Thursday March 26th 2015

How to stop taking Xanax

How to stop taking Xanax

Interested in quitting Xanax?

Unless you’ve JUST started taking it, you won’t be able to just quit Xanax cold turkey. Xanax dependence time (1-2 weeks after regular use) and long-term Xanax use can cause physical dependence, Xanax tolerance symptoms, or even addiction, and it’s hard to quit Xanax without experiencing debilitating side effects. What is withdrawal from Xanax like?  Learn what to expect and how to stop taking Xanax below. Then, ask your questions about Xanax at the end.

Can I just stop taking Xanax?

You can quit taking Xanax (alprazolam) at any time, but there are many reasons why you shouldn’t abruptly stop Xanax, especially if you’ve been taking it for more than a few weeks. Xanax is in the benzodiazepine class of drugs and alprazolam can cause strong withdrawal symptoms such as seizures, twitching, aggressive behavior or blurred vision. Instead, it’s best to stop taking Xanax under medical supervision and to gradually reduce or taper your dose of alprazolam over the course of a few weeks. In other words, while some people can quit Xanax cold turkey, it is difficult and may not be possible for everyone.

What happens when you stop taking Xanax?

Over extended periods of time, you body becomes accustomed to the levels of alprazolam in your system. The brain, body and central nervous system adapt to the depressant effects of Xanax and the way that alprazolam decreases abnormal excitement in the brain. But once you stop taking Xanax, your body needs time to adjust to functioning without it. This period is called, “withdrawal”. Withdrawal-related effects generally manifest 18 hours to 3 days after your last dose of Xanax. Even if you don’t have an addiction to Xanax, you can experience these symptoms when you stop taking Xanax.

Side effects stop taking Xanax

You can develop a physical dependence on Xanax after only taking the drug for a few weeks. Withdrawal effects may be worse if you’ve taken Xanax long-term. The common side effects that occur when you stop taking can include a number of adverse side effects, such as:

  • anxiety
  • convulsions
  • diarrhea
  • gastrointestinal upset
  • increased pulse
  • increased blood pressure
  • insomnia
  • nausea
  • panic attacks
  • restlessness
  • sweating
  • tremors

Stop taking Xanax suddenly

Stopping Xanax suddenly can be risky. If left untreated, benzodiazepine withdrawal can trigger a delirium with hallucinations, changes in consciousness, profound agitation, autonomic instability, seizures, and even death. Doctors always recommend Xanax dosage be gradually tapered or substituting a long-acting medication for a short-acting one – this helps you avoid uncomfortable and potentially dangerous withdrawal effects. Stopping alprazolam suddenly can also cause a Xanax relapse if you feel the need to take Xanax to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Stop taking Xanax cold turkey

If you haven’t taken Xanax for a long time and have only recently started Xanax dosing, it may be possible to quit cold turkey. However, if you have a strong physical dependence on Xanax or have developed tolerance to Xanax you should never try to quit suddenly, as benzodiazepine withdrawals can be fatal in extreme cases. Always speak to a doctor before changing your Xanax dosage or quitting Xanax entirely.

How do I stop taking Xanax?

Gradually reducing your dose over weeks or months is the best way to stop taking Xanax. A doctor can give you an appropriate dosing schedule so that you can safely taper yourself off of Xanax. If you go to a clinical detox center, you should continue to be evaluated for withdrawal symptoms every as you taper down. Outpatients should be evaluated daily for at least the first week, or as your condition indicates. General tapering guidelines for Xanax include the following recommendations:

  1. The tapering schedule will depend on the presence of co-morbid medical or psychiatric conditions.
  2. If hospitalized, Xanax can be tapered by 10% per day.
  3. Outpatients should not be tapered any more rapidly than by 10% every three to five days, or 25% per week.

How to stop taking Xanax safely

The safest way to stop taking Xanax is to consult a doctor and follow his or her instructions. There are currently no known effective and safe medical treatments to help ease the symptoms of Xanax withdrawal, although clonazepam can be substituted for other benzodiazepines.

How to stop taking Xanax questions

Still have questions about stopping Xanax? Please leave us your questions, comments, or experiences below. We respond to all questions personally, and will try to have you an answer or reply ASAP.

Reference sources: Federal Bureau of Prisons: Detoxification of Chemically Dependent Inmates
DailyMed: Xanax XR

PubMed Health: Alprazolam
ToxNet: Alprazolam

Photo credit: Pete Prodoehl

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51 Responses to “How to stop taking Xanax
4:08 pm January 12th, 2013

So I have been taking Xanax on an off for about 8 months. Only when needed for panic attacks at the lowest dose. My doctor told me i could take it every day if my anxiety is really bad. So for the past 3 weeks i have been taking .50mg once a day everyday. I really want to stop taking it because I think my CBT is really starting to take effect. My doctor said is ok to just stop, but I am terrified after hearing horror stories. What do you recommend? It’s been 3 days since my last dose and honestly I feel fine except giving myself some anxiety over whether or not i should take one incase of w/d. Normally I would think that since its been 3 days and feeling ok that I am fine. I’ve heard stories of people who felt fine for weeks after stopping and then would have seizures. I don’t know what to do. Any advice would be wonderful. Sorry for the book!

8:16 am January 14th, 2013

Hi Kaitlin. Thanks for your message. It is possible that you may be in the clear, but I’d suggest that you contact a local detox clinic and ask for direct recommendations from professionals who deal with withdrawal every day. Or, you can call 1-800-662-HELP to get references for where else you can seek help. This is a national drug abuse hotline, and while you are not a drug abuser…you can benefit from their network of resources during withdrawal. Good luck!

