Clonazepam and Alprazolam belong to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, which are often used for treating anxiety. This PsycholoGenie write-up presents a comparison of clonazepam and alprazolam.
The Food and Drug Administration of the United States has issued a warning about the risks associated with the use of clonazepam. It is believed that this drug could induce suicidal thoughts.
Synthesized and developed at Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., chlordiazepoxide (Librium) was the first FDA-approved benzodiazepine that entered the market in the United States in 1960. Basically, benzodiazepines work by slowing down the central nervous system. Ativan (lorazepam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Librium (chlordiazepoxide hydrochloride), Serax (oxazepam), Tranxene (clorazepate dipotassium), Valium (diazepam), Xanax (alprazolam), etc., are some of the commonly prescribed medicines that belong to this class of drugs. These drugs are commonly prescribed for the treatment of anxiety disorders, insomnia, anxiety associated with certain medical conditions, convulsive disorders, etc. Though benzodiazepines exhibit similar effects on the central nervous system, they are prescribed on the basis of the duration of the effect observed in case of individual drugs. The members of this class of drugs can be categorized into short-acting, intermediate-acting, and long-acting drugs. While alprazolam is considered to be a short-acting drug, clonazepam is believed to be a long-acting drug. These are mostly used for the short-term treatment of anxiety disorders or acute anxiety episodes. It must be noted that their long-term use could lead to benozodiazepine tolerance and dependence, which creates a huge potential for abuse.
These drugs work by enhancing the effect of GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid), which acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, and helps induce sedative, anxiolytic, muscle relaxant, and anticonvulsant properties. The individual benzodiazepines differ in terms of their half-life, which is the time taken for the blood concentration of the drug to reduce by half. Drugs with a shorter half-life are preferred for the treatment of sleep-related problems, as drugs with longer half-life might cause the user to feel sleepy for a longer duration. On the other hand, the drugs with a longer-half life are prescribed for the treatment of anxiety, so that the calming effect stays for a longer duration.
|The trade name of clonazepam is Klonopin.
|The trade name of alprazolam is Xanax.
|The half life of Klonopin is 18 to 50 hours, which makes it a longer-acting drug.
|The half life of Xanax is 9 to 20 hours, which is why it is placed in the category of short or intermediate-acting drugs.
|Forms and Method of Administration
|The administration can be oral, sublingual, intravenous, or intramuscular. The drug is available in the form of 0.5 mg, 1 mg, and 2 mg tablets.
|It has to be administered orally. It is available in the form of 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, and 2 mg tablets.
|It is prescribed for individuals affected by the following conditions:
✦ Panic disorders
This drug might help reduce the rate of depression in people affected by social phobia, but such an off-label use is not approved by the FDA.
|It is mainly prescribed for the treatment of the following conditions:
✦ Anxiety disorders
If taken for depression without anxiety, such benzodiazepines must be taken with an antidepressant.
|Common side effects might include:
Serious side effects can include:
✦ Allergic reaction
|Common side effects include:
In rare cases, this drug might cause:
|It should not be taken by pregnant women, as it is classified as pregnancy category D drug. It has been linked with suicidal thoughts, which is why doctors must be informed about prior history of depression or suicidal thoughts or behavior. Doctors should be informed, if there’s a prior history of drug/alcohol addiction, as this drug is habit-forming.
|Besides being a pregnancy category D drug, Xanax is also known for inducing sleep. Therefore, it should not be taken by those who would be driving or handling machinery. If there’s a prior history of drug/alcohol addiction, inform your healthcare provider, as this drug is also habit-forming.
|This drug should be avoided if the patient is allergic to the drug or other benzodiazepines. Inform your healthcare provider about any prescription or non-prescription drug that you are taking, as clonazepam might interact with certain antifungal medicines, antibiotics, antidepressants, calcium channel blockers, HIV protease inhibitors, medications for seizures, muscle relaxants, sedatives, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, sleeping pills, or tranquilizers.
|Avoid the drug in case you are allergic to this drug or benzodiazepines. Don’t take this drug, if you are affected by narrow-angle glaucoma. Inform your healthcare provider, if you are taking antidepressants, antihistamines, antibiotics, calcium channel blockers, medications for mental illness, analgesics, anticonvulsants, oral contraceptives, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, sedatives, sleeping pills, and tranquilizers. This is to avoid adverse drug interactions.
Since these drugs are habit-forming, it becomes essential to follow the guidelines regarding the dosage. Medical assistance must be sought in case untoward effects are experienced.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.