XANAX. (alprazolam) is an oral prescription medication used for the treatment of anxiety and panic disorder. It comes in tablet form with immediate-release and extended-release (XR) formulations. Xanax is also prescribed off-label for the treatment of several conditions, including insomnia.
This pill can cause side effects, such as extreme tiredness or confusion, and an overdose can be life-threatening. This medication can be addictive and, in addition to its indicated uses, it is also sometimes a drug of abuse.
You should only use this medication as prescribed by your doctor and never use it for longer than prescribed or change your dose unless instructed to do so by your doctor.
This drug is prescribed to relieve and prevent symptoms of anxiety. It should be used as part of a comprehensive plan to manage anxiety that can include strategies like psychotherapy and counseling.
It is approved for:
- Managing anxiety disorder
- Short-term relief of symptoms of anxiety
- Panic disorder
It is indicated for treating conditions that are diagnosed as anxiety disorders based on medical criteria. It is not meant to be prescribed for coping with stress or dealing with tension that occurs in response to external situations.
X drug is a benzodiazepine, which is a category of prescription medications that bind to the gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptor in the brain. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter and it is believed that Xanax pills prevents overactivity of the nervous system by mediating inhibition of GABA activity.2
In addition to its approved uses, this drug is also prescribed for several off-label indications.
The most common off-label uses for X pills are:
- Premenstrual syndrome
- Anxiety due to depression.
In research studies, it has been used as a treatment for certain types of seizures. 6 Xanax has also been investigated as a possible treatment for essential tremor, with promising results.
It can be harmful in certain situations. If you have had any type of adverse reaction to Xanax or any benzodiazepine, you may not be able to take X, or you would need to take it with extreme caution.
Xanax is not approved for use in children under age 18. It can cause adverse effects if you are pregnant or nursing.
When you start taking Xanax, you should avoid driving or using heavy or dangerous equipment.
This particular drug can be addictive and may lead to dependence. If you have a history of substance abuse or addiction, be sure to discuss this with your doctor prior to taking X.
Alprazolam is a controlled substance under the Controlled Substance Act by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Tablets have been assigned to Schedule IV.8
Precautions and Contraindications
You should use Xanax with caution if you have any condition that predisposes you to severe adverse effects.
- Acute narrow angle glaucoma: Xanax can worsen this condition, but you can use it if you have open angle glaucoma.
- Epilepsy: If you have epilepsy, discontinuing or skipping your doses can predispose you to having a seizure.
Xanax is a brand version of alprazolam. The generic version, alprazolam, is also available in immediate-release tablets, extended-release tablets, and as a liquid formulation.
Other benzodiazepines include Valium (diazepam) and Ativan (lorazepam).
Immediate-release Xanax tablets are generally prescribed to be taken three times per day, and Xanax XR is prescribed as a once per day dose to be taken in the morning.
The immediate-release formulation is used for treating anxiety disorder and panic disorder, and the XR formulation is used for treating panic disorder.
Immediate-release Xanax tablets are available in 0.25 milligram (mg), 0.5 mg, 1 mg or 2 mg strengths. The 2 mg tablets are scored in fourths so they can be divided. Xanax XR tablets are available in 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg, and 3 mg strengths.
According to the manufacturer, the recommended doses of Xanax are:
- Immediate-release tablets are prescribed at a starting dose of 0.5 mg three times per day, with a very gradual increase, if needed, to a maximum dose of 4 mg daily.8
- The Xanax XR tablets are prescribed at a starting dose of 0.5 mg or 1 mg per day and, if necessary, the dose may be increased gradually as prescribed by your doctor. According to the manufacturer, the maximum suggested daily dose of Xanax XR ranges between 3 to 6 mg per day.9
It is recommended that you take the lowest dose that is effective for controlling your symptoms. Do not increase or decrease your dose unless your doctor changes your dose. Increases and decreases should be made gradually, according to a schedule and with consideration of any other medications that you are taking.
You might need to take a lower than usual dose if you are elderly or have kidney or liver failure. These conditions can increase the concentration of Xanax in your body and make you more sensitive to it.
In addition to starting at a lower dose, your doctor would increase your dose at a slower than usual rate if you are elderly or have liver or kidney failure.
How to Take and Store
Xanax should be taken whole, and you shouldn’t chew, crush, or break your tablets except to cut them where they are scored.
These tablets should be stored at a temperature of 20 to 25 C (68 to 77 F).
Xanax can cause side effects. When you first start to use it, you may experience some mild side effects. Some side effects, like drowsiness, might continue even after you get used to the medication.
If you continue to experience issues like drowsiness, you need to avoid driving or other activities in which drowsiness can be problematic. Serious adverse effects can be harmful, and you need to get urgent medical attention if you start to have signs of severe side effects.
The most common side effects of this drug can be more noticeable within a few hours after you take your tablet.
Common side effects of Xanax include:
- Slurred speech
- Decreased balance
- Tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Constipation or diarrhea
Severe side effects of X can be life-threatening. You can experience these side effects due to a regular dose, an overdose, or the combination of this with other drugs.
Severe side effects of Xanax include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Suicidal thoughts
- Coma or death
Get emergency help if you or someone else is beginning to have serious adverse effects of X.
Abruptly stopping X can be dangerous. Suddenly decreasing or stopping this medication can trigger withdrawal seizures, severe anxiety, or severe depression. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you want to stop taking this drug so you can follow a schedule to gradually decrease your medication.
It interacts with several substances and medications. Your doctor or pharmacist can check if any other medications that you take interact with it.
Taking it with alcohol, illegal drugs, or opioids can be life threatening.
Medications that interact with this pill include:8
- Desipramine and imipramine (antidepressants) have increased concentrations in the body when taken with Xanax drug.
- Fluoxetine (an antidepressant) increases the concentration of X in the body.
- Oral contraceptives increase the concentration of X in the body.
- Propoxyphene (a narcotic pain reliever) decreases the concentration of Xanax in the body.
- Cimetidine (an antacid) increases the concentration of X in the body.9
- Ketoconazole and itraconazole (anti-fungal medications) should not be taken with X.