My experience using CBD for anxiety, with reviews of Sunday Scaries CBD gummies, Grön CBD chocolate, and Beekeeper's Naturals B.Chill Honey. Taking CBD and Xanax together can have health consequences. Read this article before mixing the two to avoid any unwanted side effects. Xanax is one of the more common benzodiazepine prescriptions for those with anxiety. Read here to know the interaction between CBD and Xanax.
I Swapped My Xanax for CBD. Here’s What Happened.
Anxiety has been part of my life for so long that I don’t really know who I am without it. I have obsessive-compulsive disorder and also just a high-strung, anxious nature. When things are going well, I tend to take a glass-half-full perspective and link my drive and work ethic to the ever-present anxiety that pushes me to always do more. But when things are going badly, sometimes it’s hard to function like a normal person because I’m so paralyzed with fear.
For those times, I’ve been prescribed Xanax. And it helps, for sure. But the thing is, I get nervous about taking it. (Yes, that’s right—I get anxious about taking the medication that’s supposed to make me less anxious. I am a disaster, y’all.)
Even at the smallest doses, it makes me sleepy, so I don’t like to take it during the day. And although nighttime is usually when my anxiety peaks, even then, I don’t want to take it often because I’m afraid of becoming dependent.
CBD for anxiety—does it work?
A mom friend who, like me, suffers from OCD, mentioned she was taking CBD for anxiety. My interest was piqued based on her experience—when her anxiety felt particularly out-of-control, the CBD would put a stop to the spiraling.
I asked my doctor about it, and she was dubious. While she gave the approval for me to give it a try, she cautioned that because marijuana is illegal, CBD hasn’t been researched enough to determine its impact on anxiety.
While this is true, the research that has been done on CBD (short for cannabidiol) looks promising [ source ]. There’s a growing body of evidence demonstrating CBD’s usefulness for treating anxiety-related disorders [ source ]. It seems to have a calming effect on the central nervous system [ source ], which gives it the potential to treat a multitude of disorders.
In 2018, the FDA unanimously recommended approval for an epilepsy drug made from CBD called Epidiolex [ source ], and it is now the first CBD medicine available in the U.S. [ source ]. Because of its FDA approval, it is now regulated and does not have any of the safety concerns that other forms of CBD carry. A few studies have been carried out that show inaccuracies in the labeling of CBD products sold online [ source ] and from retail outlets [ source ], revealing large ranges of variability in the product contained.
It took me a while to actually take the plunge and try CBD for anxiety because I had trouble finding sources that felt trustworthy. (As someone who quite literally obsesses over product purity—it’s one of my OCD fixations—this is the best argument I can think of to legalize marijuana. Legalization means regulation and research [ source ]!)
What helped me was:
- Actually reaching out to the manufacturers to ask questions . This was huge for me. If you have a good BS meter, I’d recommend taking this step. The folks at Grön were especially candid and helpful. I learned so much from them!
- Getting recommendations . I asked friends, the staff at my local grocery co-op, and checked Reddit and internet message boards. Plus, I Google everything!
- Treating CBD like other health supplements . I always buy supplements that share third-party testing results on their websites, are transparent about their sourcing, and manufacture their products in the United States or Canada. The CBD industry is not regulated, and thus the safety and efficacy of products on the market are not guaranteed, so you need to do your homework [ source ].
Just to be clear, CBD doesn’t get you high. The compound that gives you that feeling when you use marijuana is called THC . And if you feel high after taking CBD, you’re probably taking a product that’s impure or mixed with other elements for that purpose [ source ].
My Experience Taking CBD for Anxiety
Before I talk about my experience using CBD for anxiety, you may be wondering, “Is CBD even legal?!” Well, yes, it is—kind of. What’s not legal in some places is CBD derived from marijuana, unless you’re in a state where marijuana is legal [ source ].
But, if you want to get off that bandwagon altogether, you can look into CBD derived from hemp and other sources. Grön , a CBD chocolate maker out of Portland, produces its CBD from an invasive pine tree and lemon peel. This kind of CBD is not illegal.
The first CBD product I tried was Beekeeper’s Naturals B. Chill honey . This felt like a natural place to start since it was a brand I already knew and trusted. The effect was hard to describe; it wasn’t so much any particular feeling, but the absence of the ever-present anxiety that’s just always there for me.
I tend to carry tension in my body, and I’m never still. I drive everyone around me crazy by constantly fidgeting and bouncing my legs. The CBD made my body feel calm and quiet.
