Alprazolam Drug Facts | A Center for Addiction Recovery

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Information provided below is courtesy of the National Institute On Drug Abuse (NIDA)

Alprazolam Overview

Alprazolam Addiction TreatmentAlprazolam was first released in 1981, although it was patented on October 19, 1976. It was approved for the management of panic disorders. Alprazolam is a short-acting anxiolytic of the benzodiazepine class of psychoactive drugs. To most of us, we know it as Xanax or Niravam. Alprazolam is a Schedule IV controlled substance, which means the substance meets the following criteria:


  • The drug or substance has a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule III;
  • The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; and
  • Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule III.

Prescriptions for Schedule IV drugs may be refilled up to five times within a six-month period. Drugs in this class include, among others, Diazapam, Librium, Klonopin, Ambien, and Phenobarbital. Alprazolam is commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, panic attacks, and to relax patients, often before surgery. When used as prescribed, for short periods of time, it is a very effective drug that is relatively easy to manage.

Addictive Qualities of Alprazolam

Alprazolam is, arguably, the most abused benzo on the market today. You can and will become addicted to it if you use it for a long period of time. It has a high potency, high affinity binding, a short elimination half-life, as well as a rapid uptake and result, meaning that the likelihood of becoming dependent is high. It is readily available on the street, and people use it, especially younger people, to self-medicate for desired results. Alprazolam is absorbed into the system rapidly, with peak concentrations occurring in just 1-2 hours. The mean half-life in healthy adults is about 11.2 hours, ranging from 6.3 hours to 26.9 hours.

Dependence and Tolerance Alprazolam

As with many drugs, the more you use, the greater your tolerance, it's a vicious circle that results, ultimately, in an addiction to the drug. Benzos have a particularly attractive quality in that they are psychotropic drugs. Alprazolam is no exception. It is most often prescribed for just 2-4 weeks, and some long-term, high-dosage users developed irreversible depression. Like other benzos, Alprazolam binds to receptors, modulates the effect of GABAA receptors, and thus GABAergic neurons.

People using alcohol and other drugs are particularly subject to abusing Alprazolam, as are those suffering from borderline personality disorder.

Effects and Side Effects of Alprazolam

Alprazolam is prescribed for the management of anxiety-related disorders and panic attacks, as well as for nausea due to chemotherapy. Reassessment by a physician is advised by the FDA on each prescription. Benzos will cross the placenta and enter a fetus, as well as enter the breast milk. It is not advised to use Alprazolam during pregnancy or breast feeding as it has been associated with congenital abnormalities. Babies born to mothers using Alprazolam may experience physical dependence at birth, as well as respiratory problems. Abrupt discontinuation of the drug during pregnancy may result in a spontaneous abortion. Mothers who breast feed and use Alprazolam have reported their babies are more lethargic and tend to lose more weight compared to those not using Alprazolam.

Increased drowsiness, slowed reactions, breathing difficulties, psychosis, and allergic reactions are but a few of the side effects of the drug. Some of the effects that are more desirous of those who abuse the drug include disinhibition, increase in sex drive, and occasional hallucinations.

While not common, some people have presented paradoxical reactions, including rage, hostility, aggression, tremors, hyperactivity, and restlessness.

Alprazolam Withdrawal and Detoxification

Since the extended use of Alprazolam can lead to issues of dependence, discontinuance should not to be done spontaneously. A person who has developed a tolerance to Alprazolam should wean off the drug to minimize the effects of withdrawal. Some reappearance of symptoms may be believed to be withdrawal symptoms, but in fact, they may be the real issue for which the person was initially being treated. The higher the dosage, the likely a person will experience withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms include dizziness, lightheadedness, insomnia, weakness, seizures, delirium, malaise, and increased heart rate.

Generally, patients who take less than 4 mg. a day and have used Alprazolam for less than 8 months are less likely to experience withdrawal symptoms. Personality also plays a role in the symptoms of withdrawal that appear, as do other drugs that a patient or person may be taking.

At A Center for Addiction Recovery we help clients with a Alprazolam addiction to discover the original problem or problems that may have caused the addiction. Next we teach them how to overcome their problems with real-life solutions by equipping them with tools and life skills to confront and handle common obstacles encountered in life. It is only when the client understands the underlying reasons for the Alprazolam addiction problem, for which they are resolved carefully, can the client anticipate a successful recovery after rehabilitation.

For information about prescription drug rehab, please contact us at 1 (800) 570-4562