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Listening to Xanax

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Chill-Pill Matchmaking

Chill-Pill Matchmaking
Four anxious archetypes and the drugs that might suit them.*
Chill-Pill Matchmaking illustration Chill-Pill Matchmaking illustration
An architect is heading into a presentation she knows will make her freak out. A gray divorcé who likes the occasional Scotch is kept awake by money worries.
→ She pops a XANAX. → He reaches for the ATIVAN.
Xanax takes effect very quickly but leaves the mind clear, which can make it an effective preemptive balm for predictable stresses. Since it can be highly addictive, the drug isn't recommended for people with substance-abuse problems. Ativan is less addictive than Xanax but still has a relatively short half-life. It's good for older people with nocturnal anxiety—it helps them nod off, but won't have them too zonked to get up to use the bathroom. Ativan has a fall risk and is not a viable option for the frail.
Chill-Pill Matchmaking illustration Chill-Pill Matchmaking illustration
A young working mother juggling her job, kids, and assorted domestic duties feels constantly stressed about her to-do list. A bicoastal entrepreneur deeply afraid of flying boards a cross-country flight; he has no plans to drive upon arrival.
→ She relies on KLONOPIN. → He takes a VALIUM.
Klonopin is a longer-acting benzodiazepine with less withdrawal risk than other drugs in the category, providing relief without producing a high. "It is not a 'fun' drug," says Columbia clinical-psychiatry professor Philip Muskin. Valium kicks in fast, but its effects can linger for a day or so. It is not recommended for substance abusers (our theoretical entrepreneur is a teetotaler) or people who need to operate heavy machinery.
*All examples here assume low dosages. Case histories of real people are of course far more detailed and nuanced than these hypotheticals; those vagaries, along with physicians' preferences, mean that actual prescriptions will definitely vary.
Illustrations by Mark Nerys


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