Today I want to quickly discuss Xanax – one of the most highly prescribed and used drugs in the world, for many, many years. In fact, one that I used myself in the past… and I’ll share that story with you in a minute.
Xanax, which is the trade name for the drug, Alprazolam, is generally prescribed for anxiety and panic disorder. It’s also used for depression and pain as well. And lots of people use it for sleep.
It works by calming down your nervous system and slowing things down, helping you feel calmer and more relaxed.
It’s a benzodiazepine medication. Similar to Valium (Diazepam), Ativan (Lorazepam), and about 15 similar types of drugs.
These drugs all work similarly. Some of the main differences between them are how quickly they are in and out of your system, based on the half-life.
Why Do People Use Xanax
Why do so many people use Xanax and similar “benzo” drugs? And the statistics are showing that women use them more than men and these days, people are using them at an earlier age.
So, how do they work? What are the benefits and side-effects?
And finally, what about natural alternatives – eating specific foods, exercise, herbs, vitamins, meditation, and so forth?
I’ll quickly go over each of these, so let’s get started.
How Xanax Works
As stated earlier, Xanax and similar benzo drugs work to help you relax. They’re used by people who have anxiety, panic attacks, under extra stress or worry, and also for sleep and pain.
When someone takes Xanax or other benzos, they stimulate the inhibiting neurotransmitter responsible for how calm or relaxed we feel, which is called GABA.
GABA is meant to be our natural tranquilizer, but if you have anxiety or panic disorders, Xanax works by binding to these receptors and stimulating its production.
Essentially, Xanax works by slowing brain activity, which results in a calm, relaxing effect for the user.
When you experience excessive stress or anxiety it causes the brain to increase its neuron activity, and that activity is what leads to the resulting feelings of anxiety. How Xanax works is by diminishing this activity.
Something to note here is that like any drug, it works with existing processes within your body. Even though it’s a man-made drug, it still works with your natural, internal system.
The good news is you don’t need drugs and you can do this naturally, which I’ll tell you about in a minute.
So let’s talk about the negatives. These type of drugs are “downers” and have the usual side effects of feeling tired and drowsy.
However, they have lots of other negative problems that people don’t usually know about, such as:
- Sleep problems and insomnia. Which makes no sense, since you’d think you’re tired all the time and you could fall asleep at night, but after a few weeks, the opposite happens because of neurological changes.
- Feeling unmotivated and depressed – Xanax and similar drugs are in fact, a “depressant”. The irony is that some doctors prescribe Xanax to people who have depression, ultimately making things much worse.
- Loss of sex drive for women and men, plus impotence and erectile problems for men.
- Muscle loss and fat gain.
- Memory loss and a 50% increased risk for Dementia – yup, you’re killing your brain with these drugs.
- Dying prematurely by 400% – this is the scariest of all, 4x higher risk of dying early and getting certain cancers.
And of course, Xanax and similar benzo drugs are HIGHLY addictive and thus, it’s extremely difficult to get off of them.
They are both physically AND emotionally addictive.
If you ever want to stop using them, please do NOT do it “cold-turkey” or abruptly. It must be done VERY slowly and gradually. People have even committed suicide getting off of such drugs too quickly because of the intense anxiety and panic attacks due to the “negative rebound” effect.
You’ll also need to make changes in your lifestyle as well – diet, exercise, stress management, supplements, and so forth.
And I’ll tell you how in a minute.
My Experience With Xanax
However, I wanted to share with you my own experience with Xanax.
For those of you who know me or read my articles, you’ve heard me say that I’ve never been a good sleeper, even as a child. I’m a light sleeper. Any little thing wakes me up.
Plus, my mind is always racing and thinking. I’m either excited about something or trying to figure out a solution to a problem.
So anyway, it was over 20 years ago and I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep for at least a couple of days. My girlfriend at the time then told me to take a Xanax, because that’s what she takes when she can’t sleep.
She said it’ll just relax me and calm my mind, so I can sleep.
I had never taken it and I didn’t want to. But I had a super busy week and I figured, “okay, I’ll do it just this ONE time.”
She gave me a pill, but I only took half the dose – I think it was 0.25 mg. The smallest dose you can take.
And I ended up having the best night’s sleep, just like a baby. It was amazing.
To make a long story short, I started using Xanax once in a while. Then it was more and more often. Next thing you know, I was using it at least 3-4x weekly to sleep.
But, it wasn’t working like it used to, so I had to increase the dose.
And the nights I didn’t take it, I barely slept and had horrible insomnia.
Thus, I was now addicted to Xanax.
I could tell my brain chemistry was changing.
To make matters worse, I was also very unmotivated. No excitement. No enthusiasm.
I wasn’t depressed, but I wasn’t happy either.
I didn’t want to do anything or go anywhere or talk to anybody…. Unless I HAD to.
Everything started to suffer – my relationships, work, school and the gym. I was getting weaker, smaller, and fatter.
As much as I didn’t want to, I knew I HAD to get off Xanax.
The next few months were horrible. Even though I slowly got off the drug, I still had side-effects and withdrawals.
I started to actually have anxiety throughout the day. Any little thing stressed me out. I was also very moody.
And of course, my sleep was horrible – worse than ever.
So I did research to see how I can fix things quickly and get back to normal… and in the process, I learned a lot.
The first is I made some big lifestyle changes.
I exercised during different times of day… I started eating different foods and taking various supplements — all of which quickly improved my neurotransmitters, neurons, and brain chemicals and helped fix everything the Xanax broke.
Over the next few months, things went back to normal. I felt happy and motivated again, my body improved, my memory was good, and this time, I figured out how to also improve my sleep, naturally.
What I Learned
The bottom line is that most people can make dramatic improvements in their anxiety, feel more relaxed and happy if you make some simple and easy modifications in your life.
Most people do NOT need such addictive drugs.
And NOBODY should be taking them long-term.
Which is what I want to discuss in my next article — how to naturally reduce and avoid anxiety and similar feelings – WITHOUT drugs.
So if you are thinking about taking Xanax or similar “benzo” drugs… or are currently using it and want to stop, check out the next article about natural and proven approaches for relieving anxiety, feeling more confident, and getting a good night’s sleep.
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