|USA Generic Name||Alprazolam|
|Trade (Brand) Names||Gabazolamine-05, Niravam, Xanax, Xanax XR|
|Invented by||J.B. Hester|
|Date FDA Approved||1981|
|Geriatric Indications||Anxiety, panic disorder, insomnia|
|Geriatric Side Effects||Agitation/Increase in Agitation, poor sleep, confusion, dizziness, drowsiness, withdrawal symptoms|
In elders, Xanax is commonly used as a tranquilizer to treat anxiety, panic disorder, and insomnia. Its use in elders or individuals with dementia can lead to agitation, confusion, dizziness, and drowsiness. The long-term use of Xanax can lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms such as agitation and confusion.
Nearly 16 million Americans use tranquilizers such as Xanax. Dr. Landsverk suggests avoiding Xanax as it causes more problems than the benefits it offers. Even using Xanax a few times a month can lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms. The body develops resistance to a certain dose of Xanax after a certain time and the user ends up in a cycle of increasing dose and even worse side effects and dependence.
The following is from Dr. Landsverk’s new book: Living in the Moment: A Guide to Overcoming Challenges and Finding Moments of Joy in Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias
‘If used for more than a few days in elders with dementia, the withdrawal syndrome often leads to delirium or worse behavior in elders. These drugs can remove inhibitions, cause paranoia, and increase confusion and falls. The person may be better for a few hours after a dose, but if these meds—particularly Xanax, which is twice as powerful as Ativan and shorter acting (the “crack” of anti-anxiety drugs)—are used more than a couple times a month, they often cause more problems than they solve. These drugs start to produce more agitation, poor sleep, or confusion. That leads to an increased dose of Xanax, which increases the withdrawal symptoms, which leads to another increased dose. It becomes a vicious cycle.’