Alprazolam: Contraindications & Interactions

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson is going to briefly define alprazolam and its main uses. Then, you'll learn about scenarios where it shouldn't be used and about a few example drug interactions involving this medication.


Mom. Noon. Civic. Xanax. What do all of these words have in common? You know what mom, noon, and civic mean. But what's Xanax? Xanax is a household name for a medication known as alprazolam. Do you know what Xanax helps treat? It is an anti-anxiety medication, and it's also used to treat panic disorder.

Keep reading this lesson to find out this medication's contraindications and interactions as well as what all of those words have in common.


Alprazolam is belongs to a class of medications known as benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines help our brain relax and take it easy. This is why it's helpful in anxiety and panic disorders. Those are its indications, its uses. It also has contraindications, or scenarios where it shouldn't be used. They include the following:

  • A known hypersensitivity, or allergy, to alprazolam or other benzodiazepines.
  • Acute narrow angle glaucoma. This is a situation where the pressure within the eye rises very quickly.
  • Concurrent use of medications called ketoconazole and itraconazole. These are anti-fungal medications. These two drugs increase the level of alprazolam in the body, which can lead to everything from drowsiness to dangerously slow breathing.

Drug Interactions

The latter two drugs are two great examples of improper drug interactions between alprazolam and another drug. Alprazolam has hundreds of these, so here are a few more examples of important ones:

  • Sodium oxybate. Sodium oxybate is a drug that's used to manage narcolepsy, a condition characterized by inappropriate and excessive sleepiness. Either drug ends up increasing the effects of the other when used together. This can lead to confusion, shallow breathing, and dizziness among other signs and symptoms.
  • Tipranavir. This is a medication used to help manage HIV. It ends up increasing the levels of alprazolam in the body and thus increases the chances of adverse effects in the process.
  • Rifampin. Rifampin is an antibiotic, a drug that targets bacteria. It can decrease the level or effectiveness of alprazolam.
  • Fentanyl. This is a powerful pain reliever. When used together, there is the potential serious central nervous system depression that can lead to coma and death.
  • Valerian root. This is a supplement you can easily by over the counter. It's commonly used to help a person relax or fall asleep. When used together with alprazolam there is a greater chance for unwanted sedation, confusion, and impaired thinking and motor coordination.

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