Alprazolam: MedlinePlus Drug Information (2024)

pronounced as (al pray' zoe lam)

  • Why is this medication prescribed?
  • How should this medicine be used?
  • Other uses for this medicine
  • What special precautions should I follow?
  • What special dietary instructions should I follow?
  • What should I do if I forget a dose?
  • What side effects can this medication cause?
  • What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
  • In case of emergency/overdose
  • What other information should I know?
  • Brand names

IMPORTANT WARNING:

Alprazolam may increase the risk of serious or life-threatening breathing problems, sedation, or coma if used along with certain medications. Tell your doctor if you are taking or plan to take certain opiate medications for cough such as codeine (in Triacin-C, in Tuzistra XR) or hydrocodone (in Anexsia, in Norco, in Zyfrel) or for pain such as codeine (in Fiorinal), fentanyl (Actiq, Duragesic, Subsys, others), hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Exalgo), meperidine (Demerol), methadone (Dolophine, Methadose), morphine (Astramorph, Duramorph PF, Kadian), oxycodone (in Oxycet, in Percocet, in Roxicet, others), and tramadol (Conzip, Ultram, in Ultracet). Your doctor may need to change the dosages of your medications and will monitor you carefully. If you take alprazolam with any of these medications and you develop any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately or seek emergency medical care immediately: unusual dizziness, lightheadedness, extreme sleepiness, slowed or difficult breathing, or unresponsiveness. Be sure that your caregiver or family members know which symptoms may be serious so they can call the doctor or emergency medical care if you are unable to seek treatment on your own.

Alprazolam may be habit forming. Do not take a larger dose, take it more often, or for a longer time than your doctor tells you to. Tell your doctor if you have ever drunk large amounts of alcohol, if you use or have ever used street drugs, or have overused prescription medications. Do not drink alcohol or use street drugs during your treatment. Drinking alcohol or using street drugs during your treatment with alprazolam also increases the risk that you will experience these serious, life-threatening side effects. Also tell your doctor if you have or have ever had depression or another mental illness.

Alprazolam may cause a physical dependence (a condition in which unpleasant physical symptoms occur if a medication is suddenly stopped or taken in smaller doses), especially if you take it for several days to several weeks. Do not stop taking this medication or take fewer doses without talking to your doctor. Stopping alprazolam suddenly can worsen your condition and cause withdrawal symptoms that may last for several weeks to more than 12 months. Your doctor probably will decrease your alprazolam dose gradually. Call your doctor or get emergency medical treatment if you experience any of the following symptoms: unusual movements; ringing in your ears; anxiety; memory problems; difficulty concentrating; sleep problems; seizures; shaking; muscle twitching; changes in mental health; depression; burning or prickling feeling in hands, arms, legs or feet; seeing or hearing things that others do not see or hear; thoughts of harming or killing yourself or others; overexcitement; or losing touch with reality.

Why is this medication prescribed?

Alprazolam is used to treat anxiety disorders and panic disorder (sudden, unexpected attacks of extreme fear and worry about these attacks). Alprazolam is in a class of medications called benzodiazepines. It works by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain.

How should this medicine be used?

Alprazolam comes as a tablet, an extended-release tablet, an orally disintegrating tablet (tablet that dissolves quickly in the mouth), and a concentrated solution (liquid) to take by mouth. The tablet, orally disintegrating tablet, and concentrated solution usually are taken two to four times a day. The extended-release tablet is taken once daily, usually in the morning. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take alprazolam exactly as directed.

To take the concentrated liquid, use only the dropper that came with your prescription. Draw into the dropper the amount prescribed for one dose. Squeeze the dropper contents into a liquid or semisolid food such as water, juice, soda, applesauce, or pudding. Stir the liquid or food gently for a few seconds. The concentrated liquid will blend completely with the food. Drink or eat the entire mixture immediately. Do not store for future use.

