If you have an anxiety disorder, your doctor may prescribe alprazolam IR oral tablets for your condition.

Alprazolam is used to treat:

To learn more about the conditions alprazolam is used to treat, see the “What is alprazolam IR oral tablet used for?” section below.

Alprazolam IR oral tablet basics

Alprazolam is classified as a benzodiazepine. (A drug’s classification refers to a group of medications that work in the same way.)

Alprazolam IR oral tablets are taken by mouth. “IR” stands for immediate release, which means the dose is released all at once into your body.

Note: Alprazolam also comes in other forms: oral solution (which you take by mouth), extended-release (XR) oral tablets, and oral disintegrating tablets (which dissolve on or under your tongue). Only alprazolam IR oral tablets are described in this article.

Different forms of alprazolam are available in different strengths. For example, alprazolam XR oral tablets come in a dose of 3 milligrams. Alprazolam IR oral tablets aren’t available in this dose.

If you’d like to learn about alprazolam’s other forms, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Alprazolam IR oral tablet brand-name versions

Alprazolam IR oral tablet is a generic drug. It’s also available as a brand-name drug called Xanax.

Note: The other forms of alprazolam have other brand-name drug versions. To learn more, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Alprazolam IR oral tablet is a generic drug, which means it’s an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication. The brand-name medication that alprazolam IR oral tablet is based on is called Xanax.

Generic drugs are thought to be as safe and effective as the brand-name drug they’re based on. In general, generics usually cost less than brand-name drugs.

If you’d like to know more about using Xanax instead of alprazolam IR oral tablet, talk with your doctor. Read this Healthline article to learn more about the differences between generic and brand-name drugs.

Like most drugs, alprazolam IR oral tablets may cause mild or serious side effects. The lists below describe some of the more common side effects that alprazolam IR oral tablets may cause. These lists do not include all possible side effects.

Keep in mind that side effects of a drug can depend on:

  • your age
  • other health conditions you have
  • other medications you may be taking

Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about the potential side effects of alprazolam IR oral tablets. They can also suggest ways to help reduce side effects.

Mild side effects

Here’s a short list of some of the mild side effects that alprazolam IR oral tablets can cause. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or read alprazolam IR oral tablet’s prescribing information.

Mild side effects of alprazolam IR oral tablets that have been reported include:

* For more information on this side effect, see the “Side effect focus” section below.

Mild side effects of many drugs may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. But if they become bothersome, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects from alprazolam IR oral tablets can occur, but they aren’t common. If you have serious side effects from taking this drug, call your doctor right away. However, if you think you’re having a medical emergency, you should call 911 or your local emergency number.

Serious side effects of alprazolam IR oral tablets that have been reported include:

* For more information on this side effect, see the “Side effect focus” section below.

Suicide prevention

If you think someone is at immediate risk of self-harm or hurting another person:

  • Call 911 or your local emergency number.
  • Stay with the person until help arrives.
  • Remove any guns, knives, medications, or other things that may cause harm.
  • Listen, but don’t judge, argue, threaten, or yell.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, get help from a crisis or suicide prevention hotline. Try the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Side effect focus

Learn more about some of the side effects alprazolam IR oral tablets may cause.

Boxed warning

Alprazolam IR oral tablets have a boxed warning. A boxed warning is a serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Warning: Risks when used with opioids. Using a benzodiazepine such as alprazolam with an opioid can increase your risk for severe side effects, including:

What might help

You should use alprazolam IR oral tablets with an opioid only if your doctor agrees that this is the best treatment plan for you. For both drugs, your doctor will prescribe the lowest dose needed to treat your condition for the shortest time possible.

Before you take alprazolam, be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medications you take. They can check for any drug interactions with alprazolam. (With drug interactions, taking medications with a certain drug affects how the drug works.)

Your doctor may prescribe a lower dose of alprazolam if you take an opioid. Or they may decide to prescribe a different medication for your condition.

If you’re prescribed an opioid while you’re taking alprazolam, be sure your doctor knows you’re taking alprazolam. You may need a lower dose of the opioid medication. Or your doctor may decide to lower your dose of alprazolam. They may also prescribe something for your pain other than an opioid.

