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Xanax® (alprazolam)

Brand names:

Xanax®

  • Tablets: 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg

Xanax XR®

  • Extended release tablets: 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg, 3 mg

Niravam®

  • Orally disintegrating tablets: 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg

Alprazolam Intensol®

  • Liquid (concentrate): 1 mg/ml

Generic name: alprazolam (al PRAY zoe lam)

Medication class: benzodiazepine, anxiolytic (anti-anxiety)

What is XANAX® and what does it treat?

Alprazolam is a benzodiazepine. It is approved for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder with or without agoraphobia. However, benzodiazepines are also commonly used to treat difficulty sleeping and alcohol withdrawal.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) occurs when a person experiences excessive anxiety or worry for at least six months. Other symptoms include

  • Restlessness

  • Fatigue (low energy, feeling tired all the time)

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Irritability

  • Muscle tension

  • Sleep disturbance (difficulty falling asleep or waking up in the middle of the night)

Panic Disorder occurs when a person experiences unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear. These episodes have physical symptoms including chest pain, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, sweating, dizziness, and nausea. Fear of future episodes is also part of panic disorder.

What is the most important information I should know about XANAX®?

Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you because you may notice that you feel tired or dizzy.

Benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam, are often used for short periods of time only. They may produce emotional and/or physical dependence (addiction) even when used as recommended. Only your healthcare provider can determine the length of treatment that is right for you.

Do not stop taking alprazolam without talking to your healthcare provider first. Stopping alprazolam abruptly may result in one or more of the following withdrawal symptoms: irritability, nausea, tremor, dizziness, blood pressure changes, rapid heart rate, and seizures.

Are there specific concerns about XANAX® and pregnancy?

If you are planning on becoming pregnant, notify your healthcare provider to best manage your medications. People living with anxiety disorders who wish to become pregnant face important decisions. It is important to discuss this with your doctor and caregivers.

Regarding breastfeeding, caution is advised since alprazolam does pass into breast milk.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking XANAX®?

  • Symptoms of your condition that bother you the most

  • If you have thoughts of suicide or harming yourself

  • Medications you have taken in the past for your condition, whether they were effective or caused any adverse effects

  • If you experience side effects from your medications, discuss them with your healthcare provider. Some side effects may pass with time, but others may require changes in the medication.

  • Any other psychiatric or medical problems you have including obstructive sleep apnea

  • All other medications you are currently taking (including over the counter products and herbal and nutritional supplements) and any medication allergies you have

  • Other non-medication treatment you are receiving such as talk therapy or substance abuse treatment. Your provider can explain how these different treatments work with the medication.

  • If you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding

  • If you drink alcohol or use drugs

How should I take XANAX®?

Alprazolam may be taken with or without food.

Alprazolam may be taken every day at regular times or on an as needed (“PRN”) basis. Typically, your healthcare provider will limit the number of doses you should take in one day.

Your healthcare provider will determine the dose and method of taking the medication that is right for you based upon your response.

Alprazolam orally disintegrating tablets must remain in their original packaging. Open the package with clean dry hands before each dose. Do not try to put tablets in a pillbox if you take the orally disintegrating tablets.

Alprazolam orally disintegrating tablets will dissolve in your mouth within seconds and can be swallowed with or without liquid.

Extended release tablets: Swallow whole. Do not chew, crush or split tablet.

Alprazolam liquid: Measure with a dosing spoon or oral syringe, which you can get from your pharmacy.

If you take the medication everyday (instead of ‘as needed’), use a calendar, pillbox, alarm clock, or cell phone alert to help you remember to take it. You may also ask a family member or friend to remind you or check in with you to be sure you are taking your medication.

What happens if I miss a dose of XANAX®?

If you miss a dose of alprazolam, take it as soon as you remember, unless it is closer to the time of your next dose. Discuss this with your healthcare provider. Do not double your next dose or take more than what is prescribed.

What should I avoid while taking XANAX®?

Avoid drinking alcohol and using illegal drugs while you are taking alprazolam. They may decrease the benefits (e.g., worsen your condition) and increase the adverse effects (e.g., sedation) of the medication. Alcohol increases the risk of accidental overdose with medications like alprazolam.

What happens if I overdose with XANAX®?

If an overdose occurs call your doctor or 911. You may need urgent medical care. You may also contact the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

Symptoms of overdose include confusion, impaired coordination, slow reflexes, coma, and death.

A specific treatment to reverse the effects of alprazolam does exist. This medicine, called flumazenil, can reverse the effects of alprazolam but must be given through an IV at a hospital. Only a doctor can decide if you need this medication.

What are the possible side effects of XANAX®?

Common Side Effects

  • Feeling dizzy, drowsy, fatigued, or lightheaded

  • Impaired coordination, decreased ability to concentrate

If you experience these side effects after starting clonazepam they will often improve over the first week or two as you continue to take the medication

Rare Side Effects

Increased heart rate, headache, memory impairment, irritability, restlessness

Serious Side Effects

Some people taking benzodiazepines develop a severe allergic reaction and swelling of the face. This can occur as early as with the first dose.

Some people taking benzodiazepines for sleep have experienced various behaviors while they were asleep/not fully awake, such as sleep driving, making phone calls, and preparing or eating food. The individuals have no memory of the events when they awaken.

Are there any risks for taking XANAX® 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 other medications may interact with XANAX®?

The following medications may increase the levels and effects of alprazolam:

- Ketoconazole (Nizoral®), itraconazole (Sporanox®), nefazodone (Serzone®), fluvoxamine (Luvox®), and cimetidine (Tagamet®)

The following medications may decrease the levels and effects of alprazolam:

- Carbamazepine (Tegretol®)

Alprazolam should not be taken with other benzodiazepine medications.

Alprazolam may cause drowsiness, so caution should be used when combining it with other medications that cause drowsiness. These could include:

  • Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl®)

  • Narcotic pain medication such as morphine, oxycodone (OxyContin®), and hydrocodone (Vicodin® and Lortab®),

  • Sleeping medications such as zolpidem (Ambien®)

  • Other anti-anxiety medications, antipsychotic medications, certain anticonvulsant medications, and tricyclic antidepressant medications (such as amitriptyline)

How long does it take for XANAX® to work?

When starting alprazolam, anxiety or insomnia may improve rapidly or over a period of days or within hours of the first dose of medication.

Provided by the College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists

(January 2013)



Related Resources

Partnership for Prescription Assistance
A new toll-free number and Web site provide help to those who lack prescription coverage or cannot afford their medications.

Prescription Drug Patient Assistance Programs
Some pharmaceutical companies offer medication assistance programs to low-income individuals and families. This chart includes most psychotropic medications covered by such programs, as well as contact information for the pharmaceutical companies.


Related Links

YourPharmacyBenefit.org
Information to help you make good use of the pharmacy benefits that are part of your health insurance.


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