Benzodiazepines are a powerful family of medications that are fast acting and work to relieve anxiety, relax muscles, cure insomnia, create amnesia and stop convulsions. Benzodiazepines are effective because they increase the production of calming neurotransmitters that relax the brain. Their potency and connection to the brain means that use of these drugs must be closely monitored because improper doses or even prescribed amounts can hurt the body. Alprazolam is a benzodiazepine sold in the United States as Xanax. It has been used to ease anxiety disorders, panic attacks, PMS, alcohol dependence and more. While vital to some treatment programs, the side effects of Alprazolam can also hinder a person's progress. This is why doctors and patients must weigh the values and risks when considering Alprazolam.
All medications have side effects, and many of them are natural reactions that are not cause for alarm. Most people who are prescribed Alprazolam notice some negative effects but are not greatly inconvenienced by the drug. These common side effects include dry mouth or excessive saliva, weight gain, irritability, difficulty focusing, drowsiness or muscle twitches. While these side effects are not pleasant, they should disappear over time. Patients do not always develop symptoms when first starting the drug, and there is no need to worry if symptoms appear after weeks of use. This is because many patients start on a low dose of Alprazolam that increases over time. Most individuals do not mind the symptoms because of the benefits Alprazolam brings. However, if symptoms persist or are unbearable, then it is necessary for patients to alert their doctors.
Some side effects are more serious than others. These rare but troublesome symptoms include severe insomnia, seizures, hallucinations, low blood pressure, rashes and an irregular heart rate. Anyone with these symptoms should consult a doctor immediately. The doctor will switch the patient to a different drug or natural remedy and will make sure everything returns to normal.
A variety of changes to one's sex drive could occur when taking Alprazolam. Some individuals experience a decreased sex drive or impotence while others have an increased sex drive. This more commonly affects men who have been on the drug for multiple weeks. Some reported cases of sexual changes may not actually be related to Alprazolam, but those that are afflicted find the changes are reversed when lowering or stopping the dosage.
Some benzodiazepines are used to cause amnesia when one undergoes surgery. Surgeons use a temporary but strong dose of benzodiazepines so that the patient will not have any memories of pain. While not specifically used for this purpose, Alprazolam has also been known to cause memory loss. This usually targets episodic memory and could cause blackouts or hazy memories of events that happen while on the medication. It does not usually harm long term memory or mental functions like recalling words.
While Alprazolam is used to ease anxiety and panic by calming the brain, symptoms are sometimes aggravated when taking medication. This can cause more anxiety and hyperactivity that leads to violence, insomnia or seizures.
Those with severe anxiety or both anxiety and depression may experience emotional side effects. This is because the medication may dampen other neurotransmitters and make it harder to feel emotions. Depression and suicidal tendencies also occur.
Unfortunately, addiction is a common side effect when taking benzodiazepines. Doctors try to prevent addiction by gradually increasing the dosage over time and lessening the dosage towards the end of the prescription. This allows the body to get used to the drug and reduces the risk of withdrawal symptoms when the prescription is over. Alprazolam addiction is most likely to occur when overdosing but can also occur when suddenly stopping the drug, so following dosage instructions is the best way to prevent long term addiction.
It is important to note that most side effects occur in certain groups of people. The elderly are sensitive to side effects because the drug is more potent when given to older individuals. The elderly may see side effects like amnesia, loss of balance, confusion and wandering at night.
Those who drink alcohol also are at risk because alcohol and Alprazolam are depressants. Using alcohol and Alprazolam together can slow the brain too much and cause the heart and lungs to slow as well. Specific concerns in this case include dizziness, less coordination, fainting or breathing difficulty. Mixing Alprazolam with alcohol or other drugs can also lead to death. While recovering alcoholics do not usually have worse side effects than others who take the drug properly, they are at greater risk for developing an addiction. Due to the higher potential for abuse, it is important that those with a history of substance abuse talk with a doctor before the medicine is prescribed.
Alprazolam and other benzodiazepines can be harmful to a fetus. This depends on the age of the fetus and the dosage the mother is taking. This is because the drug seeps into the placenta and is harder for the young to metabolize. Side effects are feeding difficulties, lax muscles, extreme excitability and high-pitched crying. These symptoms could occur up to two weeks after delivery. While newborns may suffer from exposure to Alprazolam in the womb, all children are more susceptible to the negative side effects of the medication. This is why the drug is usually not prescribed to people under 18.
Typically, the average dosage of is Alprazolam is 1mg, and this is spread out over the course of the day. However, some people are prescribed higher dosages when experiencing more extreme conditions. Overdosing occurs when more of the required dosage is in a person's system at one time. Overdose symptoms include fainting, confusion, slurred speech, slow reflexes, trouble walking and tremors. Many people deliberately overdose, but this is not always the case. People who cannot metabolize the drug fast enough will build up too much Alprazolam in their systems and can also experience an overdose. People who accidentally take too much Alprazolam once or those taking the required dosage can still experience overdose symptoms. This makes it important for users to call a doctor whenever these symptoms occur.
Overdosing typically occurs in young people who have not been prescribed the medication. Many teens use the drug illegally in combination with alcohol and other drugs to increase a high or calm down after taking stimulants. Those who use the drug for recreational purposes are at risk for low blood pressure, difficulty breathing and death.
Monitoring side effects is important and can help reduce more discomfort because of Alprazolam. A patient and a doctor can determine the right dosage when the patient is aware of the changes occurring in the body. Reducing the dosage may make many side effects fade.
Diet and exercise are especially important when on Alprazolam. This can prevent weight gain, which is one of the biggest side effects of the medication. Daily exercise, a heart healthy diet and elimination of junk food will lessen side effects and improve health overall. A poor diet and lack of exercise can also contribute to problems like stress and anxiety. Those with severe anxiety may not find relief from solely improving their lifestyle but could benefit from the combination of medication and diet and exercise.
Many negative side effects occur when Alprazolam is being abused. Following a doctor's instructions prevents health risks, overdosing and addiction.