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 it is not available from the NHS and has been the subject of concern as an illegal drug.

In the UK, the misuse of the Xanax drug has been the cause of at least 204 recorded deaths since 2015. One hundred twenty-six 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 most of the deaths recorded 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 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 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.

On this page:

  1. What is Xanax?
  2. Prescriptions
  3. Side-effects
  4. Warnings and precautions
  5. Spotting fake pills
  6. How long does Xanax stay in your system?
  7. Withdrawal
  8. Addiction and dependence

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, tight regulations are 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. 

Prescriptions for Xanax (UK)

You can get Xanax in the UK through a private prescription. You have to meet with and pay a private doctor for this medication.

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 alternatives exist.

These are usually not as strong but very similar in effect. Examples include Valium and Klonopin, 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. 

Why is Xanax banned in the UK?

In the UK, Alprazolam/Xanax is a Class C controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. 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 it is the US’s most commonly prescribed psychiatric drug for anxiety-related disorders.

Xanax side effects

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. 

The drug has some very worrying side effects that you must be aware of before considering this drug.

Fake Xanax is notably unpredictable and has side effects that can cause death. Its effects cannot be predicted, as the counterfeit drug could contain anything.

Physical side effects of Xanax (Alprazolam) include:

Drug dependenceDrowsiness
Delayed reaction timesAppetite and weight changes
Menstrual cycle irregularitiesImpaired cognitive ability
Muscle weaknessReduced sex drive
Respiratory depressionNasal congestion
Slurred speechBlurred vision
Dry mouthTachycardia
Water retention in hands and feetLightheadedness

Psychological side effects of Xanax (Alprazolam) include:

Impaired memoryAnxiety
Impaired concentrationFalse sense of wellbeing
Drug DependenceDepression
Poor decisionsMania
Lack of awarenessSuicide ideation

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.

The drug is highly addictive; its side effects can cause enormous 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 pills are responsible for most poisonings and deaths in the UK.

Xanax should not be taken for a prolonged period or by pregnant or nursing mothers. It could lead to drug dependence; in an expectant mother, this can lead their baby to be born dependent 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 the drug when it is not prescribed for you
  • Mixing the drug with alcohol, drugs or other medications to increase their effects.

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

Spotting fake Xanax

Spotting fake Xanax in the possession of a loved one or family member is essential.

If an individual uses a non-prescribed medication, they have a problem that needs to be professionally addressed.

Counterfeit Xanax can be present in different colours. Red Xanax bars hit media headlines for being responsible for many 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 medication box with the individuals, details, and dosage clearly stated.

Suppose you find fake pills in a family member’s or loved one’s possession. In that case, speaking to them about it and encouraging them to seek professional addiction treatment and help without delay is essential. 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, the drug can stay in their system for much longer.

As a guide, Xanax can be detected in a person’s system using urine, hair, saliva, and blood tests for:

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

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

Xanax withdrawal symptoms

Developing a dependence 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, 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 when physically dependendent can also develop severe withdrawal symptoms and PAWS (post-acute withdrawal syndrome). PAWS symptoms can last for months and even years with a heavy reliance.

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.

The brain and body rebound when withdrawn, 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

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

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

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

Xanax addiction & dependence

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

Xanax can rapidly cause physical and psychological drug dependence. This, combined with its dangerous withdrawal effects and abuse potential, makes 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. Addiction to this medication is a life-threatening illness that requires professional addiction treatment to recover. 

Xanax addiction help

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

Stopping suddenly can prove challenging as severe withdrawal symptoms 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.

Medical professionals should always supervise Xanax detox.

Detox Plus UK can facilitate a medical detox within one of our UK CQC-registered detox centres. You will be cared for there by a team of addiction counsellors and medical professionals 24/7 to ensure your safety. This can be followed by a thoroughly recommended rehabilitation programme for anyone who has completed a detox.

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

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