Does Xanax Abuse Cause Weight Gain Or Loss?

Xanax affects the central nervous system (CNS) and is used to treat panic disorder, anxiety disorders, and other mental health complications. It has been known to influence weight loss and weight gain in some people.

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Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


Xanax abuse has many negative side effects on physical and mental health, as is the case with abuse of so many other controlled or illicit substances.

One of these effects is the propensity to influence weight fluctuation. Simply put, Xanax can cause weight gain and weight loss, but only in certain situations.

How Xanax Abuse May Cause Weight Gain

One of the side effects of Xanax is drowsiness and decreased cognitive communication, leading to increased sleep levels and decreased physical activity.

Given the increase in sleep and the decrease in physical activity, as well as the propensity for Xanax use to result in a lack of motivation, the link between weight gain and Xanax use is clear.

Effects On GABA Receptors

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a naturally occurring amino acid that functions as a neurotransmitter in the CNS.

Neurotransmitters, of which there are many different kinds, operate as chemical ‘messaging units’ that direct the brain to either increase or decrease activity in certain areas.

GABA is known as an inhibitory chemical, meaning that the more GABA there is in the brain, the less overall activity is performed.

With benzodiazepine prescription drug medications, such as clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), or alprazolam (Xanax), GABA activity is boosted.

This boost in GABA activity decreases muscle tremors, panic attacks, and seizures — making it an effective sedative and antidepressant. It can also cause drowsiness and cognitive impairment.


Prescription medications such as benzos are short-term sedatives, meaning they can make you feel drowsy.

The more you sleep, and the less energy you have due to sleepiness, the less physical activity you perform. In turn, the less motivation you have to do physical activities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has put out recent medical advice stating that adults need 150 minutes of moderate physical activity, and two days of muscle-strengthening activity per week.

If Xanax is a depressant that leads to decreased motivational levels and overall physical activity, this can contribute to less calorie expenditure, resulting in potential weight gain.

Increased Appetite

One of the common side effects of high doses or long-term use of Xanax is increased appetite, especially in premenstrual and postmenstrual women.

A study performed by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) found a 26% overall increase in appetite and food cravings, which can contribute to weight gain.

How Xanax Abuse May Cause Weight Loss

Taking too much of any prescription drug, or taking higher-than-recommended doses at inconsistent times, can cause detrimental and potentially life-threatening complications.

Xanax abuse can cause weight loss, too, as overextending the brain’s ability to handle perpetually increased GABA activity can cause emotional dysregulation and loss of appetite.

Nausea And Vomiting

One of the ‘Black Label’ disclaimers on diazepam (Valium) and other benzodiazepine-class drugs is the propensity for many unpleasant physical sensations and side effects to occur.

Muscle cramps, dry mouth, nausea, and vomiting — among other withdrawal symptoms and side effects —are just some of the potential signs of benzodiazepine drug abuse.

Withdrawal Syndrome

Healthcare providers have noted two different types of Xanax withdrawal stages, the first being acute, lasting from 5 to 28 days, and protracted withdrawal, which can last for up to a year.

Some of the withdrawal symptoms associated with these stages include:

  • anxiety
  • panic attacks
  • hyperventilation
  • tremors
  • sleep problems
  • muscle spasms
  • loss of appetite
  • sweating
  • general discomfort

Treatments For Xanax Weight Changes

Treatment options for Xanax-induced weight changes are minimal, as weight changes associated with Xanax ingestion can be mitigated with due diligence and peer support.

Treatment options for Xanax-induced weight changes include:

  • cognitive and behavioral therapy
  • dietician programs
  • sleep regulation
  • physical activities

Treatment Programs For Xanax Addiction

Fortunately, there are many treatment programs for Xanax addiction, or addiction to other benzodiazepines.

Some of the programs and services available at drug treatment centers include:

  • detox
  • inpatient and outpatient treatment
  • residential treatment options
  • therapy and counseling
  • educational and vocational activities
  • telehealth services
  • mental health services
  • telehealth programs
  • medication-assisted treatment (MAT)

Find Substance Abuse Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

If you or a loved one you know is looking for drug treatment programs for any type of substance abuse, give our free helpline a call today to discuss enrollment at Bedrock Recovery Center.

  1. Food and Drug Administration (FDA),premedication%20before%20some%20medical%20procedures.
  2. National Library of Medicine (NLM)

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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