Remove the orally disintegrating tablet from the bottle just before it is time for your dose. With dry hands, open the bottle, remove the tablet, and immediately place it on your tongue. The tablet will dissolve and can be swallowed with saliva. The orally disintegrating tablet can be taken with or without water.

Swallow the extended-release tablets whole; do not chew, crush, or break them.

Your doctor will probably start you on a low dose of alprazolam and gradually increase your dose, not more than once every 3 or 4 days.

Other uses for this medicine

Alprazolam is also sometimes used to treat depression, fear of open spaces (agoraphobia), and premenstrual syndrome. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this medication for your condition.

This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before taking alprazolam,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to alprazolam, chlordiazepoxide (Librium, in Librax), clonazepam (Klonopin), clorazepate (Gen-Xene, Tranxene), diazepam (Diastat, Valium), estazolam, flurazepam, lorazepam (Ativan), oxazepam, quazepam (Doral), temazepam (Restoril), triazolam (Halcion), any other medications, or any of the ingredients in alprazolam products. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
  • tell your doctor if you are taking itraconazole (Onmel, Sporanox) or ketoconazole (Nizoral). Your doctor will probably tell you not to take alprazolam.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, and nutritional supplements, you are taking. Be sure to mention any of the following: amiodarone (Cordarone, Nexterone, Pacerone); antidepressants ('mood elevators') such as desipramine (Norpramin), imipramine (Tofranil), and nefazodone; antifungals such as fluconazole (Diflucan), posaconazole (Noxafil), or voriconazole (Vfend); antihistamines; cimetidine (Tagamet); clarithromycin (Biaxin, in Prevpac); cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune); diltiazem (Cardizem, Cartia XT, Tiazac); ergotamine (Ergomar, in Cafergot, in Migergot); erythromycin (E.E.S., ERYC, others); isoniazid (Laniazid, in Rifamate, in Rifater); medications for mental illness and seizures; nicardipine (Cardene); nifedipine (Adalat, Afeditab CR, Procardia); oral contraceptives (birth control pills); selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Brisdelle, Paxil, Pexeva), and sertraline (Zoloft); sedatives; sleeping pills; and tranquilizers. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what herbal products you are taking, especially St. John's wort.
  • tell your doctor if you have glaucoma (increased pressure in the eye that may cause loss of sight). Your doctor may tell you not to take alprazolam.
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had seizures or lung, kidney, or liver disease.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. Alprazolam may harm the fetus. If you become pregnant while taking alprazolam, call your doctor.
  • talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking this medication if you are 65 years of age or older. Older adults should receive low doses of alprazolam because higher doses may not work better and may cause serious side effects.
  • if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking alprazolam.
  • you should know that alprazolam may make you drowsy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

Talk to your doctor about drinking grapefruit juice while taking this medicine.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Alprazolam may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • drowsiness
  • light-headedness
  • headache
  • tiredness
  • dizziness
  • irritability
  • talkativeness
  • difficulty concentrating
  • dry mouth
  • increased salivation
  • changes in sex drive or ability
  • nausea
  • constipation
  • changes in appetite
  • weight changes
  • difficulty urinating
  • joint pain

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment:

  • shortness of breath
  • seizures
  • severe skin rash
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • confusion
  • problems with speech
  • problems with coordination or balance

Alprazolam may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Discard any cotton in the bottle containing orally disintegrating tablets and close the bottle tightly.

It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org

Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.

In case of emergency/overdose

In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.

Symptoms of overdose may include the following:

  • drowsiness
  • confusion
  • problems with coordination
  • loss of consciousness

What other information should I know?

Keep all appointments with your doctor.

Do not let anyone else take your medication. Alprazolam is a controlled substance. Prescriptions may be refilled only a limited number of times; ask your pharmacist if you have any questions.

It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.

Brand names

  • Niravam®
  • Xanax®
  • Xanax® XR

This branded product is no longer on the market. Generic alternatives may be available.

