Alprazolam, also known as Xanax, is a benzodiazepine used for anxiety and panic disorders. It has an intermediate onset of action and is available for oral administration. The drug is well-known and effective for relieving panic attacks. The effect of alprazolam in our body lasts for around 5 hours. In this article, we will discuss every detail related to alprazolam.
What Is Alprazolam Used For?
Alprazolam is used to treat the following conditions:
- Panic disorders (Unexpected and sudden attacks of worry and severe fear).
- Anxiety (Feeling of restlessness and anxiousness).
- Agoraphobia with panic attacks (Fear of being in situations where escape is critical).
- Anxiety associated with depression
How Does Alprazolam work? Mechanism Of Action
Alprazolam works like other benzodiazepines. It potentiates the effect of GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric acid), an inhibitory neurotransmitter. This is a natural chemical in our brain. Hence, it produces a calming and relaxing effect in the central nervous system by potentiating GABA, relieving anxiety and panic attacks.
How Effective Is Alprazolam?
In a study, alprazolam was proven more effective than diazepam for treating anxiety. Moreover, alprazolam is one of the most effective benzodiazepines for panic disorders.
Alprazolam Dosage Forms
Alprazolam (xanax) is available for oral administration. It comes in the following dosage forms:
- Orally disintegrating tablets (Tablets dissolving in mouth rapidly). (0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, and 2 mg).
- Liquid solution (1 mg/ml)
- Extended-release tablets: (0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg, and 3 mg.)
Your doctor will prescribe a dosage form based on some factors like:
- Your age
- Your disease
- The severity of the disease
- Your medical history
How Should I Take Alprazolam?
Here are some important points on how you should take alprazolam:
- Take alprazolam exactly as prescribed by your doctor or pharmacist.
- If you have been prescribed extended-release tablets of Xanax, take medicine once daily in the morning.
- Do not crush, chew, break, or dissolve the extended-release tablets. Swallow the whole tablet with one full glass of water.
- For concentrated liquid, take alprazolam by measuring your prescribed dose with a dropper. Squeeze the dropper in a glass of water, dissolve thoroughly and immediately drink the whole liquid at once. Do not store for future use.
- For orally disintegrating tablets, remove the tablet from the package with dry and clean hands. Immediately place the tablet under your tongue and let it dissolve with your saliva. Engulf the dissolved tablet.
- Never take more or less than the prescribed dose. Misusing this medicine can lead to abuse.
- Do not give alprazolam to pediatrics younger than 6 months of age.
- If you have missed your alprazolam dose, do not take the missed dose if it is near to your next dose time. Do not take two doses within a 3-hour interval. In case less time is remaining for your next dose, skip the missed dose and wait for your second dose.
- Do not use alprazolam if you have been previously allergic to the drug.
- Do not take alprazolam at a larger dose, very often, or for a longer time than prescribed by your doctor.
- Do not take grapefruit or grapefruit juice when you are on alprazolam therapy. It can increase alprazolam concentration in your body, leading to respiratory depression and sedation.
What dose of Alprazolam Should I take?
Take Alprazolam as prescribed by your doctor or pharmacist because the dose varies from patient to patient.
The standard doses of alprazolam are:
0.25-0.5 mg orally given after every six to eight hours. The maximum dose of alprazolam for anxiety is 4 mg per day.
For Anxiety Associated With Depression
1 to 4 mg per day given after every 8 hours.
For Panic Disorders
Your doctor may increase the dose to 1 mg after every 3 to 4 days.
For immediate-release tablets, take 0.5 mg per oral after every 8 hours.
For extended-release tablets, take 0.5 mg to 1 mg tablets per oral every day.
Why Is Alprazolam Considered A Good Treatment For Panic Disorders?
Alprazolam is considered a good treatment for panic disorders and agoraphobia as it directly blocks panic attacks. Moreover, the peak effects of Xanax appear rapidly for relieving panic attacks within 1 to 2 hours. Our body absorbs Xanax quickly.
What Are The Side Effects Of Alprazolam?
The common side effects of alprazolam include:
- Dizziness and drowsiness (As common with all other benzodiazepines).
