Klonopin vs. Xanax: What’s the Difference?

When it comes time to prescribe a medication to treat anxiety, medical professionals have two options. One is Klonopin, and the other is Xanax. Both medications are instrumental for easing symptoms of panic disorder, depression, and anxiety in the short term. Along with the positive attributes of these drugs, they also have a few negatives. For example, they both create euphoric feelings, and this increases the risk of abuse. If you or someone you love has become addicted to either Klonopin or Xanax, treatment centers have the ability to help you. The next step is to learn something about these drugs.

What Is Klonopin?

Klonopin is the brand name for “clonazepam,” and it is a benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines are depressants, and they have the effect of causing the patient to become sedated. They also relieve anxiety, reduce seizures, and calm muscle spasms. Klonopin vs. Xanax Klonopin works by counteracting chemical imbalances in the brain. Specifically, it works on the chemical imbalances that cause panic and anxiety disorders. Gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA sends signals to the central nervous system. When there is a lack of GABA activity, a person may experience seizures or panic attacks. If GABA activity increases, it reduces the incidences of panic attacks and seizures. Klonopin stimulates GABA receptors in the brain, and the receptors block neurotransmitters and prevent feelings of anxiety when you are in a stressful situation. As a result, you experience fewer panic attacks and seizures.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax is also a benzodiazepine. It is known for producing sedative effects and relieving anxiety. It also binds to the GABA receptors so that the neurotransmitters cannot produce anxiety. It has the effect of reducing the amount of stress people experience in their daily lives. Xanax is known for its ability to allow people to sleep well throughout the night.

What Is the Difference between Klonopin and Xanax?

One difference between Klonopin and Xanax is that Klonopin is a long-acting benzodiazepine. This means that it has a half-life of 30 to 40 hours. Klonopin levels are at their highest after one to four hours have passed. Xanax, on the other hand, is a short-acting benzodiazepine, and its half-life is approximately 11 hours. Therefore, it only takes one to two hours for peak levels of the drug to be present in the blood. Another difference is that Klonopin comes in an orally disintegrating tablet. Xanax also comes in an orally disintegrating tablet, but it also can be prescribed as an extended-release tablet.

Klonopin vs Xanax: Why Are These Medications Prescribed?

Physicians prescribe Klonopin to treat panic and anxiety. It is prescribed more often than Xanax because Klonopin also treats epilepsy and convulsions. Therefore, it is prescribed for people experiencing seizure disorders and epileptic disorders, such as myoclonic seizures, absence seizures and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome. It also treats the convulsions and spasticity of multiple sclerosis, Tourette’s Syndrome, and alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Xanax is commonly prescribed to treat anxiety disorders. These include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder and anxiety disorder that is accompanied by depression. Physicians also prescribe it for patients experiencing panic disorders. Many times, patients also suffer from agoraphobia or fear of situations or places where the patient cannot easily escape a perceived dangerous occurrence.

Klonopin vs Xanax: What Are the Dosages?

Dosages for Klonopin

If Klonopin is prescribed for an adult to treat anxiety and panic disorders, the dosage will be 0.25 mg to be taken two times each day. If this dose needs to be increased, the physician can increase it to between 0.125 mg and 0.25 mg every three days until the patient obtains sufficient relief from panic. The maximum amount prescribed is usually 4 mg each day. Physicians prescribe 0.5 mg three times each day for adults experiencing seizures. If the dose needs to be increased, the physician increases it to between 0.5 mg and 1 mg each day. The maximum amount never exceeds 20 mg each day.

Dosages for Xanax

Physicians prescribe between 0.25 mg and 0.5 mg to be taken three times each day for anxiety disorders. In the event that this is not enough to relieve the symptoms, the physician may increase it, but it must not be increased to more than 4 mg each day. Whether a physician is prescribing Klonopin or Xanax, he or she will begin with the lowest dose possible. Then, the patient will be monitored regularly. Once the panic attacks stop, the patient cannot stop taking the medication because withdrawal symptoms may develop. Instead of stopping the medication entirely, the physician will slowly reduce the medication. This will be the case for both medications.

