What Is Xanax?
The generic name for Xanax is alprazolam and this is a benzodiazepine. Xanax was first introduced in 1976. This drug has an impact on the unbalanced chemicals in the brain of people who have anxiety. It is therefore prescribed for treating mental health problems which are linked with anxiety – generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and different types of phobias. This drug comes in either a tablet form or an extended release capsule.
Xanax is a habit-forming drug, so one must take this only when prescribed and in the given quantity. If taken incorrectly, it can lead to addiction, overdose, side effects, and even death. Always keep the drug in a safe place away from the reach of others.
One must not consume alcohol while taking this medication since it can increase the alcohol effects.
What Should Be Done Before Taking Xanax?
It is not a safe option to purchase Xanax online. Drugs which are sold online can consist of dangerous ingredients and may also not be distributed from licensed vendors or retailers. Also, do not purchase this drug from any pharmacy or vendors outside of the US. Xanax sold outside of the country does not abide by the rules and regulations set by the FDA.
You must not take Xanax in the following cases:
- You have narrow angle glaucoma
- You are Taking other drugs like itraconazole or ketoconazole
- You are allergic to Xanax or similar drugs
- You are pregnant
In order to be sure that Xanax is a safe drug to be consumed, you must inform the doctor if you have any of the following conditions:
- Kidney or liver problems, particularly alcohol-related liver problems
- Asthma or any other breathing disorder
- Open angle glaucoma
- A past record of depression, suicidal thoughts, or suicide attempts
- A past record of alcohol or drug abuse
- Use any narcotic drug
It is not safe to take Xanax during pregnancy, since this medication can cause birth defects and fatal withdrawal symptoms in the baby. The newborn baby may become dependent on this drug and there may be a need for treatment for few weeks. So, it is important to keep the doctor informed if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant. The ingredients of Xanax can pass into the breast milk of the mother and affect the child drinking the milk. So, while taking Xanax, a nursing mother should not breastfeed her baby.
The side effects of the Xanax drug last longer in elderly adults. For instance, accidental falls are very common in older adults who take this drug. So, older patients must be more cautious while taking Xanax.
Xanax is not recommended for individuals who are below 18 years.
What Does Xanax Treat?
Xanax, is a drug that is prescribed for treating anxiety-related problems or for providing temporary relief of symptoms caused by anxiety. There is no treatment required for treating anxiety and stress that is related to daily life.
Generalized anxiety disorder is one of the conditions that can be treated with Xanax. This is a condition that is caused by anxiety and stress, which is related to two or more situations of life, and lasts for six months or more. In this phase of life, the patient is more worried about various things other than the actual cause of tension. Patients suffering from generalized anxiety disorder will have at least 6 of the symptoms given below:
- Motor tension: Trembling, shaking, muscle stress, muscle pain or soreness, fidgety, feeling tired fast.
- Autonomic hyperactivity: Difficulty breathing, increase heart rate, sweating more than normal, cold palms, dryness of mouth, fainting, nausea, diarrhea or any other abdominal illness, chills, flushes, urinating more often, difficulty swallowing.
- Cautious and scanning: Finding it difficult to concentrate, feeling edgy, going blank in the head due to tension, finding it difficult to sleep, irritability.
This drug is also prescribed for treating panic disorders and it will help to reduce the number of panic attacks that a patient experiences. Panic disorder can be defined as repeated and unexpected panic attacks, which is a distinct period of extreme fear or anxiety. The patient will suffer from at least four or more symptoms, given below, during the panic attack. The panic attack will reach a peak within 10-15 minutes of its arrival.
- Accelerated heart rate
- Finding it difficult to breath or suffocation
- Sensation of being chocked
- Chest pain or uneasiness
- Nausea or some other abdominal illness
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Feeling detached or unreal
- Fear of losing control
- Fear of death
- Tingling or numbing sensation
- Chills or flushes
What Are the Side Effects of Xanax?
Some of the common side effects of the Xanax drug are as follows:
- Memory impairment
- Lack of coordination or balance
- Garbled speech
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sweating profusely
- Loose motions
- Unclear vision
- Increase or decrease in weight
- Increase or decrease in appetite
- Swelling of hands and feet
- Weakness or pain in muscles
- Dry mouth
- Stuffy nose
- Lack of interest in sex
- Skin rashes
- Decreased libido
Some of the Lasting Health Effects of Xanax
Continuous use or abusive use of habit forming drugs like Xanax can cause long-lasting effects, which include:
- Cognitive deficits
- Confused states
- Psychotic occurrences
- Aggressive and impulsive behavior
Patients who take Xanax for a prolonged period tend to experience the long-term side effects. One such common side effect of using Xanax for an extended period is memory impairment. Even though the effect is mild, and may only affect the short-term memory, there is a possibility of long lasting effects. This is due to the difficulty to maintain the required level of focus and attention that is needed to retain facts or information.
