What is Xanax (Alprazolam) used for?
Xanax is a drug for which the exact mechanics of how it works are unknown.2 What is known is that the drug is a central nervous system suppressant, and is primarily prescribed to treat anxiety disorders such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or Panic Disorder. Because of the drug’s dampening effects on alertness and cognitive function, driving or operating machinery is not advisable when under the influence of Xanax or other similar sedatives.
Day to day tension or stress does not usually require a benzodiazepine prescription.2
Xanax Alternative Names and Slang
Xanax is a brand or trade name for the generic drug, alprazolam. Other brand names in the US include Gabazolamine-05 and Niravam.
Xanax has developed a presence as a street drug, possibly due to its sedative effects and pleasurable sensation of mild euphoria.
Numerous street names have evolved, including:
- Blue footballs, footballs
- Yellow boys, white boys, white girls
Xanax Side Effects
Xanax can cause mild as well as more serious side effects. Always let your doctor know if you experience unusual or uncomfortable symptoms when taking any benzodiazepine. These side effects can include:
- Vertigo or dizzy feeling
- Loss of memory, amnesia
- Mood changes, i.e., irritability, depression, anger, apathy
- Loss of libido
- Cognitive impairment, reduced clarity or problem-solving ability
- Loss of coordination, losing balance
- Gastrointestinal issues such as constipation or diarrhea
- Unusual sweating
- Appetite changes
- Weight loss
- Dry mouth
- Flu-like symptoms, headache, cough, stuffy nose, aches, weakness
- Vision problems, blurring of the vision, perception changes
Due to the sedative effects, a person taking Xanax should not drive a car or operate machinery where alertness is required for safety reasons.
Xanax should not be taken along with other CNS suppressants as the effects can be significantly intensified, sometimes leading to unconsciousness, coma, or death.
Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms
The FDA states Xanax withdrawal symptoms include:
- Drug cravings
- Anxiety, panic attacks
- Cognitive impairment
- Rebound insomnia
- Muscle pain, cramping, weakness in the muscles
- Dizziness, vertigo
- Nausea, vomiting
- Mood changes, depression, crying spells
- Memory lapses
These are not all the withdrawal symptoms that may be experienced while coming off Xanax.
Special Note: Never stop using benzodiazepine drugs suddenly. Withdrawals can be eased by gradually tapering down instead of stopping all at once.
Discontinuing/Getting Off Xanax (Alprazolam)
Quitting Xanax or any benzodiazepine drug can be deadly if done abruptly, i.e., all at once. A gradual taper is the FDA recommended approach to avoid these severe and sometimes deadly withdrawal symptoms.2