Xanax (alprazolam) is a psychiatric medicine used as a sedative. It quickly affects chemicals in the brain and relieves severe fear and anxiety attacks. It is taken for a short period as it has risk of dependence. If suddenly discontinued without informing your doctor, it can cause withdrawal symptoms such as severe anxiety, wooziness, or insomnia. Thus, when the treatment is over, the intake of medicine should be stopped incrementally and under control of the doctor. Never take this medicine with alcohol. Besides, taking it with other narcotic drugs at the same time may be fatal. The most common side effects are depression, drowsiness, forgetfulness, balance, and speech disorders. The medication should exactly be taken in line with the instructions of the doctor and should not be abused.
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Xanax is a psychiatric green prescription medicine administered to treat anxiety (concern-worry) and panic disorder. It consists of splittable oval tablets, one side of which is flat and the other is notched. Alprazolam, its active ingredient, is a fast-acting sedative within the benzodiazepine drug group. The medicine is used in short-term treatments.
It should be taken under the supervision of the doctor due to its risk of dependence. It is a safe medicine if taken according to the instructions.
Xanax is especially used to treat;
Alprazolam, its active ingredient, affects chemical activity in the brain and reduces anxiety. Even if it is a medicine rapidly mixing with blood, its effect may vary depending on factors such as age, weight, and current mental state of a person. It starts to take effect in 5 minutes at the earliest and in 1 hour at the latest and continues for 2-4 hours. (1)
It is extremely important to take this medicine according to your doctor’s instructions. Its unconscious use will not treat your illness, but harm your health. (2)
Xanax is started at small doses and its amount is incrementally increased according to its effect on the patient. The initial dose is generally 0.25 mg or 0.5 mg 3 times a day. The dose may be up to 3 mg in divided doses. The patient is kept under supervision during this period and the dose can be reduced in case of any side effects.
It is started at a dose of 0.25 mg 2-3 times a day for elderly or for those with renal or liver disorders. Unless any side effects are experienced, this dose can be gradually increased in small amounts by the doctor if needed.
This medicine is used for short-term treatments. It is not generally prescribed for more than 4 weeks and the patient is regularly followed-up by the doctor during this period. Total treatment period is not more than 8-12 weeks including the time when the dose is gradually reduced.
Overdose can cause side effects such as drowsiness, wooziness, feeling cold, speech disorder, hypotension, and dyspnea. If tablets more than prescribed are accidentally taken, immediately inform your doctor to ask for medical care.
Xanax acts by increasing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) level in the brain. GABA is a significant chemical which controls mental functions. (3) Thus;
The patients under treatment due to depression should definitely warn the doctor before starting to take the medication.
Many drugs can strengthen the effect of Xanax. They can lead to overdose effect by preventing excretion from the body. They can also cause severe side effects such as respiratory depression (ineffective and slow breathing), deep sedation (sleepiness) and coma, and even death. The most important of these drugs are:
Inform your doctor about all medicines you take including over the counter drugs. If you need to use one of these drugs with Xanax, doses can be adjusted by the doctor accordingly.
Grapefruit and grape and drinking their juice should be avoided as they can prevent excretion of the medicine from the body. Medicinal plants such as hypericum perforatum, melissa, and valerian that may increase sedative effect should not be used as supplements.
Do not take alcoholic beverages, foods or other products while on this treatment. It can increase the effect of the medicine and delay its excretion from the body. It can cause severe side effects including extreme drowsiness, long-time memory loss, and even death. (5)
If it is used to treat anxiety disorder only, Valium, the effect of which is felt in a short period and lasts longer, can be used instead of Xanax. Valium’s active ingredient is diazepam and it is in the same drug group (benzodiazepine) with Xanax. Therefore, many characteristics of it are similar to Xanax, except the speed and duration of drug effect.
The doctor will decide which medicine will be more effective by taking into consideration anxiety symptoms and medical history of the patient.
Xanax can harm the growing fetus. Thus, in case of pregnancy, the medicine should be discontinued and the doctor should immediately be informed. An appropriate birth control method can be offered to the patient to prevent pregnancy during the medicine intake. No other medicine is prescribed during breastfeeding. (6)
If you experience any of these effects with the severity that will make you feel uncomfortable, inform your doctor immediately. Possibility of the side effects and duration of effect can vary person to person.
Xanax is prescribed for a short time since it is potential to cause dependence. The amount of dose taken during the treatment is gradually reduced to relieve withdrawal symptoms. The treatment is continued with another medication of the same drug group depending on the situation. In healthy people, the medicine is excreted in an average of 4 days.
Those who want to recover from physical dependence that develops with abuse of the medicine should definitely be treated under medical supervision. The medicine is incrementally reduced, replacement drugs are given, and cognitive therapy is administered. Total treatment period is 3 months on average.