Alprazolam Xanax safety, risk, for sleep and anxiety, proper use and dosage

April 20 2016 by Ray Sahelian, M.D.


Alprazolam is a pharmaceutical drug used to treat anxiety and panic disorder. Alprazolam is known by the brand name Xanax. Occasionally alprazolam is used a sleep inducer. The onset of action is usually within one to two hours and the effects can last several hours. Alprazolam is generic for Xanax. There are several supplements that can be a natural alternative to alprazolam, but they are much less potent. For occasional use you can try the plant kava, the amino acid tryptophan, passionflower herb, 5-HTP hydroxytryptophan, valerian and hops. Also consider theanine for sleep. If you are used to the potency of alprazolam, you will not find the natural supplements to your liking. But if you want a more gentler way to relax, the natural products could be helpful and perhaps you can use them occasionally and not have to rely exclusively on alprazolam. For sleep at night consider Good Night Rx.

Method of action, how it works
In general, alprazolam produces mild sedation by depressing activity in the central nervous system. In particular, alprazolam appears to enhance the effect of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a natural chemical that inhibits the firing of neurons and dampens the transmission of nerve signals, thus decreasing nervous excitation.

Dosage of alprazolam medication, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, or less
Adults: Initial dose of alprazolam for anxiety is 0.5 mg a day, but can be increased to 0.5 mg twice or three times a day for severe cases of anxiety. Older adults: Initial dose is 0.25 mg or 0.5 mg a day and preferably not more than one mg should be used in a day on a regular basis. Short-term therapy (eight weeks or less) is typical; do not take alprazolam for a longer period unless so advised by your doctor. Children: Alprazolam is no not usually prescribed. Safety and effectiveness have not been established for children under age 18.

Alprazolam side effects and caution, safety and risk
Alprazolam side effects such as drowsiness and dizziness may be more pronounced in older patients. Alprazolam can impair mental alertness and physical coordination. Adjust your activities accordingly and do not drive or do hazardous work after taking alprazolam. Alcohol intake should be extremely moderate or stopped altogether while taking alprazolam. Chronic use can lead to confusion, hallucinations, excessive sleepiness and eventual dementia.


Alprazolam risk for traffic accidents
Cognitive, psychomotor and actual driving performance in healthy volunteers after immediate and extended release formulations of alprazolam 1 mg.
Psychopharmacology. 2007, Brain and Behavior Institute, Faculty of Psychology, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.
Alprazolam extended-release (XR) is approved for the treatment of panic disorder. This sustained alprazolam formulation is absorbed in a delayed manner and is therefore expected to produce fewer and less severe side effects than its immediate release equivalent alprazolam. The effect of alprazolam XR on potentially dangerous daily activities, such as driving a car, is expected to be less as compared to alprazolam. The present study was designed to compare the effects of alprazolam XR (1 mg) and alprazolam (1 mg) on actual driving ability and cognitive function. Eighteen healthy volunteers (aged 20-45 years) participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, three-way crossover study. At 4 h post-dose, subjects performed a standardized driving test on a primary highway in normal traffic. Both formulations severely impaired driving performance between 4 and 5 h after administration. The magnitude of impairment in the driving test observed with alprazolam XR was about half that observed with alprazolam. The acute impairing effects of alprazolam XR 1 mg on driving and psychomotor functions were generally less, as compared to its immediate-release equivalent, but still of sufficient magnitude to increase the risk of becoming involved in traffic accidents.

Overdose symptoms, abuse
Overdose of alprazolam can lead to extreme drowsiness, confusion, slurred speech, slow reflexes, poor coordination, staggering gait, tremor, slowed breathing, and loss of consciousness.


There's been a steep increase in the number of Americans being treated at emergency departments for abuse of the sedative alprazolam, best known as Xanax. The number of emergency department visits related to abuse of alprazolam (brand names Xanax, Xanax XR, and Niravam) climbed from more than 57,000 in 2005 to nearly 124,000 in 2011, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).


Alprazolam and Pregnancy
Use of alprazolam during pregnancy should be avoided if possible.

Alprazolam and Breast Feeding
Alprazolam passes into breast milk; do not take it while nursing.

Dependence on Alprazolam pill - addiction
Use can lead to psychological or physical dependence or addiction. Short-term therapy (eight weeks or less) for anxiety is typical; patients should not take the drug for a longer period unless so advised by their doctor. Acute withdrawal symptoms may occur with alprazolam sudden stoppage.

Alprazolam Drug Interactions
Other drugs may interact with alprazolam. Consult your doctor for specific advice if you are taking any drugs that depress the central nervous system; these include antihistamines, antidepressants or other psychiatric medications, barbiturates, sedatives, cough medicines, decongestants, and painkillers. Be sure your doctor knows about any over-the-counter medication you may take. Some natural supplements that could make sedation worse when the drug alprazolam is used at the same time include kava, 5-htp, tryptophan, valerian, hops and Good Night Rx.

Disease Interactions with alprazolam medication
Before you take an alprazolam medication, inform your doctor if you have a history of alcohol or drug abuse, stroke or other brain disease, any chronic lung disease, hyperactivity, depression or other mental illness, myasthenia gravis, sleep apnea, epilepsy, porphyria, kidney disease, or liver disease.


Availability by a doctor's prescription
Alprazolam pill is prescribed as tablets and as oral solution. It comes in many dosages. You can buy alprazolam in 0.5 mg, 1 mg and 2 mg dosage.


Q. Can I buy alprazolam online?
   A. A prescription is needed to buy alprazolam pill although some unscrupulous online websites may sell it but you don't really know what you are getting.