Alprazolam: uses and effects

Alprazolam is an anxiolytic drug that belongs to the family of benzodiazepines. Is used for the treatment of anxiety episodes.

Although benzodiazepines also have sedative properties, it is preferable to use with this indication other drugs that have less ability to cause addiction. However, The alprazolam is benzodiazepines with less addictive effect.

Before going into detail with the characteristics of the medicine and knowing how it works in the body, it is important to know the pathology for which it is indicated: the anxiety.

What is anxiety?

To get started, Anxiety can be a normal emotion or a psychiatric disorder. Whether one type or another depends on the intensity and the impact on the patient.

In normal situations, it is a proper and natural component of the mind which acts as a defense mechanism and allows us to adjust to stress situations.

However, if limits are exceeded, the anxiety becomes pathological, so that adaptation to the stressful situation is nullified or hindered.

The patients describe anxiety as a feeling of threat, of tense expectation before the future and of alteration of the psychosomatic equilibrium in the absence of a real danger. People with anxiety often suffer:

  • Sweating
  • Palpitations
  • Insomnia.
  • Fatigue.

On the other hand, alprazolam is also used for the treatment of patients who they present symptoms of anxiety and depression at the same time.

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Mechanism of action: what does the drug do in our body?

Benzodiazepines they act at the level of the central nervous system (CNS) and can produce all kinds of depression of the same. These effects include sedation and hypnosis, as well as skeletal muscle relaxation and anticonvulsant activity.

Recent evidence indicates that benzodiazepines owe their effect to the ability to bind gamma-aminobutyric acid to the GABA complex receptor. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter which exerts its effects on the subtypes of specific receptors called GABA-A and GABA-B.

Now, what is a neurotransmitter? GABA, like other substances such as serotonin or adrenaline, are chemical substances that are synthesized in the body and that they are responsible for the transmission of signals from one neuron to the next.

Depending on the neurotransmitter that is, they will transmit a type of signals or others triggering a different signaling match. In the case of GABA, when secreted, emits signals of inhibition or reduction of neuronal activity.

GABA plays an important role in the behavior, cognition and response of the body to stress. Thus, Low levels of this neurotransmitter are associated with anxiety disorders, among others. Hence the effectiveness of benzodiazepines in this problem.

Pharmacokinetics: what happens to alprazolam in our body?

The pharmacokinetics is the set of different processes and changes that the drug undergoes in the body. It includes the following processes: absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination.

Alprazolam is administered orally and it is absorbed quickly. The maximum concentrations in the blood are reached between one and two hours after administration.

This drug is metabolized, that is, undergoes a series of chemical reactions to become more soluble and favor its elimination, mainly in the liver. Therefore, patients with liver problems should be cautious with this drug.

Once it has been metabolized, both the unmodified drug and the resulting substances in the process, called metabolites, They are eliminated mainly by urine.

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Adverse effects of alprazolam

The most common side effects of treatment with this benzodiazepine are related to the pharmacological effects of it, that is, with the depression of the central nervous system.

In case the patient suffers adverse effects, These usually develop when the treatment starts. In addition, they usually disappear along the same or when the administered dose is decreased.

In this sense, Patients suffering from anxiety and association of anxiety and depression, which are the tables for which alprazolam is indicated, may suffer the following most common adverse effects:

  • Drowsiness.
  • Atudirmiento.
  • Dizziness.

However, these effects occur in 1% of cases. There are others even less frequent such as:


The alprazolam is an anxiolytic drug for the treatment of anxiety. You should not self-medicate without being under medical control, since a misuse of the drug can be harmful to health. An overdose can even lead to death.