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Medically Reviewed

Are There Any Non-Addictive Anxiety Medications?

- 11 sections

Medically Verified: 2/1/24

Medical Reviewer:

Sahil Talwar, PA-C, MBA


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Anxiety disorders are some of the most common mental health conditions in the United States. An estimated 31% of American adults experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives.[1] The effects of anxiety can be disruptive and prevent you from feeling or functioning well. Anxiety can affect every part of your life, from your health to your relationships and more.

Many people take anti-anxiety medications to manage their symptoms. However, some anxiety medications have the potential for misuse and addiction.

This article will explore non-addictive anxiety medications.

What you will learn:

  • The symptoms and types of anxiety
  • What non-addictive anxiety medications are available
  • What to expect in an anxiety and addiction treatment program
  • Where to find substance use disorder (SUD) treatment and support

If you or someone you love lives with anxiety, you are not alone. Learn about anxiety medications that are not addictive by reaching out to the Carolina Center for Recovery specialists. We offer a range of treatment and support programs that can help you manage mental health conditions and substance abuse. Contact us now to learn more or schedule an intake evaluation.

Anxiety Disorders: An Overview

People who experience anxiety that impacts their functioning or health may have an anxiety disorder. There are several types of anxiety disorders, each with its own set of symptoms.

Here is an overview of several common anxiety disorders.[2]

Social anxiety disorder (SAD)

People with social anxiety disorder may avoid crowded people or dread typical social interactions. They may have intense anxiety if they need to speak in front of others or social situations.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

People with GAD may experience chronic feelings of unease, worry, or dread without a clear cause. Their anxiety symptoms and focus can change over time. People living with generalized anxiety disorder may not understand that their anxiety is abnormal.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

People who experience traumatic events may live with lasting symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD symptoms may include:

  • Flashbacks of the traumatic event
  • Avoidance of things that remind them of the event
  • Feeling over-aware of their surroundings
  • Experiencing insomnia or other sleep problems
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Anger or irritability

People with PTSD require specialized treatment and therapies to help them overcome these symptoms.

Panic disorder

Panic disorder is a mental health condition that causes people to have intense episodes of fear called panic attacks. Symptoms of a panic attack include:

  • Fear of dying or losing control
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Tightness in the throat
  • A sense of impending doom
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Hyperventilation

While panic attacks may not actually be dangerous, they can be very upsetting. People may believe they will die. Experiencing panic attacks can affect functioning and quality of life.

There are several ways to treat anxiety, including talk therapy, lifestyle changes, and medications. Some of the medications used to treat symptoms of anxiety have the potential for abuse and addiction. You must work with your doctor to find an effective course of treatment.

Are There Non-Addictive Anxiety Medications?

Some people may hesitate to take anxiety medications because they worry about addiction. Benzodiazepines are often used to treat anxiety, but these can be addictive. However, several types of medication therapy do not pose the risk of addiction. These are often used as a first-line of treatment before turning to benzodiazepines.

Here is an overview of some non-addictive anxiety medications.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

Doctors initially prescribed SSRIs to help patients with depression. However, these non-addictive drugs are also effective at relieving symptoms of anxiety.[3] Commonly prescribed SSRIs include:

  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)

People may not experience the effects of these medications for four to six weeks after beginning to take them.

Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)

SNRIs are effective in treating generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder. These drugs help to regulate serotonin and norepinephrine, providing more effective relief for certain types of anxiety.[4] Commonly prescribed SNRIs include:

  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
  • Venlafaxine (Effexor)

People may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking these drugs, and they may cause unwanted side effects.


Beta-blockers work by blocking the effects of adrenaline and epinephrine. Blocking these neurotransmitters can reduce symptoms like shaking and elevated heart rate.[5] Commonly prescribed beta blockers include:

  • Atenolol (Tenormin)
  • Propranolol (Inderal)
  • Acebutolol (Sectral)

Doctors typically prescribe beta blockers for short-term use.

People with a history of substance use disorder may prefer to explore these or other non-addictive prescription drugs. People with prescription anxiety medication addiction must seek comprehensive treatment to stop using these drugs and avoid relapse.

Treatment for Anxiety and Addiction

Treatment for anxiety medication addiction typically begins with detox treatment to manage withdrawal symptoms. Then, people must engage in comprehensive treatments, including:

  • Behavioral therapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Mental health treatment
  • Individual, group, and family counseling
  • Education
  • Holistic therapies, including mindfulness, exercise, and nutrition support
  • Aftercare planning and support

These and other therapies can help people identify and heal the roots of their substance use and support long-term recovery.

People who have become addicted to anxiety medications must also explore alternative ways to manage their symptoms. This may include taking non-addictive medications.

Find Help Now

If you or someone you love lives with an anxiety disorder and addiction, treatment can help you manage your symptoms and feel better. Contact the Carolina Center for Recovery specialists to explore your treatment options or schedule an intake assessment.


  1. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): Any Anxiety Disorder
  2. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): Anxiety Disorders
  3. Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA): SSRIs and Benzodiazepines for General Anxiety Disorders (GAD)
  4. PsychCentral: SSRIs vs. SNRIs for Treating Anxiety
  5. National Institute of Health: Propranolol versus Other Selected Drugs in the Treatment of Various Types of Anxiety or Stress, with Particular Reference to Stage Fright and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder