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Is Xanax an Opiate?

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Have you or a loved one been prescribed Xanax?  Are you curious about what type of drug that is?  With more discussion about the opioid and opiate crisis, it can be helpful to understand exactly what an opioid is, too.

What is Xanax?

Xanax is the brand name for the drug alprazolam.  This medication is prescribed to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Some are prescribed this to treat sleep disorders.  It is in the drug class benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines, sometimes called “benzos,” are prescription sedatives. Xanax works by interacting with the brain and central nervous system, making a person feel calm. It also works by enhancing GABA, a naturally occurring chemical in the body.

Xanax is typically a small, white, oval-shaped pill that is taken by mouth.

Xanax does have the risk of side effects. One of these is dependence. To prevent this, doctors will gradually increase or decrease dosage as needed. It is very important to follow a doctor’s dosage instructions. This is especially important for preventing withdrawal symptoms.  The sudden stopping of taking Xanax could cause severe symptoms, such as seizures.

Communication with prescribing doctors is also important because Xanax can be addictive.  Abuse of Xanax can lead to serious adverse side effects or overdose.

Potential side effects of Xanax with typical use include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Headache
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Slurred speech
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Appetite
  • Weight change
  • Increased sweating or swelling
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry Mouth and stuffy nose
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Depression
  • Unusual racing thoughts or increased energy
  • Pounding heartbeat
  • Hallucinations, confusion, hostility, or agitation
  • Unusual risk-taking behavior
  • Uncontrolled movements or seizure

What is an Opiate?

Opiates are pain killers.  Opiates are natural substance opioids. However, opiates are no less dangerous than man-made opioids.  Opioids are prescribed to treat moderate and severe pain.  Opiates are known for being highly addictive.

Potential side effects of opiates include:

  • Tolerance
  • Physical dependence
  • Increased sensitivity
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Sleepiness
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Lower sex drive
  • Lower energy
  • Lower Strength
  • Itching
  • Sweating

Is Xanax an Opiate?

Since Xanax is in a classification known as benzodiazepines, it is not an opioid or opiate. However, opioids and benzodiazepines have similar risks.  They are the two most frequently abused prescriptions.   They are also often prescribed together.  This may be why some people associate the two drugs.

It can be very dangerous to combine benzodiazepines with opioids, as there is a risk of dependency and overdose. Over 30 percent of opioid overdoses also involved benzodiazepines.   As concerns about the combination of these drugs have grown, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now has new requirements for opioid prescribers. The CDC also advises against prescribing both drugs at the same time.  Both opioid and benzodiazepines have FDA “black box” warning labels to emphasize the dangers of using them together.  For this reason, please be sure to let your doctor know about all medications you are taking.  Different drugs can interact in risky or dangerous ways.

If you or a loved one have any questions or concerns about prescription painkillers, speak with your doctor.  If someone is experiencing negative symptoms or reactions, please call Silver Pines Treatment Center today at 267.719.8689.


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