For a list of opioids, see “Interactions” in the “What should be considered before taking alprazolam IR oral tablet?” section below.

Side effects in older people

Older people may be at higher risk for side effects if they take alprazolam. This is because the way our kidneys handle certain medications, including alprazolam, changes as we age.

As a result, alprazolam levels may build up in older people, even at approved doses. This puts older people at higher risk for side effects from alprazolam, including sleepiness and problems with coordination or balance.

What might help

Your doctor will prescribe the lowest dose of alprazolam that works for you. This helps lower the risk of side effects.

Talk with your doctor if you’re concerned about side effects from alprazolam, or if you’re having side effects while taking it.

Weight gain or weight loss

Taking alprazolam IR oral tablets could cause weight gain or weight loss. People taking the drug in clinical trials reported weight changes.

Weight loss can also be a symptom of withdrawal from alprazolam. For more information on withdrawal and alprazolam, see the “What are some frequently asked questions about alprazolam IR oral tablet?” section below.

It’s also important to note that weight changes can be symptoms of an anxiety disorder.

What might help

If you’re concerned about your weight while taking alprazolam IR oral tablets, talk with your doctor. They can recommend ways to maintain a weight that is healthy for you. They may also suggest stopping alprazolam treatment and trying a different medication for your condition.

Allergic reaction

Some people may have an allergic reaction to alprazolam IR oral tablets.

Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:

  • skin rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)

A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet. They can also include swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat, which can cause trouble breathing.

Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to alprazolam IR oral tablets. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number.

Your doctor will explain how you should take alprazolam IR oral tablets. They will also explain how much to take and how often. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions. Below are commonly used dosages, but always take the dosage your doctor prescribes.

Alprazolam IR oral tablets are available in four strengths: 0.25 milligrams (mg), 0.5 mg, 1 mg, and 2 mg.

“IR” stands for immediate release, which means the dose is released all at once into your body.

Taking alprazolam IR oral tablet

Alprazolam IR oral tablets are pills that you swallow.

Dosage

Alprazolam is used to treat:

For treating each of these conditions, alprazolam IR oral tablets are usually taken three times a day. Typically, your doctor will start you on a low dose. Then they may increase your dose every 3 or 4 days until you reach a dose that works to treat your condition.

Taking alprazolam IR oral tablet with other drugs

For the conditions they’re used to treat, alprazolam IR oral tablets may be used alone or with other drugs.

Whether you take alprazolam with other medications to treat your condition will depend on other factors. These include the severity of the condition you’re treating with the drug and other medical conditions you may have. Your doctor can answer questions you might have about taking alprazolam IR oral tablets with other drugs.

Questions about taking alprazolam IR oral tablet

Here’s a list of common questions related to taking alprazolam IR oral tablets.

  • What if I miss a dose of alprazolam IR oral tablets? If you miss a dose of alprazolam, try to take it as soon as you remember. But if it’s almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose as scheduled. Do not take more than your doctor prescribes at your next dose. This could increase your risk for side effects from alprazolam.
  • Will I need to use alprazolam IR oral tablets long term? Maybe. It depends on the condition you’re using alprazolam to treat, the severity of your condition, and other factors. Your doctor can tell you more about whether you’ll need to use alprazolam IR oral tablets long term.
  • Can alprazolam IR oral tablets be chewed, crushed, or split? There are several manufacturers of alprazolam IR oral tablets. Whether alprazolam can be chewed, crushed, or split may depend on the manufacturer. Ask your pharmacist whether the specific type of alprazolam IR oral tablet you take can be chewed, crushed, or split.
  • Should I take alprazolam IR oral tablets with food? You may take alprazolam IR oral tablets with or without food.
  • How long do alprazolam IR oral tablets take to work? Alprazolam IR oral tablets begin to work as soon as you take your dose. Depending on the condition you’re using alprazolam to treat, you may not feel the drug working right away. Some people may feel the drug’s effects as soon as 30 minutes after taking a dose. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about when alprazolam IR oral tablets may start to work for your condition.
Questions for your doctor

You may have questions about alprazolam IR oral tablets and your treatment plan. It’s important to discuss all your concerns with your doctor.

