Klonopin vs. Xanax Addiction – Klonopin (clonazepam) and Xanax (alprazolam) are prescription medications that belong to the drug class benzodiazepines, commonly known as benzos. Benzos work by triggering or boosting the effect of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain. GABA is an inhibitory chemical that slows down or depresses the central nervous system, resulting in sedation.
For this reason, benzos, such as Klonopin and Xanax, are mild tranquilizers. On the street, benzodiazepines are known as benzos, downers, or tranks. Benzos are indicated for the treatment of the following disorders:
- Alcohol withdrawal
- Insomnia and other sleep disorders
- Muscle spasms
Klonopin is a benzo usually prescribed for the treatment of panic disorders, epilepsy and other seizures and movement disorders. However, Klonopin has several known “off-label uses” – medically unapproved uses, such as altering dosage or method of administration. Such uses are nevertheless known to be effective at relieving certain symptoms or producing other desired effects.
- Klonopin has seen successful off-label use to treat the following:
- Social anxiety
- Bruxism (excessive teeth grinding or jaw clenching)
- Restless leg syndrome
- Trigeminal neuralgia (a chronic pain disorder)
- Acute mania
- Bipolar disorder
- Acute psychosis-induced aggression
In recent years, Xanax has consistently been among the most widely prescribed psychiatric medications in the U.S.
Xanax, like Klonopin, is a benzo typically prescribed for the treatment of severe anxiety. Xanax has also shown to be effective in the treatment of the following off-label uses:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Moderate to severe symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Tinnitus (ringing ears)
- Cancer-caused pain
- Agoraphobia (fear of public spaces)
What’s the Difference?
Although Klonopin and Xanax are similar in their core effects, there are a few significant differences between them. Klonopin and Xanax, while belonging to the same drug class, are nonetheless different chemicals. Because of this, the effects they produce are not wholly identical.
After consuming a drug, the body naturally rids itself of the chemicals over time. Different chemicals require different lengths of time to be eliminated. This required length of time by the body to reduce the concentration of a chemical by one-half is known as the “half-life.” The half-life of Klonopin is roughly 30-40 hours, compared to that of Xanax, which is only about 11-12 hours.
The difference in half-life between these two drugs essentially means that Klonopin is significantly longer-acting than Xanax. Concerning prescribed use, this longer half-life provides the patient with the advantage of having to use Klonopin less often than Xanax to produce or maintain similar effects.
Furthermore, depending on the person, the effects of Xanax are usually experienced much faster with peak concentrations occurring around 1-2 hours after ingestion versus Klonopin, which takes between 1-4 hours.
Considering this, the potential for abuse is more significant for Xanax because it proves easier to achieve a high. Users describe the high of Klonopin as a euphoric drowsiness. A Xanax high is similar to that of Klonopin, albeit much stronger, and thus, contributing to its addictiveness.
Xanax cycles in and out of the body rapidly, while Klonopin does so at a much slower pace. This fact, in combination with the strength of Xanax, accelerates the onset of dependence from repeated use when compared with Klonopin. Still, Klonopin combines a long-acting, potent high with a moderate-high risk of dependence and a rather long duration of withdrawal symptoms.
Because of this, long-term use of Klonopin can make independence from it a profound challenge, even more so than Xanax. Regardless, withdrawal symptoms of both drugs are markedly similar and include the following:
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Sweating or excessive perspiration
- Tremors or shaking (particularly in the hands)
- Memory loss
- Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
- Difficulty concentrating
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Convulsions or seizures
- Sore, stiff muscles
- Muscle spasms or twitches
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Insomnia or restless sleep
- Heart palpitations (tachycardia)
- Paranoia and fear
- Anxiety and panic
Abuse of either substance can lead to life-threatening overdose, and the effects of both are similar.
Due to their properties than depress the central nervous system (CNS) they should never be used in conjunction with other CNS depressants.
Overdose symptoms include the following:
- Confusion and disorientation
- Blurred or double vision.
- Uncoordinated muscle movements and weakness
- Profoundly altered mental status
- Bluish fingernails and lips (cyanosis)
- Difficulty breathing or inability to breathe
Treatment for Addiction to Klonopin Vs. Xanax
Treatment for Klonopin or Xanax abuse begins with a medically-assisted detox. In many cases, patients are put on a tapering schedule to minimize withdrawal effects. Following detox, patients are urged to participate in a treatment program of 30 days or longer in our center, which offers both inpatients and intensive outpatient formats.
We offer comprehensive, evidence-based therapy that includes individual and group therapy, family counseling, 12-step programs and holistic practices such as yoga and art therapy.
Following formal treatment, patients can take advantage of our aftercare planning services, referrals to sober living facilities, and alumni activities that offer long-term support throughout recovery.
Want to learn more about about getting help for substance abuse? We are here to answer any questions or concerns you may have. Contact us today.