Can Xanax Be Used As A Painkiller?
Xanax is generally prescribed for anxiety and panic disorders, but some doctors also prescribe it for pain. Xanax may be a viable alternative to opioids, and it has antispasmodic properties. However, taking Xanax for pain does have risks, including the risk of addiction.
Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam, a sedative drug similar to Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin. Most commonly, it is prescribed for anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and insomnia.
However, like some antidepressants, research shows that some doctors prescribe Xanax for chronic pain as well.
Is Xanax used as a painkiller? Here you’ll find more information on Xanax, its class of drugs, and why it is sometimes prescribed for pain.
Is Xanax A Painkiller?
Xanax is not a painkiller, nor is it approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for pain relief.
It is a prescription medication that belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines (benzos).
Xanax works by slowing signals in the central nervous system (CNS). When the CNS sends too many signals in a short amount of time, a person may feel anxious as a result.
However, Xanax may also be effective as a pain reliever because it increases the impact of a brain chemical called GABA.
GABA research shows that this chemical stops pain by inhibiting certain signals in the CNS.
Why Might Doctors Prescribe Xanax As A Painkiller Alternative?
Physicians disagree on the benefits and drawbacks of prescribing Xanax for pain.
Much of the research on Xanax and pain relief is in its early stages.
When doctors do prescribe Xanax for chronic pain, they may do so for a number of reasons.
Xanax As An Opioid Alternative
When people ask if Xanax is a painkiller, many want to know if Xanax can be used in place of opioids.
Opioids such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and Vicodin are often prescribed for acute or chronic pain.
These drugs share some similarities with benzodiazepines. Most notably, both types of drugs work within the CNS and inhibit specific signals.
Because these two drugs have similar mechanisms, doctors may prescribe Xanax as an opioid alternative to prevent drug abuse and addiction.
While both opioids and Xanax are controlled substances, opioids have a greater potential for drug abuse than benzodiazepines.
Some types of pain are caused by muscle spasms, and muscle tightness can worsen pain conditions.
Doctors sometimes prescribe antispasmodics (muscle relaxants) to relieve these types of pain.
Although Xanax is not intended for treating muscle pain, it does have an antispasmodic effect. Some healthcare providers may offer Xanax for pain as a result of this effect.
Should You Take Xanax As A Painkiller?
Xanax may be a viable pain treatment for some patients, but for others, it may cause harm and lead to substance abuse.
Each patient should discuss the risks and benefits of their prescription drugs with their own doctor, as each person has unique health needs and body chemistry.
Tell your doctor if you have a history of substance abuse. If you do have a history of drug use, your doctor may offer other treatment options.
If your doctor has prescribed Xanax for pain, follow your doctor’s medical advice closely, including dosage instructions, and ask about potential side effects.
What Are The Risks Of Taking Xanax As A Painkiller?
While Xanax has some benefits as a pain treatment, it also carries several risks.
Xanax Side Effects
All drugs, including over-the-counter medications, carry a risk of side effects that range from mild to life-threatening.
For most medications, severe side effects are relatively rare, while mild effects may be more common.
When a doctor prescribes or recommends a medication, they first consider the potential benefits and drawbacks for the patient.
Still, patients should be aware of possible side effects before starting a new treatment.
The side effects of Xanax include:
- Xanax-induced memory loss
- drowsiness and lightheadedness
- withdrawal symptoms when not taking the drug
- Xanax-related anxiety when not taking the drug
- slurred speech
- yellowing eyes (“Xanax eyes”)
- stomach discomfort
- Physical Dependence
While chronic pain is a long-term condition, Xanax is intended for short-term use.
While Xanax works quickly, it also has a short half-life, which means that it exits the body quickly as well.
As a result, some people may take several doses within a short period of time, which can lead to physical dependence.
Furthermore, as the body adjusts to the presence of Xanax, a person may take increasingly high doses of the drug to achieve the same pain-relieving effect.
Xanax Addiction Treatment At Spring Hill Recovery Center
Xanax is prescribed for pain and other health conditions, but addiction is still a possibility, and any Xanax abuse can have a profound impact on physical and mental health.
However, substance use is treatable, and options such as detox can help people safely taper off Xanax and recover from addiction.
Contact our addiction treatment center today for information on evidence-based treatment options.
- Journal of the American Medical Association — Patterns In Outpatient Benzodiazepine Prescribing In The United States https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2722576
- Mayo Clinic — Anticholinergics And Antispasmodics (Oral Route, Parenteral Route, Rectal Route, Transdermal Route) https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/anticholinergics-and-antispasmodics-oral-route-parenteral-route-rectal-route-transdermal-route/proper-use/drg-20070312
- National Library of Medicine — Effectiveness Of Alprazolam In The Treatment Of Chronic Pain: Results Of A Preliminary Study https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1983724/
- United States Drug Enforcement Administration — Drug Scheduling https://www.dea.gov/drug-information/drug-scheduling