Xanax (Alprazolam)

Xanax is definitely one of the most commonly prescribed drugs on the market. This is primarily because it's a go-to treatment for anxiety, which almost everyone experiences to some degree.

Many people look at Xanax as a quick fix, but reality and a history of research show that the drug may not be for everyone.

The official medical term for Xanax is Alprazolam, and it's a benzodiazepine medication. It comes with various properties, including anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, and sedative-hypnotic. In this article, you'll learn vital information on how Xanax works, potential risks, and use cases.

Unraveling what Xanax is

Through binding to a specific area of the GABA-A-chloride ionophore receptor, Xanax is able to make complex changes to the central nervous system. Of course, this could lead to positive and negative outcomes, but the drug has been a live saver for many people over the years.

It makes an allosteric modification of the receptor, which in turn, generates an increase in the opening of the chloride channel.

Xanax also does this for neuronal hyperpolarization. By decreasing neuronal excitability, Xanax creates an effect that’s anxiolytic, leading to many of the benefits people feel after taking the drug.

For the most part, doctors prescribe Xanax to those who are struggling with varying levels of anxiety. This particular health condition can be a slippery slope that ranges from pretty mild to entirely debilitating.

The drug is also a viable solution for health conditions such as panic disorders and anxiety that are specifically associated with depression.

Xanax is generally taken orally in pill form, as it can be easily absorbed in the body. Even if the drug is quite common, its strength shouldn’t be taken lightly. Those who suffer from mild anxiety may only rely on a small dose, while others need much more to feel any effect.

How does it work in the body?

Xanax works as a positive allosteric modulator. Although Xanax has been studied and available for a very long time, research continues to understand the full potential of the drug.

How benzodiazepine drugs work is dependent on subunit composition, neuronal circuit, physiological location, and the type of nerve cells.

There are multiple parts that play into the effectiveness of Xanax, which is another reason why the drug may not work well for each patient. It’s also known that the drug can be easily abused, which is why prescriptions and dosage are so important.

Many people become dependent on Xanax as a quick fix for their anxiety, but this could lead to a more difficult path. If a patient is looking to get off the drug, it’ll require a specific tapering schedule.

This is because withdrawal can be much harder to manage than the anxiety symptoms a patient is used to.

If a patient has a known history of drug or alcohol abuse, their doctor may avoid prescribing Xanax to them altogether. With the right dosage, Xanax can help patients better control their anxiety and related symptoms. Then again, if they abruptly stop using the drug, they could experience insomnia, seizures, and increased anxiety.

Smaller doses of Xanax can go a long way for many people. It should be mentioned that, regardless of the dosage, it's relatively easy to become dependent or addicted to the effects of Xanax.

The frequency of use should also be considered. Xanax can cause adverse effects on a patient's health with concurrent use. This is even worse when it comes to taking Xanax with other drugs, such as opioids.

From profound sedation, coma, and potentially death, Xanax isn’t a drug that should be overlooked. It may be common, but the drug can come with quite a few adverse side effects that could lead to much worse health conditions.

Who’s the right candidate?

Xanax is a widely used drug across many different age groups, but there are some people who don’t fit the bill for requirements. Benzodiazepines as a whole should be taken with caution, as adverse health effects can arise.

Each patient considering Xanax as a solution to their anxiety should have a thorough discussion with their doctor. This conversation includes reviewing medical history, current medical condition, age, and other health factors.

Doctors need this information to provide the proper medication alongside the most effective dosage.

For example, patients who have pre-existing conditions can be more susceptible to negative side effects. In extreme cases, false judgment in this area could potentially lead to death with benzodiazepines.

It’s also crucial for patients to be cognizant of daily activities when taking Xanax. Even in small doses, Xanax can make it difficult to operate heavy machinery or perform everyday tasks. The drug feels different with each individual, but its effects can sometimes take a while to show themselves.

There are other unique situations where a patient should consider the pros and cons associated with Xanax. Doctors aren’t against prescribing Xanax to pregnant women, but the results could be either good or bad.

Interestingly, newborns whose mothers utilized Xanax in the late stages of the pregnancy could experience withdrawal symptoms or even a sense of sedation.


Not only is this alarming but it can easily be avoided with the right education. Xanax, including many other prescription drugs, comes with a decent list of risks and potential side effects that every patient should know.

Known risks and side effects

First, it’s essential to clarify that experiencing risks and side effects with Xanax isn't a guarantee, but there's definitely a possibility. There are minimal side effects associated with Xanax that are quite common.

This is mainly due to the relaxation or "slowed down" feeling that comes on after taking the drug.

Some of the most well-known side effects include:

  • Tiredness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness
  • Irritability
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Nausea
  • Constipation

Keep in mind that these side effects have been recorded over years of research on a broad spectrum of patients. Individuals who take Xanax may experience one, multiple, or no side effects at all.

However, before taking Xanax for the first time, a doctor will explain the potential risks ahead of time so nothing comes as a surprise.

Here are a few more severe side effects associated with Xanax:

  • Seizures
  • Severe skin rash
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Speech problems
  • Difficulty with balance and coordination

These side effects are much less common. If a patient experiences any kind of severe side effects, it's wise to inform a doctor immediately. However, this doesn't warrant quitting the medication cold turkey, as that's how you enter withdrawal.

Experiencing side effects as well as withdrawal could lead to much more discomfort than expected.

Final Notes

Most people have heard about Xanax or used it at some point in their lives.

There’s no doubt that the medication can be extremely helpful, but it should always be approached with caution. Higher doses of Xanax can lead to debilitating health concerns that can be hard to eliminate in a short amount of time.

For individuals who suffer from mild to severe anxiety, it never hurts to discuss medication options with a healthcare professional. There’s a good chance they would recommend Xanax.

Patients can also expect the possibility that they decide to take a different route based on the state of the patient’s previous and current health.