Xanax bars is the term used in reference to this drug in its oblong form. Its generic name is alprazolam. It is in the benzodiazepine classification of drugs. They are prescribed primarily for anxiety and panic disorders, and considered to be short-acting. Short-acting means the onset of action is relatively quick and wears off in a few hours.
- Best taken orally with water
- They target overactive neurotransmitters, while enhancing others
- There are *three colors, white, green and yellow
- All three legitimate colors are 2 mg
Benzodiazepines have a potential to cause serious reactions and are contraindicated with certain other drugs and conditions.
- See manufacturer’s advisory
- Read NIH.gov box warnings
Real , legitimate Xanax® bars are only white. They come scored in either three or four serrations so patients can take smaller portions of the 2 mg dose as needed.
- On the street green bars are alprazolam and produced by a different manufacturer. Each has two splits embedded into them so they can be easily divided into three smaller doses. Real ones will be labeled S 90 3. Any other numbers or letters indicate it is counterfeit.
- Often referred to as “yellow buses”, yellow bars are generic alprazolam with four vertical splits, so they can be divided into two or four doses. They are manufactured by Actavis Generics.
- *There are no legitimate blue “bars”, they will always be fakes, so be very careful
Benzodiazepines depress the central nervous system and produce sedation while relieving anxiety.
Doctors prescribe alprazolam to treat the following conditions:
- anxiety caused by depression
- panic disorders
Alprazolam is occasionally prescribed off-label for mild to moderate depression, but not for severe depression.
Alprazolam can cause significant side effects including:
- stomach cramps
- weak or shallow breathing
- difficulty concentrating
- impaired coordination
- muscle stiffness
- heart palpitations
The most common form of abuse is consuming more alprazolam than the recommended dose. Using it illicitly can quickly lead to tolerance and dependence.
- It is the most common benzodiazepine in ED visits related to drug misuse.
- In addition, is engaged in more Intensive Care Unit admissions compared to other benzodiazepines.
People abusing alprazolam sometimes chew them. They also crush and snort the resulting powder to speed up the tranquilizing effects alprazolam has on the central nervous system. Others smoke or inject it. Any of these methods can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms.
Benzodiazepines may be habit-forming and cause physical dependence.
Doctors specializing in addiction medicine consider alprazolam to have high misuse liability, especially for people with a history of substance use disorder.
Alprazolam is classified as Schedule IV by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Schedule IV means a “low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence.”
Stopping must always be done under the supervision of a doctor when taking or tapering down. People with a high tolerance may feel the onset of withdrawal symptoms within 6 to 12 hours of taking their last dose.
Nausea, vomiting, anxiety, panic, muscle tremors, fever, and insomnia are classic withdrawal signs. They can also include:
- Confusion, dizziness, impaired coordination
- Unconsciousness and coma
- Seizures and hallucinations
- Slowed heartbeat and difficulty breathing
Call 911 at the first sign of an overdose.
An alprazolam overdose patient could suffer seizures or lapse into a coma without medical emergency treatment.
The NIH reports a steady increase in this drug and other benzodiazepine-related overdoses in the last decade. They confirmed an estimated 9,000 deaths in 2015 alone.
Overdosing is more likely when taking the more potent 2 mg version. In addition, overdose survivors of counterfeits experienced fluid in the lungs, muscle breakdown, and weakness in their extremities, all of which can lead to liver failure.
Signs of an overdose include;
- Extreme drowsiness
- Periodic unconsciousness
- Slowed breathing & heart rate
- Vomiting while unconscious
Because of the higher potency, benzodiazepines are a favorite on the black market and internet pharmacies. Sadly, users risk ingesting tainted pills that might contain any number of unknown chemicals that can create dangerous side effects.
- Counterfeit pills are common and dangerous.
Unfortunately, as with any black market or overseas purchase of illegal drugs, users risk ingesting tainted pills that might contain any number of unknown chemicals that can create dangerous side effects.
The FDA uses the NDC coding system for monitoring all drugs in the U.S. Here are the codes and quantities per bottle.
|NDC Code||Tablets per bottle|
- Packager: PHARMACIA & UPJOHN COMPANY LLC
- Manufacturer: Pfizer
- image is courtesy of CT.gov