Alternative Medications for Xanax

Xanax is prescribed to treat disorders that are caused by increased brain activity that is otherwise uncontrollable and can result in physical symptoms like hyperventilation, panic attack, elevated heart rate, and other uncomfortable issues. The drug works by slowing down the brain activity and thus mitigating the symptoms. Patients prescribed Xanax are often diagnosed with anxiety disorder, panic disorders or phobias.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that a number of different types of medications have been shown to be effective in the treatment of issues of anxiety-related disorders. These include:

  • Anti-anxiety drugs
    (like Xanax)
  • Antidepressants
  • Beta blockers


Some studies have also shown that certain herbal supplements can be helpful in the treatment of anxiety as well.

If your loved one is struggling with a Xanax dependence and in need of other medication options to address issues of anxiety, phobias, depression or other mental health issues, there are a number of non-addictive options to choose from. Each situation is different, and each patient will need to build a unique treatment plan that maximizes his or her strengths while addressing obstacles to recovery through a wide range of therapeutic options. Call us at Axis today to get started.


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Anti-Anxiety Drugs

Benzodiazepines are often the first line of defense in the treatment of anxiety-related disorders. Xanax is one of these drugs. Classified as a benzodiazepine, Xanax and other drugs in its class all have the potential to incite addiction in their users. Xanax is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder, phobias and panic disorder, but lorazepam (Ativan) may also be prescribed for panic disorder, and clonazepam (Klonopin) is often prescribed for the treatment for the treatment of social phobia and generalized anxiety disorder as well.

In general, it is recommended that any of these medications only be taken for short period of time due to the risk of addiction that can increase with long-term use.


For some people, the symptoms of anxiety are related to depression, and in these cases, it can be effective to treat these symptoms with antidepressant medications. Some of the different types include:

  • SSRIs. Selective serotonin uptake inhibitors address the levels of serotonin in the brain, a neurotransmitter responsible for aiding in brain cell communication. For the treatment of panic disorder, social phobia, OCD and PTSD, some common SSRIs prescribed include Prozac, Lexapro, Paxil and Celexa.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants. Older than SSRIs, these medications may be prescribed in the treatment of anxiety disorders other than OCD. Tofranil and Anafranil are tricyclic antidepressants that may be prescribed to treat generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder.
  • MAOIs. Even older than tricyclics, monoamine oxidase inhibitors are often the last resort when other medications fail. Patients taking these drugs must avoid a number of different foods, beverages and certain medications due to complications that can result. Nardil, Parnate and Marplan are just a few MAOIs that may be prescribed for anxiety disorders.

It is important to note that these medications must build up in the system for a period of about four to six weeks; they are not as fast-acting as anti-anxiety medications. They are also non-addictive.

Beta Blockers

Inderal is a beta blocker that may be prescribed to treat the symptoms related to anxiety issues. It should be noted that beta blockers do not address the disorder itself and are not taken for long periods of time, but may be used in the treatment of social phobia symptoms when the event is planned and the patient can take the medication one time in order to keep symptoms under control during that event.

Herbal Supplements

A study published in the journal Nutrition reported that there was strong evidence to suggest that some herbal supplements may be helpful in the treatment of anxiety. Some of the following herbs were shown to be effective in mitigating anxiety symptoms in participants:

  • Passionflower
  • Kava
  • L-lysine and L-arginine

It was also suggested that supplements that include magnesium may be helpful, but more research is necessary before that can be recommended. Additionally, it was noted that St. John’s wort alone, an herb that many believe is helpful in the treatment of depression and anxiety, had no noticeable impact on symptoms.

NOTE: Do not take any herbal supplements of any kind to treat anxiety symptoms at home without first discussing the specifics with your doctor.

Medication Alone Is Not Enough

If your loved one struggles with a mental health issue that was once treated with Xanax and they can no longer take the medication due to an addiction to the medication, it is important to note that simply changing medications is not enough. True healing begins when medication is used in combination with intensive psychotherapeutic intervention to address the issues of phobias, anxiety and other problems that may have initially triggered the perceived need for Xanax.

If your loved one requires treatment for anxiety as well as addiction, an intensive addiction treatment program that has the resources to treat their mental health issues as well as their struggle with drug dependency is essential. Contact us at Axis today and speak to our therapeutic team about the different ways in which we can help your loved one to work toward a balanced life in recovery.