That quiet feeling was mental too. My need to multitask and inability to concentrate on anything for longer than 5 minutes gave way to intense focus. I worried that CBD, like Xanax, would render me useless, but I’ve actually found that taking CBD helps me with work. Unlike the Xanax, which I’d always have to time around bedtime, I feel comfortable taking CBD any time of the day.
Could it be a placebo effect? It very well could be. I don’t know! All I know is that CBD seems as effective for me as my prescription. And I haven’t had to take any Xanax since I started using CBD. I have two unfilled prescriptions sitting in my purse right now and a half-used bottle in the medicine cabinet.
I soon picked up a few bars of Grön CBD chocolate (found after some intense Googling) and Sunday Scaries gummies after the owner reached out to Hello Glow via Instagram. Now I have a stockpile ready for any time of day: honey for stirring into morning tea, a bottle of gummies to go with me in my purse, and chocolate to have after dinner to help me sleep better.
That said, I’m not taking CBD all day long, or even every day. Unfortunately, CBD is pricey, so I use it in the same way I used my Xanax—only when I really need it. When I’m having a particularly bad day with anxiety, it’s usually the result of my mind latching onto some random thought and not letting go. The CBD helps me let those thoughts pass through rather than allowing them to snowball into something paralyzing.
It feels a little strange—even kind of scary—to be talking about this because CBD isn’t yet mainstream. And while slathering it on your skin is one thing, actually ingesting it is another.
But we’re currently undergoing a sea change in how we talk about mental illness in this country; if we can be open about that, we should also be open about treatment options. CBD has a stigma attached to it because of its origins, but the fact that it’s a non-addictive alternative to benzodiazepines and opiates makes it worth researching and taking seriously. It’s not just for potheads.
Of course, all the usual disclaimers apply here. I’m not a doctor! If CBD is something you’re considering, talk to your doctor! And, obviously, my experience is my own. What worked for me might not be right for you. Just make sure and do the research, so you will feel comfortable with whatever you decide to do.
This post was medically reviewed by Dr. Susanna Quasem, M.D., a child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist in Nashville, Tennessee. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here . As always, this is not personal medical advice, and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
CBD and Xanax: Can You Take Them Together?
Xanax is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for anxiety.
With the rising popularity of CBD, many people are now asking, “can I take CBD with Xanax?”.
The answer depends on your dose, the form of CBD you are taking, and your overall health. CBD can potentially interact with other drugs to cause serious health consequences.
Make sure you read this article before you attempt to mix Xanax and CBD.
What is Xanax?
Xanax, known by its proprietary name as alprazolam, is a prescription drug used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Xanax belongs to a class of medications called benzodiazepines. It comes in immediate-release tablets, which are used for rapid calming effects. People with panic disorder are often prescribed extended-release tablets, which are slowly released into the bloodstream.
Xanax is meant to be prescribed as a short-term solution for anxiety, but many people end up taking it much longer than is recommended.
How Does Xanax Work?
Xanax attaches to two benzodiazepine receptors in your brain and a nervous system called BNZ1 and BNZ2.
The BNZ1 receptor regulates sleep, and BZN2 influences muscle relaxation, memory, anticonvulsant activity, and coordination.
The binding activity of Xanax causes a calming effect on the body by boosting the activity of a chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which means it reduces activity in your central nervous system. This results in relaxed muscles reduced anxiety, and may also cause drowsiness.
Xanax is taken orally and metabolized in the liver by an enzyme called P4503A4.
The recommended dosage varies depending on the person and the condition being treated. In general, the recommended dosage begins at 0.25 mg daily up to a maximum of 4 mg daily. Any daily dose of over 0.75 mg is associated with an increased risk of side effects and addiction.
Xanax and Benzodiazepine Addiction
Xanax is considered one of the most addictive benzodiazepines on the market. Approximately 40% of people who use benzodiazepines daily for a period of six weeks or more will become dependent on them.
This medication has a high potential for addiction and misuse due to its unique properties. It is extremely potent and rapidly metabolized with a short half-life. This means that people are more likely to get withdrawal symptoms and crave more of the drug.
Xanax also uniquely affects dopamine function and the brain’s reward system, similar to many stimulant drugs. As a result, people are more likely to seek out the drug for that surge of feel-good chemicals. This drug-seeking behavior is common among addictive substances.
