugs. Benzodiazepines work by acting upon the central nervous system (CNS) and more specifically on a chemical known as GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA is responsible for opening up the channel that allows chloride ions to penetrate receptors on brain cells to slow down their activity. This slowed down activity leads to a feeling of calm.

Xanax, in particular, has a very short half-life, which means it takes effect quickly – but also that it wears off quickly. It normally works 15-20 minutes after being ingested and lasts around six hours. Due to the speed in which it works and the relatively low amount of time it stays working, Xanax can be very addictive and prone to misuse.

It is important to know that just 0.5 mg of Xanax is equivalent to 10 mg of Valium. People taking Xanax and even some doctors are unaware of just how strong and habit-forming the drug can be. When a person takes Xanax, the amount of naturally produced GABA is decreased, leading to an increased dependency on the drug. Very often, when a patient no longer feels the effects of Xanax, he/she will move to a higher prescription (or just take extra without the prescription). As with all drugs that replace a natural function of the body, this dependence can become extremely dangerous.

At least equally or perhaps even more dangerous is withdrawal from Xanax. Withdrawal can cause side-effects ranging from headaches, increased anxiety, and dizziness to more serious concerns such as nightmares, severe panic attacks, and – in rare cases – seizures and death. It is very important that a person addicted to Xanax does not go “cold-turkey,” but rather tapers off by following a program implemented by a trained physician.

Possible short-term side effects

  • drowsiness
  • low energy
  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • impaired coordination
  • memory problems
  • death (from overdose)
  • addiction

Possible long-term side effects

  • flu-like symptoms
  • decreased cognitive function

Possible withdrawal symptoms

  • insomnia
  • tremors
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • brain fog
  • extreme anxiety
  • depression
  • suicidal thoughts
  • seizures (rare)


  • convenient
  • fast acting
  • anxiety relief

Healthier alternatives

  • natural benzodiazepines
  • therapy
  • aerobic activity
  • kava

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Desmond Richard
Published on: 12-28-2015
Last updated: 12-10-2016

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Desmond Richard
Published on: 12-28-2015
Last updated: 12-10-2016

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