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Does Xanax Cause Weight Gain or Weight Loss?

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Alprazolam, sold under the brand name Xanax, is a benzodiazepine mainly used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. The official prescribing information for Xanax notes that appetite and weight changes can be side effects of its use, but it does not specify whether it would be more likely to lead to weight gain or weight loss. (1) Different studies have found that either effect may be possible depending on individual circumstances.

If you or a loved one have developed a dependence on Xanax, other drugs, or alcohol, you are strongly encouraged to seek professional treatment. At Guardian Recovery, our comprehensive programs and treatment plans are designed to treat the causes and effects of substance use. We strive to provide individuals with all of the tools they need to achieve abstinence, restore their lives, and enjoy long-lasting health and wellness.

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What Is Xanax?

Xanax (alprazolam) is a prescription medication in a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines (benzos). Xanax is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders, as well as acute anxiety and panic attacks. It works by boosting the effects of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain and central nervous system (CNS). As the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA is responsible for slowing down and depressing certain functions of the CNS, such as heart rate, breathing, and motor function. Xanax can be prescribed in multiple formulations, including immediate- or extended-release tablets or an oral solution.

When taken in accordance with a prescription by a licensed healthcare professional, Xanax is generally considered safe and effective. However, because it has a high potential for misuse, dependence, and addiction, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulates the manufacture and distribution of Xanax and classifies it as a Schedule IV controlled substance. (2)

The risk of developing a substance use disorder is greatly increased when Xanax is used long-term. (3) For this reason, Xanax is most often prescribed to treat acute or short-term symptoms. Frequent Xanax use will lead to the development of tolerance, or the need to consume ever-increasing doses to achieve the desired effects. In addition, long-term use will cause physical dependence, which occurs when the body begins to rely on the presence of Xanax to function normally. Once dependence develops, any attempt to quit or cut back on use will produce unpleasant or even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

How Does Xanax Affect Your Appetite & Metabolism?

The depressant effects of increased GABA in the CNS that Xanax delivers are responsible for the sedation and relaxation individuals feel when they take it. (4) Although a state of relaxation can alter a person’s appetite or eating patterns, there is no clear evidence that Xanax directly causes appetite loss or gain or affects metabolism in a significant way. Moreover, Xanax may appear to trigger overeating in some individuals or undereating in others. This does not mean that Xanax use will not indirectly impact appetite or metabolism. Instead, the sedation it produces can reduce a person’s overall level of physical activity, potentially leading to decreased metabolism over time.

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Can Xanax Use or Withdrawal Cause Weight Loss?

Because Xanax can influence a person’s appetite and metabolism, either weight loss or gain could occur while taking it regularly. Conversely, Xanax withdrawal can cause a wide variety of unpleasant or even dangerous symptoms, some of which, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and decreased appetite, can lead to weight loss.

Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms Include:

  • Insomnia.
  • Extreme rebound anxiety and panic attacks.
  • Depression or feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
  • Light-headedness.
  • Headaches.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Involuntary muscle twitches.
  • Fatigue, exhaustion, and muscle weakness.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Excessive sweating.
  • Low blood pressure and syncope.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Irritability and agitation.
  • Confusion.
  • Impaired cognition.
  • Akathisia, or extreme restlessness.
  • Seizures.

Xanax withdrawal can be extremely unpleasant and lead to life-threatening seizures in severe cases. As such, tapering off or discontinuing Xanax should only be attempted under the supervision of medical professionals, such as in a medical detox program, where medications can be administered to prevent or reduce withdrawal symptoms.

The Impact of Xanax Use on Muscle Mass & Strength

Due to its sedating effects, Xanax use can reduce a person’s activity levels and indirectly decrease muscle mass and strength over time. However, as a CNS depressant, Xanax can directly impair muscle coordination and cause muscle relaxation, which can reduce strength significantly, particularly in high doses. Additionally, long-term use of Xanax can lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms, which may further impact muscle function within the framework of overall physical health.

Treating Xanax Addiction & Restoring a Healthy Body Weight

If you are struggling with a Xanax addiction and are concerned with potential weight loss or weight gain associated with Xanax, participation in a comprehensive treatment program can help you break free from substance misuse, improve your physical and mental well-being, and foster a healthier lifestyle.

Treatments & Strategies for Xanax Addiction & Weight Changes Include:

  • Seek Professional Help—Speak with a licensed healthcare provider like your primary care physician or an addiction specialist. A professional can help you determine the best course of action for the treatment you need. Also, professional medical supervision will make detox much safer and more comfortable.
  • Detox—Medically monitored detox is essential for discontinuing Xanax use. Under medical supervision, detox is safe, and medications can be administered to minimize or eliminate many withdrawal symptoms.
  • Behavioral TherapyBehavioral therapy is one of the first-line treatments for dependence on drugs or alcohol. This form of therapy helps individuals identify the underlying causes of addiction, alter negative thought patterns and behaviors, and develop effective coping mechanisms to help manage triggers and stressors.
  • Support Groups—Recovery and peer support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA), allow individuals to connect with others who have experienced similar struggles and receive ongoing encouragement and accountability.
  • Healthy Lifestyle Choices—Individuals seeking recovery are encouraged to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, nutrition, and good sleep hygiene. Engaging in physical activity can help restore muscle strength and support overall well-being.
  • Nutritional Counseling—If weight gain or loss is a concern, a registered dietitian or nutritionist can provide guidance on establishing a structured eating plan to restore and maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Social Support—People in all phases of recovery can benefit from having a supportive network of family and friends who can encourage their recovery journey and provide emotional support.

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Reach Out to Guardian Recovery Today for Help

Recovering from Xanax addiction and restoring a healthy body weight takes time and dedication. It’s important to work closely with healthcare professionals who specialize in addiction treatment to ensure a safe and successful recovery process. At Guardian Recovery, we offer personalized treatment plans with varying levels of intensity to address the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of addiction.

We understand the challenges associated with addiction, and we are here to provide you with the guidance and support you need. Our team of experienced addiction specialists will work with you throughout the treatment process to develop and implement a personalized plan that meets your unique needs. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation health insurance benefits check and to start your journey to recovery and a dramatically increased quality of life.

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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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