NSC Medical Advisor Dr. Don Teater answers your questions about prescription painkillers.
Question: Can I continue to use Xanax, my medicine for anxiety, while using an opioid painkiller?
Answer: Many common anti-anxiety medicines – Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, Valium, and others - are a type of drug called benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines generally should not be used while taking opioid painkillers. This combination of medicines is very impairing and can lead to falls, injuries and traffic crashes. Also, this combination makes you much more likely to have a fatal overdose even if taking relatively low doses.
Be aware that you should not stop your benzodiazepine without talking with your doctor. If you have been taking these drugs for a very long period of time and suddenly stop, the withdrawal can cause death.
It is best to talk with your doctor and discuss alternative pain treatment other than opioid painkillers.
Have a question about prescription painkillers? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.