Alprazolam, sold as the trade name Xanax among others, is a short-acting benzodiazepine—a minor tranquilizer. It is most commonly used as a treatment for anxiety disorders, specifically panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Other uses include chemotherapy induced nausea, together with other treatments. GAD improvement occurs generally within a week. Alprazolam is available by mouth.
Common side effects include sleepiness, depression, headaches, feeling tired, dry mouth, and memory problems. Some of the sedation and tiredness may improve within a few days. Due to concerns of abuse, some do not recommended alprazolam as an initial treatment of panic disorder. Withdrawal or rebound symptoms may occur if use is suddenly decreased. Other risks include suicide, possibly due to loss of inhibition. Gradually decreasing the dose over weeks or months may be required. Alprazolam, like other benzodiazepines, binds to the GABAA receptor through which it acts.
Alprazolam was approved for medical use in 1981. In 2013, more than 48 million prescriptions were filled in the United States making it the most prescribed psychiatric medication. Overall in 2010 it was the 12th most prescribed medicine in the United States. Alprazolam is a Schedule IV controlled substance and is a very common drug of abuse. It is available as a generic medication. The wholesale cost in the United States is less than 0.03 USD per dose as of 2018.