Xanax (alprazolam) is a brand-name prescription medication. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved it to treat the following anxiety disorders in adults:
- panic disorder
- generalized anxiety disorder (short-term treatment)
Xanax comes as an oral tablet. It belongs to a drug class called benzodiazepines and contains the active drug alprazolam. Xanax is also available in a generic form.
For information about typical Xanax doses, including the drug’s strengths and how to take it, keep reading. For a comprehensive look at Xanax, see this article.
Xanax vs. Xanax XR
Xanax comes as an immediate-release tablet, which means all the drug is released into your body as soon as the tablet dissolves. It also comes in an extended-release tablet, which means the medication is released slowly into your body over time.
The extended-release form is called Xanax XR. It’s approved to treat panic disorder only. You’ll typically take Xanax XR once a day.
This article focuses on the Xanax immediate-release tablet. To learn more about Xanax XR’s dosage, talk with your doctor or see the drug’s prescribing information.
This article describes typical dosages for Xanax provided by the drug’s manufacturer. When taking Xanax, always follow the dosage prescribed by your doctor.
Read below for information about typical (“normal”) doses of Xanax. Although the drug manufacturer sets a maximum dose of Xanax for each condition, your highest dose of Xanax and your lowest dose of Xanax will depend on your body’s response to the drug.
Xanax comes as an oral tablet.
Xanax comes in four strengths:
- 0.25 milligrams (mg)
- 0.5 mg
- 1 mg
- 2 mg
Typically, your doctor will start you taking a low dosage. Then they’ll adjust it over time to reach the amount that’s right for you. Your doctor will ultimately prescribe the smallest dosage that provides the desired effect. Your doctor will determine your dose of Xanax based on your body’s reaction to the drug rather than Xanax dosing by weight.
The following information describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. However, be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. Your doctor will determine the best dosage to fit your needs.
Dosage for panic disorder
The typical starting dosage of Xanax for panic disorder is 0.5 mg three times per day. It’s also possible that your dose of Xanax may be lower than that.*
Your doctor may increase your daily dosage depending on your body’s response to the drug. They may adjust your dose over time, typically increasing it by no more than 1 mg every 3 to 4 days. Xanax prescribing information reports a maximum dosage of Xanax as 10 mg daily. However, the average dose of Xanax is lower than that.
Dosage for generalized anxiety disorder
The typical starting dose of Xanax for generalized anxiety disorder is 0.25 mg to 0.5 mg, three times per day. It’s also possible that the dose of Xanax you take will be lower than that.*
Your doctor may increase your daily dosage slowly, depending on how your body responds to the drug. They may adjust your dose every 3 to 4 days until you’re taking the dose that’s right for you. Xanax prescribing information reports a maximum daily dosage of 4 mg, split into three doses.
* When your doctor decreases your Xanax dosage, they will typically do this using a taper schedule, which is a slow decrease over a period of time. A taper is used to decrease your risk of withdrawal symptoms if your body has become physically dependent on Xanax.
Xanax is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat any condition in children. However, doctors may prescribe Xanax off-label in certain children. (Off-label use is when an FDA-approved drug is prescribed for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.)
If you have questions about off-label uses of Xanax, talk with your doctor.
Xanax is not meant to be a long-term treatment. Your doctor will typically prescribe it for as short a time as possible.
It’s not known whether it’s safe or effective to take Xanax for longer than 10 weeks for panic disorder. And it’s not known whether it’s safe or effective to take the medication for longer than 4 months for generalized anxiety disorder.
If you and your doctor decide that you should stop taking Xanax, your doctor will decrease your dose slowly. Doing so may help avoid withdrawal symptoms* that can occur if you suddenly stop treatment.
* Xanax has a
Find answers to commonly asked questions about Xanax.
Is there a Xanax dose based on body weight?
No, Xanax dosage is not based on body weight. Xanax dosage is based on the condition it’s used to treat. Your doctor may change your dosage depending on how your body responds to the drug.
If you have questions about Xanax dosages, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Are there Xanax dosages for muscle spasms and dental procedures?
No. Xanax has several off-label uses. However, these uses do not have approved dosages. (Off-label use is when a drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration [FDA] is prescribed for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.)
Although Xanax is not FDA-approved specifically for dental procedures or as a muscle relaxer for muscle spasms, your doctor may prescribe it for these conditions. They will determine your dose based on research and medical consensus. Additional clinical trials of Xanax for off-label uses are ongoing.
If you have questions about off-label uses for Xanax, talk with your doctor.
What’s the Xanax dose for insomnia?
Although Xanax is sometimes prescribed off-label as a treatment for insomnia, there is not an FDA-approved dose for this condition.
