Article at a Glance:

  • Xanax is a benzodiazepine prescribed for conditions like anxiety.
  • Experts recommend using benzodiazepines during opiate withdrawal with caution.
  • Benzodiazepine dependence can worsen opioid withdrawal symptoms.

Does Xanax Help with Opiate/Opioid Withdrawal?

Although benzodiazepines like Xanax can be used during opioid withdrawal, they should be used with caution. The idea behind Xanax and opioid withdrawal is that it will help with certain symptoms, such as anxiety. Xanax is not typically recommended for use during opiate withdrawal unless instructed by a medical professional due to a risk of relapse and overdose.

Relapse & Overdose Risk

If someone uses Xanax and then ends up relapsing on opioids, the combination can be deadly. Opioids and benzodiazepines used together can and often do lead to fatal respiratory depression because both slow the central nervous system.

Also, Xanax is highly addictive, just like opiates. If someone is regularly using Xanax to help them get through opiate withdrawal, they may replace one addiction with another.

Severe Withdrawal Symptoms

For someone who becomes dependent on Xanax, withdrawal can be severe. Opioid withdrawal is often worse in a person who is dependent on a benzodiazepine. A person who is dependent on both opioids and Xanax often needs more intensive medical care during detox.

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Withdrawal at The Recovery Village

Withdrawal tends to be one of the biggest obstacles for people who want to recover from opioid addiction. They can find it too difficult to make it through the physical and psychological symptoms. The best way to avoid this is to go through a medically assisted detox.

During this time, various interventions can be provided to reduce the symptoms of opiate withdrawal. This makes the chances of successfully detoxing much more likely than trying to detox at home or on your own.

Various medications can be used on an inpatient or outpatient basis to help people go through opiate withdrawal. 

  • Methadone and buprenorphine have effects similar to opioids. These medications can help reduce or shorten symptoms of opiate withdrawal.
  • Clonidine is a medicine that can help with the physical and psychological effects of opiate withdrawal, such as reducing anxiety and cramping. Clonidine doesn’t reduce opiate cravings.
  • Naltrexone is a useful medication to prevent relapse, and it can be given as a tablet or an injection.

If you are trying to stop your opiate or opioid use, contact The Recovery Village. We can help you with a medical detox and rehab treatment that gets to the root of an addiction. Dual diagnosis treatment can also address multiple behavioral health disorders at once, including anxiety, panic disorder and other conditions that Xanax treats.

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Editor – Melissa Carmona
Melissa Carmona puts years of writing and editing experience to work helping people understand substance abuse, addiction and mental health disorders. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD
Dr. Jessica Pyhtila is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist based in Baltimore, Maryland with practice sites in inpatient palliative care and outpatient primary care at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Read more

American Society of Addiction Medicine. “National Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder.” December 18, 2019. Accessed October 13, 2021.

de Wet, Cornelis; Reed, Laurence; Glasper, Anthony; et al. “Benzodiazepine co-dependence exacerbates[…] withdrawal syndrome.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, October 5, 2004. Accessed October 13, 2021. “Xanax.” September 1, 2021. Accessed October 13, 2021.

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.