What is Xanax®?

Written by Amanda Stevens, B.S. | Updated on Jan 31, 2023
Medically reviewed by Dr. Christopher Litchfield, MD
Resources » What is Xanax®?

Xanax® Overview

Xanax® is a benzodiazepine used to boost targeted neurotransmitters in the brain. Its purpose is to treat panic and anxiety-related disorders. Notably, it is the most common psychiatric drug prescription for panic and anxiety in the US.

What is Xanax®?

Xanax® or Alprazolam (the generic name for Xanax®) is a Schedule IV controlled substance prescribed by doctors to treat depression, anxiety, and panic disorders.[1] 

Additionally, Xanax® can be prescribed for conditions related to fear of certain environments or circumstances that could induce panic, helplessness, or embarrassment.

Is Alprazolam a Benzo?

Xanax® (Alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine, commonly referred to as a benzo. Benzos are a class of psychoactive drugs that slow the connection from the brain to the body. This helps those who take it for certain conditions stay calm in overwhelming situations.

Is Xanax® Safe to Take?

When taken as prescribed, Xanax® is a safe and efficient drug. Xanax® can also be harmful when combined with other drugs or used excessively. It is unsafe to take this medication without first consulting a doctor or without a prescription. 

Despite some of the advantages of using Xanax®, there is a high potential for addiction and serious side effects that range from lack of coordination and loss of appetite to lightheadedness and dementia.[2] Benzodiazepines, like Xanax®, are classified as Schedule IV as a result. 

Due to the potential for abuse, it is recommended to use natural alternatives to Xanax® when possible.

Xanax® Uses

Xanax® provides relief for people who experience extreme emotional discomfort when faced with certain situations. When used properly, it eases anxiousness and aids in overcoming the issue.


While typically intended to calm the mind, there are times when people are prescribed Xanax® for pain. Xanax® can have a lot of positive effects on the body. It can ease muscle tension and pain in the same way it relaxes the brain.

Currently, Xanax® is not approved by the FDA for the treatment of muscle pain, however, it is known to be effective in treating tension and spasms.

What is Xanax®?


In clinical tests dating back to the 90s, Xanax® for depression showed success by doubling the dosage for anxiety. 

Using Xanax® for depression is debatable despite this. This is due to the fact that Xanax® can be quite addictive when used in greater doses or over an extended period of time, typically more than 12 weeks.

While Xanax® can be used to treat depression, it has become less advisable by doctors. New, safer drugs are used to treat depression that are less likely to cause addiction.


Xanax® is an approved medication for those who experience generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety, and situational anxiety. This medication works to slow down and calm the mind.

Xanax® for anxiety provides some immediate relief due to how rapidly it begins to work.

While Xanax® does not permanently cure anxiety, it does help to temporarily lessen its effects.

When it comes to social anxiety disorder, Xanax® is frequently prescribed for cognitive symptoms. Situations like a person stressing about their performance or perceived judgment from others may prompt a prescription.

Panic Attacks

A panic attack is a severe episode of panic or anxiety accompanied by physical symptoms such as racing heart, shaking, cold sweats, and dizziness. Panic attacks can occur when a person perceives or predicts a threat.

Doctors may recommend Xanax® for panic attacks when a person experiences extreme panic, both with or without triggers. Panic attacks can be caused by the body’s response to specific phobias, such as a fear of flying, fear of crowded places,  performance-related fears, or as part of a panic disorder diagnosis.


A seizure is an abrupt, uncontrollable disruption to the brain. It can change a person’s actions, motions, and level of consciousness.

In some cases, Xanax® may be used to treat seizures. The clinical name is Staccato® Alprazolam. Xanax® for seizures is an investigational route that combines Staccato® with Alprazolam as a single-use epileptic rescue therapy.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder that leads to loops of obsessions and compulsions. It can affect people of any age, race, and socioeconomic background. Obsessions are intrusive, unwelcome thoughts, desires, or pictures that disrupt the quality of life for those who experience them. 

In some instances, those with OCD may benefit from prescription Xanax®. However, unless other treatments have failed, Xanax® for OCD is rarely administered. This is because effectiveness has not been consistent, though using Xanax® poses the risk of addiction for the user.[3]


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be the result of a traumatic experience such as a natural disaster, a catastrophic accident, act of terrorism, war, sexual assault, or near-death experience. 

PTSD symptoms can range from person to person. Symptoms of PTSD may include irritability, hostility, social isolation, and trouble focusing. Due to this, Xanax® for PTSD may not be the best choice for sufferers of this condition. A doctor may recommend Xanax® if anxiety is the most dominant symptom.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that results in extreme mood swings that include bouts of mania, hypomania, and extreme lows.

A doctor may prescribe Xanax® for Bipolar during manic episodes to ease symptoms. Some symptoms may include: racing thoughts, high levels of energy, impulsivity, impatience, and insomnia.


The fear of flying is a common phobia. This is considered situational anxiety and a doctor may recommend Xanax® for flying if a person experiences extreme anxiety before getting on a plane. Because it works and wears off quickly, Xanax® is the most popular choice. The effects of Xanax® kick in around 30 minutes after taking the dose, and last 4-6 hours — long enough to cover most flights.


Treatment for tension-type headaches using Xanax® can sometimes be effective. It’s important to monitor the use of Xanax® for headaches because overuse may turn occasional episodes to chronic.

Xanax® For Sleep & Insomnia

When struggling with sleep related disorders and insomnia, Xanax® may relieve symptoms. 

Xanax® is a strong depressant that can cause sleepiness, hypnosis, and sedation. When taken as directed, Xanax® for insomnia can be an effective method for combating restlessness. When facing other sleep-related disorders, a doctor may turn to Xanax® for sleep support.

Xanax® Dosage

Prescribed for:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Prescribed for: 

Generalized Anxiety Disorders,

Panic Disorders

Prescribed for:

Panic Disorders

Prescribed for: 

Anxiety Disorders

Panic Disorders

Xanax® Withdrawal Symptoms

Generally speaking, Xanax® may induce the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Increased anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Panic attacks
  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • Hyperventilating
  • Difficult sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sensitive to light
  • Disassociation
  • Psychosis
  • Hallucinations

How to Detox From Xanax®

Xanax® is used to treat anxiety and panic-related disorders. Because of its chemical structure, it has a high chance of being misused. Once dependence has developed, it can be uncomfortable and dangerous to stop taking it abruptly. 

A person can wean off of Xanax® and control withdrawal systems with professional assistance during medical detox. If you or someone you know is experiencing withdrawals from Xanax®, you must seek medical help to prevent life-threatening consequences.

Xanax Detox Timeline

Stopping Xanax® abruptly can have serious negative consequences, such as intense withdrawal symptoms or even death.

It is not recommended for those with a Xanax® dependence to attempt stopping cold turkey. Consult a medical professional if you or someone you know needs to detox from Xanax®. Detoxing from Xanax® results in symptoms that typically happen in three stages. 

Stage one: the first 6-12 hours of detox:

  • Cold sweats
  • Tremors
  • Body aches
  • Anxiety

Stage two: 1-4 days into detox:

  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Trouble focusing

Stage three: 5-14 days into detox:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia

Xanax® Overdose Symptoms & OD Treatment

Some initial symptoms of a Xanax® overdose may mirror adverse effects of routine Xanax® use. Symptoms include:

  • Shallow breathing
  • Clammy skin
  • Dilated pupils
  • Change in appetite
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nodding off

It can sometimes be difficult to identify a Xanax® overdose. It’s crucial to notice if several adverse effects are present at once. If you or someone you know is “nodding off,” seek medical help immediately.

Xanax® and Alcohol

Alcohol and Xanax® are both legal substances and widely available. As a result, they are easily accessible and can be mistaken to be safe to use together. The two substances should never be combined because each amplifies the effects of the other. 

Both alcohol and Xanax® are depressants that affect the nervous and respiratory systems. Mixing the two can cause overdose, coma, or even death.

Side Effects: Xanax® vs Klonopin

While both Xanax® and Klonopin can be used to treat anxiety-related disorders, there are differences. Klonopin is used to control seizures and panic disorders. The effects of Klonopin tend to last longer than Xanax®. Xanax® needs to be taken regularly to keep blood levels consistent. 

Each of these drugs can lead to physical and mental reliance as they are both benzos.

Side EffectsXanax®Klonopin
Sleep issuesX
Changes in appetiteXX
Slurred speechX
Digestive issuesX
Trouble focusingXX

Is Xanax® Addictive?

Xanax ® is regarded as one of the benzodiazepine drugs with the highest potential for misuse or addiction. The changes that happen in the brain come on quickly for those who use it to treat anxiety and panic-related disorders. The risk of addiction becomes greater for people who use Xanax® longer than 12 weeks, though addiction can happen for anyone who uses it for any length of time.

Is Xanax® Addictive?

