Alprazolam is a type of benzodiazepine drug that goes under the trade names Xanax®, Xanor®, and Niravam®. All of these drugs are intended to treat panic attacks and anxiety disorders. Out of these three trade names, Xanax® is the most commonly prescribed. Xanax® may also be used to treat symptoms of severe depression, which makes this drug unique within the benzodiazepine drug category.
Scientists began experimenting with benzodiazepine during the sixties. Alprazolam was originally created by a company called Upjohn, which was later acquired by Pfizer. Upjohn marketed the drug as a cure-all for panic disorder, and when the drug was released in 1981, it became an instant hit. Before its release, panic disorder was an ailment that was largely untreatable.
Xanax® medication works through absorption within the gastrointestinal system. When a Xanax® pill is swallowed, it is absorbed by the gastrointestinal track. Once the medication has reached this tract, it is then dissolved by digestive liquids. A vast majority of the medication attaches itself to plasma protein within the body, while the rest of the medication is absorbed by the liver.
Whether the drug winds up in the liver or attached to plasma proteins, the effectiveness of the drug remains the same. Following absorption, Xanax® medication works to directly impact the brain's GABA receptors. These receptors are responsible for communicating with the brain's neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Xanax® medication effectively numbs these reactors, causing a patient to feel calm.
While benzodiazepine drugs have been proven highly effective, there is some controversy surrounding the long-term effects of the drugs on patients. When patients are prescribed a high dosage of Xanax® medication over a long period of time, side effects such as euphoria, hallucinations, jaundice, rage, and many others can occur, though these side effects are often rare.
Also, physical dependence can occur when Xanax® medication has been prescribed for a more than eight weeks. Any patient that wishes to discontinue the use of Xanax® medication should speak with a doctor. Most patients must slowly discontinue use of this medication in order to avoid any unwanted physical dependency side effects. No patient should abruptly stop using any kind of benzodiazepine medication.
In addition, this type of medication should be monitored by a trained physician. Only a qualified medical expert can determine whether or not a patient should continue use of Xanax®. Without this drug, many people suffering from anxiety, depression, and panic attacks would not be able to function normally, though this doesn't meant that Xanax® should be taken liberally.