If your doctor prescribes you Xanax for insomnia, they will choose a Xanax dosage for sleep that is based on research and medical consensus.
Talk with your doctor about lifestyle changes and other medications that may be effective alternatives to improve your sleep.
The Xanax dosage your doctor prescribes will depend on several factors. These include:
- the type and severity of the condition you’re taking Xanax to treat
- whether you experience side effects while taking Xanax
- what other medications you take
- the form of Xanax you take
- your age
Other medical conditions you have can also affect your Xanax dosage. For more information, see “Dosage adjustments” just below.
Your doctor may adjust your dosage of Xanax for the following reasons:
- you take certain other medications, such as ritonavir
- you have reduced liver function
- your age
- you experience side effects
In some cases, your doctor may decide that Xanax is no longer the appropriate medication for you, even at a decreased dosage. This could happen if you have severe side effects or if you need to take another medication that interacts with Xanax. If you stop taking Xanax, you will typically follow a slow taper schedule (a gradual decrease).
Xanax comes as an oral tablet that you swallow. You can take your dose of Xanax with water, and it can be taken with or without food.
You’ll typically take Xanax two to three times per day. However, be sure to take Xanax exactly as your doctor prescribes it. They will determine the dose and frequency that works best for you.
Talk with your doctor if you have questions about your Xanax dosage.
If you have trouble swallowing tablets, see this article for tips on how to take this form of medication. You can also talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
ACCESSIBLE DRUG LABELS AND CONTAINERS
If you’re having trouble reading your prescription label, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. Some pharmacies offer labels with large print, braille, or a code you scan with a smartphone to convert text to speech. If your local pharmacy doesn’t have these options, your doctor or pharmacist might be able to recommend a pharmacy that does.
If you’re having trouble opening medication bottles, ask your pharmacist about putting Xanax in an easy-open container. They also may recommend tools that can make it easier to open bottles.
If you miss a Xanax dose, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it’s nearly time for your next dose, just take the next dose as scheduled. Do not take extra doses to make up for the missed dose.
To help make sure that you don’t miss a dose, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm or using a timer. You could also download a reminder app on your phone.
Xanax has a
With misuse, a medication is taken for a purpose or in a way that’s not been prescribed by a doctor. And misuse can lead to addiction, which is when you’re unable to stop taking the drug, even though it may be causing you harm.
If you have experienced addiction or misused drugs before, talk with your doctor. They may have strategies to help you take Xanax safely.
If you take more Xanax than your doctor prescribes, you may develop serious side effects. The manufacturer reports that overdose is more likely when Xanax is combined with alcohol or other drugs.
It’s important that you do not take more Xanax than your doctor advises.
Symptoms of an overdose
Overdose symptoms of Xanax can include:
- impaired coordination
- reduced reflexes
- somnolence (drowsiness)
If you take more than the recommended amount of Xanax
Call your doctor right away if you believe you’ve taken too much Xanax. Another option is to call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 or use its online tool. If you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number, or go to the nearest emergency room.
Xanax has a
With dependence, your body becomes reliant on a medication to function as it typically would. Dependence can lead to withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking the medication. Withdrawal symptoms are more common if your dose is higher and you have taken Xanax for a longer period of time.
Stopping Xanax suddenly can cause serious or possibly life threatening withdrawal symptoms. These can include:
- blurred vision
- problems concentrating
- suicidal thoughts
- decreased appetite
- involuntary movements
Other long-term symptoms, which can last for 4 weeks to 12 months, may include:
- problems with understanding, thinking, or memory
- tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- paresthesia (tingling in the hands or feet)
- muscle twitches
You may have an increased risk of withdrawal and dependence if you take more than 4 milligrams (mg) of Xanax per day. If you have been taking Xanax for a long period of time, your risk may also be increased. Note that withdrawal and dependence are also possible with lower doses and after taking Xanax for a short time.
If you are experiencing any withdrawal symptoms, talk with your doctor right away.
The dosages in this article are typical dosages provided by the drug manufacturer. If your doctor recommends Xanax for you, they will prescribe the dosage that’s right for you. Always follow the dosage that your doctor prescribes.
As with any drug, never change your dosage of Xanax without your doctor’s recommendation. If you have questions about the dosage of Xanax that’s best for you, talk with your doctor.
Besides learning about dosage, you may want other information about Xanax. These additional articles might be helpful:
- More about Xanax. For information about other aspects of Xanax, refer to this article.
- Drug comparison. Learn how Xanax compares with Ativan, clonazepam, and Valium.
- Details about your condition. For details about anxiety and panic disorder, see our anxiety hub and our mental health hub.
Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.