Here are a few tips that might help guide your discussion:

  • Before your appointment, write down questions such as:
    • How will alprazolam IR oral tablets affect my body, mood, or lifestyle?
  • Bring someone with you to your appointment if doing so will help you feel more comfortable.
  • If you don’t understand something related to your condition or treatment, ask your doctor to explain it to you.

Remember, your doctor and other healthcare professionals are available to help you. And they want you to get the best care possible. So, don’t be afraid to ask questions or offer feedback on your treatment.

Find answers to some commonly asked questions about alprazolam IR oral tablet.

Is alprazolam used for sleep?

Alprazolam isn’t approved for treating sleep disorders, such as insomnia. However, it may be given off-label to treat this condition. (With off-label use, a drug is prescribed for a condition it isn’t approved to treat.)

If you have questions about an off-label use of alprazolam, including for sleep disorders, talk with your doctor.

How does alprazolam work? What’s its half-life and how long does it stay in your system?

Alprazolam is a benzodiazepine drug. It’s unclear what the mechanism of action for benzodiazepines is. (“Mechanism of action” is how a drug works.) But this type of drug is thought to slow down the central nervous system (CNS). Your CNS consists of your brain and spinal cord. It controls activity throughout your whole body.

The half-life of alprazolam IR oral tablets is about 11 hours. The drug has a longer half-life, about 16 hours, in older adults. Alprazolam IR oral tablets stay in your system for about 4 or 5 times the half-life, which is around 2 days.

Is alprazolam a controlled substance?

Yes, alprazolam is a controlled substance in the United States. This means that the drug’s use is controlled by the U.S. government to prevent possible misuse. It also means alprazolam can lead to dependence (when your body needs a drug in order for you to feel normal).

Misusing medications such as alprazolam can cause severe CNS depression, which means your CNS slows down. This may lead to serious side effects, including seizures, trouble breathing, or coma. In rare cases, CNS depression can even be fatal.

Using other medications that depress your CNS with alprazolam increases your risk for severe CNS depression.

If you have questions about controlled substances, including alprazolam, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

How does alprazolam compare with flualprazolam and etizolam?

Flualprazolam and etizolam are benzodiazepines, the same group of drugs that alprazolam belongs to. These drugs are used to treat some of the same conditions, such as anxiety.

However, unlike alprazolam, flualprazolam and etizolam are not approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Neither of these two drugs are available in the United States.

If you have questions about how alprazolam compares to other medications, talk with your doctor.

Does stopping alprazolam cause withdrawal symptoms?

Yes, stopping alprazolam treatment can cause withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms are side effects that happen when you stop taking a drug that your body has become dependent upon.

Withdrawal symptoms from alprazolam IR oral tablets can be mild or serious, and can include:

In addition, anxiety or symptoms of anxiety may occur if you stop alprazolam. It’s not known if this is due to withdrawal or to symptoms of your condition getting worse after stopping the medication.

For this reason, it’s important that you do not stop taking alprazolam unless your doctor specifically advises you to do so. You also should not change your dose or take the medication in a way that’s different from your doctor’s instructions. Missing doses of alprazolam can also cause withdrawal symptoms.

If you and your doctor agree that you should stop taking alprazolam IR oral tablets, your doctor will suggest a way to taper your dose. (Tapering a dose means to slowly decrease the dose over time.) This helps lower your risk for withdrawal symptoms from alprazolam.

How long do alprazolam’s effects last?

How long alprazolam’s effects last can depend on several factors. These include your age, the condition you’re using it to treat, and other conditions you may have, such as liver problems.

In general, alprazolam’s effects last around 6 hours.

Some important things to discuss with your doctor when considering treatment with alprazolam IR oral tablets include:

  • your overall health
  • any medical conditions you may have
  • other medications or supplements you may take

Read on for details about these considerations and others.

Interactions

Taking medications, vaccines, foods, and other things with a certain drug can affect how the drug works. These effects are called interactions.

Before taking alprazolam IR oral tablets, be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you take, including prescription and over-the-counter types. Also describe any vitamins, herbs, or supplements you use. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you about any interactions these items may cause with alprazolam IR oral tablets.

