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Does Xanax Abuse Cause Weight Gain?

Xanax is a benzodiazepine medication commonly prescribed to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Known for its calming effects on the central nervous system, Xanax is highly effective when used as prescribed. However, misuse or abuse of Xanax can lead to adverse side effects, including weight gain.

What is Xanax and How Does it Work?

Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam. It works by enhancing the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) activity in the brain, which helps regulate anxiety and stress responses. Due to its high risk of tolerance, dependence, and addiction, Xanax is typically prescribed for short-term use. Still, many people abuse Xanax for its euphoric effects.

Side Effects of Xanax

Short-Term Effects

  • Drowsiness: Due to its calming effect on the central nervous system, Xanax increases feelings of relaxation and drowsiness.
  • Reduced Anxiety: Xanax works quickly to relieve symptoms of anxiety and panic.
  • Impaired Coordination: Motor coordination and reaction times may be slowed after taking Xanax, especially when combined with alcohol or other depressants.

Long-Term Effects

  • Tolerance: Those who take Xanax for an extended period may develop tolerance to its effects, requiring higher doses to achieve the same level of anxiety relief.
  • Dependence: Long-term use of Xanax can lead to physical and psychological dependence.
  • Addiction: Xanax has the potential for addiction when used recreationally or in higher doses than prescribed.
  • Decreased Brain Function: Chronic use of Xanax may impair mental function, including memory loss, trouble paying attention, and decision-making skills.
  • Withdrawal Symptoms: Abruptly stopping Xanax after long-term use may result in withdrawal symptoms such as rebound anxiety, insomnia, agitation, tremors, and more.
  • Breathing Problems: When taken in high doses or when combined with other depressants, such as alcohol, Xanax can cause difficulty breathing and shortness of breath which can be life-threatening.

Xanax Addiction

Long-term Xanax use has a higher risk of abuse and addiction because it increases the pleasure and reward systems in the brain. Over time, Xanax users may become physically and mentally dependent on it, which can have negative consequences, including an increased risk of overdose.

Signs of Xanax addiction include:

  • Increased tolerance
  • Withdrawal symptoms when the medication is suddenly stopped
  • Obtaining the medication without a prescription
  • Taking higher doses of Xanax than prescribed
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Mood Swings
  • Dizziness, drowsiness and headaches
  • Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia and hallucinations

Does Xanax Cause Weight Gain?

While weight gain is not a common side effect of Xanax use, some individuals may experience fluctuations in weight, including weight gain, when misusing or abusing the drug.

The correlation between Xanax and weight gain depends on multiple factors, including:

  • Increased Appetite: Some Xanax users may experience cravings for high-calorie foods, leading to increased weight gain.
  • Sedative Effects: Xanax is a central nervous system depressant that can cause drowsiness and lethargy, especially when taken at higher doses or when used alongside other substances. Reduced physical activity levels due to sedation may lead to weight gain.
  • Metabolic Changes: Xanax can influence metabolic processes indirectly through its effect on hormonal regulation. Changes in metabolism may affect energy balance and lead one to gain weight.
  • Water Retention: Some individuals may experience fluid retention or bloating as a side effect of Xanax use.
  • Co-occurring Disorders: Xanax abuse may coexist alongside other substance use disorders (SUDs), mental health conditions, or lifestyle factors known to cause weight gain, such as depression, anxiety, or emotional eating.

Weight Management and Xanax

If you’re prescribed Xanax for panic or anxiety disorder, it’s recommended you work closely with a healthcare provider to monitor your overall health, and any changes you experience, including changes in weight.

Here are some tips for managing weight while taking Xanax:

Maintain a Balanced Diet

Focus on prioritizing a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Avoid high-calorie or processed foods known to cause weight gain.

Exercise Regularly

Incorporate an exercise regimen into your routine to help burn calories, increase mental well-being, and reduce anxiety. Find an exercise that you enjoy doing every day, such as walking, biking, or yoga so it’s easy to stick with it.

Monitor Medication Use

Prescription medications such as Xanax should be taken exactly as prescribed by your physician. If you start to experience unwanted side effects, such as rapid weight gain or weight loss, discuss them with your doctor. There may be other anxiety medications better suited for your needs.

Seek Help

If you’re experiencing weight gain while taking Xanax without a prescription or not as prescribed, the first step is to seek help. Reach out to a trusted healthcare provider, therapist, or support group and discuss the best way to stop taking the medication without harm.

Xanax Addiction Treatment at Mandala Healing Center

If you or your loved one is struggling with Xanax addiction, we’re here to help. Our dedicated team at Mandala Healing Center takes a full-body approach to recovery, focusing on both the physical and psychological health of each client.

Through evidence-based practices, holistic therapies, and medical detox, we can help you or your loved one get on the road to recovery. Contact us today to learn more about our Xanax addiction treatment programs.