what does xanax do to the brain

What Does Xanax Do to the Brain?

Last Updated: Fri, January 19, 2024

Xanax or its generic name, alprazolam, belongs to a group of substances called benzodiazepines. Generally, Xanax is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. But what does Xanax do to the brain?

If you’ve been asking this question, you’re in the right place.

This post outlines what Xanax is used for and answers the question, “What does Xanax do to the brain?”. 

What Is Xanax? 

Xanax belongs to the benzodiazepine family, a set of anti-anxiety medications. In particular, Xanax decreases the abnormal excitement in the brain. As a result, the drug has a calming effect.

Additionally, Xanax slows down the brain's chemical movements. This causes imbalance and can result in reduced nervous tension and anxiety. 

Xanax also works by boosting the effects of a natural chemical found in the body called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). By doing these, Xanax calms one’s nerves. 

What Is Xanax Used For? 

Xanax is mainly used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. 

Alprazolam can be orally ingested or as prescribed by a doctor. Drug dosage will be based on various factors such as medical condition, age, and response to the treatment. 

Gradually, the dose may be increased until the drug starts working. The doctor's instructions should be closely followed to reduce the risk of side effects.

While Xanax helps a lot of people manage their anxiety and panic disorders, it can also cause addiction. 

This risk of addiction increases with overuse of or addiction to drugs or alcoholism. Hence, Xanax must be taken exactly as prescribed to lower the risks associated with it.

Due to Xanax’s high risk for abuse, understanding what does Xanax do to the brain and body when misused is important.

What Does Xanax Do to the Brain: Harmful Effects of Xanax on the Brain 

Over a period of time, the brain gets used to the increased levels of GABA from Xanax use. This can cause problems in making enough GABA on its own. 

So what does Xanax do to the brain exactly? 

Here are the harmful effects of Xanax on the brain:

1.     Hallucinations and Delusions 

People experience hallucinations or delusions caused by benzodiazepines. They also may become completely disoriented. Worse, they could end up in emergency rooms. 

2.     Mood Swings

Adverse mood reactions like depression and mood swings significantly increase when Xanax is abused. Particularly, if used with other substances.

3.     Slurred Speech and Difficulty Concentrating 

Troubled speech may be experienced by people who abuse Xanax. This is often accompanied by difficulty concentrating on tasks, ranging from doing household chores to big projects at work.

4.     Poor Body Coordination 

Xanax abuse can also lead to poor body coordination might also be affected. It’s because Xanax abuse directly affects the brain. 

5.     Distorted Thoughts 

Xanax can change the way the brain operates with excessive, non-prescribed use. 

The drug also decreases inhibitions, making its users more open to taking risks. Users may become more aggressive and pick fights with loved ones, drive recklessly, or engage in unsafe sexual practices.

how long does Xanax stay in your system

Xanax Abuse 

Xanax abuse is very common than one may think. In fact, Xanax is one of the most commonly prescribed medicines in the United States alone. However, it can be abused if people use it with no prescriptions, and only take these drugs for their sedating effects.

If left untreated, continuous Xanax abuse can negatively impact your relationships, career, and your health. 

Xanax is a type of benzodiazepine. Other variants of this drug are used to treat seizure disorders. People who struggle with alcohol use may also receive a prescription for benzodiazepines. That allows them to ease their bodies off dependence. 

Sudden withdrawal from alcohol may induce seizures. Thus, the effects of action benzodiazepines like Xanax are very important for people who suffer from these conditions.

In addition, GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid, the primary neurotransmitter found in the cerebral cortex, r induces feelings of excitement, energy, and even temporary anxiety at normal levels. However, at higher levels, anxiety and panic disorders may occur. High levels of GABA imbalance can also cause seizures.

Xanax and other types of benzodiazepine medications act on the GABA receptors. It calms them down. However, using too much Xanax pose a high potential for dependence, abuse, and addiction.

Abruptly quitting benzodiazepine addiction may also induce seizures. Some people are able to suddenly quit Xanax. Rebound insomnia or anxiety, are only some of the symptoms they experienced.

However, other symptoms may develop like seizure problems. This can be extremely dangerous. Thus, Xanax withdrawal requires proper treatment.


It’s not easy to overcome Xanax addiction. However, a lot of people do it every day. If they can overcome Xanax addiction, you can, too. 

If you or your loved one is ready to overcome Xanax addiction, reach out to a professional. Using a sobriety app for support can also help. 

I Am Sober is a free app that helps you get some control back in your life.

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