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Xanax Patient Tips

How it works

Xanax is a brand of alprazolam. Alprazolam is a benzodiazepine (a type of medicine used to calm and sedate) and used for the treatment of anxiety and associated disorders.


  • Effective at inducing a state of calmness and relieving anxiety.
  • When used to help sleep at night, short-acting version is less likely to cause daytime sedation.
  • Available in a variety of dosage forms (short-acting tablets, long-acting tablets, oral solution, orally-dissolving tablets) and in less expensive generic forms.


If you are between the ages of 18 and 60, take no other medication or have no other medical conditions, side effects you are more likely to experience include:

  • Drowsiness and unsteadiness upon standing, increasing the risk of falls.
  • May impair reaction skills and affect a person's ability to drive or operate machinery. Avoid alcohol.
  • Blood pressure lowering, heart palpitations, constipation, nausea, dry mouth, headache and a decrease in libido.
  • Emotional and physical dependence.
  • Withdrawal symptoms (including convulsions, tremor, cramps, vomiting, sweating, or insomnia) may occur with abrupt discontinuation; taper off slowly under a doctor's supervision.
  • Smokers may have less of a response.

Notes: In general, seniors or children, people with certain medical conditions (such as liver or kidney problems, heart disease, diabetes, seizures) or people who take other medications are more at risk of developing a wider range of side effects. For a complete list of all side effects, click here.

Bottom Line

Xanax effectively relieves anxiety; however, it is addictive and withdrawal symptoms can be severe.


  • Avoid operating machinery, driving, or performing tasks that require mental alertness while taking Xanax.
  • Avoid alcohol while taking this medicine.
  • Lowest effective dose should be used.
  • Extended-release tablets should be taken in the morning, swallowed whole, and not crushed or chewed.
  • Mix the oral solution with liquids or semisolid food (for example water, applesauce, puddings), using only the calibrated dropper provided.
  • Use dry hands to place orally-disintegrating tablets on the tongue and allow to dissolve slowly.
  • Withdrawal symptoms (blurred vision, insomnia, sweating, rarely seizures) may occur if long-term Xanax is stopped abruptly; discontinue slowly on a doctor's advice.
  • Not for use if you have acute narrow angle glaucoma.
  • Do not take with itraconazole (Sporanox) or ketoconazole (Nizoral).
  • Keep out of reach of children and pets.

Response and Effectiveness

  • Peak concentrations occur 1-2 hours following administration of immediate-release and orally disintegrating tablets, and up to 12 hours with extended-release forms. Duration of effect varies between individuals and formulations (anywhere from 6 to 27 hours).


Xanax [package insert]. Revised 03/2015. Pharmacia and Upjohn Company Accessed 02/2016

  • 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 this information is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. This drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. It is an informational resource designed 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. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of this information. 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 1996-2017 Revision Date: 2016-02-26 00:00:00