Last Revised - 05/15/2021

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Alprazolam: MedlinePlus Drug Information (2024)

FAQs

Alprazolam: MedlinePlus Drug Information? ›

Alprazolam is used to treat anxiety disorders and panic disorder (sudden, unexpected attacks of extreme fear and worry about these attacks). Alprazolam is in a class of medications called benzodiazepines. It works by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain.

Why won t doctors prescribe alprazolam? ›

Drugs with a shorter half-life are linked with higher potential for addiction and dependence because the effects wear off faster. That is one reason why doctors are typically hesitant to prescribe Xanax for long periods of time.

What should you avoid while taking alprazolam? ›

Alprazolam is a commonly prescribed anxiety medication. It can interact with a number of medications and substances. Opioids, other medications that cause drowsiness, and alcohol can have dangerous interactions with alprazolam. They can cause severe drowsiness, dizziness, and trouble breathing.

Is there a difference between Xanax and alprazolam? ›

Alprazolam is a prescription medicine that's used to treat anxiety disorders and panic disorder. It's in a class of drugs called benzodiazepines and works by lessening abnormal excitement in the brain. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved alprazolam in 1981. It's sold under the brand name Xanax.

What is stronger alprazolam or Xanax? ›

Xanax can be considered the most potent benzodiazepine to treat anxiety. Alprazolam is one of the strongest short-acting benzodiazepines and is often prescribed by doctors because its half-life is shorter than 26 hours.

What is the best alternative to alprazolam? ›

  • Lorazepam.
  • Buspirone.
  • Hydroxyzine.
  • Ativan.
  • Lexapro.
  • BuSpar.

What do doctors replace Xanax with? ›

Commonly prescribed Alprazolam alternative antidepressant medications used to help with anxiety include Zoloft (sertraline), Prozac (fluoxetine), or Lexapro (escitalopram).

Is it bad to take alprazolam every night? ›

Alprazolam is not recommended to be used daily. Its intentions are to be used to help in an instant or moment, not as a way to manage symptoms that affect you every day. Here are some of the common side effects of alprazolam: Dizziness or lightheadedness.

What are the most common side effects of alprazolam? ›

Common adverse effects for patients taking alprazolam are[9]:
  • Drowsiness.
  • Tiredness.
  • Dizziness.
  • Sleep problems (insomnia)
  • Memory problems.
  • Poor balance or coordination.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Trouble concentrating.
Apr 24, 2023

How long can you take alprazolam for anxiety? ›

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Xanax for very short-term treatment for most conditions. Eight weeks is the maximum amount of time they should be taken, specifically to treat panic disorder. Most physicians or therapists will prescribe Xanax for “as-needed” treatment.

What does alprazolam 0.5 mg do to you? ›

Alprazolam is used to treat anxiety disorders and panic disorder (sudden, unexpected attacks of extreme fear and worry about these attacks). Alprazolam is in a class of medications called benzodiazepines. It works by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain.

Is alprazolam a strong drug? ›

Addiction To Xanax (Alprazolam) Xanax is a powerful Benzodiazepine that is often prescribed to treat Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), panic disorders, and insomnia. It is extremely addictive when used long-term, making Xanax addiction and abuse a serious concern.

How long does alprazolam take to start working? ›

The effects of Xanax begin within a couple minutes and can last for a couple of hours.

What is safer than Xanax for anxiety? ›

Some non-addictive alternatives to benzodiazepines for anxiety available by prescription include:
  • SSRIs (antidepressants)
  • SNRIs (antidepressants)
  • Beta-Blockers (blood pressure medications)
  • Buspirone (anti-anxiety)
  • Hydroxyzine (brand name Vistaril, a prescription antihistamine).

What is the safest benzo for anxiety? ›

For example, if you have general anxiety, a long-lasting benzo, like diazepam or clonazepam, might be the best first choice.