Xanax® Addiction Treatment & Rehab Options

Addictions can wreak havoc on the personal lives of those who become victims to them. Fortunately, there are both inpatient and outpatient Xanax® addiction treatments to turn to. If you or someone you know is addicted to Xanax®, it is important to seek help sooner rather than later. 

There are facilities designed specifically with Xanax® rehabilitation in mind. Working with a professional experienced in the detox process is essential to prevent life-threatening side effects from withdrawal.

When tackling the issue, the physical need for Xanax® and the mental desire for it must both be addressed. On the physical front, the first step is to undergo medical detox. This helps the client wean off of Xanax® safely under the guidance of a team of professionals.

The second part of the treatment focuses on assessing the mental damage done by an addiction to Xanax®. A client is assisted in understanding how patterns in thoughts and behavior contributed to abusing it. Using cognitive behavioral therapy, a therapist helps guide the client to recognize underlying causes for substance misuse and helps to develop better coping mechanisms.

The treatment process assists in Xanax® reliance and helps to bring back a sense of control over one’s life

Xanax® Frequently Asked Questions

Although your doctor is the best resource for answering all questions related to Xanax®, here are a few frequently asked questions

What is the Highest Mg of Xanax® Prescribed?

Xanax® will typically be prescribed in small doses unless tolerance has been built. The maximum daily dose should be no more than 10mg taken over 3 doses for panic disorders.

How Long Does Xanax® Take to Wear Off?

The amount of time it takes for Xanax® to wear off varies from person to person. Measuring the half-life of Xanax® is one way to determine how long the effects will last in the body. In adults, Xanax® has a half-life of around 11 hours. This means that it would take around 11 hours to eliminate half of the Xanax® dose.

How does Xanax® Affect the Brain?

Xanax® inhibits neural activity by working on brain receptors (GABA). It slows down the link between the brain and body to ease anxiousness and promote a sense of calmness in the user. The quick-acting sedative sensation brought on by Xanax® provides a means for people who exhibit nervous tendencies to get severe symptoms under control.

Is it Ok to Take Xanax® Long Term?

The FDA has recommended using Xanax for short-term solutions in times of severe anxiety or panic. Most doctors prescribe Xanax “as needed,” and it shouldn’t be taken longer than 8 weeks.

How Much Xanax® is Habit Forming?

Xanax® is ranked as one of the most dangerously addictive prescriptions on the market. It has the power to take hold of a user in just a few weeks.

How Much Xanax® is Ok In A Day?

A minimal dose of Xanax® will normally be administered unless tolerance has already developed. For panic disorders, a maximum daily dose of 10 mg divided into 3 doses should be used.

Is 2 Mg Of Xanax® A Day A Lot?

A doctor may prescribe a person 2 mg of Xanax® as needed to control symptoms of anxiety if tolerance has been built.

Can Xanax® Make Anxiety Worse?

Although it is uncommon, Xanax® has been known to make people feel more anxious.

Can Alprazolam Stop Your Heart?

Benzodiazepines, like Alprazolam, are known to lower blood pressure and heart rate. Increased GABA levels in the brain result in decreased nerve-to-nerve communication, which affects physiological processes, including breathing and heart rate. As a result, it carries a risk of cardiac failure and heart damage.

Can Xanax® Cause a Stroke?

Xanax® can cause an increased risk of stroke and ischemic stroke in people who have Alzheimer’s disease.

Will Xanax® Make Your Blood Pressure Go Down?

Xanax® is known to lower blood pressure.

Can Xanax® Cause Low Oxygen Levels?

Some people may experience slowed breathing when taking Xanax®. Those who use alcohol or other depressants and have lung problems may have an issue with their breathing after taking Xanax®.

Can Xanax® Make You Dizzy?

Dizziness is a known side effect of taking Xanax®.

What Should You Avoid While Taking Alprazolam?

While taking Alprazolam, refrain from consuming alcohol or other illegal drugs. Doing so may lessen the effects of the medication or worsen side effects.

Does Xanax® Make You Emotionless?

Using Xanax® can cause a sensation of a disconnection from reality, detached feelings, and stronger sexual desires.

Does Xanax® Make You Talkative?

Xanax® can sometimes make the user more talkative.

Why Does Xanax® Cause Rage?

Similar to how alcohol may sometimes cause people to get angry when they drink, Xanax® may have a similar effect. Xanax® impairs the brain, and as a result, anger and irritation are associated with long-term use.

Recover From Xanax® Addiction

We know Xanax® addiction affects not only the user but those who care about them as well. At Gallus, we believe in dignity in healing. Contact us today if you or someone you know is struggling with Xanax® addiction.

Last medically reviewed on January 19, 2023

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