Mental Health Home > Precautions and Warnings With Alprazolam

There are many alprazolam precautions and warnings to be aware of before starting the medication. For example, to help ensure safe treatment, you should let your healthcare provider know if you have liver or kidney disease, lung problems, or breathing problems before taking the drug. You should also be aware that alprazolam is a controlled substance and has the potential to be abused.

Alprazolam: What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking alprazolam (Xanax®) 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 Alprazolam Precautions and Warnings

Some warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking alprazolam include:
  • Alprazolam is a controlled substance, which means that it has the potential to be abused. There are special rules and regulations for prescribing and dispensing alprazolam. The drug is generally not recommended for people with a history of alcohol or drug abuse (see Xanax Addiction).
  • Alprazolam can cause psychological and physical dependence and is often abused. The risk of abuse and dependence is greater for those taking higher alprazolam doses for long periods of time (more than a few weeks). Because stopping alprazolam suddenly can produce dangerous withdrawal symptoms, you should not stop taking alprazolam suddenly without first discussing it with your healthcare provider (see Xanax Withdrawal).
  • Alprazolam can cause severe drowsiness and difficulty breathing, which may be life-threatening. This risk is increased when alprazolam is combined with alcohol, narcotics, or other medications or substances that cause drowsiness and sedation (see Drug Interactions With Alprazolam for more information). You should not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how alprazolam affects you.
  • Alprazolam may cause depression or worsen preexisting depression. Before you take alprazolam, 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 alprazolam and should be started on a low alprazolam dosage. Alprazolam may increase the risk of falling, which is especially dangerous in elderly people (who often have weak or brittle bones).
  • Sometimes, people react to alprazolam 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 alprazolam as well as it should.
  • Alprazolam can be dangerous in people with lung problems or breathing problems. Be sure to discuss any breathing or lung problems with your healthcare provider before taking alprazolam.
  • Alprazolam 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).
  • Alprazolam 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).
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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