Xanax XR: Uses And Effects

Xanax XR is an extended release form of brand name Xanax that can provide long-lasting relief for people with chronic depression or anxiety. Xanax XR is safe to use, but can be addictive. As a result, all Xanax abuse should receive professional treatment.

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Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS

on October 10, 2022

Xanax XR is the extended release form of the drug alprazolam. This prescription drug is typically used to treat chronic anxiety disorders.

Xanax XR works by interacting with the GABA receptors in your central nervous system to slow the abnormal levels of neural activity associated with anxiety and panic attacks.

The prescription medication should make you feel calm, but it may also make you feel some sleepiness associated with sedation.

As long as you are following your healthcare provider’s prescription and the included medication guide, you should not experience any serious side effects.

Why People Use Xanax XR

Xanax XR can be a great option for people who struggle with chronic mental health issues.

Rather than needing two to four doses per day, Xanax XR allows you to take just one dose to counter your symptoms for the entire day.

Unfortunately, as with all forms of Xanax, the drug also comes with a high potential for misuse, abuse, and addiction.

Antidepressant Uses

Xanax is not typically a medical professional’s first choice of antidepressant, but it can work for some people when other antidepressants have failed.

When you use Xanax, the medication doesn’t just interact with your GABA receptors. It also affects other neurotransmitters, which trigger a surge in dopamine.

Dopamine is a “feel good” hormone that can counteract the inhibitors responsible for depression, providing some relief.

Panic Disorder Treatment

Xanax XR can last all day but has a similar speed of onset action to regular Xanax.

As a result, this variation of the drug allows for the consistent maintenance of a panic disorder with the option to use a smaller dose as a rescue option under the advisement of your physician.

Anxiety Disorder Treatment

Xanax XR is most commonly prescribed for chronic anxiety disorders. The primary interaction with your GABA receptors amplifies their effects to calm neural activity.

These changes in your central nervous system will relieve many of the symptoms you associate with anxiety.

Xanax XR simply provides a slow release dose that helps to keep your anxiety symptoms at bay throughout the day without the need for multiple doses.

What Are The Side Effects Of Xanax XR?

Xanax XR should not have serious side effects if taken according to your prescription.

Side effects of Xanax XR use may include:

  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • irritability
  • difficulty concentrating
  • nausea
  • constipation

These are not generally serious, but you should discuss all side effects with your doctor.

If you experience severe mood swings, psychosis, signs of liver disease, or respiratory depression, seek emergency treatment.

Dangerous Drug Interactions With Xanax XR

If your doctor is prescribing Xanax XR, it is important to avoid adverse reactions.

You can avoid contraindications by reading labels and giving all staff a complete medical history including all current prescriptions and supplements.

Abusing drugs or drinking alcohol with Xanax should be avoided.


Desipramine is an antidepressant. It should not be combined with any form of Xanax, as the combination can exacerbate some of the drug’s negative side effects.

Taking desipramine and Xanax can cause extreme fatigue and dizziness. In older adults who take Xanax, the combination may even temporarily impair cognitive function and motor skills.

Grapefruit Juice

The data on the interaction between grapefruit juice and Xanax is not entirely clear, but they are not approved for concomitant use.

According to the FDA, grapefruit juice may restrain your body’s natural ability to metabolize Xanax and other drugs.

This could result in a higher blood concentration and an increased risk of serious symptoms.


Lorazepam is another benzodiazepine. It should never be combined with Xanax, as the combination will likely exacerbate the side effects associated with benzos, including fatigue, dizziness, and confusion.


Erythromycin is an antibiotic. While other antibiotics may be safe to use with Xanax, erythromycin is not one of them.

The combination will effectively increase the levels of Xanax absorbed into your bloodstream, putting you at risk for serious side effects.

Motor impairment, amnesia, hallucinations, and breathing problems have all been recorded.

Other drugs that may react with Xanax XR include:

  • antihistamines
  • carbamazepine
  • cimetidine
  • clarithromycin
  • codeine
  • contraceptives
  • cyclosporine
  • diltiazem
  • fluoxetine
  • fluvoxamine
  • imipramine
  • isoniazid
  • itraconazole
  • ketoconazole
  • nefazodone
  • opioids
  • sertraline
  • sodium oxybate
  • St. John’s Wort

What Is The Difference Between Xanax And Xanax XR?

Xanax and Xanax XR are not fundamentally different, but their mechanism of action allows them to interact with your body in a slightly different way.

Xanax is absorbed very quickly. By contrast, Xanax XR is designed to release smaller amounts of the drug over an extended period of time. The full release of Xanax XR can take up to a day.

This formulation gives your body regular access to small doses to help manage chronic anxiety symptoms.

Treatment Options For Xanax Addiction

Xanax can be an incredibly helpful drug, but it can also be habit-forming with serious withdrawal reactions. If you are abusing your Xanax prescription, it’s important to ask for help.

Without professional intervention and a medical detox, Xanax withdrawal symptoms can be very dangerous.

Fortunately, there are qualified addiction treatment centers that are ready to help.

These programs can get you started with a diazepam or chlordiazepoxide-based benzodiazepine taper to slowly wean you off Xanax for a safe detox experience.

They can also put you in touch with inpatient and outpatient Xanax addiction therapy options to help manage your mental health as you take on this challenge.

Find Substance Use Disorder Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

At Bedrock Recovery Center, our goal is to help you safely detox while finding healthier coping mechanisms.

We realize that drug abuse is a disease and that you need professional, non-judgmental medical care to make it through.

If you or a loved one is ready to stop abusing Xanax, give us a call at our Massachusetts treatment center today.

  1. Food and Drug Administration https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/grapefruit-juice-and-some-drugs-dont-mix
  2. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a684001.html
  3. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15212610/
  4. National Library of Medicine: PubMed https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17514187/

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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