Skip to Content

Xanax

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

Medically reviewed by Kaci Durbin, MD Last updated on Mar 4, 2019.

What is Xanax?

Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine (ben-zoe-dye-AZE-eh-peen). Alprazolam affects chemicals in the brain that may be unbalanced in people with 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

You should not use Xanax if you have narrow-angle glaucoma, if you also take itraconazole or ketoconazole, or if you are allergic to Xanax or similar medicines, such as chlordiazepoxide (Librium), clonazepam (Klonopin), clorazepate (Tranxene), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), or oxazepam (Serax).

Do not use Xanax if you are pregnant. This medicine can cause birth defects or life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in a newborn.

Alprazolam may be habit-forming. Misuse of habit-forming medicine can cause addiction, overdose, or death.

Do not drink alcohol while taking Xanax. This medication can increase the effects of alcohol. Alprazolam 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. Do not take opioid medication (such as hydrocodone, morphine, oxycodone or other similar medications) while taking Xanax, unless your doctor has specifically instructed you to do so. The combined use of opioids and Xanax can lead to excessive tiredness, difficulty or slowed breathing, coma, or death.

Before taking this medicine

It is dangerous to purchase Xanax on the Internet or from vendors outside the United States. Medications distributed from Internet sales may contain dangerous ingredients, or may not be distributed by a licensed pharmacy. The sale and distribution of Xanax outside the U.S. does not comply with the regulations of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the safe use of this medication.

You should not take Xanax if you have:

  • narrow-angle glaucoma;

  • if you are also taking itraconazole or ketoconazole; or

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

To make sure Xanax is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • seizures or epilepsy;

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

  • asthma or other breathing disorder;

  • open-angle glaucoma;

  • a history of depression or suicidal thoughts or behavior;

  • a history of drug or alcohol addiction; or

  • if you also use a narcotic (opioid) medication.

Do not use Xanax if you are pregnant. This medicine can cause birth defects. Your baby could also become dependent on the drug. This can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the baby after it is born. Babies born dependent on habit-forming medicine may need medical treatment for several weeks. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are taking Xanax.

Alprazolam can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using Xanax.

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.

Xanax is not approved for use by anyone younger than 18 years old.

How should I take Xanax?

Take Xanax exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Never use alprazolam in larger amounts, or for longer than prescribed. Tell your doctor if the medicine seems to stop working as well in treating your symptoms.

Alprazolam may be habit-forming. 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.

Misuse of habit-forming medicine can cause addiction, overdose, or death. Selling or giving away this medicine is against the law.

Do not crush, chew, or break a Xanax extended-release tablet. Swallow the tablet whole.

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

Do not stop using Xanax suddenly, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor how to safely stop using this medicine.

If you use this medicine long-term, you may need frequent medical tests.

Store Xanax at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

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.

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 alprazolam can lead to coma or death. Overdose symptoms may include extreme drowsiness, confusion, muscle weakness, loss of balance or coordination, feeling light-headed, and fainting.

What should I avoid while taking Xanax?

Xanax may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.

Avoid drinking alcohol. Dangerous side effects could occur.

Grapefruit and grapefruit juice may interact with alprazolam 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 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:

  • depressed mood, thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself;

  • racing thoughts, increased energy, unusual risk-taking behavior;

  • confusion, agitation, hostility, hallucinations;

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

  • pounding heartbeats or fluttering in your chest.

Common Xanax side effects may include:

  • drowsiness, feeling tired;

  • slurred speech, lack of balance or coordination;

  • memory problems; or

  • feeling anxious early in the morning.

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.

What other drugs will affect Xanax?

Taking this medicine with other drugs that make you sleepy or slow your breathing can cause dangerous side effects or death. Ask your doctor before taking a sleeping pill, narcotic pain medicine, prescription cough medicine, a muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety, depression, or seizures.

Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:

  • cimetidine;

  • digoxin;

  • antidepressant medications including fluvoxamine, fluoxetine, nefazodone, imipramine, desipramine and others

  • other psychiatric medications for anxiety or bipolar disorder;

  • seizure medications including carbamazepine and others;

  • antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl);

  • birth control pills;

  • ritonavir or other medicines to treat HIV or AIDS; or

  • antifungal medicine, such as fluconazole or voriconazole.

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with alprazolam, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.

Further information

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.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Related questions

Hide