Xanax and gabapentin both treat anxiety, but the latter is safer for long-term use. Find out what makes gabapentin much safer to use than Xanax, how the drugs are similar, and if it’s safe to use them together.

Xanax and gabapentin are both drugs that treat anxiety.

Xanax is a benzodiazepine used for short-term anxiety treatment. Doctors do not like to prescribe Xanax for long because it can be addictive.

Benzodiazepines prolong the activity of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that carries signals between brain cells. In patients with anxiety, benzodiazepines have an almost-immediate calming effect. However, when people abuse Xanax they feel euphoric or pleasantly calm.

Gabapentin is structurally similar to GABA, but it does not increase GABA or make GABA work longer in brain cells. Gabapentin seems to cause GABA to stick around in cells longer without being naturally recycled. The net result is that GABA activity increases.

Gabapentin and Xanax work in similar ways but have different abuse potentials.

Differences Between Gabapentin and Xanax

Xanax mostly treats anxiety and panic disorders, gabapentin treats seizures and neuralgia (nerve pain). Off-label, gabapentin can also treat anxiety.

Xanax is habit-forming and can cause addiction and withdrawal when abused, and sometimes even when using it exactly how a doctor prescribes it.

Gabapentin is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating anxiety. However, many doctors use it because it is not as habit forming as other drugs are and it usually starts working right away. Gabapentin is mostly used for anxiety in people who have the potential for substance use disorders (SUD)

The primary difference between the two drugs is that Xanax has a high potential for abuse. Evidence shows that gabapentin has some abuse potential, but not to the extent of Xanax.

Similarities of Gabapentin and Xanax

Gabapentin and Xanax both work for treating anxiety by affecting the chemical signal of GABA in brain cells. Both medications start working right away and are relatively safe when they are used correctly.

Both Xanax and gabapentin are difficult to overdose on by themselves because people will fall asleep, or pass out before either drug has a deadly effect.

Mixing Gabapentin and Xanax

Gabapentin and Xanax taken together can increase the side effects that they both share. Taking them together will increase dizziness, drowsiness, confusion and increase the risk of overdose.

When combined, a Xanax and gabapentin high will significantly impair a person’s ability to operate a car or machinery. Combining the two drugs with alcohol or other drugs increases the risk of causing coma and death.

Mixing gabapentin and Xanax recreationally is dangerous and can lead to a deadly overdose.

Key Points: Gabapentin and Xanax

Keep the following key points in mind when considering gabapentin and Xanax:

  • Xanax is used for short-term anxiety
  • Gabapentin can be used for short and long-term anxiety
  • Both drugs work by modifying the chemical signal GABA in brain cells
  • Xanax is addictive and can cause withdrawal symptoms
  • Gabapentin is not as addictive as Xanax
  • Gabapentin is a useful medication for people with anxiety and a substance use disorder (SUD)

If you or a loved one have been abusing Xanax or gabapentin, you are not alone. Drug abuse can start casually but it can end up damaging different parts of your life. Call The Recovery Village today to speak with a representative who can guide you through the first steps of the recovery process.

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Editor – Thomas Christiansen
With over a decade of content experience, Tom produces and edits research articles, news and blog posts produced for Advanced Recovery Systems. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS, CACP
Dr. Sheehy completed his BS in Molecular Biology at the University of Idaho and went on to complete his Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) at the University of Washington in Seattle. Read more

Drugs.com. “Drug Interactions between Gabapentin and Xanax.” 2019. Accessed May 31, 2019.

Medlineplus.gov. “Alprazolam: MedlinePlus Drug Information.” 2017. Accessed 31 May 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with 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 providers.