Xanax: Definition, Types, Structure and Importance

What Is Xanax?

Xanax, a brand name for a drug called alprazolam, is used to treat anxiety and panic attacks. For millions who suffer from insomnia and panic attacks, Xanax is one of the most prescribed drugs by psychiatrists. Alprazolam is the generic name for Xanax and it belongs to a group of drugs called benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines have been used successfully as a treatment option for insomnia and other disorders since the 1970s. “Benzos” work to enhance the effects of a certain natural chemical in the body called GABA. 

Is Xanax Effective?

Xanax provides fast relief of anxiety symptoms by slowing down activity in your central nervous system. This includes areas of the brain involved with sleep, mood, anxiety, and fear. Xanax works by increasing the amount of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain to promote calmness and a relaxed feeling. This greatly helps people who suffer from anxiety disorders so that they are able to remain calmer in a particularly stressful situation, help curb panic attacks and calm their body’s overactivity. When prescribed by a doctor Xanax can be effective.



The History of Xanax

The first benzodiazepine drug was developed in 1955. Eventually, Xanax was patented in 1976 and FDA-approved in 1981. Xanax was developed by Upjohn Laboratories of Kalamazoo, Michigan in the late 1960s as a sleep aid. After testing, Upjohn realized its effects on anxiety, panic, and mood disorders.

During that time, other antidepressants were on the market (tricyclic antidepressants), which were more toxic than Xanax. It began being marketed for “panic disorders” and gained mainstream traction amongst psychiatrists. The Upjohn Company (now part of Pfizer) filed for and was granted a U.S. patent for Xanax in 1969. Eventually, Xanax (alprazolam),  was eventually released to the drug market in 1981.

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Is Xanax Addictive?

Xanax and other Benzodiazepines can become habit-forming when a tolerance is developed. It is considered one of the most addictive benzodiazepine medications on the market today. The risks of becoming addicted are higher in people who take doses of 4 mg/day for longer than 12 weeks, but anyone who abuses the drug could be at risk for addiction. Daily use of benzodiazepines for six weeks or more will result in dependency for four in every 10 users.

This medication may be habit-forming if misused. It should not be used if you are allergic to alprazolam or similar medications, such as:

  • chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • clorazepate (Tranxene)
  • diazepam (Valium)
  • lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Oxazepam


Side Effects of Xanax

Xanax has side effects, particularly during withdrawal or abuse, symptoms can be amplified.

  • Tremors
  • Lack of focus
  • Confusion
  • Memory problems
  • Lack of inhibition
  • Mood swings or irritability
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea & Vomiting
  • Coordination problems
  • Seizures
  • Shortness of breath
  • Slurred speech



Xanax Withdrawal

Once dependency occurs, it may be difficult to stop taking Xanax. Even if there is a genuine willingness to start detoxing from Xanax, the symptoms of Xanax withdrawal are often so bad that they go right back on the Xanax for fear of experiencing those symptoms again. It’s important to seek help from a professional if you are struggling with Xanax abuse or Xanax withdrawal so that the process can be completed safely. Detox is just the first step on the road to recovery and developing the coping mechanisms necessary for long-term abstinence.

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Get Help For Xanax Addiction

Treatment for Xanax addiction involves countering not just the physical addiction but also the mental addiction to lessen compulsion and cravings for more of the drug.

If you are struggling with a substance use disorder related to the overmedication of Xanax, we can help. Find a location near you and call us today.




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Ben Fisher

Ben Fisher

Ben is a content creator with multiple years in recovery. Ben has been writing content and managing instagram and facebook pages that provide hope and healing information to individuals seeking help for substance use disorder. In addition to his work in behavioral health, Ben loves to play guitar and hangout with his kids.

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