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Side Effects of Alprazolam (Xanax, Niravam)



Xanax (generic alprazolam) is an anti-anxiety medication (called a “benzodiazepine”) which affects chemicals in the brain that may be irregular in people with anxiety issues. Alprazolam is used to treat psychiatric conditions such as panic disorders, anxiety caused by depression, and generalized anxiety disorders (Xanax drug label reported by the U.S. FDA (2011).

Warning on Potential of Addiction to Xanax

Alprazolam is a controlled substance under the U.S. Controlled Substance Act. Dependence and addiction are a risk associate with most anti-anxiety drugs, including Xanax. The risk of dependence on Xanax is greater at higher doses and with longer term use, and in individuals with a history of alcohol or drug abuse. Some patients have experienced considerable difficulty in tapering and discontinuing from Xanax, especially those receiving higher doses for extended periods (Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment “Alprazolam and diazepam: addiction potential,” 1991).

Common Side Effects

Common Xanax side effects may include drowsiness, feeling sleepy, feeling fatigues and tired, light-headedness, memory problems; slurred speech, lack of balance or coordination; or feeling anxious early in the morning (Xanax drug label.

Less Common Side Effects

Less common side effects of Xanax according to the Xanax drug label, include:

  • Abdominal or stomach pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Decrease in frequency of urination
  • Diarrhea
  • Body aches or pain
  • Changes in behavior
  • Chills
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Confusion about identity, place, and time
  • Cough
  • Dark urine
  • Memory and cognition difficulties
  • Yellow eyes or skin

Understand Your Risks with the Rxight® Genetic Test

MD Labs’ CLIA-certified Rxight® pharmacogenetic testing program is based on the assessment of individual patients’ reaction, which is based on genes that encode the enzymes involved in drug metabolism, to over 200 common prescription and OTC medications to determine your likelihood of experiencing side effects. In particular, addiction-prone individuals – whose susceptibility is partly determined by genetics – should be under careful monitoring when receiving Xanax, and would be candidates for pharmacogenetic testing before treatment commences to assess their addiction potential. All that is required is a simple DNA sample from a cheek swab, which is sent to our lab for processing, after which you will receive a Personalized Medication Review® to go over your results with a pharmacist with expertise in pharmacogenetics. By analyzing your unique genetically modulated metabolism of Xanax and other medications on our panel, you and your prescriber can determine the dose that is right for you – preferably before treatment begins – rather than relying on the traditional trial-and-error approach.

How Does Pharmacogenetic Testing Work?

Pharmacogenetic testing, also called “PGx testing” analyzes how well you metabolize certain pharmacological agents, based on your genes. Individuals fall into three general classes for their ability to process a medication: “slow metabolizers,” “rapid metabolizers,” and “ultra-rapid metabolizers.” Pharmacogenetic testing measures drug metabolizing enzymes, some of which are extensively involved in the breakdown of Xanax in the body. Consequently, individuals with low enzyme activity have a tendency for higher blood level of this medicine, thereby making them more prone to the side effects, while individuals with high enzyme activity may experience no therapeutic effect from a medication at normal doses.

Contributors to this Article:
Michael Sapko, MD, PhD; Deborah Kallick, PhD, Medicinal Chemistry

Read more about Rxight® pharmacogenetic testing