CBD & Xanax
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a natural health-promoting compound. Among its many benefits, it has considerable potential to treat various anxiety disorders (4). Its benefits are primarily due to its interaction with the endocannabinoid system. Although CBD is considered a very safe drug, it can potentially cause problems when taken with Xanax due to its action on the P450 enzyme in the liver.
As a result, CBD and Xanax may not mix so well.
How Does CBD Interact with Xanax and Other Benzodiazepines?
CBD oil is a strong inhibitor of P450 enzymes, which are the main enzymes that break down benzodiazepines and other drugs. When you take CBD oil, it binds to these enzymes, which can interfere with the way the drugs are metabolized in your body. Simply put, CBD oil can prevent your body from effectively breaking down drugs like benzodiazepines.
The main result of this interference is an elevated level of the drugs in your system. As the amount of Xanax in your bloodstream goes up, it causes unwanted side effects like excessive drowsiness, disorientation, and an increased risk of addiction. These side effects get especially dangerous if you also add alcohol to the mix.
You should never mix alcohol with CBD and benzodiazepines.
What is a Safe CBD Dosage with Xanax?
There hasn’t been much research yet to determine what is considered a safe dose of CBD when taking it with drugs like Xanax. A 2013 clinical study using a CBD sublingual spray found that there were no interactions with liver enzymes with doses up to 40 mg (6). However, more work is needed to look at CBD in forms such as full-spectrum oil, vape, and smoked herbal flowers. All of these forms of administration are metabolized by the liver and therefore carry some risk of interactions.
You can safely use topical CBD with other drugs since topical CBD does not get in your bloodstream and will not inhibit P450 enzymes.
Taking CBD & Xanax Together
There is always a risk of increased side effects when you take CBD and Xanax together. You can reduce this risk by lowering your dosage or spacing out your dosing schedule (i.e., CBD in the morning and Xanax at night). The speed at which your body metabolizes CBD will vary depending on factors like the form of administration and dose. In general, you should wait at least three hours after taking CBD before taking a medication like Xanax.
CBD vs Xanax: Can CBD Replace Xanax?
Due to the high risk of addiction and multiple side effects of Xanax, you may be interested in replacing your Xanax prescription with CBD. Xanax is a very potent anti-anxiety medication that comes with a lot of risks. CBD has less dramatic effects on anxiety reduction but comes with many health-promoting benefits.
Benefits of Xanax
- Powerful calming effects
- Works rapidly
Side-Effects and Risks of Xanax
- Tolerance-forming (you need a higher dose over time for the same benefits)
- Severe withdrawal (i.e., suicidal ideation, depression, hallucinations, confusion, seizures)
- Slurred speech
- Drowsiness and dizziness
- Impaired memory
- Poor balance and coordination
- Trouble focusing
- Very dangerous when mixed with alcohol
- Sleep disturbances (reduced slow-wave sleep)
Benefits of CBD
- Non-habit forming
- All-natural and plant-based
- Does not diminish performance
- Improves heart health (10)
- Reduces inflammation
- Promotes overall wellness
Side-Effects and Risks of CBD
- Dry mouth
- Low blood pressure
How Does CBD Help With Anxiety?
CBD carries a host of anxiety-reducing benefits without interfering with your daily functioning. It helps manage issues like seizures, pain, acne, and anxiety. Additionally, it is neuroprotective, meaning CBD may help prevent age-related decline and improve brain functioning (13).
CBD works by influencing our endocannabinoid system, which helps us maintain a state of internal balance.
Ingesting CBD slows the rate at which your body absorbs an endocannabinoid known as anandamide. This compound, nicknamed “the bliss molecule,” has a calming effect on the nervous system (14).
Ongoing research has found that CBD may reduce anxiety by altering the blood flow in areas of the brain associated with fear and stress. CBD is also linked to serotonin levels by affecting how your brain responds to serotonin. Serotonin is a key neurotransmitter that regulates various functions, including mood.
CBD has been shown to have stress-reducing effects in various populations and across a wide range of health conditions (17).
CBD Dosage for Anxiety
The Federal Drug Administration does not regulate CBD, so you should always be diligent when selecting a source. Always buy your product from a reputable company that offers organic CBD. Look for companies that offer third-party testing to make sure that the product is accurately labeled and dosed. Start with 5–10 mg per day for anxiety reduction and increase your dose by 5 mg a day to find your sweet spot.
Can CBD Help with Xanax Addiction?
