Alprazolam | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More
Advertisement

Generic Name:

alprazolam, Oral tablet

All Brands

  • Xanax
SECTION 1 of 5

Highlights for alprazolam

Oral tablet
1

Alprazolam is used to treat anxiety disorders and panic disorder. It’s used for short-term treatment.

2

This drug comes in the form of an oral immediate-release tablet, oral extended-release tablet, orally disintegrating tablet, and oral solution. Extended-release alprazolam is only used to treat panic disorder. 

3

Alprazolam is available as the brand-name drugs Alprazolam Intensol, Xanax, or Xanax XR. It’s also available as a generic drug.

4

The more common side effects of this drug can include drowsiness, dizziness, headache, blurred vision, memory problems, trouble concentrating, or sleep problems.

5

In some cases, alprazolam can cause serious side effects. These can include depressed mood, thoughts of suicide, confusion, hallucinations, or urinating less than usual or not at all.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Drug abuse and dependence

Even when used as recommended, alprazolam may cause emotional or physical dependence (addiction). Don’t increase your dose of this medication without talking to your doctor, even if you think it’s not working. Also, don’t stop taking this medication suddenly or decrease the dose without talking to your doctor. This can cause withdrawal symptoms. Some of these can be life-threatening, such as seizures. The risk of dependence is increased if you take higher doses or take this drug for a longer length of time.

Depression and suicidal thoughts

If you have pre-existing depression, alprazolam may make your condition worse. If your depression gets worse or you have suicidal thoughts, call your doctor right away.

Drug features

This drug is a prescription drug. It comes in the form of an immediate-release tablet and extended-release tablet. Both forms are taken by mouth. An extended-release drug is released slowly into the bloodstream over time. An immediate-release drug is released into the bloodstream more quickly. The extended-release drug is only used to treat panic disorder. 

This drug is a brand-name drug. It’s also available as a generic drug. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name version. Talk to your doctor to see if the generic version will work for you.

This drug may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications.

Why it's used

This drug is used to manage anxiety disorders or panic disorder. It can be used for the short-term relief of symptoms of anxiety, or anxiety linked with depression. Anxiety or tension caused by the stress of everyday life usually doesn’t need to be treated with this drug.

How it works

This drug belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

More Details

How it works

This drug belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

This drug attaches to certain benzodiazepine receptors in your brain and nervous system. This boosts the activity of a chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This helps to produce a calming effect in your brain.

Advertisement
SECTION 2 of 5

alprazolam Side Effects

Oral tablet

More Common Side Effects

The more common side effects of alprolazam can include:

  • drowsiness

  • dizziness or lightheadedness

  • headache

  • blurred vision

  • memory problems

  • trouble concentrating

  • sleep problems

  • muscle weakness or lack of coordination

  • upset stomach

  • nausea or vomiting

  • diarrhea

  • increased sweating

  • dry mouth

  • stuffy nose

  • weight loss or gain

  • increased or decreased appetite

  • loss of interest in sex

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious Side Effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Mental problems. Symptoms can include:

    • depressed mood
    • thoughts of suicide
    • confusion
    • hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t real)
  • Movement problems. Symptoms can include:

    • uncontrolled muscle movements
    • tremor
    • seizures
  • Heart problems. Symptoms can include:

    • chest pain
    • abnormal heartbeat
  • Liver problems. Symptoms can include:

    • jaundice (with yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes)
  • Urinating less than usual or not at all

Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team
  • This drug may cause drowsiness. Don’t drive a car or use dangerous machinery until you know how this drug affects you.   
  • This drug can cause dizziness and drowsiness during the first few hours after you take it.
Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 5

alprazolam May Interact with Other Medications

Oral tablet

Alprazolam can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Alcohol interaction

Alprazolam can cause drowsiness, dizziness, or lightheadedness. The use of drinks that contain alcohol raises your risk of these side effects. Try to avoid drinking alcohol while you take this drug.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Drugs that should not be used with alprazolam

Do not take these drugs with Xanax. When used with Xanax, these drugs can cause dangerous effects in the body. Examples of these drugs include:

  • Certain types of antifungals, such as itraconazole or ketoconazole. When used with Xanax, these drugs can cause increased drowsiness. 

