There are many misconceptions about prescription drugs, in general. The below Xanax facts provide insights on the potential dangers of this widely prescribed and abused drug.
Is it Possible to Overdose on Xanax?
Yes. While only 1% of overdose deaths are attributed to Xanax ingestion alone, it is frequently taken with other drugs and alcohol. Signs of Xanax overdose include drowsiness, confusion, impaired motor functions and loss of consciousness.1 One study that compared alprazolam (Xanax) to other drugs in the same class found that Xanax abuse increased length of hospital stay, intensive care (ICU) admissions and the use of interventions such as mechanical ventilation to prevent overdose-related complications. However, alprazolam ingestion was not associated with an increased risk of coma compared to other benzodiazepines.2
Is it Safe to Take Xanax During Pregnancy?
No. Research has found that administration of benzodiazepines comes with many risks to the developing fetus. Taking Xanax during the first trimester may increase the risk of birth defects such as cleft lip and cleft palate. Third trimester exposure is associated with floppy infant syndrome, which may result in low APGAR scores (summary of newborn’s health), hypothermia, sluggish response to cold temperatures, and muscular hypotonia. The latter manifests as a lack of muscle control in the head, arms and legs, which generally subsides two to three weeks after birth. Moreover, the use of benzodiazepines in pregnancy can elevate the risk of neonatal withdrawal symptoms such as hypertonia (increased muscle tension), hyperreflexia (overactive reflexes), tremors, bradycardia (abnormally slow heart action) and sleep disturbances. Because of these risks, benzodiazepines should be avoided during pregnancy, especially in the first and third trimesters. Breastfeeding mothers should not take the drug because it may cause side effects in the nursing infant such as drowsiness and weight loss.3,4,5
Do Certain Physical or Mental Conditions Prohibit the Use of Xanax?
Yes, people with specific physical conditions and mental health disorders should not take Xanax. Physical conditions include acute narrow-angle glaucoma and untreated open-angle glaucoma, renal or liver disease, severe lung disease, epilepsy and obesity. People with clinically diagnosed depression should avoid taking Xanax because the drug can exacerbate depression and reports of hypomania and mania episodes have been reported. People with a history of alcoholism, drug abuse or personality disorder have a greater risk of addiction to Xanax, and furthermore, concurrent use of Xanax with alcohol and other drugs can result in overdose, coma and death.5
- Xanax Effects and Withdrawal Symptoms. Drug Rehab Treatment Help website. http://drugrehabtreatmenthelp.com/drugs/xanax/ Published 2010. Accessed October 12, 2016.
- Isbister GK, O’Regan L, Sibbritt D, Whyte IM. Alprazolam is relatively more toxic than other benzodiazepines in overdose. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2004;58(1):88-95. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2125.2004.02089.x.
- Can I Take Xanax During Pregnancy? Healthline website. http://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/xanax-during-pregnancy#Introduction1 Published June 10, 2016. Accessed October 12, 2016.
- Misri S, Abizadeh J, Sanders S, Swift E. Perinatal Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Assessment and Treatment. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2015;24(9):762-770. doi:10.1089/jwh.2014.5150.
- Xanax bars. Drug Details website. http://drugsdetails.com/xanax-bars/ Published September 15, 2016. Accessed October 12, 2016.