CBD is not only useful for anxiety; it may also help curb substance addiction.
A study done on mice displaying drug addiction showed that daily CBD reduced addictive behaviors for five months. These results are pretty exciting, but more work is needed to see how they translate to humans with addiction. Scientists believe that CBD can help people battle addiction by improving brain architecture and reducing symptoms of anxiety (19).
It remains to be seen how well CBD can help someone kick a Xanax addiction. Addiction is a complicated problem. What we do know is that CBD is a very safe alternative to Xanax and has many health benefits beyond anxiety reduction.
If you are interested in tapering off of your Xanax, you should always do so under the guidance of a medical professional.
Taking CBD & Xanax: Final Thoughts
Due to the many health benefits of CBD and the side-effects of Xanax, many people are considering switching to CBD to manage their anxiety. Talk to your doctor if you plan on making the switch so they can monitor any withdrawal symptoms.
Xanax is a popular medication, but it comes with a lot of risks. If you are considering mixing CBD and Xanax, you should avoid it due to potential drug interactions. In order to reduce unwanted side effects, try spacing out your doses so that your body has time to metabolize one drug before you consume the other.
CBD may be able to help people who struggle with addiction to Xanax, but we’ll have to wait and see what the research says.
- Royal College of Psychiatrists (2015) Report on Benzodiazepines. https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mental-health/treatments-and-wellbeing/benzodiazepines
- Juergens, S. (1991). Alprazolam and diazepam: addiction potential. Journal of substance abuse treatment, 8(1-2), 43–51.
- Ait-Daoud, N., Hamby, A. S., Sharma, S., & Blevins, D. (2018). A Review of Alprazolam Use, Misuse, and Withdrawal. Journal of Addiction Medicine, 12(1), 4–10.
- Blessing, E. M., Steenkamp, M.M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C.R. (2015). Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics : the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics, 12(4), 825–836.
- Alsherbiny, M.A. & Li, C.G. (2018) Medicinal Cannabis-Potential Drug Interactions. Medicines, 23(1), 3.
- Serpell, M.G., Notcutt, W., & Collin, C. (2013) Sativex long-term use: an open-label trial in patients with spasticity due to multiple sclerosis. Journal of Neurology, 260, 285–295.
- Huestis M.A. (2007). Human cannabinoid pharmacokinetics. Chemistry & biodiversity, 4(8), 1770–1804.
- Ait-Daoud (n 3)
- Moodley, P., Golombok, S., Shine, P., & Lader, M. (1993). Computed axial brain tomograms in long-term benzodiazepine users. Psychiatry Research, 48(2), 135–144.
- Jadoon, K. A., Tan, G. D., & O’Sullivan, S. E. (2017). A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study. JCI insight, 2(12), e93760.
- Devinsky, O. et al. (2016) Cannabidiol in patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy: an open-label interventional trial. The Lancet. Neurology, 15(3), 270–278.
- Oláh, A., Tóth, B. I., Borbíró, I., Sugawara, K., Szöllõsi, A. G., Czifra, G., Pál, B., Ambrus, L., Kloepper, J., Camera, E., Ludovici, M., Picardo, M., Voets, T., Zouboulis, C. C., Paus, R., & Bíró, T. (2014). Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes. The Journal of clinical investigation, 124(9), 3713–3724.
- Maroon, J., & Bost, J. (2018). Review of the neurological benefits of phytocannabinoids. Surgical neurology international, 9, 91.
- Papagianni, E. P., & Stevenson, C. W. (2019). Cannabinoid Regulation of Fear and Anxiety: an Update. Current psychiatry reports, 21(6), 38.
- Crippa, J. A., Zuardi, A. W., Garrido, G. E., Wichert-Ana, L., Guarnieri, R., Ferrari, L., Azevedo-Marques, P. M., Hallak, J. E., McGuire, P. K., & Filho Busatto, G. (2004). Effects of cannabidiol (CBD) on regional cerebral blood flow. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 29(2), 417–426.
- De Gregorio, D., McLaughlin, R. J., Posa, L., Ochoa-Sanchez, R., Enns, J., Lopez-Canul, M., Aboud, M., Maione, S., Comai, S., & Gobbi, G. (2019). Cannabidiol modulates serotonergic transmission and reverses both allodynia and anxiety-like behavior in a model of neuropathic pain. Pain, 160(1), 136–150.
