Xanax Drug Interactions

by on May 23, 2012

Patients who are taking Xanax should always be aware of possible  drug interactions that may occur, whether they are associated with prescription or over-the-counter medications. This medication and other benzodiazepines are known to interact with many different drugs and alcohol.

Minor Drug Interactions

Like many medications available these days, there are more than 100 minor drug interactions that patients should be aware of when taking Xanax. Although these Xanax drug interactions are not life-threatening, they can certainly have some undesirable side effects.

Acid Reducers

Medications that reduce the amount of acid in the stomach may prevent Xanax from being absorbed into the bloodstream properly, thereby greatly reducing the concentration of the drug in patients’ systems. Some of these medications include:

  • Prilosec (omeprazole)
  • Prevacid
  • Zantac
  • Nexium
  • Tums or Rolaids
  • Mylanta
  • Maalox

Patients who are taking any of these medications while they are taking Xanax should discuss the potential interactions with their pharmacists and physicians; dosages of either medication may need to be adjusted accordingly.

Pain Killers

Though it is generally considered safe to take over-the-counter pain relievers while using Xanax, narcotic pain relievers can sometimes have a sedating effect and increase the drowsiness that patients can experience. These include:

  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • Lortab and Vicodin
  • OxyContin

Those who are taking these medications with Xanax should always do so with caution and according to their physicians’ orders. In most cases, the dosages of these medications will be lowered in order to prevent severe interactions and side effects.

Moderate Drug Interactions

In general, moderate drug interactions are not immediately fatal or serious, though they should be avoided at all costs. Patients who are using Xanax should refrain from using certain types of medications unless the benefits clearly outweigh the risks.

Allergy and Cold Remedies

Many of the medications that are available over the counter and used to treat cold and allergy symptoms contain the active ingredient diphenhydramine, which is a chemical compound known to cause extreme drowsiness. These medications include:

  • Benadryl and its generic forms
  • Diabetic Tussin Night Time
  • Contac Day and Night Cold and Flu

This is only a short list of medications that contain diphenhydramine; there are dozens more that may also cause moderate interactions. Patients should be sure to mention all of the medications they take to their pharmacists in order to monitor for potential issues.

Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids

Millions of Americans suffer from occasional insomnia that is easily remedied with an over-the-counter sleep aid. While some of these medications also contain diphenhydramine, others are naturally-occurring. Patients should avoid taking Xanax with these medications due to the increased sedation they may experience. These include:

  • Simply Sleep
  • Melatonin supplements
  • Unisom
  • Sleep Ease

Patients should keep in mind that these preparations are usually also available in generic form. If there are questions or concerns regarding these medications, patients can get more information from their pharmacists.

Major Drug Interactions

There are more than a dozen major drug interactions associated with Xanax and these should be avoided at all costs. Taking these medications can lead to complications, severe medical issues and sometimes even death. The most common interacting medications are those that contain the drug propoxyphene and potent prescription sleep aids.

Medications Containing Propoxyphene

Propoxyphene is a narcotic chemical that is used to treat mild to moderate pain when over the counter pain relievers are not effective. There are many medications that include this ingredient, including:

  • Darvocet
  • Darvon
  • Balacet
  • Propacet

Though these pain relievers have been phased out in recent years due to their association with certain medical conditions, patients who are still taking them should keep in mind that serious Xanax drug interactions are possible.

Prescription Sleep Aids

Prescription sleep aids are much more effective than their over-the-counter counterparts, so they are highly likely to interact with Xanax. In fact, one of the most commonly prescribed sleep aids is in the same drug class as Xanax—benzodiazepines. These include:

  • Lunesta
  • Ambien
  • Trazodone
  • Sonata
  • Halcion (also a benzodiazepine)

In short, people who are taking Xanax should never take any of these sleep aids unless otherwise directed by their physicians. Taking the two together can result in severe depression of the respiratory system, a dangerously slow heart rate, coma and even death.

There are many drugs—both prescription and over the counter—that will interact with Xanax either mildly or severely. Anyone who is concerned with Xanax drug interactions should be sure to tell their physicians and pharmacists about any other medications or dietary supplements they take.