Alprazolam: Definition, Classification & Ingredients

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

In this lesson, you're going to learn about a medication called alprazolam. You'll find out what its major uses are, what its famous brand name is, and what ingredients comprise it.


Alprazolam is a medication that is much better known as Xanax. The latter is the best known trade name for the generic drug, alprazolam itself. This is a drug that's used to treat anxiety disorders. To help remember that, try and remember that X'an'ax' is 'an'ti (against) 'ax'iety. Yes, the 'n' went missing, but at least it's easier to remember what this drug is for that way. Alprazolam is also used to treat panic disorders.

Let's go over this drug's classification and ingredients.


This drug can be broadly classified in more than one way, believe it or not. In terms of what its medical purpose is, it's an anti-anxiety medication. Simple as that. The more proper medical slang for an anti-anxiety medication, however, is anxiolytic. That's because an anxiolytic is a medication that relieves (-lytic) anxiety (anxio-).

Besides its medical purpose, we can also classify it based on it chemistry. In this way, alprazolam is a benzodiazepine, or if you want to be very specific, it's a triazolobenzodiazepine. In other words, its chemical structure depends on a six-sided 'benz'ene ring and a seven-sided diazepine ring.

We can also classify it based on its biochemical mechanism of action in the brain. In this case, it's a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. The central nervous system is your brain and spinal cord. Alprazolam works by inhibiting the ability of brain cells to send electrochemical signals to one another or the rest of the body. In other words, it tells the brain cells to 'simmer down, man!' This is why it's used in anxiety and panic disorders when the brain cells are clearly in overdrive.

Finally, in terms of a legal classification, alprazolam is a schedule IV drug, one with a low potential for abuse.


What's the ingredient of alprazolam? Well, alprazolam is THE ingredient. More specifically, it is the active ingredient in brand name medications like Xanax. By active ingredient, that means alprazolam is the ingredient that is intended to have a therapeutic effect of some sort and is expected to have an adverse effect in some people as well.

Some formulations of alprazolam may include other ingredients, which are the inactive ingredients. These aren't ingredients that have absolutely no action within the body. No. Inactive ingredients are best described as those that have no intended therapeutic effect and no expected adverse effects within the body. But be warned, some people may have adverse effects to 'inactive' ingredients, like allergic reactions.

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