Klonopin and Xanax are two different benzodiazepine medications that are used to help treat anxiety and panic disorders. Benzodiazepines work by increasing the activity and reuptake of gaba-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, a neurotransmitter that controls activity in the central nervous system. When GABA activity increases, they produce a calming and relaxing effect, which is why these medications are effective in treating anxiety and panic disorders.

While benzodiazepines are effective when used correctly, many people abuse these drugs recreationally. Data from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health suggests that most people who abuse these types of drugs obtain them from friends, relatives, or drug dealers, as only 20% of people who abuse benzodiazepines receive their medication from a doctor.[1] When abused in this way, both Klonopin and Xanax are habit-forming and can lead to addiction.

Whether you’re just beginning treatment for a medical condition and are taking benzodiazepines or you know someone who is abusing benzos, it can be helpful to understand the similarities and differences between Xanax and Klonopin.

What is Xanax (Alprazolam)?

Xanax is the brand name formulation for alprazolam, a prescription medication that helps manage anxiety disorders, panic disorder, and anxiety stemming from depression. Sometimes, it is used in the short-term treatment of insomnia or alcohol withdrawal. While Xanax is the most popular brand name formulation for this medication, it is also sold under these additional names:

  • Kalma
  • Alprax
  • Pacyl
  • Restyl
  • Niravam
  • Xycalm

Due to the drug’s sedative and anxiolytic properties, it is highly effective in helping reduce symptoms of panic and anxiety.[2]

Side Effects of Xanax

Common side effects of using Xanax

Severe side effects of using Xanax

The most common side effects associated with Xanax use are:

  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor coordination
  • Memory problems
  • Feeling anxious in the morning

Other more rare, yet serious side effects include:

  • Depression
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Hostility
  • Hallucinations
  • Tremors or uncontrolled muscle movements
  • Increased energy
  • Seizures

If you experience any of these side effects while taking Xanax, you should speak with a healthcare provider immediately.

What is Klonopin (Clonazepam)?

Klonopin is the brand name formulation of clonazepam, a benzodiazepine medication used to control seizures, treat epilepsy, and treat panic attacks. Similar to other benzodiazepines, clonazepam works to calm brain activity and nerves, therefore, helping to prevent seizures and stop panic attacks. In some cases, Klonopin may be prescribed to treat alcohol withdrawal, Tourette’s syndrome, and multiple sclerosis.[3]

Side Effects of Klonopin

Common side effects of using Klonopin

Severe side effects of using Klonopin

The most common side effects associated with Klonopin use are:

  • Confusion
  • Low libido
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Headaches
  • Irritability

Other more severe side effects that require medical attention include:

  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Allergic reaction
  • Trouble breathing
  • Sudden changes in mood, thoughts, or behavior

Differences Between Klonopin and Xanax

Although both substances are benzodiazepines that slow down activity in the central nervous system, there are notable differences between the two drugs. For example, one major difference between Klonopin and Xanax is that Klonopin has a longer onset mechanism as well as a longer half-life. This means that it takes longer to feel the effects of Klonopin after taking it when compared to Xanax, however, the effects of Klonopin last longer, as well. Xanax, on the other hand, produces effects quickly that fade just as fast over time.

Generally, peak blood concentrations of Klonopin occur between 1-4 hours after taking a dose, while peak blood concentrations of Xanax occur within the first two hours after the drug is taken. As such, people who are prescribed Klonopin may only take 1-2 pills a day, while someone who is prescribed Xanax may need to dose 3-4 times a day.

This also means that people who are addicted to Xanax will go into withdrawal sooner after stopping taking the drug than people who are addicted to Klonopin. However, both drug addictions feature similar withdrawal symptoms.

Another primary difference between the two benzodiazepines is what they are used to treat. Although both may treat panic disorders, Xanax is not an anti-seizure drug. Instead, Klonopin is the only one of these two that is used in anticonvulsant therapy.

Similarities Between Klonopin and Xanax

Ultimately, Klonopin and Xanax share far more similarities than they do differences. First, both drugs have the potential for abuse. People who are prescribed any type of benzodiazepine or those who abuse benzos should take caution when using them for an extended period of time. Long-term use can put individuals at an increased risk for tolerance, dependence, and drug addiction.[4]

Once someone has become dependent on one of these drugs, they will experience benzodiazepine withdrawal. These withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety, depression, or irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Aches and pains
  • Blurry vision
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • High blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Memory loss
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Paranoia
  • Tremors or convulsions
  • Seizures

Both drugs are Schedule IV drugs under the Controlled Substances Act.[5] Schedule IV drugs are defined as drugs with low potential for abuse and dependence. Despite being classified as this by the DEA, we know that benzodiazepines are quite addictive, and they produce potentially fatal withdrawal symptoms.

When abused, both Klonopin and Xanax can lead to a benzodiazepine overdose. Benzodiazepine toxicity or overdose may involve the following symptoms:[6]

  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coma
  • Unconsciousness
  • Bluish fingertips and lips

In the event of an overdose, dial 911 or seek emergency medical personnel immediately.

Find Help for Benzodiazepine Addiction Today

While there are a couple of notable differences between the two, both drugs are highly addictive and dangerous when used improperly. If you or someone you know is addicted to Xanax or Klonopin, it’s time to get help. Pick up the phone and call today to speak with one of our dedicated treatment specialists.


  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/science-highlight/research-suggests-benzodiazepine-use-high-while-use-disorder-rates-are-low
  2. https://www.rxlist.com/xanax-drug.htm
  3. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2005-02924-005
  4. https://www.dea.gov/drug-scheduling