What is Xanax (Alprazolam)
Xanax is a prescription drug that’s within a family of medicines called benzodiazepines. Its generic name is alprazolam, and it’s used to treat anxiety and panic attacks. It’s best to use Xanax on a very short-term basis, such as when flying or before a high-stress situation.
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How Does Xanax Work?
When you’re extremely nervous, your brain goes into overdrive. Xanax works by affecting those chemicals in your brain that are causing you to panic. It’s a fast-acting medicine, so you’ll start to feel relief within an hour. After taking Xanax, you’ll feel more calm and relaxed. In some cases, you may even feel tranquil enough to go to sleep.
Can I use Xanax to Help Me Sleep?
Xanax was not developed to treat difficulty sleeping, or insomnia. While it can help you relax enough to sleep, you should not take it for the sole purpose of getting to sleep. There are better, safer medications that can help you if you are having trouble getting to or staying asleep.
How to Take Xanax?
Only take Xanax if it’s been prescribed to you. Your doctor will determine the proper dosing based on your medical history. In many cases, Xanas is taken as follows:
- Anxiety — 0.25 to 0.50 mg, three times per day
- Panic — 0.50 to 1.00 mg per day to start. After assessing your condition, your doctor may increase or decrease your dosage.
Xanax comes in tablet form. You should take it per the schedule your doctor has set. For occasional use, take it as soon as you start to feel nervous or one hour before a high-stress situation, such as flying. Don’t take more Xanax than prescribed because you think it will work more effectively. It may not, and you’ll be at higher risk for developing unwanted side effects.
You can take Xanax after eating or on an empty stomach. In either case, the medicine will start working as soon as it hits your bloodstream, which is about an hour. It’s best to swallow your medicine with water.
You may feel drowsy after taking Xanax (Alprazolam). Drinking alcohol while taking this medication can worsen this side effect. If you’re taking Xanax to fly, make sure you have someone who can pick you up from the airport as you may be in no condition to drive.
Xanax works quickly, so don’t take it before you need it. If you’re using it for a flight, consider taking it as soon as you’re seated. This way, you don’t have to worry about being stuck in the airport terminal when the medicine starts to take effect.
Most people feel some level of drowsiness from taking Xanax — it’s the most widely reported side effect. You may also feel fatigued, feeling as if you haven’t slept well or worked extra hard. Because of the drowsiness and fatigue, you may also lack coordination (be unsteady of your feet, lack the ability to complete everyday tasks) or have difficulty remembering things.
Other side effects you may experience include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Slurred speech
If you find yourself suffering from any of the above symptoms, let your doctor know immediately. While many will probably not be cause for concern, your physician will want to rule out more serious issues.
If you take more than 4 mg of Xanax per day or take it for longer than 12 weeks, you may develop a dependence on the medicine. This means that when you try to stop taking it, you may experience severe withdrawal effects. In some cases, seizures may even occur. Talk with your doctor if you find yourself in this state so that they can develop an action plan to wean you off the medication safely.