Xanax: Side Effects and Addiction - Detox Plus UK

Xanax is a common trade name for Alprazolam – A short-acting benzodiazepine medically used in managing anxiety disorders. You can obtain Xanax in the UK for this purpose but is not available from the NHS and has been the subject of concern as an illegal drug.

In the UK, the misuse of Xanax has been the cause of at least 204 recorded deaths since 2015. 126 of these deaths occurred in Scotland between 2015 and 2017 and 43 in Northern Ireland. Indicating that Scotland is worst affected by Xanax abuse and addiction.

It is thought that the majority of the deaths recorded in the UK relate to counterfeit Xanax bars imported from abroad. More than £1million worth of counterfeit Xanax has been seized at airports throughout the UK since 2016, causing great concern.

Due to the side effects of misusing Xanax, this anti-anxiety medication is only legally available on private prescription in the UK. Xanax cannot be obtained on the NHS. This is due to Alprazolam holding great potential for abuse and subsequently why there is such an active market for fake Xanax in the UK.

If you or a loved one are using counterfeit Xanax or abusing a private Xanax prescription, you must seek immediate addiction help. We cannot stress this enough; far too many lives have already been lost to the misuse of this potent sedative drug.

What is Xanax & how it works

Alprazolam, sold under the brand name Xanax, is a short-acting sedative that belongs to a group of medicines called benzodiazepines. 

Benzodiazepines are well known for causing addiction and dependence when misused. Therefore there are tight regulations in place for prescribing this class of medications in the UK. 

Xanax is widely prescribed in the US and is used for the short term management of anxiety-related disorders, specifically panic disorder and generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). In the US, it is classed as a Schedule IV controlled drug. 

In the UK, Alprazolam/Xanax is a Class C controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Currently, due to its abuse potential, it is not prescribed by the NHS for anxiety management. It can, however, be used to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea. 

Xanax works by increasing the amount of neurotransmitter GABA in the brain. This promotes a feeling of well being, calmness and relaxation. This is why in the US, it is the most commonly prescribed psychiatric drug for anxiety-related disorders.

Can you get Xanax in the UK?

You can get Xanax in the UK through a private prescription. You have to meet with and pay a private doctor for Xanax. This is most likely to be used by people who have taken it previously in their own country and wish to continue doing so. If you want to go through the NHS Xanax UK alternatives exist. These are usually not as strong as Xanax but very similar in effect. Examples include Valium and Klonopin which are available on prescription in the UK for acute anxiety and stress. These UK Xanax alternatives are usually used to treat short term anxiety such as fear of flying or severe stress after trauma. 

Xanax abuse, addiction & dependence

Xanax has a rapid onset and is a short-acting medication. It has high-affinity binding and is high in potency, all of which increase its potential to be abused.

Xanax can rapidly cause physical and psychological drug dependence. This, combined with its dangerous withdrawal effects and abuse potential, make it a high-risk drug for leading to addiction.

Once physical dependence has occurred, withdrawal is often a complex matter with many side effects of withdrawal presenting. 

Where an addiction or dependence is identified, it is recommended that you DO NOT suddenly stop taking the medication. This can result in acute alprazolam withdrawal syndrome and ultimately death. 

Abuse, addiction and dependence on any drug require appropriate medical and therapeutic treatment. Xanax addiction is a life-threatening illness that requires professional addiction treatment to recover. 

Side effects of Xanax purchased in the UK.

If you have obtained Xanax in the UK, chances are you will have either purchased it from a private doctor, from a street dealer or have been given it by a friend or family member. 

Xanax has some very worrying side effects that you need to be aware of before considering taking this drug. Fake Xanax is particularly unpredictable and has side effects that can cause death. Its effects cannot be predicted, as the counterfeit drug could literally contain anything.

Physical side effects of Xanax (Alprazolam) include:

  • Drug dependence
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Sleepiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Delayed reaction times
  • Appetite changes and weight changes
    Dry mouth
  • Impaired cognitive ability
  • Muscle weakness
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Water retention in feet and hands
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nasal congestion
  • Incontinence
  • Blurred vision
  • Menstrual cycle irregularities
  • Tachycardia
  • Tremor
  • Respiratory depression
  • Coma
  • Seizures

Psychological side effects of Xanax (Alprazolam) include:

  • Impaired memory
  • Anxiety
  • Impaired concentration
  • False sense of wellbeing
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Psychological drug dependence and addiction
  • Depression
  • Poor decision-making skills
  • Mania
  • Psychosis
  • Panic
  • Lack of awareness
  • Suicidal ideation

Side effects highlighted in red are considered life-threatening, and medical treatment should be sought at once. If other side effects become troublesome, patients should seek medical advice without delay.

It is important to note that abuse of Xanax increases the chances of more dangerous side effects occurring and their severity.

Warnings and precautions for Xanax

Anyone with a history of depression or drug or alcohol addiction should not take Xanax, even if prescribed by a private doctor.

Xanax is extremely addictive, and its side effects can cause huge emotional and psychological problems. This is why it is not available on the NHS in the UK.

