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  • Lexapro (the brand name for escitalopram) and Xanax (the brand name for alprazolam) both affect the central nervous system (CNS), but they are two distinct medications with various differences. 

    Lexapro is an SSRI antidepressant while Xanax is a benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety and panic disorder. Xanax works by increasing the amount of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain while Lexapro increases the amount of serotonin.

    Xanax and Lexapro can be taken together under medical supervision. However, these drugs are often abused and, when abused together, they can be very dangerous.

    Taking Xanax With Lexapro

    There is nothing inherently dangerous about taking Xanax and Lexapro together. People who struggle with mental health disorders like major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and panic attacks could be prescribed both to help deal with their symptoms.

    But when the two medications are misused or abused, the combination can turn dangerous. 

    One reason is because Xanax is a short-term medication and Lexapro is a long-term medication. If you take Xanax for a long period of time along with Lexapro, it can lead to dependence and addiction.

    Additionally, when the two medications are taken together with drugs that they negatively interact with, the reaction could be even worse and end up being life-threatening.

    Side Effects Of Mixing Xanax & Lexapro

    Xanax and Lexapro come with their own different side effects when they are taken separately. When people abuse them together, they are likely looking for feelings of euphoria, or a high. But what they’re more likely to feel are the adverse side effects.

    The most common side effects when taking both Xanax and Lexapro include:

    • extreme sedation
    • dizziness
    • fatigue
    • drowsiness
    • poor coordination
    • confusion
    • inability to concentrate
    • memory problems
    • impaired judgment

    Because of the increased risk of extreme sedation, addiction, and overdose, healthcare providers don’t often prescribe Xanax for long periods alongside Lexapro. 

    Xanax & Lexapro Drug Interactions

    While taking the two prescription medications together can be fine with medical supervision, there are some other drugs that don’t ever interact well with Xanax and/or Lexapro.  For instance, mixing opioids with Xanax can lead to respiratory depression.

    Other drugs that should not be taken with Xanax include:

    • some antidepressants such as desipramine (Norpramin)
    • antifungals
    • antihistamines
    • anticonvulsants
    • oral contraceptives
    • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like fluoxetine (Prozac)
    • sedatives
    • supplements

    The drugs that shouldn’t be taken with Lexapro include:

    • anticoagulants like warfarin
    • anticonvulsants
    • amphetamines
    • aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
    • opioids like fentanyl
    • other SSRIs such as fluoxetine (Prozac) and paroxetine (Paxil)
    • serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
    • sedatives
    • tricyclic antidepressants

    Signs Of Prescription Medication Abuse

    Whether a loved one is abusing Xanax and Lexapro or another prescription drug, the signs of prescription drug abuse can often look very similar.

    If you suspect a loved one is abusing these types of drugs, here are a few things you can look out for:

    • doctor shopping for more medication
    • having more than one prescription
    • multiple bottles laying around their space
    • taking higher doses than prescribed
    • increased need for sleep
    • stealing or forging prescriptions

    Treating Xanax & Lexapro Abuse & Addiction

    Treatment for prescription drug addiction can differ depending on what the drug is. 

    With Xanax and Lexapro, you’re treating addiction to a benzodiazepine and an SSRI antidepressant. When in addiction treatment, you need to treat both addictions at the same time. Trying to treat only Xanax addiction usually isn’t effective.

    The treatment for this type of polysubstance addiction often includes:

    Medication Change

    Because the withdrawal process for Xanax can be very uncomfortable, you may be put on another benzodiazepine to help ease your withdrawal symptoms. The new benzodiazepine may also help treat the reason you were on Xanax to begin with.

    Medication Tapering

    This treatment can be used for both Xanax and Lexapro. 

    Because both come with serious withdrawal symptoms, healthcare professionals often have you take a lower and lower dose of the drug until you can quit completely without experiencing any (or very few) withdrawal symptoms. This can take weeks or a couple of months.

    If you or a loved one is struggling with polysubstance addiction, you don’t have to struggle alone. At Ark Behavioral Health, we provide a variety of treatment options including detox, inpatient and outpatient care, and aftercare support.

    For more information, please call our helpline today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Mayo Clinic - Prescription Drug Abuse
    National Institute on Drug Abuse - How can prescription drug addiction be treated?
    National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Alprazolam
    National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Escitalopram
    The Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry - Combination Treatment With Benzodiazepines and SSRIs for Comorbid Anxiety and Depression: A Review
    Texas A&M Health - Benzodiazepine versus SSRIs: What is right for you?

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on October 20, 2022
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