Klonopin vs Xanax: What Are the Side Effects?

Klonopin and Xanax both cause side effects, and they are listed below:

Klonopin Side Effects

Common side effects of Klonopin include the following:
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Issues with memory
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Unsteady gait and shakiness
  • Drowsiness
Rare side effects of Klonopin include the following:
  • Difficulties with urination
  • Problems with the menstrual cycle
  • Reduced blood platelets that cause bruising and bleeding
  • Insomnia
  • Troubles with speaking
  • Anxiety
  • Abnormal movements of the eyes
  • Sweating
  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Thoughts of suicide or depression

Xanax Side Effects

The most common side effects include the following:
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Appetite differences
  • Pain in the joints
  • Constipation
  • Difficulties urinating
  • Difficulty concentrating or forgetfulness
  • Becoming talkative
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fatigue and drowsiness
Rare side effects of Xanax include the following:
  • Severe rash
  • Thoughts of suicide or depression
  • Memory issues or confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Changes in mood
  • Seizures
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Difficulties speaking
  • Yellowing of the eyes or skin

Klonopin vs Xanax: Is One More Addictive than the Other?

Klonopin and Xanax both have the potential to cause users to develop psychological or physical dependence. However, the medical community determined that Klonopin has a greater ability to cause addiction than Xanax. The reason that Klonopin is more addictive than Xanax is that Klonopin causes a greater feeling of euphoria. Every time a person experiences this feeling, he or she wants to feel it again. Therefore, if someone takes Klonopin for a long period of time, it is likely that he or she will become dependent on it. Tolerance means that your body is not responding to a drug in the same way that it did the first time the drug was ingested. Therefore, as someone takes Klonopin or Xanax over a period of time, the effects are not as strong, and the user needs to take more of the drug to experience the desired effects. A tolerance to Klonopin develops faster than tolerance to Xanax. This may be because the effects of Klonopin wear off sooner than the effects of Xanax, so the patient needs to take more Klonopin to experience the desired feelings again. Both medications are only prescribed for a short period of time. If patients need medication to relieve their symptoms for a longer period of time, their physicians will switch them to another course of treatment.

Klonopin vs Xanax: Which Withdrawal Symptoms Are Worse?

The withdrawal symptoms that Xanax causes are worse than those that Klonopin causes. The half-life is the amount of time that half of the medication needs to leave the body, so when a drug remains in the system for a longer period of time, the withdrawal symptoms aren’t as severe. Since Xanax has a shorter half-life, the withdrawal symptoms are worse. Xanax withdrawal symptoms include muscle cramps, abdominal cramps, tremors, hallucinations, convulsions and agitation. The worst withdrawal symptoms come after someone has been taking Xanax for a long period of time at the highest doses.

Klonopin vs Xanax: When Is One Better than the Other?

Klonopin and Xanax are very similar to each other, but it may be better for you to use one than the other. For example, Xanax cannot treat seizures, so it would be more effective for you to receive Klonopin if you are experiencing seizures. In the treatment of anxiety disorders, you will need to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both with your physician. Which medication you will receive will depend on your medical history and your symptoms. Also, it will be important to discuss other medications that you are taking. For example, if you are taking other drugs that produce central nervous system depressant effects, Klonopin and Xanax may both interact with these medications. For example, if you are also taking tricyclic antidepressants or opioid drugs, there is an increased risk that you will experience respiratory depression or severe drowsiness. Some people have even died. Other central nervous system medications may change the way that Klonopin and Xanax work, and they may lead to serious side effects. Examples of these other central nervous system depressants include the following:
  • Pain medications
  • Seizure medications
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Tranquilizers
  • Sleeping pills and sedatives
  • Antihistamines
  • Cannabis
If you believe that a loved one has a dependency or you believe that you are dependent upon Klonopin or Xanax, a drug treatment center can help you overcome this addiction. Contact a treatment center, and the staff can give you more information about their programs.

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