Interactions with drugs or supplements

Alprazolam IR oral tablets can interact with several types of drugs. These include:

This list does not contain all types of drugs that may interact with alprazolam IR oral tablets. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about these interactions and any others that may occur with use of alprazolam IR oral tablets.

Other interactions

The supplement St. John’s wort can also interact with alprazolam IR oral tablets. Taking St. John’s wort may lower levels of alprazolam in your body. This can reduce how well alprazolam works for you.

Be sure to tell your doctor about all the medications and supplements you take before beginning treatment with alprazolam.

Boxed warning

Alprazolam IR oral tablets have a boxed warning about risks when used with opioids. Boxed warnings are serious warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Warning: Risks when used with opioids. Using a benzodiazepine such as alprazolam with an opioid can increase your risk for severe side effects, including:

For more information, see the “Side effect focus” section above.

Other warnings

Alprazolam IR oral tablets may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. Talk with your doctor about your health history before you take alprazolam IR oral tablets. Factors to consider include those in the list below.

Breathing problems. Taking alprazolam can cause breathing problems, such as slowed breathing rate. If you have a lung condition, such as asthma, you may be at increased risk for this side effect. You may also be more likely to have serious breathing problems as a side effect from alprazolam.

Before you start alprazolam treatment, be sure to talk with your doctor about any breathing problems you may have. They can determine whether the drug is safe for you to take.

Liver or kidney problems. Your body uses your kidneys and liver to metabolize (break down) alprazolam and pass the drug out of your system. People who have a liver or kidney problem may need a lower alprazolam dose. (Examples include alcoholic liver disease and kidney disease.) Or your doctor may decide another medication is safer for you to take for your condition.

Driving and operating machinery. You should not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how alprazolam will affect you. The drug can cause side effects such as problems with coordination and sleepiness. This can make it dangerous to drive or operate machinery.

Before you begin treatment with alprazolam, tell your doctor if these side effects will affect your daily life. They can tell you if there are other treatments available for your condition that may not cause these side effects.

Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to alprazolam IR oral tablets or any of the drug’s ingredients, you should not take them. Ask your doctor what other medications are better options for you.

Use with alcohol

You should not drink alcohol while taking alprazolam. This is because both alprazolam and alcohol can depress your central nervous system. When used together, they increase your risk for serious side effects, such as difficulty breathing and coma. In rare cases, they can even be fatal.

Before you take alprazolam, talk with your doctor if you consume alcohol. They may recommend ways to help you avoid drinking. Or they may suggest a different medication to treat your condition.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

It’s not recommended that you use alprazolam while pregnant. Benzodiazepines such as alprazolam may harm a fetus, especially if taken during the first trimester. If you’re pregnant or can become pregnant, talk with your doctor before you start taking alprazolam.

It’s also not recommended that you breastfeed while taking alprazolam. There have been reports of side effects in children breastfed by people taking the drug. These include weight loss and lack of energy. Talk with your doctor about safe ways to feed your child while you’re taking alprazolam.

Xanax is a brand-name drug that contains alprazolam as its active ingredient. (The active ingredient is the part of a medication that makes it work.) Xanax also comes as a tablet that you swallow.

Since Xanax is the brand-name version of alprazolam, not many differences exist between them. The major difference is that Xanax comes only as oral tablets, but alprazolam comes in a few forms: oral tablets, oral disintegrating tablets, and an oral solution. (“Oral” means taken by mouth.)

If you have questions about Xanax and alprazolam, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Read on to learn about other alternatives of alprazolam.

Alprazolam IR oral tablet vs. lorazepam

Like alprazolam, lorazepam (Ativan) is a type of benzodiazepine. Both drugs are available as immediate-release (IR) oral tablets. And they’re both used to treat some of the same conditions, such as anxiety. But they do have some differences.

To get an idea of how alprazolam and lorazepam compare, check out this article that covers the brand-name versions of these drugs.

Let your doctor know if you have questions about which drug is better for your condition.

Alprazolam IR oral tablet vs. diazepam

Like alprazolam, diazepam (Valium) is available as an IR oral tablet. Both medications are benzodiazepines. And they’re used to treat some of the same conditions, such as anxiety. But alprazolam and diazepam do have differences as well.

If you’d like to know more about the similarities and differences of alprazolam and diazepam, see this comparison article. It discusses the brand-name versions of these drugs.

