What is Alprazolam?
Alprazolam, also available as Xanax, is a short-acting tranquilizer belonging to the triazolobenzodiazepine (benzodiazepines fused with a triazole ring) class of drugs. It is helpful for the short-term management of anxiety disorders such as panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder caused by depression.
Alprazolam works by enhancing the effects of natural chemicals in the body known as GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric acid).
Never share Alprazolam with someone else, especially someone with a past of drug abuse or addiction. Misuse of this drug may lead to overdose, addiction, or death. It is against the law to sell or give away this medicine.
The usual intake of Alprazolam is for no longer than ten months to treat panic disorder and for no longer than four months to treat anxiety disorder. Carefully follow the instructions of your doctor regarding doses.
Alprazolam may make your breath slow or stop it, especially if you were recently using alcohol, an opioid medication, or other drugs that can slow your breathing. Your attendant should seek medical help if you have weak or shallow breathing, if you stop breathing, or if you are hard to wake up.
What to know before taking Alprazolam?
You should avoid taking Alprazolam if:
- You also take ketoconazole or itraconazole (antifungal medicines); or
- You have a past of any allergic reaction to benzodiazepine (diazepam, Alprazolam, Ativan, lorazepam, Restoril, Klonopin, Tranxene, Restoril, Valium, Xanax, Versed, and others).
To ensure this medicine is safe for you, tell the doctor if you have ever had:
- Drug or alcohol addiction;
- Kidney or liver disease (alcoholic liver disease);
- Mood problems, depression, or suicidal thoughts/behavior; or
- Breathing problems including sleep apneas or COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
Tell the doctor about your pregnancy or your plan to conceive. This medicine may harm an unborn baby. Avoid using Alprazolam during the first trimester of pregnancy.
If you are using Alprazolam while you are pregnant, you may give birth to a drug-dependent baby. After the birth of the baby, it may cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Babies dependent on habit-forming drugs may need medical treatment for several weeks.
You should avoid breastfeeding while using Alprazolam. Alprazolam is not under the recommendation for use by anyone younger than 18 years old.
How to take Alprazolam?
Take Alprazolam precisely as per the doctor’s prescription. Read carefully and follow all the directions on the prescription label, medication guides, or instruction sheets. Occasionally, your doctor may change your dose. Never use it in smaller or larger amounts or for no longer than recommended. Let the doctor know if you are feeling an increased urge to use this medicine.
Carefully measure the dose of liquid medicine. Use a dosing syringe or a medicine dose-measuring device to measure the liquid. Swallow the whole extended-release tablet without crushing, chewing, or breaking it.
Do not swallow the whole oral disintegrating tablet. Allow the oral tablet to dissolve in your mouth instead of chewing. Check with the doctor if there is no improvement in your symptoms or if they get worse.
You may have the requirement of frequent medical tests if you are using this medicine for the long term. Do not go for a sudden stop in using this medicine, or you could face unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Consult the doctor before tapering your dose.
Store Alprazolam away from heat and moisture at room temperature and keep track of the medicine. You should be aware if anyone is misusing it or using it without a prescription. Throw away the alprazolam liquid that is not in use within 90 days.
Usual adult dosage for anxiety:
- ODT or Immediate-release tablets- 0.25mg to 0.5 mg orally three times a day.
- Maximum dose- 4 mg per day
Usual adult dosage for panic disorder:
- Immediate-release tablets or ODTs: 0.5 mg orally three times a day. Maximum amount- 10 mg per day
- Extended-release tablets: initial dose- 0.5 mg to 1 mg orally one time a day
- Maintenance dose- 3 mg to 6 mg orally every day, preferably in the morning
- Maximum amount- 10 mg per day
Usual geriatric dosage for anxiety:
- Immediate-release pills or ODTs- 0.25 mg orally twice or thrice a day
Usual geriatric dosage for panic disorder:
- Immediate-release tablets or ODTs: 0.25 mg orally twice or thrice a day
- Extended-release tablets: initial dose- 0.5 mg orally one time a day
Take urgent medical help or call the Poison helpline at 1-800-222-1222. An overdose of Alprazolam can be deadly.
Overdose symptoms may include confusion, extreme drowsiness, loss of balance, muscle weakness, lightheadedness, and fainting.
What to avoid while using Alprazolam?
Avoid alcohol consumption. Serious side effects or death may occur.
Avoid drinking alcohol and performing any hazardous activity until you know how this medicine will affect you. Drowsiness or dizziness can cause accidents, falls, or severe injuries.
Interaction of grapefruit with Alprazolam can lead to unwanted side effects. Avoid using grapefruit products.
Alprazolam side effects
Take urgent medical help if you have allergic reactions due to the use of Alprazolam. Signs of an allergic reaction include breathing issues, hives, swelling of your face, throat, lips, or tongue.
Call your doctor instantly if you have:
- weak or shallow breathing;
- Risk-taking behavior, hallucinations;
- A seizure;
- Being agitated or talkative, racing thoughts;
- Decreased need for sleep, increased energy;
- Jaundice; or
- Double vision
Older adults are more likely to have the sedative effects of Alprazolam for a longer time. Use caution to avoid fall or accidental injury because it is common in elderly patients who take benzodiazepines.
Common side effects of Alprazolam may include:
- Feeling lightheaded; or
It is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. Take your doctor’s advice regarding side effects. Report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What drugs can interact with Alprazolam?
Sometimes, it is unsafe to take several medicines at the same time. Taking Alprazolam with other medications can cause sleepiness or slow your breathing and lead to dangerous side effects or death.
Various drugs can interact with Alprazolam, including prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, herbal products, and vitamins.