How is Xanax prescribed?

Xanax is an anti anxiety medication prescribed in doses from 1 to 10 mg as needed or several times a day. More on the prescription uses for Xanax, Xanax dosage, cost, and signs of Xanax abuse here.

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You need a prescription for Xanax (alprazolam) from a medical doctor in order to legally consume Xanax in the U.S. Why? Because how Xanax works is based on the chemical properties of alprazolam, which is classified as a Schedule IV drug under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act due to its abuse and addiction liability. More here on general Xanax prescription info, including cost, dosing and signs of abuse. We invite your questions about Xanax at the end.

What do doctors prescribe Xanax for?

Xanax is a prescription drug that helps people suffering from anxiety or panic attacks manage symptoms. Xanax calms the body and brain by altering the chemicals in the brain. Because Xanax can cause a “high,” it’s also frequently abused.  One dose of Xanax stays in your system for over a week or more, although it’s quite difficult to overdose on Xanax and Xanax overdose complications usually result after taking many times the recommended dose of Xanax.

Xanax prescription dosage

For someone suffering from periodic panic attacks, Xanax is only prescribed as needed. Depending on the severity of a person’s anxiety attacks, Xanax may be prescribed anywhere from 1-10 mg of Xanax. For a chronic anxiety disorder, it will be prescribed several times a day, with doses up to 4 mg per day.

Xanax prescription cost

Xanax will cost more if you don’t have good insurance coverage, but it should be relatively affordable no matter your situation. Without insurance, it can run around $30-40 per month. With insurance, it’s likely to be about half that, $15-20. Some drug stores may offer generic Xanax containing alprazolam at reduced prices as part of a prescription program.

Can you get Xanax over the counter?

No, you can’t get Xanax over the counter. If you’re experiencing panic attacks or anxiety, you need to speak to your doctor about your concerns and find out if Xanax is the right medication to treat your symptoms. Alprazolam is very addictive, so Xanax is probably not the best option if you need to take anti-anxiety medication every day.

Signs of Xanax prescription drug abuse

You are abusing Xanax if you’re taking more Xanax than prescribed or taking it without a prescription. If you’re using Xanax for anything other than it’s intended purpose – for instance, to get “high,” that’s Xanax abuse. Regular abuse of Xanax does have risks. You’ll experience physical withdrawals when you stop taking the drug if you become addicted, and you’ll also feel cravings to take the drug regularly.

Xanax prescription questions

Do you still have questions about taking or obtaining Xanax prescriptions? Please leave your questions about Xanax here. We are happy to help answer your questions personally and promptly. If we do not know the answer to your particular question, we will refer you to someone who does.

Reference Sources: DailyMed: Aprazolam
PubChem: Alprazolam

ToxNet: Alprazolam
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. I currently take valuim for may anxiety and it does not seem to be helping anymore. I want to know in xanax is good for this.

  2. Due to a parent with dementia, a drug addict son whom i worry constant, and other small things sustained for 4 years straight, my usually controlled anxiety has spiraled into severe anxiety with daily panic. The people whom love me for emergency purposes have giving me .75 doses twice a day for the last 5 days, im checking to make sure im on the right path, i will be seeing a pychiatrist in 3 days, any informative info or sugestions would be helpful, thank you

  3. Hi, my name is Dani. i have been prescribed clonopin for some time now. however, my anxiety due to agoraphobia has come back full force. i have trouble leaving my bedroom, my anxiety kicks in full force and forget about leaving the house; i physically get sick when the time gets closer to leaving. i am uncomfortable around my own family at times. I have tried most antidepressants along with vistiril and buspar without any luck. i am tired of not being able to take care of my family… I am embarrased to say this but i also have strong feelings of panic even when i am with my 3 year old son. I was doing well with clonopin for awhile and now it isnt doing its job.
    ANY suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I have been struggling with anxiety for more then half my life and would do anything to finally live my life the way it is supposed to be.

  4. I have been diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder and was prescribed 2 mg of Xanax a day, however, I moved to Kentucky and was told I was “drug seeking” but I have and showed my medical records to prove my diagnosis and my pharmacy records. Is there anything I can do to get my medication back?

    1. Hi John. Your medical records are proof for your condition. I believe that that’s enough to get your medication. I suggest that you seek for another doctor. Also, you may call you old doctor and ask him/her for advice.

