Alprazolam (XANAX) - Uses | Dosage | Side Effects | Interactions
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Alprazolam (XANAX)

Published on Jul 01, 2019 and last reviewed on Aug 08, 2023   -  5 min read


Alprazolam is a short-acting benzodiazepine, which is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Learn about its side effects, contraindications, and dosage.

Alprazolam (XANAX)


One of the most common medication to relieve anxiety and induce sleep is Alprazolam, which is usually found in the market with the name of Xanax. This article will explain this medication in detail and will help to understand it in a better way.

What Is Alprazolam?

Chemically, it is a short-acting benzodiazepine that is available in oral forms or tablets. Its action can be experienced within an hour of consuming it, though its duration of action is six hours. It acts or affects the unbalanced chemicals present in the brain due to anxiety and produces a peace or calming effect. Some of the other commercial or trade names in which this medication is available are Xanax, Xanor, Niravam, etc. Its half-life is known to be 4 to 6 hours in immediate-release formulations and 11 to 16 hours in extended-release formulations. It is metabolized in the liver and excreted through the kidney.

What Are the Uses of Alprazolam?

As mentioned earlier, it is used to manage or treat anxiety disorders, panic disorders, and also anxiety caused due to depression.

Some of the other uses include management of nausea that has been caused due to chemotherapy, along with other medications. Generalized anxiety disorder patients show improvement after taking it usually within a week.

Since it has a calming effect and induces sleep, it is also prescribed as a sleeping tablet. But, it is advisable to take it based on the doctor’s prescription and after consulting a doctor.

What Is the Dosage of Alprazolam?

Alprazolam is available as both immediate-release and extended-release oral formulations or tablets. It is available in various trade names and the dosage available are 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, and 2 mg. It is advisable to consult a physician before taking it, as he or she will guide on the appropriate dosage required for an individual based on their condition and disease.

What Are the Side Effects of Alprazolam?

It is advisable not to drive after taking it, as it can cause drowsiness within a few hours of taking it. Some of the common side-effects encountered by taking Alprazolam are as follows:

  • Lightheadedness.
  • Drowsy feeling or dizziness.
  • Headache.
  • Memory problems.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Stuffy nose.
  • Increased sweating.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Change in appetite.
  • Decreased interest in sex.
  • Sleep issues.
  • Stomach upset.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Vision getting blurred.
  • Concentration issues.
  • Weakness of muscles.

Usually, these effects are mild and go away on their own within a few days or weeks. If these effects are severe or do not go away on their own, consult a physician as soon as possible for further management.

Some of the serious side-effects that need medical attention are as follows:

  • Mental issues like depressed mood, suicidal thoughts, confusion, and hallucinations.

  • Issues in movements like tremor, seizures or uncontrolled muscle movements.

  • Heart problems like pain in the chest, abnormal heartbeat.

  • Liver issues like jaundice.

  • Decrease in urine output.

  • Long term use can lead to dependence (all benzodiazepines have that tendency).

  • In the elderly population, benzodiazepines have shown to cause cognitive decline. So should be used with caution in geriatric patients.

What Are the Drug Interactions of Alprazolam?

Alprazolam, like any other medication, can interact with other medicines that one takes. Some of the drugs that one should not be taking with Alprazolam and teh reasons for it are mentioned below:

1. They may increase the side-effects:

  • Antifungals like Itraconazole or ketoconazole. These may increase the drowsiness if taken with Alprazolam.
  • Barbiturates like Amobarbital and Butabarbital.
  • Hypnotics or sedative drugs like Eszopiclone, Zaleplon.
  • Anxiety medications or anxiolytics like Lorazepam, Clonazepam.
  • Narcotics (analgesics or painkillers) like Morphine, Oxycodone.
  • Antihistamines that are sedatives like Brompheniramine, Chlorpheniramine, etc.
  • Anesthetics like Ketamine, Propofol, Etomidate.
  • Antacids like Cimetidine.
  • Antidepressants like Fluvoxamine, Fluoxetine, Nefazodone.
  • Oral contraceptives may increase drowsiness or other side-effects.