- Crippa, J. A., Guimarães, F. S., Campos, A. C., & Zuardi, A. W. (2018). Translational Investigation of the Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD): Toward a New Age. Frontiers in immunology, 9, 2009.
- Gonzalez-Cuevas, G., Martin-Fardon, R., Kerr, T. M., Stouffer, D. G., Parsons, L. H., Hammell, D. C., Banks, S. L., Stinchcomb, A. L., & Weiss, F. (2018). Unique treatment potential of cannabidiol for the prevention of relapse to drug use: preclinical proof of principle. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 43(10), 2036–2045.
- Calpe-López, C., García-Pardo, M. P., & Aguilar, M. A. (2019). Cannabidiol Treatment Might Promote Resilience to Cocaine and Methamphetamine Use Disorders: A Review of Possible Mechanisms. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 24(14), 2583.
Livvy is a registered nurse (RN) and board-certified nurse midwife (CNM) in the state of New Jersey. After giving birth to her newborn daughter, Livvy stepped down from her full-time position at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. This gave her the opportunity to spend more time writing articles on all topics related to pregnancy and prenatal care.
CBD and Xanax – August 2022
Does CBD interact with Xanax and other benzodiazepines (tranquilizers and sedatives)?
- Alprazolam (Xanax) is mainly metabolised by CYP3A4 (a type of enzyme that belongs to the CYP450 family), as confirmed by a Japanese study in the Yamagata University School of Medicine (1 ) . Found mostly in the liver and small intestine, the CYP3A4 enzyme is responsible for breaking down many of the medicines that enter the body.
- In a Japanese study published in Life Sciences, it was indicated that CBD (cannabidiol) most potently inhibited the catalytic activity of the human CYP3A system of enzymes (2 ) .
- When the CYP450 family of enzymes is influenced in this way, it leads to higher levels of certain drugs in the system at one time, which can cause unwanted side effects, and sometimes, an overdose (3 ) .
- Authors of a study published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research do not recommend that cannabis can or should be used as an alternative or supplement to medically indicated and prescribed benzodiazepines (4 ) .
- Given that the benzodiazepines are metabolized by the same enzymes that CBD inhibits, taking CBD with Xanax or any other benzodiazepine is not recommended. It is crucial to consult with a doctor experienced in cannabis use before including CBD in a regimen.
Can CBD be taken with Xanax?
People who have anxiety may have an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, and Xanax aids in correcting these.
Veterinarians also use Xanax for dogs suffering from anxiety or panic. Even if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved Xanax as veterinary medicine, veterinarians still prescribe this as an “off-label” or “extra-label” drug.
Alprazolam (Xanax) is a benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines are categorized under a group of medicines called central nervous system (CNS) depressants, which are medicines that calm down the nervous system by acting on the GABA receptors (5 ) .
Enzymes are proteins made from amino acids, and they help speed up chemical reactions in the body.
A family of enzymes, called Cytochrome P450, are essential for the metabolism of many medicines and compounds within the human body.
CYP3A4, which belongs to the CYP450 family, contributes to the detoxification of the bile acid, the termination of steroid hormones activity, and elimination of chemicals in food and medicines.
Alprazolam (Xanax) is mainly metabolised by the CYP3A4 system of enzymes, as confirmed by a Japanese study in the Yamagata University School of Medicine (6 ) .
Mainly found in the liver and the intestine, CYP3A4 is an enzyme involved in the metabolism of almost half the drugs in use today (7 ) .
The drugs affecting CYP3A4 activity inhibit or induce the metabolism of the benzodiazepines metabolized by this enzyme. The enzymes cause side effects or reduce the therapeutic effects of these drugs (8 ) .
There have been no clinical trials or case studies documenting a Xanax and CBD interaction.
However, CBD has been shown to inhibit the cytochrome P450’s ability to metabolize certain drugs, leading to an overall increase in processing times (9 ) .
In a Japanese study published in Life Sciences , it was indicated that CBD most potently inhibited the catalytic activity of human CYP3A enzymes, especially CYP3A4 and CYP3A5 (10 ) .
When the CYP450 system is influenced in this way, it leads to higher levels of certain drugs in the system at one time, which can cause unwanted side effects, and sometimes, an overdose (11 ) .
This interaction is due to how CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, a complex cell-signaling system in the body. If the side effects are not correctly understood, the risks could be dangerous.
When more of the medication enters the bloodstream than average, it could increase the side effects of Xanax.
