Gabapentin and Xanax: Which Is Better for Anxiety?

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Prescription drugs serve an important role in many people’s lives by giving relief for various medical conditions. However, it’s critical to be aware of the risks these medications can carry, especially when they’re mixed.

We will examine the hazards connected with combining gabapentin and Xanax, two regularly prescribed medicines, and provide a thorough explanation for why caution should be used when using them together.

What Is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin, known under the brand name Neurontin, is an anti-epilepsy drug. It can also treat nerve pain, including from conditions like shingles and diabetes.

It’s thought to do this by reducing electrical activity in the brain. This reduces the likelihood of an epileptic fit. Because it affects the transmission of signals between the brain and spinal cord this also means feelings of pain are lessened.

Gabapentin is available on prescription. It can come in tablet, capsule, or liquid form.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax (alprazolam) is a medication commonly used to treat anxiety, depression, and insomnia. It’s part of the benzodiazepine class of drugs. This is a class of powerful tranquilizer medications commonly prescribed for anxiety and panic attacks.

Benzodiazepines like Xanax work by slowing down activity in the nervous system, leading to a calming effect. This helps to decrease abnormal excitement in the brain, thus reducing anxiety and panic symptoms.

Xanax is known to carry a potential for dependence. While being a controlled substance, Xanax is also the most prescribed psychiatric medication in the United States. One study suggests around 48 million Xanax prescriptions are written each year.

Xanax is available in several forms, including tablet, liquid, and sublingual tablets.

Is Taking Xanax and Gabapentin Together Dangerous?

Mixing gabapentin and Xanax can lead to interactions between the two. They may increase side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, and difficulty concentrating. This is due to both drugs being CNS depressants.

It’s crucial to consult with your healthcare provider before combining Xanax and gabapentin. A healthcare professional can provide advice based on your medical history, current medications, and specific health needs.

Gabapentin and Xanax: Which Is Better for Anxiety?

Both drugs can treat anxiety. Let’s take each in turn.

Xanax works by increasing the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that inhibits activity in the nervous system. This leads to a feeling of calm.

This increase in GABA activity helps to reduce anxiety, and panic attacks, and can also help with sleep. Xanax is usually effective quite quickly, often within an hour of taking the medication, making it a good choice for acute anxiety episodes.

However, it also carries the potential for dependence and withdrawal symptoms. For that reason, it’s often prescribed on a short-term basis.

Gabapentin, on the other hand, was initially developed as an anticonvulsant for epilepsy. That said, it has also been found to be effective for managing anxiety. The exact mechanism for how it does this isn’t understood, but it’s believed to affect how certain signals in the nervous system are transmitted, potentially stabilizing the electrical activity in the brain and reducing anxiety.

So, Which Is Better?

Gabapentin and Xanax are both useful for anxiety. Still, gabapentin is generally considered more suitable for longer-term management of the condition, especially for those who may be at risk of dependency. It’s worth noting that gabapentin is often used off-label for anxiety, meaning it’s not specifically approved by regulatory agencies for this use but has shown effectiveness in clinical practice.

Ultimately, both gabapentin and Xanax can be effective treatments for anxiety under the right circumstances, but the choice between them should be made with careful consideration and professional guidance.

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Do Xanax and Gabapentin Have Withdrawal Symptoms?

Both Gabapentin and Xanax can lead to withdrawal symptoms. Still, their potential for addiction and the nature of their withdrawal symptoms differ significantly due to their distinct mechanisms of action and pharmacological classifications.

While gabapentin is generally considered to have a lower potential for addiction than benzodiazepines, there have been increasing reports of misuse, particularly among individuals with a history of substance abuse. Gabapentin can produce feelings of relaxation and, in some cases, euphoria, especially in high doses, which can lead to its misuse. When stopped abruptly, withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, and seizures can result.

Xanax is a highly addictive substance, even more than other benzodiazepines. It has a high potential for dependence and addiction, especially with long-term use or misuse. This is due to its rapid onset of action and the profound relaxation it provides, which can lead to psychological and physical dependence.

Choosing between gabapentin and Xanax should be done only in consultation with a doctor.

Anxiety Treatment at SCBH

If you or a loved one are seeking addiction treatment, South Coast Behavioral Health is here to help. The first step in treating addiction is a medical detox. This means ceasing all use of gabapentin and Xanax while judiciously using medications to manage any withdrawal symptoms.

Our medical detox program in California is staffed by caring and compassionate professionals who can provide you with the care you need to manage your gabapentin and Xanax withdrawal symptoms.

At South Coast, we take pride in offering care that is closely tailored to specific issues. To that end, we offer gender-specific detox programs, with medical detox for men in Irvine, CA, and medical detox for women in Huntington Beach, CA.

After detoxing from Xanax and gabapentin, proper treatment can begin.

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Treatment for substance abuse takes place along an entire spectrum of care. Along that entire spectrum are various behavioral therapies, support groups, and the use of medically-assisted treatment (MAT).

These levels of treatment are, in order, as follows:

Residential Treatment in California

After successfully completing medical detox for gabapentin and Xanax, you’ll receive inpatient treatment in Orange County California. There, you’ll receive medically-assisted treatment and dual diagnosis treatment to deal with any cravings or co-occurring mental health issues you may be battling.

We also offer residential treatment facilities in Costa Mesa, Irvine, and Huntington Beach for those who desire gender-specific treatment. There, patients get round-the-clock medical attention and monitoring while living at the institution full-time.

In addition to individual and group counseling and medication management, you’ll also have access to leisure activities and family support services.

Partial Hospitalization in California

Most clients start substance abuse treatment with South Coast in our residential treatment program. After completing that, many desire something that still provides structure and support, but with extra space and time to oneself. For that, we offer Partial Hospitalization in Newport Beach.

A step down from inpatient care but with more structure than conventional outpatient programs, partial hospitalization offers a good balance for those looking to ease back into normal life. Clients can receive care five to seven days a week for a number of hours each day, returning back to their homes in the evening.

This way, they can recover without putting their daily lives completely on hold, receiving intense therapeutic interventions like group and individual therapy, skill development, and medication management as necessary.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment in California

For those leaving inpatient residential treatment or partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient programs (IOP) are yet another gradual step forward on the road to recovery.

With a focus on group therapy, individual counseling, and education, clients undergoing Intensive Outpatient Treatment in Newport Beach can meet three to five days a week. Each session lasts three hours.

This level of care requires the least amount of attendance at a facility.

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If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction but wonder how long addiction treatment takes or have other questions, call us at 866-881-1184 or contact us here. Our highly qualified staff will be happy to help give you an idea of what to expect from your addiction recovery timeline, verify your insurance, and assist with any other questions you may have.

Pierce Willans
Kelly McIntyre
Medically Reviewed by Kelly McIntyre, MS, LMFT
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