Xanax Warnings and Precautions

To help ensure safe treatment with Xanax, warnings and precautions for the drug should be reviewed before you start taking it. For example, it is important to know that Xanax can cause psychological and physical dependence in some people, and has the potential to be abused. Among the people who should not take Xanax are those who are allergic to any components of the drug, those who have acute narrow-angle glaucoma, and those who are taking ketoconazole or itraconazole.

Xanax: What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking Xanax® (alprazolam) if you have:
 
  • Glaucoma
  • A history of drug or alcohol abuse (see Xanax and Alcohol)
  • Depression
  • Liver disease, including liver failure or cirrhosis
  • Kidney disease, including kidney failure (renal failure)
  • Lung problems or breathing problems
  • Any allergies, including allergies to food, dyes, or preservatives.
     
Also let your healthcare provider know if you are:
 
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
     
You should also make sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you may be taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
 

Specific Xanax Warnings and Precautions

Some warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking Xanax include:
 
  • Xanax is a controlled substance, which means that it has the potential to be abused. There are special rules and regulations for prescribing and dispensing Xanax. The medicine is generally not recommended for people with a history of alcohol or drug abuse (see Xanax Addiction).
     
  • Xanax can cause psychological and physical dependence and is often abused. The risk of abuse and dependence is greater for those taking higher Xanax doses for long periods of time (more than a few weeks). Because stopping Xanax suddenly can produce dangerous withdrawal symptoms, you should not stop taking Xanax suddenly without first discussing it with your healthcare provider (see Xanax Withdrawal).
     
  • Xanax can cause severe drowsiness and difficulty breathing, which may be life-threatening. This risk is increased when Xanax is combined with alcohol, narcotics, or other medications or substances that cause drowsiness and sedation (see Xanax Drug Interactions for more information). You should not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how Xanax affects you.
     
  • Xanax may cause depression or worsen preexisting depression. Before you take Xanax, make sure that your healthcare provider knows if you are depressed or have a history of depression.
     
  • Elderly people are more sensitive to the effects of Xanax and should be started on a low Xanax dosage. Xanax may increase the risk of falling, which is especially dangerous in elderly people (who often have weak or brittle bones).
     
  • Sometimes, people react to Xanax in a way that is the opposite of what is usually expected. That is, they may become agitated, aggressive, and restless and may have difficulty sleeping. Tell your healthcare provider if you experience these effects.
     
  • Let your healthcare provider know if you have liver or kidney disease, as your body may not handle Xanax as well as it should.
     
  • Xanax can be dangerous for people with lung problems or breathing problems. Be sure to discuss any breathing or lung problems with your healthcare provider before taking Xanax.
     
  • Xanax is considered a pregnancy Category D medication. This means that it is probably not safe for use during pregnancy. Talk with your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of taking the drug during pregnancy (see Xanax and Pregnancy).
     
  • Xanax passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start breastfeeding, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Xanax and Breastfeeding).
     
 
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