Alprazolam (also known by its brand name Xanax) is a drug in a group of drugs called benzodiazepines, which enhance chemicals in the brain and central nervous system (CNS) to produce a calming effect. These drugs are prescribed to treat anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. Alprazolam works by slowing down chemicals in the brain that produce the feeling of anxiety. This results in a calming effect in an individual’s overall behavior. Taking alprazolam can result in side effects.
Common side effects of taking alprazolam include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Weight changes
- Difficulty urinating
- Joint pain
Sleep terrors (also known as night terrors) are not a common side effect of taking alprazolam because of the calming, relaxing nature of the drug. However, every person responds to medication differently, so talk to your doctor if you experience sleep terrors.
What Are Sleep Terrors?
Sleep (night) terrors are not the same thing as nightmares. Night terrors are episodes of fear, screaming, and flailing, which all take place while asleep. They are often accompanied with sleepwalking. Someone who experiences a nightmare wakes up from the dream and can remember details, but a person who has a sleep terror episode remains asleep.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a person in a sleep terror might:
- Sit up in bed
- Scream and shout
- Kick and thrash
- Sweat and breathe heavily
- Cannot be woken
- Be inconsolable
- Run around the house
- Behave violently (more common in adults)
In adults, sleep terrors can occur from taking certain drugs, including levodopa, reserpine, and beta blockers, as well as antidepressants. They can often occur while withdrawing from addictive drugs.
What Does Long-Term Use of Alprazolam Cause?
While the short-term side effects of alprazolam typically ease over time, long-term use of alprazolam can cause changes to the brain. A 2010 article from Psychology Today reviewed several studies that indicated some troubling effects from extended use of benzodiazepines, including depression, lack of personal care, lack of social interaction, and cerebral ventricular enlargement. In addition, withdrawing from benzos like alprazolam can result in reactions, such as agitation, depression, seizure, hallucinations, and psychosis. These side effects show how the brain and body have become accustomed to alprazolam and will respond negatively if the drug is discontinued. This underscores the importance of taking alprazolam only under the direct supervision of a doctor who can monitor your care and your withdrawal of it.
Get Help For Your Alprazolam Addiction
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to alprazolam, we can help. You can call our toll free helpline any time, 24 hours a day. You can talk with one of our admissions counselors who understands the addictive pull of alprazolam. Together, you can determine the best treatment options for your situation. Don’t allow alprazolam to cause long-term damage to your brain. Call us today and start on the road of recovery.