General anxiety or worry when you face a nerve-wrenching or stressful situation is a natural response. When anxiety starts to affect your day-to-day activities, it may be due to an anxiety disorder or a panic disorder. Anxiety and panic have common symptoms of palpitations, hot or cold rush, feeling of impending doom, and shortness of breath. The most common generic medication for this is Alprazolam.
What is the role of Alprazolam?
Alprazolam is the generic name for Xanax, one of the most common medications in the US to treat anxiety and panic disorders. It is available in different dosage strengths depending on the severity of the disorder.
It is a part of a class of medications called benzodiazepine that promotes the effects of Gamma-aminobutyric Acid or GABA that decreases overactivity in the brain. You can take Alprazolam with other medication, and it is advised that you inform your doctor about the medications you are using so they can prescribe the correct dosage for you.
Alprazolam is a benzodiazepine that functions to improve the levels of the neurotransmitter GABA. Low levels of GABA indicate anxiety, stress, chronic pain, and epilepsy. Gamma-aminobutyric Acid is known to function as an inhibitory neurotransmitter that blocks specific signals in the central nervous system comprising the brain and spinal cord. Alprazolam enhances GABA levels, reduces stress, relieves anxiety, and improves sleep.
What are the possible side effects of Alprazolam?
common side effects are-
- Feeling lightheaded
- Change in sex drive and ability
- Increased saliva production
The common side effects should decrease with time, and it is suggested that you inform your doctor if they get worse.
The severe side effects include-
- Loss of coordination
- Frequent mood changes
- Agitation, aggression, and restlessness
- Thoughts of harming yourself like suicide
The severe side effects of Alprazolam are unlikely, and it is advised that you inform your doctor and look for medical assistance if you notice them.
A severe allergic reaction is rare, and it is advised that you call for immediate medical assistance if you notice rashes, itching, swelling of the throat, tongue, or face, severe dizziness, and difficulty breathing.
How long will Alprazolam stay in your system?
The half-life of a drug is said to be the duration it takes for the body to get rid of half of the active drug in the system. Ideally, it takes 5 to 6 half-lives for a drug to be entirely eliminated from the body. The half-life ranges between 6 to 27 hours, and the average is 11 to 12 hours, meaning it will take Alprazolam approximately 11.5 hours to remove from the body completely. The half-life of a drug is likely to remain unchanged irrespective of the dosage and the duration of treatment.
Certain tests can still detect Alprazolam in your system after ingestion-
Urine – Urine tests for Alprazolam are uncommon, but they can also detect Alprazolam for four days to a week after the last dose
Saliva – Your saliva will test positive for Alprazolam for 2.5 days after the previous dose
Blood – Blood tests can find Alprazolam in the bloodstream for one day after the last dose
Hair – Hair takes longer to grow, and therefore, it can detect Alprazolam for a longer period of 1 month
Precautions to be taken while using Alprazolam.
- It is a level IV controlled substance with a low potential for abuse. However, it is one of the most commonly abused drugs in the US. It is advised that you use your medication in moderation and keep it out of the reach of children.
- It is advised that you abstain from alcohol, cannabis, and other CNS depressants, as they can aggravate your side effects.
- If you have been using Alprazolam for a long time or in high doses, you may develop dependence or tolerance to it, and it is suggested that you inform your doctor if you think the dosage prescribed to you isn’t working instead of increasing it on your own.
- In the case of an older adult, you may be more sensitive to the side effects of Alprazolam, and it is advised that you monitor your dosage intake and side effects regularly.
How should you have Alprazolam?
Alprazolam is orally administered and can be had with or without food as directed by your doctor. Alprazolam is available in multiple dosage strengths of 0.25mg, 0.5mg, 1mg, 2mg and 3mg. The dosage given to you by your doctor will be based on your medical condition, age, and response to treatment.
The maximum dosage for anxiety patients is 4mg a day, and for panic disorder is 10mg a day. Alprazolam is a short-term treatment for anxiety and panic disorders. If you use it for a long time, it is recommended to taper your dosage before discontinuing it to avoid withdrawal symptoms like insomnia.