Common side effects of Xanax include fatigue, changes in patterns and rhythms of speech, memory problems , poor coordination, lack of appetite, irritability or trouble sleeping.
Less common side effects of Xanax include ear congestion, vomiting of blood, hyperventilation, irregular heartbeats, seizures , and uncontrolled twisting movements of the legs, neck, trunk, or arms (12 ) .
Thus, consult with a doctor experienced in cannabis use before including CBD in a regimen that includes Xanax.
Also, using Xanax with other medications like itraconazole (Sporanox) or ketoconazole (Nizoral) is not recommended, as using any of them together may increase the chance of serious side effects.
However, there may be cases when the combination of Xanax with other medications, such as the ones mentioned above, is unavoidable. In situations like this, the doctor may change the dose or how often Xanax is used, or give special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco (13 ) .
Can another benzodiazepine be a substitute for Xanax so CBD oil can be taken?
Cytochrome P450(CYP)3A4 is one of the CYP enzymes catalyzing oxidative metabolism, and is involved in the metabolism of many drugs.
Among benzodiazepines, alprazolam, triazolam, brotizolam and midazolam are mainly metabolized by CYP3A4. Meanwhile, quazepam, diazepam (Valium) and flunitrazepam are partly metabolised by this enzyme (14 ) .
Thus, taking CBD oil with any other benzodiazepine may lead to the same interactions, given that the benzodiazepines mentioned above are metabolized by the same enzymes that CBD inhibits.
Can CBD replace Xanax?
There is no specific study that shows CBD as a safe replacement for Xanax or any benzodiazepine medication.
The only study that came close to examining the possible impact of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD among subjects who used benzodiazepine is that of a 2019 study published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research (15 ) .
Researchers of the said study found that approximately 45 percent of the subjects had stopped taking benzodiazepine within about six months of beginning medical cannabis. Many of them also reported decreased daily distress due to medical conditions after being prescribed cannabis.
However, medical cannabis given to the subjects contained varying levels of THC and CBD (16 ) .
Thus, it cannot be concluded that it was CBD alone that brought about the improved condition among the subjects who discontinued their use of benzodiazepines.
Also, the distribution of cannabinoid (CBD and THC) proportions was not significantly different among patients who continued and those who discontinued benzodiazepines.
The researchers were not able to gain access to information on cannabis strains, growth and producers. Nor were they able to generalize the results to products that were available in Canada.
Still, study author Chad Purcell and his team from Dalhousie University do not recommend that cannabis can or should be used as an alternative or supplement to medically indicated and prescribed benzodiazepines (17 ) .
Also, one essential reminder is not to stop taking Xanax without checking first with a doctor.
The doctor will want the Xanax dose gradually reduced before completely stopping it, which may prevent a worsening of the medical condition and reduce any possibility of withdrawal symptoms, like convulsions (seizures), stomach or muscle cramps, sweating, tremors, vomiting, or unusual behavior.
Note that Xanax may be habit-forming. Thus, if the medicine is not working as well, do not use more than the prescribed dose, and call a doctor for instructions.
Also, do not take other medications, including prescription or nonprescription over-the-counter medicines or supplements, unless they have been discussed with a doctor (18 ) .
What to Know Before Using Alprazolam
When using medication, the risks must be weighed against its benefits. For taking alprazolam, the following points should be considered:
Tell the doctor of any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also, tell a healthcare professional of any other forms of allergies, such as allergies to foods, preservatives, dyes, or animals. For non-prescription products, carefully read the ingredients on the package label.
Appropriate studies have not been done on the relationship of age to the effects of alprazolam in children. Safety and efficacy have not been known.
Studies conducted to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of alprazolam in the elderly.
However, older adults are likely to have unwanted effects (e.g., severe drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, clumsiness, or unsteadiness) and kidney, liver, or lung problems, which may require caution and an adjustment in the dose for patients receiving this medicine.
Studies in pregnant women have shown a risk to the fetus, according to Mayo Clinic. However, the benefits of therapy in a life-threatening situation or a severe disease may outweigh the potential risk.
Studies of alprazolam use in breastfeeding women have demonstrated harmful infant effects, according to Mayo Clinic. An alternative to this medicine should be prescribed, or breastfeeding should be stopped while using this medicine.
Alprazolam and Other Drug Interactions
Specific medicines should not be used together at all. However, in some cases, two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur.
In these cases, a doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary.
When one is taking this medicine, a healthcare professional must know of any of the medicines listed below. Taking this medicine with any of the following medicines is discouraged.