- Tiredness and lightheadedness
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Dry mouth or increased salivation
- Weight changes
- Joint pain
- Change in sex drive
More severe side effects of alprazolam include:
- Shortness of breath
- Problems with coordination
- Speech problems
- Yellowing of the eyes or skin
- Severe allergic reactions
- Suicidal thoughts
If you face any of the above severe side effects, consult your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
How To Manage Alprazolam Side Effects?
The common side effects of alprazolam go away with time. So, you don’t need to worry about them as they usually occur. However, if they persist or become intolerable, consult your pharmacist to switch your medication. The side effects of Xanax vary from patient to patient. Here are some tips for managing the common side effects of alprazolam:
- If you face GIT disturbance or nausea with alprazolam, use the drug during your or before meal.
- Do not engage in any mentality exerting activity after taking alprazolam. Take rest as the drug causes dizziness and drowsiness.
- Do not take alprazolam with any sedative drug, antidepressants, or antipsychotics, as they may worsen the side effects of alprazolam.
- Drink plenty of fluids for managing diarrhea and GIT disturbances.
- Do not take alcohol with alprazolam.
- In case of alprazolam overdose or toxicity, your doctor may give you a flumazenil injection to reverse the drug’s toxic effects.
Alternative Treatment Options For Panic Disorders And Anxiety
If you cannot tolerate alprazolam, there are several antidepressants and other benzodiazepines available that can treat insomnia, panic disorders, and anxiety.
Alternative drug options to treat panic disorders and anxiety include:
Can I buy Alprazolam Online?
Yes, but it can depend on different pharmacies, their policies, and whether you have a prescription or not. Alprazolam is sold by prescription only. So, if you have a prescription for alprazolam and its online order is applicable in the pharmacy, you can purchase alprazolam online by showing your prescription. On the other hand, if you don’t have a prescription, you cannot buy alprazolam online or make an in-store purchase.
When should I take Alprazolam?
Take Xanax as prescribed by your doctor. At first, your doctor may prescribe the drug to be taken in the morning once daily of 0.5 to 1 mg and gradually increase your dose.
Alprazolam is commonly given three to four times a day. If you are taking the drug for anxiety and insomnia, you can take a dose before bedtime.
How long does it take for Alprazolam to work?
You will start experiencing the effects of alprazolam within 5 to 10 minutes of taking the drug, and its full effects will appear within 1-hour maximum.
Can I take Alprazolam while pregnant?
No. Xanax is not safe in pregnancy. It is regarded as a pregnancy category D drug, which means it should be used in extreme need in pregnancy, and it has the potential to harm the fetus.
Can I drive after taking Alprazolam?
No. You should not drive after taking alprazolam. Alprazolam causes drowsiness and dizziness, plus produces a sedative and calming effect on your brain, which can be harmful to alerting activity like driving. Hence, you should avoid activities like operating machinery and performing tasks requiring mental alertness after taking alprazolam.
How long can I take Alprazolam?
You can take alprazolam for a maximum of eight weeks. In most cases, the drug is not recommended to be taken for more than six weeks. It is a strong benzodiazepine with a rapid onset of action. FDA recommended to take alprazolam as a very short-term treatment for most diseases. Xanax is usually prescribed on an as-needed basis.
Does long-term use of Alprazolam have adverse effects on my health?
Yes. If you take alprazolam longer than the maximum limit, i.e., 8 weeks, it can adversely affect your health. A study showed impaired memory in patients who took alprazolam for an 8-week treatment. Other adverse effects of alprazolam can include sedation, life-threatening breathing problems, or coma.
Alprazolam, sold under the brand name Xanax, is a potent benzodiazepine drug. It is used to treat two major conditions, i.e., panic disorders and anxiety. Xanax is given orally through tablets or liquid solution.
The drug shows its maximum peak response within 1 to 2 hours. It potentiates the effect of GABA (an inhibitory neurotransmitter in our brain), producing a calming and sedating effect.
As the drug is highly effective in producing a calming effect, it has a potential for abuse and can cause adverse effects on long-term use. The drug is not recommended to be taken for more than 6 weeks. It can cause severe sedation, memory loss, and breathing problems. Hence, take alprazolam exactly as prescribed by your doctor.