by on April 27, 2012
Brand Names:Xanax, Xanax XR, Niravam
Generic name:alprazolam
Pregnancy Category:C
Half-life:11.2 hours

What is Xanax?

Xanax is the brand name for the drug alprazolam, which falls into the drug category of benzodiazephines and is used by millions of people for several different disorders. It is only available by prescription and should be taken exactly as directed and for the shortest period of time possible in order to avoid side effects and possible addiction.

These drugs work to enhance acids in the brain (called GABAs) that combat anxiety and trigger sleepiness, sedation, hypnosis, and muscle relaxation. In other words, when chemicals in the brain are working overtime, Xanax works to slow this brain activity down.

Xanax Uses

Due to its calming effects, Xanax is primarily used to treat anxiety disorders and panic attacks, and is also prescribed to patients with depression who exhibit associated forms of severe and overwhelming anxiety.

It has also been used as an anti-seizure medication, and as a muscle relaxant for extreme cases of PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder).  Patients who suffer from occasional sleeplessness or insomnia and do not receive enough relief from over the counter medications or other prescription drugs may find Xanax beneficial.

XanaxXanax is used to treat several different conditions, including anxiety, depression and insomnia. Due to the drug’s habit forming tendencies it is not as prescribed as often as it once was, though it is still quite popular among patients who suffer from severe anxiety.  Physicians who prescribe this medication often do so very sparingly and as their patients to schedule frequent follow-up visits in order to monitor for any changes, including addiction or physical dependence on the drug.

How Xanax Works

There are natural chemical tranquilizers within the brain known as GABAs—or gamma amino butyric acids—that are triggered by anxiety and work to calm individuals down when they become anxious. Patients who suffer from serious anxiety disorders and panic attacks often do not have the proper levels of GABAs within their brains; this is what many physicians and psychiatrists refer to as a chemical imbalance. Xanax and other benzodiazepines bind to these GABAs and modify the way they are picked up by neurotransmitters, essentially stifling inhibitions and causing the patient to become calm synthetically. It is a fast-acting drug, though the benefits only last a short while.

Tips for Use and Other Safety Information

  • When taking any form of benzodiazepines, patients should remember that they are very habit-forming and should therefore only be used with discretion. It is very important to understand how the medication should be used; some patients use it for acute panic and anxiety attacks while others use it to help them fall asleep. The way the medicine is dosed is based upon several factors, including a patient’s tolerance to the medication and the severity of their symptoms, so individuals should never take more of this medication than directed.
  • Patients should also avoid taking any other medications with sedating effects while taking this drug; pharmacists are available to check for interactions.
  • Though there are outlets available online for purchasing alprazolam and other benzodiazepines at a discounted rate and often without a prescription, these should be avoided.  This is because many of the medications sold on the internet contain ingredients that are unsafe and may cause more harm than good. Also, the possession of any controlled substance without a prescription is a crime in the United States that is punishable with fines and even prison time.
  • Finally, patients should avoid drinking alcohol or taking any other recreational drug while taking this medication due to the increased probability of severe side effects, overdose and even death.

For anyone suffering from anxiety, panic attacks, depression or even insomnia, Xanax is a wonderful medication that can certainly do wonders when it is taken exactly as prescribed. For more information, patients are urged to contact their prescribing physicians or local pharmacists.