A recent report has shown that extended-release alprazolam (xanor) is less likely to bring about effects of continued sedation, dependence or abuse which may be associated with regular alprazolam. The trial, conducted by Evans, Fleishaker, Griffiths and Mumford of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at John Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, USA has scientifically proven that it has a substantially lower potential for abuse than immediate-release alprazolam.

The new tablets are composed in such a way as to allow a gradual release of the active ingredient into the bloodstream. This gradual release allows a more constant and longer-lasting effect as opposed to the shorter-lasting but heavier sedation produced by immediate-release forms of the drug. Results from the study further indicated that there was considerably less physical and psychological impairment due to side effects in the case of the extended-release drug than the immediate-release variant.

The study highlights the fact that an extended-release product has a longer lasting therapeutic effect, fewer side effects and decreased potential for abuse when compared with that of immediate-release alprazolam. It is only necessary to take the extended-release tablet once or twice a day, whilst the immediate-release has to be taken three or four times a day in order to prevent breakthrough anxiety.

Benzodiazepines are particularly useful in the treatments of the anticipatory anxiety associated with panic disorder and generalised anxiety disorder. They often help break the attack-anticipation-fear cycle. They are also commonly used to help with the treatment of sleep disorders. They generally reduce anxiety with a rapid onset of action.

Benzodiazepines often enhance the effectiveness of psychotherapeutic approaches, but it is recommended that this type of medication only be used on a short-term basis. Many anxiety patients temporarily make use of benzodiazepines to control their panic whilst they are waiting for an antidepressant to “kick” in.