Xanax vs. Prozac: What’s the Difference?

xanax and prozac pills

Xanax and Prozac are both commonly prescribed for panic disorder. These two drugs are similar in many ways but they also have a few major differences. If you or a loved one is addicted to Xanax or Prozac, here’s what you need to know about the side effects of abuse, withdrawal symptoms, and treatment for Xanax and Prozac addiction.

Xanax vs. Prozac: What’s the Difference?
Xanax (a benzodiazepine) and Prozac (an SSRI) are both used to treat panic disorder, but Prozac can also treat other disorders like depression, bulimia, and OCD. For this reason, it may be a better treatment option for people with panic disorder and depression. Xanax is also a Schedule IV drug and Prozac is not considered a highly addictive drug, although it can cause physical dependence and psychological addiction.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine that is commonly prescribed to treat panic disorder and anxiety. It reduces anxiety and produces feelings of calmness by enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain.

Xanax is a well-known medication and is generally a very safe way to treat anxiety and panic disorder. However, it is classified as a Schedule IV drug, so it does have the potential for abuse. You may be more likely to develop tolerance, dependence, and addiction if you take Xanax for a long time or use it in any way other than directed by your doctor.

People who abuse Xanax recreationally often mix it with opioids in an attempt to get high. Benzodiazepines and opioids depress the central nervous system so mixing them is never advised, as it can lead to harmful side effects or life-threatening overdoses. In fact, more than 30 percent of opioid overdoses also involve benzodiazepines like Xanax.1

Xanax abuse is rampant in the U.S., and the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) estimates that about 5.4 million Americans abused prescription benzodiazepines last year alone.2

People who abuse it use street names or slang terms for Xanax and other prescription benzodiazepines, such as:3

  • Bars
  • Benzos
  • Blue footballs
  • Bricks
  • Handlebars
  • Planks
  • School bus
  • White boys
  • White girls
  • Yellow boys
  • Xannies
  • Z-Bars
  • Zanbars

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System?

Xanax stays in your system for about four days after the last dose.4 However, this timeframe often varies depending on your age, metabolism, dosage, and how frequently you use it. If you are required to take a drug test for employment purposes, you may want to let your potential employer know that you are taking Xanax for medical purposes.

Approximate Drug Test Detection Times for Xanax

Urine testDetectable for 5-7 days
Blood testDetectable up to 24 hours
Saliva testDetectable for up to 2.5 days
Hair follicle testDetectable for up to 90 days

Sources: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25549207; https://www.verywellmind.com/how-long-does-xanax-stay-in-your-system-80348

Signs and Symptoms of Xanax Addiction

If you are addicted to Xanax, you may experience some of the following signs and symptoms of Xanax addiction:

  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms
  • Having strong cravings to use Xanax
  • Having difficulties functioning normally without Xanax
  • Experiencing financial problems related to Xanax use
  • Having stressful relationships and problems at work or school because of Xanax use
  • Needing more frequent or larger doses to achieve the same effects
  • Losing interest in hobbies
  • Using Xanax despite the physical and emotional toll it takes
  • Trying to stop using Xanax but being unable to
  • Lying about your Xanax use or hiding it from loved ones

Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms

If you’re addicted to Xanax and abruptly stop using it (such as if you run out or try to quit cold turkey), you are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms that may be mild or severe. Common Xanax withdrawal symptoms are:5

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Impaired coordination
  • Memory loss
  • Blurry vision
  • Reduced appetite
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Twitching
  • Exhaustion
  • Excessive sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Headache
  • Suicidal thoughts

If you are severely addicted to benzodiazepines, detox can be very dangerous or life-threatening, especially if your withdrawal symptoms are not treated. Before you decide to quit cold turkey, consider your other options.

If you need help to detox from Xanax, a medical detox program may be the safest and most effective way to stop using it. Xanax withdrawal can be very uncomfortable and difficult without medical help, but a detox program can ensure your safety and comfort throughout the process by providing medicated treatment, clinical therapy, and a safe, private environment.

Compare Other Drugs


What Is Prozac?

Prozac (fluoxetine) is a type of antidepressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor or SSRI. About 1 in 10 Americans use SSRIs and Prozac is one of the most widely prescribed.6 It is used to treat depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and bulimia and works by regulating and blocking the absorption of serotonin in your brain to produce a more stable mood.7

While Prozac is an effective way to treat the disorders listed above, it is not completely free of all risks. Like some other antidepressants, the FDA requires Prozac to come with a black box warning stating that it can increase the risk of suicidal behaviors in young adults under the age of 25.

Antidepressants like Prozac are frequently overprescribed in the United States, so they are easy to get and readily available, which makes them a prime candidate for abuse. Prozac is not considered a highly addictive drug, however, it does have some mind-altering properties, produces feelings of pleasure, and decreases anxiety, so it can be abused and may cause psychological addiction. 

People with diagnosed mental illness or who abuse multiple drugs are more likely to misuse Prozac.8 The normal adult dosage for Prozac is 20 mg per day and the maximum dose is 80 mg per day. If you take larger doses of Prozac, you are likely to experience a stimulant effect, which can increase your risk of becoming addicted.

Because the high produced by Prozac is less powerful than other drugs of abuse, people may also be more likely to mix Prozac with other drugs or alcohol. This increases the possibility of experiencing dangerous side effects of multiple substances.

Those who misuse Prozac may use slang terms to disguise their conversations. Common street names or slang terms for Prozac are:

  • Miracle drug
  • Happy pills
  • Wonder drug
  • Bottled smiles

How Long Does Prozac Stay in Your System?