2. These may decrease the efficacy of Alprazolam:

· Anticonvulsants like Carbamazepine, Phenytoin, etc.

What Are the Precautions and Drug Warnings of Alprazolam?

It is always better to consult a physician before taking this tablet, and some precautions and warnings are a must for one to know before considering to consume it. They are as follows:

1. Allergy: Do not take it if there is allergy to it. If one is unknown and if they happen to notice, rashes, itching with difficulty in breathing, swelling of throat or tongue, consult a physician immediately.

2. Alcohol: Consumption of alcohol will increase drowsiness that is already associated with the intake of Alprazolam. Hence, avoid consuming alcohol while taking this tablet.

3. Depression: Again, Alprazolam may cause depression. If one has worsening of symptoms or get suicidal thoughts, consult a physician immediately.

4. Acute Narrow-Angle Glaucoma: It is avoided in patients with acute narrow-angle glaucoma.

5. History of Alcoholism, Drug Abuse or Personality Disorder: These patients have the risk of addiction or dependence.

6. Liver Disease: Difficulty in breaking down or metabolizing this drug and hence, increase amount of this drug in the body can cause an increase in side effects.

7. Lung Disease: If there is lung disease, consult a physician before taking this drug.

8. Pregnant Woman: It affects the fetus and hence, it is advisable to consult a gynecologist and general physician before taking it.

9. Breastfeeding: This drug is known to pass through breast-milk and hence, affect the fetus.

As Alprazolam is a good drug to manage anxiety, but still it comes with its own side-effects, it is advisable to understand the details of the drug and consult a physician before taking it. Online medical platforms make it easy to get consulted by a doctor from the ease of home.


Alprazolam is commonly used for anxiety and panic attacks and disorders. However, it has also been misused recreationally due to its disinhibiting, euphoric, and anxiety-relieving effects. Like all benzodiazepines, prolonged Alprazolam usage may result in physical dependence. Abruptly reducing the dosage or discontinuing Alprazolam after chronic use could lead to acute withdrawal. So it is necessary to gradually taper the dosage and use it to minimize the risk of withdrawal-related complications and potentially fatal reactions.

Frequently Asked Questions


Are Alprazolam and Xanax the same thing?

Yes, Alprazolam is the chemical or generic name whereas it is available in the market as Xanax, being one of its trade names.


Is Alprazolam as strong as Xanax?

Since both are the same, it depends on the dosage of the drug. It is available in various doses and you must consult your physician before taking it.


Can Alprazolam make you sleepy?

Yes, Alprazolam can make you feel drowsy and dizzy. Hence, it is advisable to take it at night and also to avoid driving after taking it.


What drugs interact with Alprazolam?

Many drugs interact with Alprazolam and some may increase the side effects like oral contraceptives, antifungals, hypnotics, anti-anxiety medications, barbiturates, anti-depressants, etc., wheres some may decrease its efficacy like anticonvulsants.


How long does Alprazolam stay in your system?

Its half-life is 4 to 6 hours for immediate-release and 11-13 hours for sustained-release. Hence, approximately it is completely excreted out of the body after four days.


Does Alprazolam help with stress?

Yes, it has a calming effect on the brain and hence, can be used in stress.


What does Alprazolam do to the brain?

It decreases the abnormally excited or presence of chemicals in the brain and produces a calming effect.


Can Alprazolam cause weight loss?

Yes, it may cause a change in appetite and hence, it may either make you gain weight or lose weight.


How does Alprazolam work?

It acts on the brain by decreasing the altered or abnormal chemicals in the brain and decreases activation of the central nervous system, thereby producing a calming effect.

Last reviewed at:
08 Aug 2023  -  5 min read




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