A doctor may decide not to treat individuals with this medication or change some of the other medicines they take.
Taking this medicine with any of the following medications is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, a doctor may change the dose, and how often the medicines are used.
For a complete list, click here (19 ) .
A Close Look at Benzodiazepines
An article on Harvard Health says that for many years, benzodiazepines continued to be the most popular prescription tranquilizers and sedatives (20 ) .
Benzodiazepines, sometimes called benzos, have a standard basic chemical structure, and they increase the activity of the receptors for the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
GABA inhibits the activity of neurons, slowing down the brain and nervous system, so benzos are calming and promote sleep.
Benzodiazepines differ primarily in how quickly they are absorbed, how long their effects last, and how long they take to leave the system.
Benzodiazepines are also prescribed for acute seizures, severe muscle spasms, tremors, and alcohol and drug withdrawal symptoms. However, their main uses are still in the treatment of insomnia and anxiety (21 ) .
Meanwhile, according to an article posted by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam, clonazepam, diazepam, and lorazepam, promote relaxation and reduce muscular tension, including other physical symptoms of anxiety.
B enzodiazepines are also frequently used for short-term management of anxiety, such as for minor medical procedures (22 ) .
Long-term Use of Benzodiazepines
In a 2015 study published by Australian Prescriber, the authors said that there are well-recognised harms from long-term use of benzodiazepines. These include dependency, cognitive decline and falls (23 ) .
Over the last two decades, the quantity of benzodiazepines on every prescription has increased, and alprazolam became the second most popular drug (24 ) .
Of specific concern are those who have been taking benzodiazepines for over six months. There are a few indications for long-term therapy, and they are controversial (25 ) .
Benzo-related problems include misuse, dependency, driving impairment, and morbidity and mortality related to overdose and withdrawal (26 ) .
In the elderly, benzos have been linked to cognitive decline, dementia and falls (27 ) . Also, there is evidence of increased mortality with long-term use (28 ) .
In February 2014, in response to a surge in illicit use, alprazolam was rescheduled to Schedule 8. Alprazolam has more significant toxicity in overdose and associated mortality compared with other benzodiazepines (29 ) .
The effect of this rescheduling is yet to be determined, as this barrier to prescribing has placed a new focus on benzo dependence.
However, there is a lack of research on the optimal management of benzo dependence, according to the authors of the review published by Australian Prescriber (30 ) .
Some benzodiazepines, like alprazolam, appear to have a higher propensity for misuse and are more dangerous in overdose.
The reasons for this propensity include perception of intoxication, potency relative to the formulation (e.g. a single 2 mg alprazolam tablet is equivalent to four 5 mg diazepam tablets), shorter half-life and risk of withdrawal phenomena (31 ) .
A common approach is substituting these shorter half-life drugs, such as alprazolam, with more extended half-life drugs, such as diazepam (32 ) .
When tapering benzodiazepines, fewer patients taking more extended half-life drugs drop out.
However, there is a lack of robust evidence supporting substitution. Studies in older patients have found gradual withdrawal without substitution can be successful (33 ) .
Abrupt cessation of benzodiazepines after a period of 1–6 months of use can cause life-threatening seizures so the dose should be gradually reduced (34 ) .
Benzodiazepines and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Benzodiazepines were once the primary agents in PTSD treatment (35 ) .
Individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) show a higher rate of panic disorder than other people. People with panic disorder regularly suffer intense episodes of anxiety, known as panic attacks (36 ) .
Alprazolam and clonazepam have been used extensively, but the efficacy of benzodiazepines against the significant PTSD symptoms has not been proven in controlled studies (37 ) .
These agents are effective against anxiety, insomnia and irritability, but they should be used with great caution because of the high frequency of comorbid substance dependence in patients with PTSD. Patients should be fully informed of the risks and benefits of these medications, including the risks of dependency and withdrawal after abrupt discontinuation.
Benzodiazepines are Not Recommended for People with PTSD or Recent Trauma
Although benzodiazepine drugs are widely used in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), available evidence suggests that they are not sufficient and may even be harmful, concluded a 2015 systematic review and meta-analysis in the July Journal of Psychiatric Practice (38 ) .
“Benzodiazepines are ineffective for PTSD treatment and prevention, and risks associated with their use tend to outweigh potential short-term benefits,” wrote Dr Jeffrey Guina and colleagues from Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio.