Is alprazolam good for stress and anxiety? ›

Alprazolam As An Anxiety Treatment

It's been prescribed for severe anxiety and panic attacks for decades, and appears to show some fairly strong success rates. Xanax, and the generic versions, all seem to work well for most anxiety disorders and continue to provide relief for many months.

What is the best non narcotic anxiety medication? ›

List of the Best Non-Narcotic & Non-Addictive Treatments for Anxiety:
  • SSRIs.
  • SNRIs.
  • Buspirone.
  • Hydroxyzine.
  • Gabapentin (Neurontin)
  • Beta-Blockers.
  • Psychotherapy.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
May 14, 2020

What is a drug that calms you down? ›

Benzodiazepines (also known as tranquilizers) are the most widely prescribed type of medication for anxiety. Drugs such as Xanax (alprazolam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Valium (diazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam) work quickly, typically bringing relief within 30 minutes to an hour.

What is the best anxiety medication with less side effects? ›

Buspirone (BuSpar) works much more slowly than benzodiazepines and may not treat all types of anxiety disorder, but it causes fewer side effects and has a lower risk of dependency.

How can I calm down without Xanax? ›

7 Ways to Handle Anxiety After Quitting Xanax
  1. Meditation Helps With Anxiety.
  2. Exercise.
  3. Attend a Yoga Class.
  4. Plan Your New Life.
  5. Spend Time With Loved Ones.
  6. Indulge an Old Hobby—Or Find a New One.
  7. Give Fido Some Love.

Is 1 mg of Xanax a lot? ›

Adults—At first, 0.5 to 1 milligram (mg) taken in the morning once a day. Your doctor may increase your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 10 mg per day. Older adults—At first, 0.5 mg taken in the morning once a day.

What is the name of offbrand Xanax? ›

Is alprazolam available as a brand-name drug? Generic alprazolam is also available as the brand-name medications Xanax and Xanax XR.

What does Xanax do to your eyes? ›

Some have reported long term Xanax use having a negative effect on their eyes (2). Multiple people surveyed reported that Xanax use has caused various levels of eye dryness and irritation. Other users report Xanax causing forms vision loss.

How long can you sleep with alprazolam? ›

However, the calming, relaxing, and sedative effects of Xanax usually wear off within about eight to twelve hours. Xanax is taken by mouth and quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. Effects should be noticed within an hour and the medicine reaches peak concentrations in the body after one to two hours.

Can I cut .25 Xanax in half? ›

Make sure to swallow the tablets whole. The tablet is made to slowly release the medication in your body throughout the day. Don't crush, chew, or split them because this could make the medication work differently for you.

What are the positives of alprazolam? ›

Alprazolam is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. It belongs to a class of medications called benzodiazepines which act on the brain and nerves (central nervous system) to produce a calming effect. It works by enhancing the effects of a certain natural chemical in the body (GABA).

Does alprazolam affect blood pressure? ›

Because alprazolam reduces your blood pressure significantly, abusing it can cause persistent low blood pressure. Even moderate forms of low blood pressure can cause uncomfortable symptoms like dizziness, weakness, and fainting.

Is alprazolam for depression or anxiety? ›

Alprazolam is internationally registered for the treatment of anxiety, panic disorder and anxiety associated with depression (Jonas 1993).

Does alprazolam make you calm? ›

Xanax works by increasing the amount of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain to promote calmness and a relaxed feeling. This greatly helps people who suffer from anxiety disorders so that they are able to remain calmer in a particularly stressful situation, help curb panic attacks and calm their body's overactivity.

Does Xanax calm you immediately? ›

Xanax effects happen fast

Xanax is intended to be taken only for a short time. It acts quickly to relieve anxiety, but can become habit-forming if taken over a long period. The effects of Xanax happen fast, usually within an hour. Xanax is short-acting, and half of it is gone within about 11 hours.