The counterfeit version of this drug and unprescribed Xanax is responsible for the vast majority of Xanax poisonings and deaths in the UK.

Xanax should not be taken for a prolonged period of time or by pregnant or nursing mothers. Xanax can lead to drug dependence; in an expectant mother, this can lead their baby to be born dependent on Xanax and suffer from benzodiazepine withdrawal.

Warning – Do not abuse Xanax

Xanax becomes exceptionally dangerous when it is abused. Forms of abuse include diverting medication administration, taking more than is prescribed or for longer, using multiple doctors for additional private prescriptions, taking Xanax that is not prescribed for you,  mixing Xanax with alcohol, drugs or other medications to increase its effects.

Abuse of Xanax can ultimately result in addiction, dependence, overdose and death. 

Spotting fake Xanax


Spotting fake Xanax in possession of a loved one or family member is important. If an individual uses a non prescribed medication, they clearly have a problem that needs to be professionally addressed.

Counterfeit Xanax or Alprazolam can be present in different colours. Red Xanax bars hit media headlines for being responsible for a substantial number of deaths.

Authentic Xanax should come in a white bar or blue pill with a CLEAR imprint. It should be accompanied by a prescription, instructions & precautions leaflet, and a Xanax medication box with the individuals, details, and dosage clearly stated.

If you find fake Xanax in possession of a family member or loved one, it is important to speak to them about it and encourage them to seek professional addiction treatment and help without delay, and This could save their life.

How long Xanax stays in your system

On average, Xanax has a half-life elimination for the human body of approximately 11 hours (though this range varies greatly, and it can remain for up to 28 hours—sometimes higher in obese patients). In an individual using a large amount of Xanax or using it for a prolonged period of time, the drug can stay in their system for much longer. As a guide, Xanax can be detected in a person system using urine, hair, saliva, and blood test for:

  • In urine, Xanax can be detected for up to 4 days.
  • In hair, Xanax can be detected for up to 90 days.
  • In saliva, Xanax can be detected for up to 2.5 days
  • In blood, Xanax can be detected for up to 24 hours.

The amount of time it takes for Xanax to exit your body depends on multiple personal factors. 

Xanax withdrawal symptoms

Developing a dependence on Alprazolam will result in benzodiazepine type withdrawal symptoms if you try to reduce or stop the medication.

It is vital that if you do have a physical Xanax dependence that you do not stop taking the medication suddenly. This could potentially cause life-threatening complications and withdrawal symptoms to develop. 

Not undergoing a medical detox for Xanax with physical dependence can also develop severe withdrawal symptoms and PAWS (post-acute withdrawal syndrome). PAWS symptoms can last for months and even years with a heavy Xanax dependence.

Physical Xanax withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Blurred vision
  • Diarrhoea
  • Strong cravings
  • Tremors
  • Restless legs
  • Increase in body temperature
  • Sweating
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Racing heart and palpitations
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle cramps and spasms
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Malnutrition
  • Tension in jaw and teeth
  • Altered sense of smell
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Jitteriness
  • Jerky involuntary movements
  • Tingling in arms and legs
  • Seizures

Xanax works by slowing the brain and body down. When it is withdrawn, the brain and body have a rebound effect, sending it into overdrive. These withdrawal symptoms must be managed appropriately through medical detox or tapering off regime.

Psychological withdrawal symptoms of Xanax include:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Agitation
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Brain fog
  • cravings
  • Confusion
  • Memory impairment
  • Severe mood swings
  • Aggression
  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there)
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Urges to self-harm
  • Suicidal ideation

Withdrawal symptoms that are highlighted in red are considered life-threatening complications. Should these develop, medical treatment must be sought at once.

Very few individuals who are dependent can complete detox or tapering off regime without medical and professional support. The vast majority relapse due to the severity and unpleasantness of Xanax withdrawal symptoms

Medical experts recommend tapering off Xanax over a period of time (to be supervised by your medical practitioner) or undergoing a full medical detox within a drug detox clinic. 

However, an individual who decides to quit Alprazolam should always be overseen medically, either in the community or by detox clinic staff on an inpatient basis.

Please note that withdrawal symptoms from fake Xanax can vary greatly depending on what the drug consists of. Whilst many symptoms will be A-typical of Xanax withdrawal; additional complications may present.

Xanax addiction help

Xanax has a substantial risk for addiction and drug dependence when abused or taken for a prolonged period of time. 

Stopping Xanax can prove very challenging as withdrawal symptoms tend to be severe and can become life-threatening if unmanaged medically.

If you or a loved one are abusing Xanax, whether fake or prescribed or have developed a dependence or addiction, we urge you to seek urgent addiction help.

Xanax detox should always be supervised by medical professionals.

Detox Plus UK can facilitate a medical detox within one of our UK CQC registered detox centres. There, you will be cared for by a team of addiction counsellors and medical professionals 24/7 to ensure your safety. This can then be followed by a full rehabilitation programme which is strongly recommended for anyone who has completed a detox.

Xanax abuse and addiction can and does kill. It is important to seek the correct treatment to recover.

Call us today for immediate help and advice on overcoming Xanax addiction. 










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