  5. I recently took 10 2mg in one day and 5 the next and 6 the following day.i told my doctor about it and he was shocked that I was still alive

  6. How do u tell a doctor that Xanax is right for you from trying it and it helping your anxiety they don’t seem to understand

  7. Xanax is the only thing that works with my panic attacks and anxiety and doctors seem scared to give it why

  8. If I’ve been abusing Xanax on and off for about three years and have developed a very high tolerance, will a doctor prescribe me the drug to put me on a schedule to wean off? Or are they likely to assume I’m lying to them to get a prescription?

  9. Hi my boyfriend is currently taking Xanax not really sure how many pills he’s taking a day but this just started about two weeks ago when his mom found him passed out in her back yard unconscious. He told her it was only a one time thing but he still continues to use them daily I guess just smaller doses but you can still tell he’s on Xanax. He says he takes them because he thinks he has anxiety he might I don’t know I’m not a doctor but is this serious should I let someone know like his mom?

  10. After taking 1/2 mg of Xanax twice a day for 15yrs, and 1 mg of Xanax twice a day for the past 15 yrs, my doctor won’t prescribe it anymore….Was told to see Psychiatrist which I will do….What can I do if Psychiatrist won’t prescribe the 1mg twice a day that I am dependent upon ??

  11. Does thw words AS NEEDED mean to take only you feek an anxity comeing on or panick attack comeing on, and not everyday? NOT LIKE A MAINTAMCE MEDICAN LIKE, ATENOLO (FOR BLOOD PRESSER) IIwas supcribed to take o.5mg, 2 times a day, is this a dangerous amount , and can I become addicted,, or should I ask for a different med. A was given after the death of my son diying from COLEN CANCER,, ICARED FOR HIM ALONG WITH HOSPIS , he was young, and I watched him suffer and DIE., IN 2016,

    1. Hi Janie. I’m really sorry for your loss… ‘As needed’means that you take only when you feel an anxiety is coming. I also suggest that you speak with your doctor to explain this issues more better.

  12. Hi, I’ve been suffering from severe anxiety, bipolar, depression, ptsd, and adhd. No medication I’m prescribed seems to help. I’m still just a moody nervous wreck. I’m wondering if xanax will help treat all or most of my symptoms and if you’d recommend it for someone like me if nothing else worked?

  13. Hi I have been suffering from panic and anxiety attacks a lot in the recent months i do not even know who my doctor is but i was wondering on how to ask my doctor about getting prescribed Xanax (2 mg GG249 white bars) , i’ve taken it before illegally and it really did work at it kept my anxiety/panic attacks at bay. But of course i want to do things legally now so how can i talk to just my doctor with out my parent being present and ask to be prescribed Xanax?

  14. Is social anxiety aka social phobia considered cronic anxiety because it’s something that I could possibly be living with forever? Is that an anxiety disorder that a doctor would likely prescribe Xanax for? I currently take Ativan prescribed by my psychiatrist, but it doesn’t do anything except make me tired. I’m waiting to see a psychologist so I can get into more depth of my symptoms.

  15. My Dr has prescribed Xanax 1 mg 3 times daily. My insurance company (Oscar) is stating that federal law prohibits a 90 pill Rx a month. I live in NJ. Never had this problem when I was on Medicaid. Is this true? Oscar says ‘federal laws change all the time’. Thanks!

  16. I’ve been prescribed xanax before. It’s been years since I’ve had a doctor. I’m having the same anxiety issues again and feel like I need them again as needed. But how do I suggest that to a new doctor? Or do I straight forward ask for them to be prescribed?

  17. I suffer highly fron panic attacks on a constant basis, would seeking attention and asking about this prescription help ive tried all non medicinal ways to control it but it gets worse daily to the point i feel my heart bursting out of my chest and i need help ive tried a family members low dosage of .05 it helped but only a little, are there other alternatives? Anything

  18. I suffer from panic attacks, sometimes so bad to where I can hardly breathe. I would like to know is Xanax good for panic attacks, if so how do I go by getting them to help with my problem.

    1. Hi Kelly. Xanax is assigned to Schedule IV of the Controlled Substances Act by the DEA, so you can only get it legally through doctor’s prescription.