Can I take Xanax everyday for anxiety? ›

Alprazolam may be taken every day at regular times or on an as needed (“PRN”) basis. Typically, your health care provider will limit the number of doses you should take in one day. Your health care provider will determine the dose and method of taking the medication that is right for you based upon your response.

What is the safest anxiety pill? ›

As of this writing, some of the anxiety medications with the fewest reported side effects and least risk of side effects include:
  • Most Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium)
  • Bupropion (Wellbutrin)
  • Citalopram (Celexa - SSRI)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil - SSRI)

What is the first drug of choice for anxiety? ›

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) SSRIs and SNRIs are often the first-line treatment for anxiety. Common SSRI brands are Celexa, Lexapro, Luvox, Paxil, and Zoloft.

What is the new anxiety medication for 2023? ›

A second therapeutic candidate, LYT-310 (oral cannabidiol), is expected to enter the clinic in Q4 of 2023. A second therapeutic candidate, LYT-310 (oral cannabidiol), is expected to enter the clinic in Q4 of 2023.

Can you take Benzos for life? ›

You should only be prescribed benzodiazepines for the shortest amount of time possible. Taking benzodiazepines regularly for a few weeks or more can lead to addiction. Doctors recommend that you only take them for 2-4 weeks. Intermittent use may help to avoid addiction.

Can I take Xanax at night for anxiety? ›

Xanax is a fast-acting benzodiazepine , and a person may take it before bed to help with their anxiety and to fall asleep.

Why is Xanax not prescribed for anxiety? ›

Xanax is often prescribed for anxiety disorders because it can help relieve anxiety symptoms quickly. However, other anxiety medications and talk therapy are better long-term choices for treating anxiety because Xanax has side effects, a risk of overdose, and the potential for dependence.

What is the problem with alprazolam? ›

Alprazolam may cause a physical dependence (a condition in which unpleasant physical symptoms occur if a medication is suddenly stopped or taken in smaller doses), especially if you take it for several days to several weeks. Do not stop taking this medication or take fewer doses without talking to your doctor.

Do doctors ever prescribe Xanax? ›

Most physicians or therapists will prescribe Xanax for “as-needed” treatment. When someone suffering from anxiety feels a surge of panic, or their anxiety prevents them from performing a task like driving or sleeping, taking a dose of Xanax can be extremely helpful.

Is alprazolam commonly prescribed? ›

Alprazolam, known by various trade names, is the most commonly prescribed psychotropic medication in the United States. Alprazolam is frequently prescribed to manage panic and anxiety disorders.

Is it bad to take Xanax every day for anxiety? ›

Are There Any Risks For Taking Alprazolam For Long Periods Of Time? Alprazolam is a safe and effective medication when used as directed. Benzodiazepines may produce emotional and/or physical dependence (addiction) even when used as recommended. Physical dependence may develop after 2 or more weeks of daily use.

What anxiety medication is closest to Xanax? ›

For this reason, Xanax is often taken to treat sudden onset symptoms or short-term anxiety. Other commonly prescribed drugs of this class include diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), clonazepam (Klonopin), temazepam (Restoril), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), and midazolam (Versed).

What is the best medicine for anxiety and panic attacks? ›

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Generally safe with a low risk of serious side effects, SSRI antidepressants are typically recommended as the first choice of medications to treat panic attacks.

What is the most common side effect of Xanax? ›

The most common adverse effects of alprazolam include impaired coordination, low blood pressure, difficulty speaking, and increased libido. Additional adverse effects of Xanax include: Decreased mental alertness. Confusion.

What is the best doctor to prescribe Xanax? ›

Psychiatrist. A psychiatrist is someone with a medical degree who practices the treatment of all types of mental health illnesses, challenges and disorders.

Is Ativan better than Xanax? ›

One isn't better than the other — the best choice for you will depend on your symptoms and medical history. If you have questions or concerns about Xanax or Ativan, please reach out to a pharmacist or healthcare provider.

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