9 Alternatives To Xanax: Natural & Prescription
Xanax is used to treat anxiety disorders, but it can be habit-forming and isn’t right for everyone. There are several alternatives to consider for people with a history of substance abuse and those concerned about Xanax’s side effects.
Alprazolam, known by its brand name Xanax, is a benzodiazepine (benzo) medication that is often prescribed in psychiatric and behavioral health.
Xanax can help people with anxiety disorders and panic attacks, but it isn’t right for everyone. Due to Xanax’s addictive qualities, many people seek Xanax alternatives instead.
What Is Xanax (Alprazolam)?
The primary use of Xanax is as a treatment for anxiety disorders. It can help people manage racing thoughts, panic attacks, and other symptoms of anxiety.
Xanax works as a central nervous system depressant through its influence on the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
It is a very fast-acting drug, causing effects within an hour of taking it. Common effects of Xanax include feeling calm, relaxed, and even drowsy.
Is Xanax Safe?
While Xanax has many practical uses related to mental health, its use also comes with some concerning side effects and risks.
One risk is how quickly the body can become dependent on Xanax. Even someone taking low doses may experience withdrawal after stopping the use of the drug.
It can also be dangerous to attempt to quit Xanax without tapering off in a healthcare setting. Attempting to do so could lead to coma or even death.
Side Effects Of Xanax Use
Anyone who takes Xanax will want to be aware of the drug’s side effects. Mild side effects tend to be more common, but one of the most serious side effects is the risk of addiction.
Many of Xanax’s side effects are also experienced as withdrawal symptoms after stopping Xanax too quickly.
Some of Xanax’s common side effects include:
- memory impairment
- difficulty focusing
- changes in appetite
- challenges with coordination
- muscle tremors or twitches
- slurred speech
- weight changes
- blurred vision
Prescription Alternatives For Xanax
Xanax can be an excellent short-term solution, but the problems it presents may compound over months or years of use.
There are several similar medications available that are considered safer to take over long periods of time.
If you’re considering stopping the use of Xanax, seek the medical advice of your doctor and ask what they recommend as an alprazolam alternative. What works for one person may not work for another.
Benzodiazepine Xanax Alternatives
Many other well-known pharmaceuticals also fall within the class of benzodiazepines. They all have slightly different effects and are used to treat various mental and physical ailments.
Valium is used to treat anxiety as well as seizures and alcohol withdrawal. Like Xanax, Valium is fast-acting, which can lead to misuse and abuse.
Ativan is a benzodiazepine drug that is also an anti-anxiety medication. It has strong muscle-relaxing, sedative, and calming effects, so it is sometimes used as a pre-anesthetic before surgery.
It’s not as strong as Xanax, but it does still carry many of the same side effects and dependency risks.
Klonopin, in addition to being used to treat anxiety, is an anticonvulsant. It’s regularly prescribed for seizures and panic attacks.
Xanax and Klonopin share many of the same side effects, but Klonopin stays in the body’s system much longer.
This means that it doesn’t have to be taken as many times during the day, which reduces the risk of misuse and addiction.
Halcion is a benzodiazepine medication that is primarily prescribed to temporarily treat symptoms of insomnia.
Like Halcion, Xanax is sometimes used for insomnia. This is considered an off-label use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Antidepressant Alternatives For Xanax
Serotonin-modulator antidepressants are considered some of the safest long-term alternatives to Xanax. They raise the level of serotonin neurotransmitters in the brain.
In doing so, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitors (SARIs) can help with mood regulation, sleep, and emotional health.
Other antidepressant medications used to treat anxiety not listed here include Lexapro (escitalopram), Prozac (fluoxetine), and buspirone.
One safer long-term alternative to Xanax is trazodone, an SARI antidepressant that does not have the addictive qualities that Xanax does.
Trazodone is also a melatonin receptor agonist. Melatonin is a hormone that the brain uses to regulate the sleep-wake cycle.
Although used to treat anxiety, trazodone may not treat panic attacks as effectively as Xanax.
Sertraline, with the brand name Zoloft, is an SSRI antidepressant that is also used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety disorders. It can also help with migraines.
Zoloft may be an alternative to Xanax for those who experience both anxiety and depression or who have a co-occurring substance use disorder.
Natural Alternatives To Alprazolam
Some people prefer not to take any prescription medications and would rather try natural methods of treatment. Many natural alternatives have proven mental health benefits.
Natural treatments can range from movement therapy to herbal supplements. Lifestyle changes can go a long way in managing short-term anxiety or stress.
The misconception that meditation is only for religious people is fading. Meditation can be done by anyone and can provide many mental health benefits.
Practicing meditation can help with anxiety by strengthening the ability to direct focus away from racing thoughts and distressful sensations.
There are many styles and methods of meditation to try. It’s recommended to work with a meditation teacher to get the best results.
Yoga is excellent for not only mental health but physical health too. It’s beginner-friendly, easy to do at home, and inexpensive.
Yoga incorporates the mindfulness of meditation with physical movement to relax and restore the muscles. It helps to ease tension and calm ingrained panic responses.
Many people in recovery from substance abuse have found yoga to be a great method for building healthy habits and reducing drug or alcohol cravings.
Therapy, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), is one of the most beneficial things anyone can do for their mental health. All substance abuse treatment programs include therapy.
Therapy helps people work through their sources and symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress while teaching healthy coping mechanisms for any future issues.
Some people find individual therapy to be the most helpful, while others prefer group or family therapy. Some use a combination of these types to get the best results.
While therapy may not provide the quick fix that a drug may offer, its long-term benefits have been proven to be extremely effective in treating the underlying concerns of a mental illness or substance use disorder.
With patience and regular practice, therapy can help people learn to redirect unhelpful thought patterns and ground themselves in the midst of stressful life circumstances.
There is a wide variety of herbal compounds, amino acids, and other supplements that can be tried to treat different mental health conditions.
These over-the-counter treatments are commonly used for anxiety, depression, fatigue, or sleeplessness.
Some popular natural treatments include:
- green tea
Supplements are not approved by the FDA. Seek medical advice from your doctor or other healthcare provider before using any supplements.
Get Help For A Xanax Addiction
Experiencing a Xanax addiction is challenging, and it may feel overwhelming to consider switching from Xanax to an alternative on your own.
The addiction treatment experts at Spring Hill Recovery Center in Ashby, MA can help. Our personalized addiction treatment programs take into consideration all of your mental health needs.
For help figuring out the next step, call our 24/7 helpline to speak with a recovery specialist and learn more.
- Healthfully — What Are Some Prescription Drugs that are Like Xanax? https://healthfully.com/what-are-some-prescription-drugs-that-are-like-xanax-4258603.html
- Mental Health Daily — 9 Best Xanax Alternatives: Natural Treatments for Anxiety https://mentalhealthdaily.com/2014/11/07/9-best-xanax-alternatives-natural-treatments-for-anxiety/
- VeryWell Health — What To Know About Zoloft (Sertraline) https://www.verywellhealth.com/zoloft-5077993
- WebMD — Halcion: Uses, Side Effects, and More https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-6816/halcion-oral/details