Drugs that increase the risk of side effects

Taking alprazolam with certain medications raises your risk of side effects from those drugs. Examples of these drugs include:

  • Phenothiazenes, such as:
    • chlorpromazine
    • fluphenazine
    • promethazine
    • thioridazine 
    You may have increased drowsiness.
  • Barbiturates, such as:
    • amobarbital
    • butabarbital
    • pentobarbital
    You may have increased drowsiness.
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), such as:
    • isocarboxazid
    • phenelzine
    • selegiline
    • tranylcypromine 
    You may have increased drowsiness.
  • Sedatives or hypnotics, such as:
    • eszopiclone
    • zaleplon
    • zolpidem
    You may have increased drowsiness.
  • Anxiolytics, such as:
    • clonazepam
    • lorazepam
    • temazepam 
    You may have increased drowsiness.
  • Narcotic analgesics, such as:
    • morphine
    • oxycodone
    You may have increased drowsiness.
  • Sedative antihistamines, such as:
    • brompheniramine
    • chlorpheniramine
    • dimenhydrinate
    • diphenhydramine
    • doxylamine 
    You may have increased drowsiness.
  • Anesthetics, such as:
    • etomidate
    • propofol
    • ketamine 
    You may have increased drowsiness.
  • Antidepressants, such as:
    • fluvoxamine
    • fluoxetine
    • nefazodone
    You may have increased drowsiness.
  • Antacids, such as:
    • cimetidine
    You may have increased drowsiness or other side effects.
  • HIV protease inhibitors, such as:
    • ritonavir
    You may have increased drowsiness or other side effects.
  • Oral contraceptives (birth control). You may have increased drowsiness or other side effects.
  • Digoxin. You may have increased side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, or fast and irregular heart rate. You may also have changes in your behavior or mood. Your doctor may monitor the amount of digoxin in your body if you take these drugs together.

Drugs that can make alprazolam less effective

When used with alprazolam, these drugs can make alprazolam less effective. This means it won’t work as well to treat your condition. This is because the amount of alprazolam in your body is decreased. Examples of these drugs include:

Anticonvulsants, such as carbamazepine, phenytoin, or fosphenytoin. Your doctor may switch you to a different anticonvulsant or increase your dose of alprazolam.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.

People with depression

If you have pre-existing depression, this drug may make your condition worse. If your depression gets worse or you have suicidal thoughts, call your doctor right away. 

People with acute narrow-angle glaucoma

This drug can make your condition worse. Do not take this drug if you have acute narrow-angle glaucoma. 

People with a history of alcoholism, drug abuse, or significant personality disorder

This drug can lead to physical and psychological dependence (addiction). If you have a history of these conditions, you have a greater risk of dependence on this drug.

People with liver disease

It may be harder for your body to break down this drug. This can increase the amount of the drug in your body, which can lead to more side effects. 

People with obesity

It may be harder for your body to break down this drug. This can increase the amount of the drug in your body, which can lead to more side effects. 

People with severe lung disease

This drug can make your condition worse. Talk with your doctor about whether this drug is safe for you. 

Pregnant women

This drug is a category D pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in humans has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. This drug should only be used during pregnancy in serious cases where it's needed to treat a dangerous condition in the mother.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Ask your doctor to tell you about the specific harm that may be done to the fetus. This drug should be only used if the potential risk to the fetus is acceptable given the drug’s potential benefit.

Women who are breast-feeding

This drug may pass into breast milk and may cause side effects in a child who is breast-fed. Your child may become lethargic (drowsy) and lose weight. 

Talk to your doctor if you breast-feed your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breast-feeding or stop taking this medication.

For seniors

If you’re over the age of 65 years, you may be more sensitive to the sedative side effects of this drug. This means you may be more likely to be drowsy. Your doctor should monitor you closely. Also, you should take extra care to avoid falls that may be caused by drowsiness or dizziness.

For children

This medication has not been studied in children. It should not be used in people younger than 18 years.

When to call the doctor

Call your doctor right away if you become pregnant while taking this drug.

Allergies

This drug may cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat or tongue

If you have an allergic reaction, call your doctor or local poison control center right away. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

SECTION 4 of 5

How to Take alprazolam (Dosage)

Oral tablet

All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Anxiety disorders

Generic: alprazolam

Form: Oral immediate-release tablet
Strengths: 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg
Form: Orally disintegrating tablet
Strengths: 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg
Form: Oral extended-release tablet
Strengths: 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg, 3 mg

Brand: Xanax

Form: Oral immediate-release tablet
Strengths: 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg

Brand: Alprazolam Intensol

Form: Oral solution
Strengths: 1 mg/mL
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

Immediate-release tablet, orally disintegrating tablet, or oral solution:

  • Typical starting dosage: 0.25–0.5 mg three times daily.
  • Dosage increases: Your doctor may increase your dosage every 3–4 days until you reach the dosage that’s best for you.
  • Maximum dosage: 4 mg daily, given in divided doses. 
  • Dosage reduction: When you’re stopping treatment, your dosage should be decreased slowly. Your doctor may decrease it by no more than 0.5 mg every 3 days. 
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This medication has not been studied in children. It should not be used in people younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

Immediate-release tablet, orally disintegrating tablet, or oral solution: 

  • Typical starting dosage: 0.25 mg, 2–3 times per day.
Special considerations

People with advanced liver disease:

  • Immediate-release tablet: The usual starting dosage is 0.25 mg, two or three times daily. Your doctor may gradually increase this dosage if needed. 
  • Extended-release tablet: The usual starting dosage is 0.5 mg once daily. Your doctor may gradually increase this dosage if needed. 

Panic disorder

Generic: alprazolam

Form: Oral immediate-release tablet
Strengths: 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg
Form: Orally disintegrating tablet
Strengths: 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg
Form: Oral extended-release tablet
Strengths: 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg, 3 mg

Brand: Xanax

Form: Oral immediate-release tablet
Strengths: 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg

Brand: Xanax XR

Form: Oral extended-release tablet
Strengths: 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg, 3 mg

Brand: Alprazolam Intensol

Form: Oral solution
Strengths: 1 mg/mL
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

Immediate-release tablet, orally disintegrating tablet, or oral solution:

  • Typical starting dosage: 0.5 mg three times daily.
  • Dosage increases: Your doctor may increase your dosage every 3–4 days in amounts of no more than 1 mg/day.
  • Maximum dosage: 10 mg daily, in divided doses. 
  • Dosage reduction: When you’re stopping treatment, your dosage should be decreased slowly. Your doctor may decrease it by no more than 0.5 mg every 3 days.   

Extended-release tablet:

  • Typical starting dosage: 0.5–1 mg once per day.
  • Dosage increases: Your doctor may increase your dosage every 3–4 days until you reach the dosage that’s best for you.
  • Maximum dosage: 10 mg per day.
  • Dosage reduction: When you’re stopping treatment, your dosage should be decreased slowly. Your doctor may decrease it by no more than 0.5 mg every 3 days.
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This medication has not been studied in children. It should not be used in people younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

Immediate-release tablet, orally disintegrating tablet, or oral solution:

  • Typical starting dosage: 0.25 mg, 2–3 times per day.

Extended-release tablet:

  • Typical starting dosage: 0.5 mg once per day.
Special considerations

People with advanced liver disease:

  • Immediate-release tablet: The usual starting dosage is 0.25 mg, two or three times daily. Your doctor may gradually increase this dosage if needed. 
  • Extended-release tablet: The usual starting dosage is 0.5 mg once daily. Your doctor may gradually increase this dosage if needed. 

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

This drug comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you stop taking the drug suddenly or don’t take it at all

If you stop taking the drug suddenly, you may have significant withdrawal symptoms. These can include life-threatening symptoms, such as seizures. To avoid withdrawal, your doctor will decrease your dose slowly over time. If you don’t take this drug at all, your symptoms may not improve. 

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule

Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely. You may have withdrawal symptoms if you don’t take the drug on schedule. 

If you take too much

You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of an overdose of this drug can include:

  • drowsiness
  • confusion
  • poor coordination
  • slow reflexes
  • coma

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room right away. 

What to do if you miss a dose

Take your dose as soon as you remember. But if you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, take only one dose. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects.

How to tell if the drug is working

You should have decreased symptoms of anxiety, or a decrease in panic attacks.

This drug is used for short-term treatment. 

Do not crush or cut the oral extended-release tablet

You can cut or crush the immediate-release tablet.

Store this drug carefully

  • Store this drug at room temperature between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C).
  • Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.

A prescription for this medication is refillable

You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Clinical monitoring

You and your doctor should watch for any problems with your mental health or behavior. This drug can cause new mood and behavior problems, or worsen problems you already have.

Insurance

Many insurance companies require a prior authorization for this drug. This means your doctor may need to get approval from your insurance company before your insurance company will pay for the prescription.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

What does the pill look like?

Showing - out of 95
SECTION 5 of 5

How Much Does alprazolam Cost?

Oral tablet

We've partnered with GoodRx so you can compare prices, find discounts and save up to 80% on your next prescription. Check out the low coupon prices below — no insurance required.

Compare prices and save up to 80% on your next refill!

Lowest price for alprazolam

Walmart $7.10
Sams Club $7.10
Kroger Pharmacy $7.56
These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for alprazolam on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

Enter your zip code to find the best deal near you.

These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for alprazolam on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

Show Sources

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on November 4, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement