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What is a Xanax® Bar?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A Xanax® bar is a two milligram tablet of Xanax®, a prescription medication which is used to treat anxiety disorders and related conditions. Known generically as alprazolam, Xanax® is a tightly controlled medication due to concerns about abuse, and Xanax® bars are usually only prescribed to patients with a demonstrated need for the drug in this format.

The Xanax® bar is the highest single dosage of this drug available, with the exception of a three milligram extended release tablet. The bar is scored into four sections, and designed to be broken up by the user. Patients may take a whole bar if they have been prescribed a two milligram dosage, but more commonly they use these scored tablet for dosage control. It may be less expensive to buy Xanax® in bars and break them up as needed than to purchase tablets in smaller dosages, such as quarter, half, and full milligram tablets.

Xanax® bars are white oblong tablets with “XANAX” stamped across the bar, and three partial scores through the tablet which are used as guidelines for patients who intended to break the medication up for several doses. Generic versions of the drug may come in different colors, with different markings stamped on the bar. Patients should be aware that pharmacists tend to fill prescriptions with generic drugs unless the prescription specifies otherwise, so if the medication does not look as expected, they should ask the pharmacist for confirmation that the drug was dispensed as ordered; generic versions may look different, but they are pharmacologically equivalent.

This drug should be used as directed, with care being taken to avoid taking doses too close together. This can be dangerous for the patient, and it can cause a patient to reach the daily prescribed limit before the end of the day. As with other prescriptions, a Xanax® bar should not be passed on to someone else.

Patients utilizing Xanax® may express their dosage in terms of “bars a day,” especially if they are on high doses of the medication. Because Xanax® has the potential to be highly addictive, it is important for patients to discuss dosage with their doctors. There is no threshold to determine addiction; one patient may experience it at one Xanax® a day, while others may not, for example. Signs that a patient may be experiencing addiction can include using more bars per day than prescribed, experiencing stress if a prescription runs out before it can be refilled, or concealing usage from friends and family members.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By bear78 — On Mar 17, 2014

As far as I know, there are a lot of fake Xanax bars floating in the market and those who do drugs recreationally may buy and use them and harm themselves. Addiction to Xanax bars is very serious alone but taking something without even knowing what it is, is even more dangerous.

By serenesurface — On Mar 16, 2014

@SarahGen-- Xanax bars are high doses of the drug but they are prescribed if someone is experiencing severe issues that do not respond to lower doses. It's important to follow the doctor's orders while taking these. They should not be taken longer than they are prescribed or in greater doses as it could be very dangerous.

I'm not a fan of Xanax because I had a very hard time getting off of them. I experienced many withdrawal symptoms. It was just an unpleasant experience. That being said, I know that they work best for some people. If someone is dealing with severe anxiety and suicidal thoughts, it's better to be on something like Xanax than to take the risk of harming yourself or others.

The risk of abuse may be greater with Xanax bars though since the doses are higher and the patient may be given some leeway about the dose. So I don't think that the bars should be prescribed in every case. Almost always, the tablets will be enough.

By SarahGen — On Mar 16, 2014

I used Xanax only once in the past. I was given a very low dose of the tablets and only used them for a few days. My doctor said that this is very addictive drug and wanted me to use it only for a very brief time because I was experiencing severe anxiety. I did not even get through all of the medication I was prescribed. Despite that, the drug was very effective and turned me into a zombie during the time I took it. I remember only sleeping on those days and watching TV. I was not able to do anything else.

I'm actually surprised to know that such a thing as a Xanax bar exists because the medication is very effective. I'm not sure how anyone could function on such high doses of the medication.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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