They also found evidence to suggest that using benzodiazepines in patients with recent trauma can even increase the risk of developing PTSD.
Potential Ways CBD Helps with Depression and Anxiety
CBD has been shown to possess potential medical benefits, from nausea to blood pressure to inflammation (39 ) .
CBD oil , which is derived from the cannabis plant, is available in tincture or vape liquid, or CBD-infused foods and beverages.
CBD oil has also shown promise as possible depression and anxiety medications, which could be why those who live with these disorders are interested in this natural approach.
In one 2019 Brazilian study , subjects received either oral CBD or a placebo 90 minutes before they underwent a simulated public speaking test (40 ) .
The researchers indicated that a 300-mg dose of CBD was the most helpful at significantly reducing anxiety during the test.
In the study, no significant differences in anxiety levels were observed on the subjects given the placebo, a 150-mg dose of CBD, and a 600-mg dose of CBD.
In another study , CBD oil has even been used to safely alleviate insomnia and anxiety in children with PTSD (41 ) .
CBD has also exhibited antidepressant-like effects in some animal studies (42 ) .
These characteristics are associated with CBD’s potential ability to trigger the brain’s receptors for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and social behavior.
For example, other studies have demonstrated that treatment with CBD improved complex, sleep‐related behaviors for people with Parkinson’s disease (43 ) .
Also, animal and test-tube studies have shown that CBD may decrease inflammation and help prevent the neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer’s disease (44 ) .
In one study, researchers gave CBD to mice genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease, finding that it helped prevent cognitive decline (45 ) .
Though CBD is generally well-tolerated and considered safe , it may cause adverse reactions in some people.
Side effects noted in studies include (46 ) :
- Changes in appetite and weight
CBD also interacts with several medications. Thus, before starting to use CBD oil, discuss it with a doctor to avoid potentially harmful interactions (47 ) .
This reminder is essential when taking supplements or medications that come with a grapefruit warning.
Both CBD and grapefruit interfere with cytochromes P450 (CYPs), the enzymes that are essential to drug metabolism.
One study showed that CBD-rich cannabis extracts have the potential to cause liver toxicity (48 ) .
Although the study above was done on mouse models, there have also been a handful of human studies related to chronic pain , anxiety, and stress.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology indicated that CBD oil was associated with a decreased level of subjective anxiety, suggesting that CBD can reduce anxiety in patients experiencing social anxiety disorders (49 ) .
Clinical trials have shown promising results for treating anxiety symptoms with CBD. A 2011 study found that CBD helped lessen anxiety in subjects that were put through a stressful public speaking simulation (50 ) .
A 2015 study published in Neuropathics found parallel evidence supporting CBD’s anxiolytic properties.
The authors stated, “Overall, current evidence indicates CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders, with the need for further study” (51 ) .
The National Institute on Drug Abuse ( NIDA ) recently concluded one of the most comprehensive CBD studies involving human subjects (52 ) .
NIDA uses multiple sources to monitor the prevalence and trends regarding drug use in the United States (53 ) .
Researchers of the said NIDA study evaluated CBD in comparison with THC, Alprazolam, and placebo in healthy recreational drug users to determine whether or not CBD should still be a Schedule I drug or be recommended for deregulation.
Subjects received different doses of the alprazolam capsule for 18 days. Then, a series of assessment questions were given, and vital signs and ECG readings were evaluated. Researchers completed the study in May 2018. However, results for publication are still pending.
The high rate of dependency and misuse among Xanax users may be the reason why there is an interest in alternative, Xanax-free treatments, including CBD oil.
CBD’s antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like effects have been shown in several studies, such as the 2014 study that was published in the CNS and Neurological Disorders – Drug Targets (54 ) .
However, CBD is also known to interact with several medications. Thus, before using CBD oil, discuss it with a doctor and ask for medical advice to avoid potentially harmful interactions .
To date, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved an application for cannabis for the treatment of any disorder or medical condition except for one cannabis-derived drug, Epidiolex, and three cannabis-related drug products (55 ) .
Epidiolex contains a purified form of the drug substance CBD for the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome in patients two years of age and older.
There have been no clinical trials or case studies, specifically documenting a Xanax and CBD interaction. However, taking CBD oil or CBD products with Xanax or any other benzodiazepine may lead to adverse interactions such as elevated levels due to reduced clearance from the body, given that benzodiazepines are metabolized by the same enzymes that CBD inhibits.