Generic Name: alprazolam (al PRAY zoe lam)
Brand Names: Niravam, Xanax, Xanax XR

What is Xanax?

Xanax (alprazolam) belongs to a group of drugs called benzodiazepines. It works by slowing down the movement of chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced. This results in a reduction in nervous tension (anxiety).

Xanax is used to treat anxiety disorders, panic disorders, and anxiety caused by depression.

Xanax may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important information

Do not use Xanax if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Do not use Xanax if you are allergic to alprazolam or to other benzodiazepines, such as chlordiazepoxide (Librium), clorazepate (Tranxene), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), or oxazepam (Serax).

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Before you take Xanax, tell your doctor if you have asthma or other breathing problems, glaucoma, kidney or liver disease, a history of alcoholism, or a history of depression, suicidal thoughts, or addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Do not drink alcohol while taking Xanax. This medication can increase the effects of alcohol. Xanax may be habit-forming and should be used only by the person for whom it was prescribed. Keep the medication in a secure place where others cannot get to it.

Before taking this medicine

It is dangerous to try and purchase Xanax on the Internet or from vendors outside of the United States. Medications distributed from Internet sales may contain dangerous ingredients, or may not be distributed by a licensed pharmacy. Samples of Xanax purchased on the Internet have been found to contain haloperidol (Haldol), a potent antipsychotic drug with dangerous side effects. For more information, contact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or visit www.fda.gov/buyonlineguide.

You should not take Xanax if you have:

  • narrow-angle glaucoma;

  • if you are also taking itraconazole (Sporanox) or ketoconazole (Nizoral); or

  • if you are allergic to alprazolam or to other benzodiazepines, such as chlordiazepoxide (Librium), clorazepate (Tranxene), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), or oxazepam (Serax).

To make sure you can safely take Xanax, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:

  • asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), or other breathing problems;

  • glaucoma;

  • kidney or liver disease (especially alcoholic liver disease);

  • a history of depression or suicidal thoughts or behavior; or

  • a history of drug or alcohol addiction.

Xanax may be habit forming and should be used only by the person for whom it was prescribed. Never share Xanax with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it.

FDA pregnancy category D. Do not use Xanax if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Xanax may also cause addiction or withdrawal symptoms in a newborn if the mother takes the medication during pregnancy. Use effective birth control, and tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment. Alprazolam can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using this medicine. The sedative effects of Xanax may last longer in older adults. Accidental falls are common in elderly patients who take benzodiazepines. Use caution to avoid falling or accidental injury while you are taking Xanax. Do not give this medication to anyone under 18 years old.

See also: Pregnancy and breastfeeding warnings (in more detail)

How should I take Xanax?

Take Xanax exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results.

Do not crush, chew, or break a Xanax extended-release tablet. Swallow the tablet whole. It is specially made to release medicine slowly in the body. Breaking the tablet would cause too much of the drug to be released at one time.

Contact your doctor if this medicine seems to stop working as well in treating your panic or anxiety symptoms.

You may have seizures or withdrawal symptoms when you stop using Xanax. Ask your doctor how to avoid withdrawal symptoms when you stop using Xanax.

Keep track of the amount of medicine used from each new bottle. Xanax is a drug of abuse and you should be aware if anyone is using your medicine improperly or without a prescription.

Store Xanax at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. An overdose of Xanax can be fatal. Overdose symptoms may include extreme drowsiness, confusion, muscle weakness, loss of balance or coordination, feeling light-headed, and fainting.

What should I avoid?

Do not drink alcohol while taking Xanax. This medication can increase the effects of alcohol. Xanax may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.

Grapefruit and grapefruit juice may interact with Xanax and lead to unwanted side effects. Discuss the use of grapefruit products with your doctor.

Xanax side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to Xanax: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • depressed mood, thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself, unusual risk-taking behavior, decreased inhibitions, no fear of danger;

  • confusion, hyperactivity, agitation, hostility, hallucinations;

  • feeling like you might pass out;

  • urinating less than usual or not at all;

  • chest pain, pounding heartbeats or fluttering in your chest;

  • uncontrolled muscle movements, tremor, seizure (convulsions); or

  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Less serious Xanax side effects may include:

  • drowsiness, dizziness, feeling tired or irritable;

  • blurred vision, headache, memory problems, trouble concentrating;

  • sleep problems (insomnia);

  • swelling in your hands or feet;

  • muscle weakness, lack of balance or coordination, slurred speech;

  • upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea;

  • increased sweating, dry mouth, stuffy nose; or

  • appetite or weight changes, loss of interest in sex.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

What other drugs will affect Xanax?

Before using Xanax, tell your doctor if you regularly use other medicines that make you sleepy (such as cold or allergy medicine, other sedatives, narcotic pain medicine, sleeping pills, muscle relaxers, and medicine for seizures, depression, or anxiety). They can add to sleepiness caused by Xanax.

Tell your doctor about all other medicines you use, especially:

  • birth control pills;

  • cimetidine (Tagamet);

  • cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune);

  • dexamethasone (Cortastat, Dexasone, Solurex, DexPak);

  • ergotamine (Cafergot, Ergomar, Migergot);

  • imatinib (Gleevec);

  • isoniazid (for treating tuberculosis);

  • St. John's wort;

  • an antibiotic such as clarithromycin (Biaxin), erythromycin (E.E.S., EryPed, Ery-Tab, Erythrocin, Pediazole), rifabutin (Mycobutin), rifampin (Rifadin, Rifater, Rifamate), rifapentine (Priftin), or telithromycin (Ketek);

  • antifungal medication such as miconazole (Oravig) or voriconazole (Vfend);

  • an antidepressant such as fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, Symbyax), fluvoxamine (Luvox), desipramine (Norpramin), imipramine (Janimine, Tofranil), or nefazodone;

  • a barbiturate such as butabarbital (Butisol), secobarbital (Seconal), pentobarbital (Nembutal), or phenobarbital (Solfoton);

  • heart or blood pressure medication such as amiodarone (Cordarone, Pacerone), diltiazem (Tiazac, Cartia, Cardizem), nicardipine (Cardene), nifedipine (Nifedical, Procardia), or quinidine (Quin-G);

  • HIV/AIDS medicine such as atazanavir (Reyataz), delavirdine (Rescriptor), efavirenz (Sustiva, Atripla), etravirine (Intelence), indinavir (Crixivan), nelfinavir (Viracept), nevirapine (Viramune), saquinavir (Invirase), or ritonavir (Norvir, Kaletra); or

  • seizure medication such as carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol), felbamate (Felbatol), oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), phenytoin (Dilantin), or primidone (Mysoline).

This list is not complete and other drugs may interact with Xanax. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist can provide more information about Xanax.
  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use Xanax only for the indication prescribed.
  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2014 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 9.01. Revision Date: 2012-10-22, 1:50:32 PM.

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