Is Xanax Bad for Your Liver?

By Nashville Detox

Xanax is a popular brand name drug and has many accepted medical uses. When used responsibly, Xanax can offer several benefits to those with a prescription. Xanax is a prescription drug with a high-risk potential for abuse and misuse. When misused, Xanax can cause uncomfortable side effects and dangerous withdrawal symptoms. With these undesirable side effects, can Xanax cause liver damage?

What is Xanax?

Xanax is among the most prescribed psychiatric medications in America. Xanax is commonly used as an anti-anxiety medication that helps treat many disorders. Like many other anti-anxiety medications, Xanax is classified as a benzodiazepine. As mentioned, Xanax is commonly abused and has highly addictive characteristics. When used as directed, it works well in treating:

  • Panic attacks
  • Panic disorder
  • General anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Insomnia
  • Other anxiety disorders 

As a benzodiazepine, Xanax is in the same family as Valium, Estazolam, and Restoril. Some slang terms used to describe are bars, zannies, zanbars, benzos, Upjohn, and blue footballs. 

How Does Xanax Work?

GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid, is a neurotransmitter that blocks impulses between nerve cells within the brain. Xanax binds to GABA receptors in the brain to help slow down brain activity. Slowed down brain activity results in reduced fear, anxiety, and feelings of terror. GABA is in everyone’s brain, though some people may have an imbalance in chemistry. People experiencing low levels of GABA tend to experience mood disorders and anxiety. 

With the help of Xanax, people can develop a better balance of chemicals in the brain, resulting in a calm and relaxed feeling. Xanax is a highly effective medication when used correctly, but you are likely still wondering, “Can Xanax cause liver damage?” or “Is Xanax bad for your liver?”

Can Xanax Cause Liver Damage? 

Long-term Xanax use increases the risk of damaging nerve tissue in the liver. This prescription drug is not typically intended for long-term use. When liver damage occurs, it starts with inflammation. Potential liver damage depends on how long the individual has used substances, the overall condition of their liver, and how frequently they use substances like Xanax. 

Combining Xanax and alcohol intensifies the damaging effect on the liver and the rest of the body system. Generally, mixing alcohol with another substance increases the potential for liver damage. This happens especially when combining alcohol with a substance that is already known for causing damage to the organ. 

Is Xanax Bad for Your Liver?

In short, Xanax has the potential to be damaging to the liver. The best way to protect your liver is to abstain from substance use and alcohol. Realistically, most people need to take prescription drugs at some point in their life, and many people tend to consume alcohol somewhat regularly. If your family has a history of liver issues or alcohol abuse, it is necessary to consult your doctor before using prescription medication like Xanax. 

If you are planning to use Xanax temporarily, it is crucial to abide by the recommended dosage. Xanax is safe to take and typically does not cause harm when taken as recommended by a doctor. If you would like to take more precautions when taking Xanax, it’s best to stay hydrated and eat a nutritious and balanced diet. 

Xanax Addiction and Abuse 

Xanax is a reasonably accessible drug since it is prescribed at such a high rate. People who abuse the drug are looking to feel the calming and euphoric effects it provides. Many people who abuse Xanax mix the substance with alcohol or cocaine. Xanax is highly addictive, and since its potent effects last such a short time, abusers tend to need high doses to reach their desired effect. 

Having a high Xanax tolerance is dangerous since its physical effects on the body remain the same, even though higher doses are needed as the tolerance increases. Research shows that Xanax is physiologically addictive, even after just short-term exposure. Another dangerous aspect of Xanax is that after long-term use, the brain produces less GABA on its own. So when the individual stops using the substance, brain chemistry is severely unbalanced. 

Xanax Withdrawal

Xanax withdrawal symptoms can be devastating. Using Xanax short-term or long-term raises the potential for various symptoms with a range of severities. When deciding to use Xanax, or after being recommended to use Xanax, consider all of the potential effects. As mentioned, using Xanax as it’s prescribed has proven to be both effective and safe. However, using the medication even as prescribed raises the potential for withdrawal symptoms. 

