Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine typically used to treat anxiety and panic disorders, which works by enhancing the effects of a natural chemical in our bodies called GABA and, in turn, producing a calming effect. This medication has anxiolytic, sedative, hypnotic, skeletal muscle relaxant, anticonvulsant, amnestic, and antidepressant properties, and it is available for oral administration or extended-release capsules (XR).

Use and Dosage

Dosage of this medication depends on the individual’s age, medical condition, and response to initial treatment. The dose may be experimented with and increased until the Xanax starts working properly. It is important, however, that people follow their doctor’s instructions closely and carefully to reduce possible harmful side effects.

Xanax can cause withdrawal reactions, especially if it’s used regularly for a consistent period of time or in high doses. In cases such as these, symptoms such as seizures may begin to happen upon stopping use of the medication. To avoid experiencing withdrawal, your doctor will likely reduce your dose gradually rather than taking you off the medication altogether at once. Xanax can also cause addiction, especially in those who have a substance use disorder or addiction to drugs or alcohol. To lower the risk of becoming addicted to Xanax, you should take the medicine just as prescribed.

Side Effects of Xanax

As with most medications, Xanax can come with unwanted side effects; however, they are typically outweighed by the benefits. With that being said, most people who use Xanax do not experience severe side effects—still, it is important to make yourself aware of all of the possibilities. You may see the following as mild effects of Xanax:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in sex drive/ability
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle twitching
  • Hypotension
  • Changes in appetite

If you do experience any of the aforementioned side effects, which persist or worsen over time, you should talk to your doctor. And if you experience any of the more severe effects—hallucinations, thoughts of suicide, difficulty talking, loss of coordination, memory problems, trouble walking—you must contact your doctor immediately. You should also seek medical attention right away if you experience the rare effects that are seizures or yellowing eyes and skin.

Important Considerations

Xanax is a popular drug that vendors on the Internet or outside of the United States have started advertising and selling. It is only safe, however, to get the prescription medication in the U.S. from your healthcare practitioner. There are a few other important precautions to consider before using Xanax:

  • You should not take this medication if you…
    • …have narrow-angle glaucoma.
    • …are also taking ketoconazole or itraconazole.
    • …are allergic to alprazolam or other benzodiazepines.
    • …are pregnant, as it can cause birth defects and may even cause your baby to become depending on the drug.
  • You must tell your doctor if you have any of the following:
    • Seizures or epilepsy
    • Kidney or liver disease
    • Asthma
    • Open-angle glaucoma
    • A history of depression
    • A history of suicidal thoughts/behavior
    • A history of drug or alcohol addiction
    • If you also use a narcotic medication
  • You should know all of the effects (such as dizziness and drowsiness) that can hinder your ability to…
    • …drive a vehicle.
    • …operate machinery.
    • …or perform any activity that requires alertness.