The half-life of fluoxetine ranges from two to seven days but Prozac may stay in your system anywhere from 11 to 39 days.9 Prozac usually takes longer to be eliminated from your body if you have taken it for a long time because it can accumulate in your tissues. Other factors that influence how long Prozac stays in your body include:

  • Sex
  • Bodyweight
  • Genetics
  • Liver functioning
  • Metabolic rate
  • Age

Prozac is not usually detected in regular urine, blood, or hair drug tests, but it may cause false positives for methamphetamine, amphetamine, or LSD. If your doctor has prescribed Prozac for medical purposes, you may want to alert your employer or potential employer so your drug test results can be accurately assessed.

Signs and Symptoms of Prozac Addiction

If you have developed an addiction to Prozac, you may notice a few of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop using Prozac or when its effects wear off
  • Being unable to control your Prozac use
  • Having cravings and urges to use Prozac
  • Continuing to use Prozac despite the personal issues it’s causing with your health, at work or school, or in your relationships
  • Experiencing financial difficulties due to Prozac abuse
  • Feeling like you can’t function normally without Prozac
  • Needing more frequent or larger doses of Prozac to achieve the same effects

Prozac Withdrawal Symptoms

If you are addicted to Prozac and you want to stop using it, doctors never advise stopping abruptly. Quitting cold turkey could lead to more severe withdrawal symptoms. General Prozac withdrawal symptoms include:10

  • Irritability
  • A general feeling of uneasiness, unhappiness, or unwellness
  • Agitation
  • Dizziness
  • Electric shock sensations
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Lethargy
  • Rapid, exaggerated changes in mood
  • Insomnia
  • Hypomania

Getting off an antidepressant medication like Prozac requires a very gradual reduction of your regular dose and the process should be monitored by a doctor. While you may still experience withdrawal symptoms, they will most likely be much less severe than they would have been if you quit cold turkey.

A medical detox program for Prozac addiction can help you successfully get sober without the health risks of quitting abruptly or the extreme discomfort of severe withdrawal symptoms. 

Drug detox can have a lasting impact on your physical and emotional health but receiving professional care from medical and clinical specialists can ensure that the process is safe and effective. You’ll also be much less likely to relapse with professional support and personalized care services.

Xanax Uses vs. Prozac Uses

Xanax and Prozac are both prescribed frequently by doctors to treat panic disorder but Prozac may also be used to treat other conditions, which makes it a great option for patients with co-occurring disorders, such as panic disorder and depression.

Xanax (a benzodiazepine) and Prozac (an SSRI) are both used to treat panic disorder, but Prozac can also treat other disorders like depression, bulimia, and OCD. For this reason, it may be a better treatment option for people with panic disorder and depression.

Xanax is used to treat:


  • Panic disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
Prozac is used to treat:


  • Panic disorders
  • Depression
  • Bulimia
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Acute depressive episodes associated with bipolar I disorder (in combination with olanzapine)
  • Treatment-resistant depression ((in combination with olanzapine)

In addition to these medical uses, Xanax and Prozac are both prescription drugs that are commonly abused because they are frequently prescribed and therefore easily accessible and diverted for abuse.

Xanax vs. Prozac: Addiction and Dependence

Xanax is listed as a Schedule IV drug under the Controlled Substances Act and may have a higher potential to cause addiction and dependence than Prozac. However, even though Prozac is not a scheduled substance in the U.S., it can still cause psychological dependence. Your risk for developing addiction and dependence to either drug may be higher if:

  • You use Xanax and/or Prozac in any way other than your doctor prescribed
  • You have a history of substance abuse
  • You take Xanax or Prozac regularly for a long time
  • You abuse other prescription drugs or illegal drugs

Xanax vs. Prozac: Side Effects of Abuse

Chronic Xanax abuse can cause the following side effects:4,11

  • Tolerance
  • Depression
  • Severe mood swings
  • Violent behavior
  • Decreased appetite and binge eating episodes
  • Lethargy
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Damaged brain cells
  • Speech difficulties
  • Confusion
  • Balance and coordination problems

Chronic Prozac abuse can cause the following side effects:10

  • Decreased sex drive
  • Dry mouth
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nervousness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Tremors

Get Xanax or Prozac Addiction Treatment Treatment Today

If you are addicted to Xanax or Prozac, things in your life may seem like they’re completely out of control. At Briarwood, we know how the effects of drug abuse can impact your life and we understand your struggle. However, antidepressants don’t have to rule over your life and you can successfully stop using them.

Briarwood Detox Center offers medical detox programs in Houston and Austin for all addictive substances, including Xanax detox and Prozac detox. Our individualized programs cater to your unique needs during the detox process and guarantee a safe, supportive environment, as well as access to ongoing care after detox.

If you’re ready to start your new life and leave antidepressant abuse behind, call (888) 857-0557 to speak with a Briarwood representative today. We accept most forms of insurance.


  1. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2017-nsduh-annual-national-report
  2. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/cbhsq-reports/NSDUHNationalFindingsReport2018/NSDUHNationalFindingsReport2018.pdf
  3. https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/benzo.pdf
  4. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2011/018276s044,021434s006lbl.pdf
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5846112/pdf/nihms947341.pdf
  6. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160824135045.htm
  7. https://www.drugs.com/prozac.html
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4140701/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10598311
  10. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2017/018936s108lbl.pdf
  11. https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/sites/getsmartaboutdrugs.com/files/publications/DoA_2017Ed_Updated_6.16.17.pdf#page=59

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