Common Withdrawal Symptoms

Xanax affects each individual differently, but there are common side effects any person using the substance should be aware of. Long-term Xanax use may contribute to or cause:

  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Speech issues
  • Balance issues
  • Irritable behavior
  • Weight changes
  • Decreased inhibitions
  • Skin rash
  • Appetite changes
  • Breathing difficulty 
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Yellow eyes or skin
  • Blurred vision
  • Hallucinations
  • Mania or increased energy
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Aggressive behavior

Severe Effects of Xanax Withdrawal

Xanax withdrawal symptoms after long-term use or addiction can lead to injury or even death. Increased heart rate and seizures are two symptoms that can have devastating consequences. When stopping Xanax use, it is essential to reach out to a professional or treatment center like Nashville Detox. Detoxing from Xanax alone is far too dangerous. If you or a loved one have a substance use issue, please contact us immediately. 


Symptoms of withdrawal can occur within six hours of your last dose. For the next two days (48 hours), these symptoms will worsen and peak in severity. After about five days, the symptoms usually begin to subside. Unfortunately, in some cases, withdrawal symptoms can become permanent. This is why it is essential to seek professional help when stopping use or if addicted to Xanax. Studies show that long-term users can experience permanent brain damage following addiction and non medically guided detox.

In some cases, people who take the prescription medication for anxiety experience worse anxiety symptoms after stopping the use of Xanax. After using the medication for an extended period of time, the brain needs time to recover and learn how to function again without the drug in its system. Other potential long-term effects include memory loss, psychosis, and dementia.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS, is a disorder some people develop after quitting Xanax. PAWS can cause people to be more likely to struggle with social issues, drug cravings, mood swings, depression, and more. 

Treatment Options

A calculated and medically monitored detox is essential when stopping Xanax use. A proper detox program will help taper you off the drug instead of stopping “cold turkey.” This practice alleviates the risk of fatal withdrawal symptoms and makes the detox process as comfortable as possible. 

Following detox, our treatment specialists at Nashville Detox will guide you to the best possible treatment. For each person, this could mean different forms of treatment, which is why we provide treatment options for people in many different circumstances. 


After committing to treatment, detox is the first step. Detox helps set the foundation for a successful and long-term recovery. Detoxification refers to a process in which the body cleanses itself from substance-related toxins in the system. A successful detox ensures that each person begins treatment with a completely sober mind and body. During detox, both mental health and medical history are taken into account. That being said, the safest route to a successful detox is in a guided and controlled environment in a professional detox program. 

Each person experiences addiction differently and has a unique road to recovery. Our addiction specialists will spend time supporting you and working with you to determine which form of treatment will be most beneficial. During this process, our team will keep you safe and as comfortable as possible. 

Residential Treatment

After detox, our addiction specialists will help you enroll in a treatment program that best fits your needs. Residential, or inpatient, treatment is a live-in-style program. During this structured program, people participate in therapies and exercises that help develop healthy emotions and behaviors. Residential treatment can last from 30 to 90 days or even longer, depending on the circumstance. 

Intensive Outpatient Treatment

Intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) is a program that addresses substance use disorders and other mental health concerns. IOPs work best for people who do not require 24/7 supervision and support. Many people use IOPs as a continuation of care after completing a residential program. However, people with less severe addictions can use IOPs to develop tools to live a sober and fulfilling life without structured live-in treatment. 

Get Help at Nashville Detox Today

If you wonder, “can Xanax cause liver damage” or  “is Xanax bad for your liver,” you may be misusing Xanax. Long-term use is highly dangerous and often requires professional intervention. At Nashville Detox, we provide a combined traditional and holistic form of care that helps people recover from addiction time and time again. If you or a loved one are having a difficult time with Xanax, please reach out to us. No one deserves to battle addiction alone. Recovery is just a phone call away.  

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