Gabapentin and Xanax

Authored by Hugh Soames

Edited by Alexander Bentley

Reviewed by Philippa Gold

Gabapentin and Xanax

 

Many of us who struggle with anxiety over our lifetime or at certain points of our lifetime, may not seek out help and assistance. Perhaps it’s been a part of our temperament for so long, that seeking out help seems unnecessary. Some people may not consider it a mental health problem. But — anxiety can severely impact the quality of someone’s life. Whether you have intense, but brief panic attacks or you have a slightly moderate, but consistent amount of anxiety, it can be miserable. And there is help out there that can teach you how to cope.

Alongside therapy, there are medications that can be prescribed to help those who suffer from the ailment. Xanax is a common one1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5846112/.

Xanax is a Benzodiazepine. Benzos are a type of drug that is used to help alleviate symptoms of anxiety. They help by impacting the neurotransmitters in the brain and telling them to slow down activity. Benzos can treat insomnia, seizures, anxiety, and panic attacks. They may also be used for general anesthesia, other sedation purposes, muscle relaxation, depression, nausea, and alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Xanax is benzo that is commonly prescribed for short-term anxiety relief. It helps prolong the life of gamma-Aminobutyric acid. GABA is one of those neurotransmitters mentioned briefly before. It helps slow down the activity of nerves. Researchers believe a high level of nerve activity is what causes many instances of anxiety. Prolonging the life of GABA helps slow those nerves down and helps ease symptoms of anxiety. With Xanax and other Benzodiazepines, the calming of those nerves happens almost immediately when taking the medication.

The reason that Xanax is often considered prescribed as a short-term solution to anxiety is that it has a higher rate of addiction than other medications. When used incorrectly, it can give off feelings of elation or being “high”. And even when Xanax is used correctly it can become addictive. The individual will come to rely on the medication and may need to up their dose to feel the same effects.

Some research has shown that adults who take Xanax or other benzos for longer than six months are at a higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. Those who become reliant on the medication may experience some symptoms of withdrawal when they decide to stop using it. They may experience:

 

  • Fast heart rate
  • Irritability
  • Vision problems
  • Problems sleeping
  • Weakness
  • Restlessness

 

Those who have been using Xanax for a long period of time or those who have been abusing Xanax for a long period of time may experience more intense withdrawal symptoms like seizures and hallucinations. For others, severe symptoms may include coma or death.

Xanax is usually prescribed in doses of 0.25-0.5 mg. This dose is often intended to be completed three to four times every day. This dose may be increased up to 4mg if needed and after a certain amount of time has passed. It can be taken both with and without food. Those who are pregnant or nursing should not use Benzodiazepines like Xanax. They have been shown to cause abnormalities in the development of the fetus. It can also be found in breast milk and can have an effect on infants who are nursing. Usage during this time should be avoided.

Gabapentin

When someone needs medication for anxiety for a long period of time, their doctor may prescribe a medication called Gabapentin2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493228/.

Gabapentin is similar to Xanax. It is not considered a Benzodiazepine and it does not affect GABA the same way that Xanax does. It does not recycle GABA but just keeps it present in cells longer than it would be without it. Therefore, GABA activity increases and nerve activity decreases, decreasing symptoms of anxiety.

Gabapentin is not FDA-approved to treat anxiety. Its initial creation was for seizures and neuralgia. However, many doctors prescribe it for long-term anxiety control. It is not as addictive as Xanax and many doctors see this as a plus. Even if Xanax was created for anxiety and Gabapentin was not. Those who use Gabapentin are not exempt from abuse, but the likelihood is much lower than those who use Xanax to treat their symptoms of anxiety.

Gabapentin is offered in three forms: capsules, tablets, and a liquid solution. It’s also possible to increase GABA naturally.

The capsules come in 100, 300, and 400 mg doses. Tablets come in 100, 300, 400, 600, and 800 mg doses. The liquid solution comes in 250 mg or 5 ml doses.

Gabapentin and Xanax Similarities

 

Both medications affect the way GABA moves and interacts with nerves. Xanax prolongs the life of GABA and Gabapentin makes GABA stay in cells longer than it would without the medication. Both medications increase GABA activity and decrease nerve activity. This helps bring down symptoms of anxiety thought to be brought on by overactive nerves. They both work immediately and are generally safe when they are used correctly. Most people will pass out or fall asleep before they could take an amount that would cause something severe like death or a coma, unless of course mixed with stimulants.

They both have similar side affects:

-Confusion

-Drowsiness

-Dizziness

 

How are Gabapentin and Xanax different?

 

While they both affect GABA activity, the way that they do so is slightly different. Xanax is better suited for short-term anxiety and Gabapentin is better suited for someone needing medication over a long period of time. Those who use Xanax are more likely to become addicted to the medication than those who are prescribed Gabapentin.

 

Mixing Gabapentin and Xanax

 

Gabapentin and Xanax should not be used together. Using these medications increases the number of side effects you would receive. They both can confuse and make people drowsy, so both of those would only increase if the medications were used together and at the same time. This would make it difficult and dangerous to function on your own and operate a vehicle or machinery. While it is difficult to overdose on the medications separately, using them together, could cause the individual to experience an overdose. Mixing these medications can cause both a coma and death.

 

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