Talk with your doctor about which treatment is right for you.

If you have an anxiety disorder, your doctor may prescribe alprazolam IR oral tablets for your condition.

It’s normal to have feelings of anxiety caused by the stress of everyday life. But for people with anxiety disorders, anxiety symptoms can be more severe and don’t go away on their own. These symptoms include trouble concentrating, being irritable or angry, and more.

Alprazolam is used to treat:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). People with GAD have uncontrollable worries about common situations. They may have symptoms such as feeling that something bad will happen or being unable to calm themselves.
  • Symptoms of anxiety. Symptoms of anxiety vary, but generally include trouble concentrating, restlessness, and sleep problems, among others. Alprazolam may be used short term to treat symptoms of anxiety.
  • Panic disorder. A person with panic disorder has recurring and unexpected panic attacks. A panic attack involves feeling sudden, intense fear. And it can cause physical symptoms such as breathing difficulties, fast or racing heartbeat, and sweating.

For each of these uses, alprazolam is prescribed only to adults. The drug hasn’t been studied in children (anyone ages 17 years and younger).

Alprazolam is a benzodiazepine drug. It’s unclear what the mechanism of action for benzodiazepines is. (“Mechanism of action” is how a drug works.) But this type of drug is thought to slow down the central nervous system (CNS).

Your CNS consists of your brain and spinal cord. It controls activity throughout your whole body. Slowing your CNS can help treat or prevent certain symptoms of anxiety or panic disorders.

Alprazolam may also be used off-label for other conditions. With off-label use, a drug is prescribed for a condition it isn’t approved to treat. Talk with your doctor for more information.

Alprazolam IR oral tablets can be misused. Misuse occurs when a drug is used in a way other than how it’s prescribed. Snorting alprazolam or taking the drug to get “high” are examples of misuse.

Alprazolam IR oral tablets can also lead to dependence (when your body needs a drug in order for you to feel normal). This can happen even when you use the medication as recommended. It’s important to note that dependence is different from addiction.

Because of this risk, alprazolam is a controlled substance in the United States. This means that the drug’s use is controlled by the U.S. government to prevent possible misuse.

Misusing medications such as alprazolam can cause severe central nervous system (CNS) depression, which means your CNS slows down. (Your CNS consists of your brain and spinal cord. It controls activity throughout your whole body.) This may lead to serious side effects, including seizures, trouble breathing, or coma. In rare cases, CNS depression can even be fatal.

If you’re taking alprazolam, using other medications that depress your CNS increases your risk for severe CNS depression.

Talk with your doctor if you have concerns about alprazolam and misuse.

Costs of prescription drugs can vary depending on many factors. These factors include what your insurance plan covers and which pharmacy you use.

To find current prices for alprazolam IR oral tablets in your area, visit GoodRx.com. Talk with your pharmacist to learn the cost of this drug with insurance coverage.

Financial assistance to help you pay for alprazolam IR oral tablets may be available. Medicine Assistance Tool and NeedyMeds are two websites that provide resources to help reduce the cost of alprazolam IR oral tablets.

These websites also offer tools to help you find low-cost healthcare and certain educational resources. To learn more, visit the websites.

Do not take more alprazolam IR oral tablets than your doctor prescribes. Using more than this can lead to serious side effects.

Symptoms of overdose

Symptoms caused by an overdose can include:

What to do in case you take too much alprazolam IR oral tablet

Call your doctor if you think you’ve taken too much alprazolam IR oral tablet. You can also call 800-222-1222 to reach the American Association of Poison Control Centers, or use its online resource. However, if you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 (or your local emergency number) or go to the nearest emergency room.

Talk with your doctor if you have questions about using alprazolam IR oral tablets. Alprazolam is used to treat the following conditions in adults:

You may want to ask your doctor about other treatments for these conditions. Below are a few articles you may find helpful:

Here are a few questions you may ask your doctor about alprazolam IR oral tablets:

  • How will I know if alprazolam is working to treat my condition?
  • Should I use other treatments for my condition while I’m taking alprazolam?
  • Can I take alprazolam with ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)?
  • Is alprazolam safe to take if I have heart disease?

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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 another 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.