Alprazolam, xanax, alp, side effects, withdrawal, dependency, how to use xanaxAlprazolam is available in the market with the trade names of Xanax, Alp and many others. It belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. Xanax is generally used to manage anxiety, stress and panic attacks. It shouldn’t be used to treat psychosis. Xanax (alprazolam) should be sold under prescription only. In developed countries it is strictly sold under prescription but unfortunately, in many developing countries, it is being sold as an over-the-counter drug. A person can get Xanax by asking the medical store keeper to give him some sleeping pills. He takes them, uses them according to his own wishes and when after sometime, one tablet doesn’t work he adds one more. This is a very wrong practice. Alprazolam (Xanax) is not Paracetamol (acetaminophen) that can be used anywhere anytime. Many individuals do not know the proper usage of Xenax (alprazolam). Especially in developing countries where there is lack of education and also due to heavy flow of the patients to government hospitals, the doctors aren’t able to properly educate and guide the patients. So patients take the medicine and use it for their whole lives and most of times they try to self treat themselves by increasing the dose of Xenax (alprazolam) as they want to avoid the unwanted stress of visiting a Public Hospital. 

Why does Alprazolam (Xanax, Alp) cause dependency or tolerance?

Patient can’t withdraw the drug on his own especially when he has been taking Xanax (alprazolam) for a long period of time. This effect of alprazolam is similar to that of alcohol and cigarette. For example, if a patient is taking Xanax for sleeplessness and when he doesn’t take it, he experiences difficulty in sleep, and he thinks that this has been caused missing the dose of medicine and thus, he takes it and with the passage of time, as Xanax affects the cognitive and intellectual ability of the patient, he may increase the dose in order to get the reward (that is sleep, in this case) more easily and rapidly. Xanax (alprazolam) is an enzyme inducer. It increases the concentration of liver CYP 3A enzymes. CYP 3A enzymes are responsible for the clearance of alprazolam. When these enzymes increase in number they tend to clear the alprazolam more rapidly from the blood. Thus more drug would be needed in order to maintain the effective concentration of alprazolam in the blood and patient starts to take more dose, or tablets.

Side Effects of Alprazolam (Xanax, Alp)

Xanax (alprazolam, Alp), should be used under the strict guidance of physician. Patient should consult his doctor when he starts to experience any unwanted symptom. Alprazolam is used to decrease anxiety, induce sleep and it also relaxes the muscles. In higher doses or its prolonged use, produces similar effects as those of alcohol intoxication. The abuser, may experience difficulty in thinking properly, memory loss, sensitivity to light and weakness due to muscle relaxation. Prolonged use may also cause, dry mouth, memory loss, irritability, constipation, nausea, decreased libido, confusion, drowsiness, hallucination and breathing difficulty.

Can Alprazolam (Xanax, Alp) be used by pregnant women?

No, Pregnant Women must not use alprazolam. Alprazolam is teratogenic and induces fetal malformation. It is pregnancy category D drug.

Can Alprazolam (Xanax, Alp) be used by breast feeding mothers?

No, Alprazolam or Xanax shouldn’t be used by those women who are breast feeding their babies. Alprazolam, like other benzodiazepines is secreted in human milk. It may affect the baby.

Can I take alprazolam or Xanax and alcohol together?

No, alcohol and Xanax shouldn’t be used together. It may cause severe depression and cognitive disability.

When should I not use Xanax (alprazolam)?

Xanax is contraindicated if you are allergic to it or using anti-fungal drugs, like ketoconazole, itraconazole etc, If you have narrow angle glaucoma, or you have taken alcohol. You should be careful if you are suffering from asthma or any respiratory disease, liver disease, kidney disease or if you have occasional suicidal thoughts.

What does happen if I suddenly stop using Xanax (alprazolam)?

Don’t suddenly stop taking alprazolam. Those patients who have been using alprazolam for long period of time (usually more than 2-3 months) must not suddenly withdraw alprazolam. The consequences of this can be life-threatening. Seizers may also occur especially when dose was more than 4mg per day. Alprazolam should be tapered off gradually over the period of several days before complete discontinuation.

 

Author:

Dr. Adil Ramzan, MBBS, : Date: 21/10/2014

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