Klonopin and Xanax are two medications often mentioned in the same discussion around the treatment of certain conditions. But is there a significant difference? How are the two different, and what does someone prescribed one of these drugs need to be mindful of? Learn more about each drug and what you should consider when taking either medication.
Klonopin vs. Xanax: Similarities and Differences
|Half-life||12–15 hours||18–50 hours|
|Drug Schedule||Schedule IV||Schedule IV|
|Conditions Treated||Anxiety Disorders||Anxiety Disorders, Seizure Disorders|
|Side Effects||Drowsiness, Dizziness, Depression||Drowsiness, coordination problems|
|Typical Dosages||0.5–4 mg every 4–6 hours as needed (max 10 mg/day)||Panic Disorder: 0.25–1 mg/day (max 4 mg/day)
Seizure Disorder: 2–8 mg/day (max 20 mg/day)
|Drug Interactions||Other CNS depressants||Other CNS depressants|
A notable difference between Klonopin and Xanax is the timing of their effects on the body. Klonopin has a longer onset period, meaning it typically takes longer to be felt by the body. It also has a longer half-life, so its effects are usually present over a longer period of time in the patient. This can affect how frequently the medication must be consumed and how quickly and dramatically its effects are felt on the body.
Klonopin also has a higher risk of overdose when mixed with other medications. This occurs because it can take six to nine days for the drug to leave the body. For example, a person who drinks alcohol even several days after a Klonopin dose is at a higher risk of overdose.
Medical use of Xanax and Klonopin may vary in prescription. However, they are both benzodiazepines, and they share similar risks in their use. While their prescription use may vary, warning signs around their consumption are similar.
Drugs in the benzodiazepine family have a demonstrated potential for abuse. Those who are prescribed benzos over an extended period of time may find themselves at risk for increased tolerance, dependence or related drug-seeking behavior.
Due to the recognized risk of dependence, benzodiazepine prescriptions are typically offered to treat short-term or acute symptoms. Doctors may recommend that those suffering long-term symptoms switch to a course of treatment that is less at risk for substance abuse, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
For example, while Xanax or Klonopin may provide effective relief for anxiety symptoms, those who exhibit chronic symptoms may ultimately be switched to a different course of treatment to avoid dependence or withdrawal.
- Aches and pains
- Agitation and restlessness
- Anxiety or depression
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth
- Dysphoria or mood swings
- Flu-like symptoms
- Difficulty remembering or concentrating
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Nausea or vomiting
- Tremors or shaking
Xanax is the most popular trade name for the prescription medication alprazolam.
Alprazolam is a member of the benzodiazepine class of drugs known primarily for their sedative and anti-anxiety (anxiolytic) properties.
- Panic Disorder: involves recurring, typically unexpected panic attacks. This condition is often accompanied by agoraphobia, a fear of places or situations that are perceived as dangerous, uncomfortable, or hard to escape.
- Anxiety Disorders: these disorders involve anxiety with various causes and severity. This includes generalized anxiety disorder, anxiety associated with depression (though not depression alone), social anxiety disorder and other situational anxieties.
Xanax Side Effects
Common to benzodiazepine users, those taking Xanax may experience side effects, including:
- Drowsiness or fatigue
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Dry mouth
- Difficulty focusing
- New or worsening depression
- Agitation or confusion
- Muscle twitching
A brand name for the drug clonazepam, Klonopin is also a medication in the benzodiazepine family.
Similar to Xanax, Klonopin is frequently prescribed for the treatment of conditions relating to panic and anxiety. In addition, Klonopin is more commonly prescribed than Xanax for its anticonvulsant or antiepileptic properties. Diagnosed conditions benefiting from this include:
- Seizure disorders: clonazepam is used to treat a range of epileptic disorders, including Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, absence seizures and myoclonic seizures.
- Alcohol withdrawal syndrome: certain benzodiazepine medications are commonly prescribed to treat the side effects of alcohol withdrawal.
Klonopin Side Effects
Commonly identified side effects of Klonopin are similar to those experienced with other benzo medications. In addition to those noted with Xanax, other symptoms may include:
- Irritability and aggression
- Loss of libido
- Impaired balance or coordination
Weighing the Risks
Whether for anxiety, panic or other conditions, an approved treatment with Xanax or Klonopin can have valuable outcomes. However, the risks for addiction are real. If you have questions about the role of benzodiazepines in healthy treatment or are concerned about someone struggling with dependence, please consult one of our trained counselors for guidance.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “Klonopin Package Insert.” October 2013. Accessed November 3, 2021.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “Xanax Package Insert.” August 2011. Accessed November 3, 2021.
Craven, Caroline, et al. “Demystifying Benzodiazepine Urine Drug Screen Results.” Practical Pain Management, March 1, 2019. Accessed November 3, 2021.
Brett, Jonathan; Murnion, Bridin. “Management of benzodiazepine misuse and dependence.” Australian Prescriber, October 1, 2015. Accessed November 3, 2021.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.