Xanax, also known as Alprazolam, is an effective anxiolytic and sedating drug. Doctors prescribe it to treat anxiety and panic disorders among individuals. The drug is also considered as a mild tranquilizer due to its inhibitory effects on the brain. The drug is available in two forms namely the Xanax IR or instant release, and Xanax XR or extended release.

Pfizer’s subsidiary Upjohn Pharmaceuticals created the drug in 1981 initially as a prescription drug for treating panic disorders. However, as time went by, experts saw its potential in treating other diseases such as anxiety and nausea due to chemotherapy treatments. Hence, just a few years from its release the United States’ Food and Drug Administration approved the drug for anxiety.

How Does Xanax Affect The Brain?

Xanax is composed primarily of a benzene ring and a diazepine ring; hence, it can be considered as a benzodiazepine drug.  Furthermore, it is considered a psychoactive drug due to its ability to affect how its user’s brain works.

Benzodiazepines like Xanax work by binding itself to the GABA receptors in our brain. GABA receptors are protein molecules on the outer membrane of our neurons. Furthermore, they are usually at the end of our neural synapses. (1)

GABA receptors are also the primary inhibitory neurotransmitters of our nervous system. By binding to the GABA receptors, Xanax can regulate the electrical impulses that travel within the brain. Furthermore, Xanax amplifies the inhibitory property of our GABA receptors; hence, its anxiolytic and sedating properties.

What Does It Feel Like To Use Xanax

Xanax sedating and tranquilizing properties cause its users to experience various kinds of sensations. Most of these sensations are harmless if the the patient takes the drug properly. Nevertheless, users must exercise caution when under the influence of the drug.

Some of the sensations caused by Xanax are:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Euphoria
  • Lightheadedness
  • Disinhibition/ Impulsivity
  • Hallucinations; and
  • Euphoria

These sensations are generally safe in safe conditions. However, some can be dangerous in certain situations such as feeling drowsy of dizziness during driving or operation of heavy machinery. Immediately consult with your doctor if any of these sensations go beyond what you usually experience.

Euphoria Due To Xanax

Just two years after the drug was released, it immediately became one of its founding company’s greatest successes. Fast forward three decades later; Xanax has also become the most prescribed benzodiazepine in the United States, twelfth amongst all prescription drugs.

Sadly, along with its popularity came its abuse. The same year it became the most prescribed benzodiazepine, it also earned the title of the most abused benzodiazepine in the US. Although the US FDA place it under the Schedule IV category, their regulatory body was not able to properly control its illegal use.

The primary reason why the drug became incredibly popular among recreational users is the euphoric high that it provides its users. Drug abusers found that Xanax can be a cheaper and more accessible source of high than more controlled drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Furthermore, the drug produces fewer side effects compared to other psychoactive drugs.


Xanax. (n.d.). Retrieved September 1, 2017, from Food and Drug Administration: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2011/018276s045lbl.pdf

“Drug Abuse Warning Network, 2006: National Estimates of Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits” (PDF). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 2006. Retrieved 13 February 2012.