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How Does Alprazolam Work?

When a person experiences excessive feelings of nervousness, tension and anxiety, the brain increases certain nerve signals, which results in a chemical imbalance.

 Increased brain activity usually leads to a heightened state of anxiety, limiting a person's ability to calm down mentally and physically. Severe anxiety can lead to panic attacks, which involve the following symptoms: 

  • Increased heart rate or palpitations
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irrational thinking or a fear of losing control

During times of intense anxiety, the brain releases a chemical called GABA, in an attempt to restore calmness. GABA is found in 80% of nerve connections in the brain and Alprazolam pills work by adding to the calming effect, already produced by this chemical. This medication enhances levels of GABA and this slows down the central nervous system, allowing an anxious patient to relax. When taken as recommended, Alprazolam has the ability to alleviate feelings of nervousness, tension and anxiety. This makes the medication beneficial in the treatment of the following anxiety disorders: 

  • Generalised anxiety disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder, with or without agoraphobia

Individuals who suffer with anxiety disorders often feel overly anxious on a daily basis. Managing the symptoms of an anxiety disorder can improve the overall quality of a person's life. 

How Long Does It Take for Alprazolam to Work?

Alprazolam 1 mg tablets, as well as other doses of this medicine, should be taken by mouth and as intended. Once ingested, this medication is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. For some patients, the effects can be felt within as little as 10 minutes. However, for most people this therapeutic starts to work within an hour. The effect happens quickly, making Alprazolam suitable for the treatment of panic attacks. Most people ask 'what is Alprazolam like in terms of the different formulations?' The answer to this simple question is the different formulations of these tablets depend on how quick you would like them to work. A controlled trial was conducted to compare the speed of onset of action, of the standard tablets against the extended-release formulation. A total of 30 patients with a diagnosis of panic disorder were involved in the research study. The participants recorded their hourly ant-anxiety benefits from use of the regular tablets in a diary, over a certain period of time. Thereafter, they switched treatment to the extended-release formulation so the effects could be compared. The study revealed that the extent of the benefits of both treatments were alike, after the first hour of treatment. During the first morning of treatment with both medications, 90% of the maximum benefit of both formulations was attained within the first hour. The average time to peak effects was 1.5 hours for the regular tablets and 1.6 hours for the extended-release formulation. 

How Long Does Alprazolam Last?

The effects of the regular tablets last about five hours. However, majority of people feel the strongest effects of this medication 2 to 4 hours, after administration. In the abovementioned study, the extended-release formulation had a substantially longer duration of effect. The therapeutic action of the extended-release formulation is about 11 hours on average. 

How Well Does Alprazolam Work?

Alprazolam works well for acute anxiety, especially when rapid relief is required for severe symptoms. 

  • research study was carried out to assess the anxiolytic efficacy of this medication, compared with diazepam and a placebo (a substance with no therapeutic effect).
  • A total of 86 outpatients with moderate to severe anxiety were involved in the study, which lasted 28 days. The patients received a Alprazolam dosage of between 0.5 mg to 3 mg, on a daily basis. The effectiveness of treatment was evaluated by physicians using various rating tools, including the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A).
  • The HAM-A is a 14-item questionnaire that measures the severity of anxiety symptoms and is often used in research and clinical circumstances. In addition, the patients in the study evaluated themselves using two separate questionnaires.
  • The results revealed that alprazolam anti-anxiety medication was more effective than the placebo on all measures. Although diazepam has been shown to be effective in the treatment of anxiety, Alprazolam pills demonstrated a higher level of efficacy, in this particular study. This medication also had the lowest occurrence of side effects, which also gradually decreased over the course of the study.

How Long Does Alprazolam Stay In Your System?

Alprazolam has a half-life of 11.2 hours. This means, on average, it takes a healthy adult this specified amount of time to eradicate half a dose of the medicine from the body. However, various factors can affect the half-life of this medication, including the following: 

  • Age - Alprazolam tends to stay in the system longer for older adults and the average half-life for elderly patients is 16.3 hours.
  • Weight - it becomes more difficult for this medication to be broken down in heavier people. For patients who are overweight or obese, the elimination half-life increases to an average of 21.8 hours.
  • Dosage - it generally takes longer for the body to eliminate higher doses of Alprazolam.
  • Duration of treatment - people who have been taking Alprazolam on a regular basis will have higher amounts of the therapeutic in the bloodstream. This will increase the elimination half-life, as it takes longer for the medication to be completely removed from the system.
  • Metabolism - the half-life is usually shorter in people who stay physically active and have a faster metabolism, compared with those who do not exercise.
  • Liver function - for patients with poor liver function, this medication will stay in the system for a longer period of time. On average, the half-life is 19.7 hours for people with alcoholic liver disease.
  • Lifestyle choices - can affect the half-life of Alprazolam. For example, the half-life may be decreased up to 50% in smokers, compared to people who do not smoke.
  • Use of alcohol - this increases the half-life as the liver tends to metabolise alcohol first, then it starts metabolising other substances. The concurrent use of alcohol, with these anti-anxiety pills, should always be avoided to reduce the risk of Alprazolam side effects.

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Updated by Admin: December 01, 2023

Cindy Walker – Apr 14, 2021
Hi Sarah I have read a number of your blogs but this is my first time to comment. Thanks to your blogs I have now been able to make an educated choice, treat my condition and get my life back on track. Many thanks Cindy Walker

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