  19. I really have serious panic attacks and also severe anxiety problems and I’m currently on klonopin and it’s just not working. I take 2mg of klonopin a day and I need a doctor who can switch me to 2mg of xanax 3 times a day

    1. Hi Colin. You can ask your current doctor about options since your current medication is not helping your anxiety and panic attacks. You will either be switched to another medication or your Klonopin dose will be adjusted so that it works. Otherwise, you can search for another doctor in your area that may help you.

  20. I have a M.V.P and have panic attacks. My family Dr. has me 0.5 Alprazolam four times daily. How long can I stay on these before I become addicted?

    1. Hello Bebe. What you can definitely expect is to form a level of physical dependence to alprazolam. This means that when you take the medication for a while, your brain and body will become accustomed to the presence of the medication. When the substance is regularly present in your organism, it is difficult to cease use afterwards. That’s why withdrawal symptoms occur. Your organism is actually craving the levels of alprazolam it has gotten used to, so then it has to learn how to function without the medication present. Also, in time, your tolerance levels will also grow, so the dosage you are taking now, may not provide the effects you want. This will lead to increasing doses in order to feel the same effects you once used to. How long will it all take? It is different for everyone.

    1. Hi Miller. Call the Poison Control Center on 1-800-222-1222 to talk to a poison expert and get info on what you should do next. If you are feeling very bad symptoms, get someone to drive you to the hospital or Call 911.

    1. Hi Shelley. I’m not aware of any differences between the white and the yellow 2mg Xanax bar. I believe they are manufactured by two different companies, but you can ask a pharmacist to be absolutely sure.

  21. Psychiatrist already make a big deal about prescribing 2mg xanax, why would the give 10mg xanax to anyone? Psychs suck ass. I think all of them are on a power trip!!!! If a patient knows what they want the psych needs to get in line and prescribe it.

  22. I have a current diagnosis of bipolar disorder and am on medication for that I don’t have a diagnosis of Anxiety/Panic attacks I’ve taken Xanax before to help take the edge off my hypomania and I’ve bought it up to my psychiatrist before without getting what I feel I need I’m trying to figure out how to go about this properly without sounding needy

  23. Hi, I suffer from sever panic attacks daily. My psychiatrist has had me on 8mg a day. I have a malabsorption issue and do not absorb the full strength of medication in pill form. I asked him to do a urine check and it did show a significant lower presence of Xanax (also when I had my daughter I was placed back on Klonopin at 22 weeks at 6mg) my daughter did not even test positive for it when she was born! I wanted to know if there is a law on how much Xanax can be prescribed! Since the half life is very short I think 12 mg would get me through a day comfortably without any actual physical feelings of the panic attacks. He’s looking to have ECT done but it seems to only successful for depression

  24. Hi Christy. I don’t have any useful advise concerning your issue. It depends on the condition that you are taking the medication for, but it also depends on the doctor. Some will raise your dose without suspecting, other won’t…and might ask you to take a drug test.

  25. I’m currently taking xanax but I feel it’s not working as good as it shld. How do I get my doc to raise it without seeming like a druggie.

  26. the pills were not prescribed. i did a fast taper. friday only 3 doses, saturday 2 doses and took phenobarb+valerian to compensate. i’m ok. felt asleep a bit hard last night but i’m fine. i’ll continue only on phenobarb for a week 3 times/day and then taper it till i get off. what to expect from now on when i’ll taper phenobarb. will i w/d? i don’t have “experience” with benzos and barbs. is opiates w/d different from benzos/barbs w/d?( sorry if i don’t write very correct . i’m not an english speaker)

  27. Hi Criss. Yes, you will probably withdraw from Xanax upon stopping your prescription abruptly after two months of dosing (at any dosage). You can taper dosage to help ease symptoms. And talk with your prescribing doctor about other ways to manage the withdrawals at home.

  28. hello. i’ve been taking xanax 2 month ago. started with half of a 0.25 pill to sleep better. now i take same dose 4 times/day that meens 0.5/day. soon i’ll finish my pills and don’t want to take them anymore. is it possible to withdrawal from this dose ’cause i’m afraid. in the past i’ve been heroin addicted for 6 years and after 2 years i became oxyxodone addicted for 6 month and since 2010 i’m opiate clean. do it by my self at home (in my country we have few detox centers and are not the best plus so i prefered to withdrawal at home). i know how going cold turkey feels like and don’t want that anymore that’s why i am the way i’m 35yo and 50 kg.

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