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Alprazolam is commonly known as or sold under the brand name of Xanax, among many other names. It belongs to a class of medications called Antiaxiety Agents, Anxiolytics, benzodiazepines. It is commonly used to manage short term anxiety disorders, specifically panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder. Xanax is a prescription medicine and may be used alone or with other medications as suggested by the pharmacist or advised by the doctor. Please note that it is still not known if Xanax is safe and effective in children (under 18 years age).
How it works and areas of caution?
Chemical Formula: C17H13ClN4
Time to action: Less than an hour
Duration of action: 6 hours
Xanax acts on the brain and nerves i.e central nervous system and produces a calming effect by enhancing the effects of a certain natural chemical in the body (GABA). So it advised that before you start using it, tell your doctor or pharmacist about your complete medical history, especially if you have or have ever suffered from severe lung/breathing problems, treated for liver or kidney disease, or have any personal or family history of drug abuse or glaucoma. Also, before having any surgery (minor, major or any medical procedure), tell your doctor or dentist about all the medicinal or non medical (herbal) products you use, either prescribed or non-prescribed.
Xanax’s doses are available in milligrams (mg). They include:
- 25 mg
- 5 mg
- 1 mg
- 2 mg
The effects of Xanax become more significant as the dose increases. To begin with a dose of 0.25 to 0.5 mg can be given three times daily for treatment of anxiety. Depending on how the patient is responding the dose may be increased to achieve maximum therapeutic effect but only after proper medical observation and a gap of 3 to 4 days. If the patient responds well then the maximum daily dose of 4 mg can be given, divided in doses as prescribed by the doctor. Therefore it is important to have the doses advised and monitored by a physicist or a an expert pharmacist.
EFFECTS: immediate, long term or side effects:
Though it helps many people it may also sometimes cause addiction. This risk may be higher if you have previously had a drug abuse or substance overdose disorder. Therefore taking this medication exactly as prescribed to lower the risk of addiction is mandatory. In any case check with your doctor or pharmacist for more details. Cases where it may not work as well as expected, please consult your doctor. Usually a doctor prescribes xanax because as per their diagnosis the benefit of this medication to you/patient perceived to be greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects but still keep a check and immediately inform your doctor if your condition persists or worsens or you feel anything unusual in your behaviour. These could include things like
- mental/mood changes
- sometimes hallucinations
- suicidal thoughts
- speech issues like slurred speech or difficulty in talking
- loss of coordination/cognitive skills
- trouble in walking and memory problems as well
Other than this sometimes or rather rarely these very serious side effects occur like:
- yellowing eyes or skin
- allergic reactions like rashes, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat)
- frequent and then often dizziness
- trouble in breathing
If any of these happen you should immediately stop the medicine and consult your doctor before taking the next dose.
Many people might take Xanax on their own choice without a valid prescription as it gives a feeling of sedation or calms down the mind. Contrary to certain drugs that makes one euphoric, Xanax gives a feeling which is more relaxed and comforting physically. But certainly some factors have to be kept in mind before consuming it, so that any ill effect is avoided:
- mental state of the person/patient
- age of the person/patient
- weight of the person/patient
- metabolism of the person/patient
Do not just go by dosage which is prescribed or advised by someone who is already consuming it. For first timers this anti-anxiety medication might be a little harmful if not taken with precaution and care, therefore it is important to understand its side effects and potential interactions before consumption. A person may feel “normal” after the first dose they take, but there have been cases where some people have also reported of memory loss or blacking out after some time and not remembering anything later on. Similarly, higher doses might have stronger effects and harmful too. Older adults may be more sensitive to such drug and might increase the chances/risk of falling as it impacts muscle movements and ability to coordinate. Alprazolam/xanax is also not recommended for pregnant woman as it might be potentially harmful the foetus/unborn baby as it may slow down the heart beat or cause nausea. For breast feeding mothers this drug is not recommended as this drug passes into breast milk and may have undesirable effects on the infant. Always consult your doctor before using it to avoid any harm to the mother or the baby. Do not share this medication with others; any such act is against the law. To monitor your progress or check for side effects regular medical tests as suggested by the doctor or by self like liver function test, kidney, HB, vitals etc should be performed periodically. Keep your medical advisor or the doctor updated if the tests have been advised by them or if you find anything wrong in the reports consult a doctor for more details.
Alcohol consumption & Xanax?
Alcohol consumption is not advised while taking xanax as it slows down the speed at which our system clears it from the body. If you take the medicine along with alcohol, you may experience extreme lethargy and prolonged memory loss. Therefore avoid combining the two as alcohol and xanax together will lead to dangerous, even deadly side effects, some of these include:
- difficulty in breathing
- lethargic feeling
- depressed mood,
- thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself,
- increased energy,
- uncontrolled muscle movement
- fast heartbeats
- increased saliva production
- change in sex drive/ability
Get medical help right away, if you have any of the symptoms listed above.
Xanax with another drug or medication
Although there is no preset rule on this but as a precaution one should avoid combining Xanax with certain drugs due to their interactions. Xanax can possibly interact with many medications often causing harm. Somof those medicines are
- oral contraceptives
- anti fungals
- anti acidic
As mentioned above regarding to alcohol, in a similar way these drugs also slow down the system that’s responsible for eliminating Xanax from your body as quickly as it should happen. With regular such consumption this is may lead to a toxic build-up of the drug and eventually an overdose. It is important to speak with your doctor or a pharmacist to ensure that the other medicines won’t have an interaction. They can assess the risks and discuss them with you. Even after the advise of the doctor If the drug appears to be having a significant impact on you, you should seek emergency medical attention. Some Symptoms to monitor include:
- extreme drowsiness
- muscle weakness
- any sort of allergic reaction.
- swelling of the face, lips, throat, and tongue
- difficulty in breathing
Xanax is a potentially habit-forming drug, so some people may develop a dependency or addiction without realizing it. Hence, when u plan to quit the medicine you might experience signs of withdrawal, in which case you should contact your doctor immediately. Symptoms of Xanax withdrawal can be both serious and mild:
- depression or mood swings
- suicidal feeling
- irritable behaviours
- uncontrolled muscle movements
What do to for a missed dose?
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember but if it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the regular time. Do not double the dose to catch up or do not miss it on a regular basis. Keeping a discipline with time check, for consumption of any medicine is important.
How to store the medicine?
Store it at room temperature away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom or freeze. Keep it away from children and pets or anyone who is risk averse to it.
Guidelines for using the medication:
- Inform your physician about your alcohol consumption
- Not recommended for use in pregnancy or while planning it
- Inform your physician if you are nursing
- do not drive a car or travel alone if you feel dizzy or drowsy
- Do not increase the dose, stop taking or abruptly or decrease the dose on your own
- If you face emotional outbursts please connect with the doctor