Xanax drug abuse may lead to weight gain, as a result of a variety of side effects. The brand name prescription drug Xanax is often prescribed to treat panic disorders and anxiety disorders.
Its primary active ingredient, alprazolam, reduces activity in the central nervous system. This, in turn, decreases the chances of abnormal brain activity. Agents that suppress activity in the central nervous system are known as benzodiazepines, or “benzos” for short.
When taken properly and over short periods of time, Xanax, Valium, and other antidepressants can be quite effective in combating anxiety, panic attacks, and types of depression.
Like other prescription medications, however, the abuse potential for Xanax is high, especially if the drug is taken long-term. Xanax side effects range from mood swings to a loss of appetite to deteriorating overall mental health and weight fluctuations.
How Xanax Abuse Leads To Weight Gain And Weight Loss
Benzodiazepines interact with the brain’s central nervous system by binding to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors. GABA receptors transmit GABA neurons, which control the brain’s responses to various outside stimuli.
In other words, working GABA neurons will decrease abnormal activity in the brain, such as panic responses. “Benzos” have a different goal than opioids, which primarily aim to reduce physical pain.
While the use of Xanax will potentially remedy anxiety issues by binding to these receptors, abuse of Xanax, such as taking it in high doses, may actually interfere with typical brain functions.
Any new agent that is introduced into the brain’s chemistry may lead to unintended side effects, even if taken properly. It is often impossible to determine how the body will react to any amount of drug use until it is taken.
Xanax may bring about side effects when taken properly, but misuse of Xanax may cause even more prominent side effects. Some of these side effects may lead to weight fluctuations by affecting the body’s natural cycles.
Two prominent side effects of Xanax which have connections to weight gain and weight loss are as follows.
Changes To Sleep Patterns
Because alprazolam suppresses activity in your brain, drowsiness, lightheadedness, and a general lack of energy are common side effects of the drug.
These may lead to changes in your sleep pattern. As a result, those who abuse Xanax may find themselves struggling to keep a consistent sleep schedule.
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Since a person’s sleep schedule dictates their entire day, the body’s Circadian rhythm may be thrown off balance, leading to changes in eating habits such as increased appetite.
Xanax abuse can also affect metabolism and digestion. A change in sleep pattern may lead to a noticeable change in weight in this way.
Loss Of Appetite
Another potential side effect of inhibited central nervous system activity is a loss of appetite. A loss of appetite may bring about similar eating issues like changes to your sleep pattern.
As a result, you may end up eating at unconventional times, and in irregular amounts. In turn, your body’s metabolism may be thrown off, which could lead to inconsistent absorption of nutrients.
This overall inconsistency may lead to sudden changes in your weight. Weight gained or lost in this way may point to further health problems. It’s best to consult a doctor or drug rehab center if you or a loved one experiences a sustained loss of appetite.
Other Side Effects Of Xanax Abuse
Xanax abuse may result in side effects that are unrelated to weight.
Side effects of Xanax use include:
- dry mouth
- changes in blood pressure
- chest pain (rarely)
- hives (due to an allergic reaction)
- impairment to physical activity
- muscle cramps
- heart palpitations
- paresthesia (pins and needles feeling)
- tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
Withdrawal symptoms are also a potential concern for those struggling with Xanax abuse, as quitting all at once, or “cold turkey,” will result in a chemical imbalance.
Doctors will often wean patients off Xanax gradually, as opposed to having them quit all at once. The following symptoms are often seen in people who may be experiencing Xanax abuse, withdrawal, or both.
If you or a loved one have these serious side effects while taking Xanax, consider looking into treatment options as soon as possible.
Mood Swings And Irritability
A person struggling with Xanax abuse may be easily agitated, especially if they are experiencing withdrawal symptoms. They may also be developing a tolerance for their current Xanax dosage and may require higher doses to achieve the same mental relief.
Worsened Mental Health Symptoms
Improper dosage of Xanax may result in heightened mental health symptoms.
Those seeking a reprieve from mental health struggles may see Xanax as a long-term solution, rather than a short-term stepping stone. Unfortunately, Xanax may have long-term effects on a person’s mental health.
Since alprazolam reduces brain activity, a person struggling with Xanax abuse may feel lethargic or sleepy during the day. They may feel an overall lack of motivation or struggle to perform routine tasks.
Daytime drowsiness may also result from a lack of sleep, or changes to a person’s sleep schedule — other common symptoms of Xanax abuse.
Feeling Dizzy Or Disoriented
The nervous system is a complex web of nerves, neurons, and other signals to help a person function. Changing the dose of Xanax may upset the delicate balance of the body’s nervous system, leaving a person dizzy, disoriented, or uncoordinated.
Developing Xanax Addiction Or Chemical Dependency
A person who has developed a dependency on Xanax may claim they cannot function normally without it. As a result, they may experience withdrawal symptoms when not taking Xanax.
Withdrawal symptoms may include:
- trouble with sleep
- increased aggression
- weight loss
- loss of appetite
When one person exhibits several of these symptoms, they are often telltale signs of Xanax addiction or chemical dependency.
Treatment Options For Xanax Addiction
Xanax weight gain is a real possibility and may be a warning sign of other problems related to Xanax misuse.
While Xanax addiction can potentially be damaging to a person and their loved ones, resources and treatment options are often well within reach.
If you or a loved one are struggling with Xanax addiction or another form of substance abuse, it’s best to take action before the risk of overdose skyrockets.
While Xanax overdose is treatable, recognizing the signs before they happen can be crucial in securing efficient, effective addiction treatment.
Alcohol and drug treatment centers offer comprehensive treatment programs, both inpatient and outpatient, for people looking to recover from addiction.
We work with a number of inpatient treatment centers that offer a range of treatment programs and services, such as:
- drug and alcohol detox
- inpatient drug rehab and outpatient treatment
- individual and group therapy
- ongoing recovery support and individual treatment plans
Contact us today to speak to our treatment specialists, who can help you find addiction treatment options for you or your loved ones.
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
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- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—Commonly Used Terms: Opioids
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration—Xanax
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus—Alprazolam
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health—Hooked on benzodiazepines: GABAA receptor subtypes and addiction