The other side effect of extended use of Xanax is sedation. There is a possibility for patients using Xanax to experience phases of sedation and this can even last up to 4 days. This sedation effect worsens when the patient mixes this drug with alcohol. Due to this effect and the risk of an overdose of this drug, it is strictly not recommended to consume alcohol while being treated with Xanax.
When I patient first begins treatment with Xanax, it should usually start with a mild dose of 0.25 – 0.5 mg and it should be given three times a day. However, the prescribed dose will differ depending upon the condition of the patient. In some cases of panic disorders, the doctors recommend a dose of more than 4 mg every day. So, check with the doctor on the right amount of dosage and only consume as prescribed. Xanax has ingredients that can interact with alcohol, other drugs that make one feel sleepy like cold or allergy medicines, sleeping pills, muscle relaxers, drugs for treating depression or anxiety, birth control pills, heart or blood pressure medicines, HIV/AIDS medicines, and antidepressants. Inform the doctor of all the medications that you take to avoid any complications or side effects.
What Are the Interactions of Xanax?
Drug interactions can affect the impact of the medicines taken or cause serious side effects. Therefore, before visiting the doctor, make a note of all the medicines that you take be it prescribed or non-prescribed and even herbal medicines. Share these details with the doctor, so that they can recommend the right medication. One must not start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine that is being taken without informing the doctor. Some of the ingredients that can cause interactions with Xanax are Kava and sodium oxybate.
There are some drugs that can remove the presence of alprazolam from the body, therefore reducing the effect of the medication and impacting the treatment. Few of the examples are azole antifungals - itraconazole, ketoconazole, anti-depressants, medicines for treating HIV/AIDS, medicine for treating seizures, and macrolide antibiotics.
It is also very important to inform the doctor if the patient is taking any medication that makes him/her feel sleepy. Some examples are drugs for sleep or anxiety, pain killers, cold or allergy medicines, psychiatric drugs, etc.
Therefore, as a precautionary measure always check the label of the medicines you are taking to know the ingredients in the medicine. This is to avoid any interactions and side effects caused by medications. Also, it’s best to check with the pharmacist about how safe it is to use these medicines while being treated with Xanax.
The alprazolam concentration gets reduced by 50% in people who smoke. So, inform the doctor if you smoke or have recently quit smoking.
How to Use Xanax?
Xanax comes in a tablet or extended-release tablet form which quickly dissolves in the mouth. This medicine is only for oral use and must be taken as suggested by the doctor. The dosage that the doctor prescribes is based on the following:
- Medical condition
- Response to medicine and treatment
In most of the cases, the doctor begins with a small dose and gradually increases the dosage until the medicine works effectively. Follow the instructions given by the doctor to avoid any side effects and complications.
If the drug is taken for a prolonged period or in larger quantity, there can be serious withdrawal symptoms in the patient when the medication is stopped. To avoid such withdrawal symptoms, the doctor will recommend gradual reduction in the dose in the later stage of treatment.
Xanax is available in the following doses:
- 0.25mg – White and oval shaped with an imprint of ‘XANAX 0.25’
- 0.5mg – Peach and oval shaped with an imprint of ‘XANAX 0.5’
- 1mg – Blue and oval shaped drug with an imprint of ‘XANAX 1.0’
- 2mg – White and oblong shaped with an imprint of ‘XANAX’ on one side and ‘2’ on the other side
The extended-release form of Xanax should not be crushed or broken. The tablet should be swallowed whole. It is designed specifically to allow slow release of medicine to the body. If the drug is broken, it will cause too much of the medicine to release into the body at one time.
This medicine should be kept in a safe place and not easily accessible.
What to Do in Case of an Overdose?
If a person has taken an overdose of the Xanax and has some serious side effects, like difficulty breathing or passing out, then he/she must be immediately taken to the hospital for medical care. Some of the other signs and symptoms of overdose are:
- Extreme drowsiness
- Reduction in reflexes
- Slow breathing
- Losing consciousness.
What Should Be Done in Case of a Missed Dose?
If a patient misses a dose, then it should be taken as soon as he/she remembers missing it. However, if it is already time for the next dose, then do not take the missed dose and resume to the normal dose as per schedule. Do not take the dose twice to make up for the missed dose as this can cause overdose.
How Should Xanax Be Stored?
Xanax should be stored in room temperature away from light and moisture. Do not keep this drug in a bathroom. Keep the medicine away from the reach of children and pets.
Do not flush the drug in the toilet or throw it into the drain unless instructed. If the medicine is expired, it should be discarded immediately and safely since it cannot be used any longer.