8:43 am May 3rd, 2013

Can not i stay on xanax for many years if i am talking 1.50 mg daily . i am taking .50 mg 3 times a day It is working well for me

5:51 pm May 5th, 2013

i was prescribed xanax for my pannic dissorder and agoraphobia when i was 17 during 1987 i began with 0.25 mgms 3 times a day .. now im 43 years old ( 2013) and im taking prescribed xanax 4 mgs plus 3mgs of lorazepam, plus triptizol, (Amitriptilina) in the nights plus escitalopram 20mgms antidepresice during day and clonazempam drops under my tongue in case of emergency, (drops that that I ended taking everyday because i feel bad every day.. ) Im Spanish and live in Spain, here they dont have support groups so strong as in USA and i feel lost and close to loose my mind, please give me some advice.

7:50 am May 7th, 2013

Hello Rita. That is very difficult. Your English is very good. I would suggest that you join a support group online. Check out the online groups from A.A. . The real time chat meetings might be a great place for you.

Best of luck.

12:31 am May 17th, 2013

I have been taking Prozac (20mg) and xanax (1mg) for over 25 years due to anxiety/depression (dosage was higher for both initially, but this is the dosage I have taken for approximately the last 18 years). My psychiatrist released me from his care about 7 years ago since he said my primary physician could prescribe these meds since we were only meeting for update and renewal on meds and no longer any therapy sessions. He has since retired.

12:31 am May 17th, 2013

“Continued” My primary physician has now decided that he does not want to prescribe the xanax any longer due to the “abusive” use of this drug by some. At my recent visit he told me he was changing me from the Xanax (1 mg) to Klonopin (1 mg) and that I could just switch. After some research I have found that evidently it is not quite that easy. From what I’ve read there should be a “tapering” and should be done under medical supervision. I have not had an anxiety attack in over 8 years, but am currently caring for both my parents (one with congestive heart failure and the other with dementia) along with preparing for a grandson’s surgery within the month. I just don’t think this is quite the time to be trying something new when the “old isn’t broke”. Am I wrong to be concerned?

6:01 am May 17th, 2013

Hello Tina. I do think that you’re right to consider what’s best for you and to avoid a cold turkey Xanax withdrawal. Check in with your local pharmacist for a longer consultation. They’re generally available for a 10 minute chat, or so…and you can even try to schedule it in advance. I think that doctors are spread thin in the U.S. and that we need to seek out health advice more actively than ever. Give it a try with your pharmacist for more information and then seek a second opinion, if necessary!

8:40 am August 17th, 2013

I need help plz. I started taking xana for 2 years. Began with – mg. then after year I started to roduce it by doctors order of course. To 0.5. The after 4 mothes I reduced to 025. For 4 mothes. The I was told to stop it. I started to have withdrawl Bad thing occurred. Hot flash. Depression. Numbness. Feel like vomit. Race heart beat. Doctor gave me something stilnox. But I become worse. The duct. Is really stupid. I don’t know wht to do.

5:08 am August 19th, 2013

Hello Mohammed. Have you reported these symptoms to your prescribing doctor? Have you asked about going down even more in dosing? If these symptoms impair your ability to function, you’ll need additional medical help. In the meantime, I’d suggest that you also learn some techniques for dealing with depression or anxiety with the help of a psychologist. That is something that you CAN learn how to control.

7:08 am August 19th, 2013

Thx for replying. All doctors al hospital don’t care about patient they just give pills for monthes just to get rid with patient . They wouldn’t care. I was giving something worse than xanax. Stilnox 10 mg. which I have experienced recently vomiting. Numbness. Imbalance. Loss memory. I took stilnox for 4 days and has destroyed me , I will try my best to overcome withdrawl symptoms of xanax. I was told it takes week or two week. Since I I had reduced the dosage for 0.25 for 5 months it won’t be big deal on handling . I stooped stilnox. Now I take Panadol night. , I live in Arab country they don’t deal with patients as good as you do , they don’t even care , just give pills ……..take … Be addicted. … Never care. . I’m feeling better now since my last comment thx god. . Just I would give a tip. Wht ever u experiencing in life. Do not ever take sedative or pills , it will destroy u body. U brain. I regretted. Taking pills for panic attack. I should have overcomes by my self by other means. . My friends in this group. Human body is too weak. Like an ant , don’t destroy it by pills . Be strong. Which I’m now. Have well. Defeat u fears by u selves not by medicine. And thx again for replying and u concern

7:32 pm October 17th, 2013

I’m getting off Xanax and Its so very hard,My Dr that was giving to moved So I had to see another Dr, I really was done wrong So I haven’t had any in a few weeks How long will it take for Me to fill better and able to go to sleep,

7:41 pm October 17th, 2013

I’m not sleeping can’t take a bath But I Do,,,I feel like Xanax has took controll of Me,,Is there any that I can buy to help Me?

4:44 pm October 22nd, 2013

Hello Mary. I feel for you. I’d suggest that you consult with a sleep specialist who can teach you techniques for falling asleep without medications. You can do it! It will just take time and a re-training of the brain.

6:08 pm November 20th, 2013


7:51 pm February 7th, 2014

I am a 66 yr old woman taking .25mg. 4&1/2pills a day I am insulin dependent and have heart arrythmias alprolazam helps a lot I have been on this dose for 15 yrs am very concerned after reading a lot of these stories could I get off this after this long??? Please advise thanks :-)

10:12 am February 13th, 2014

Hello Carol. You’ll need the expertise of your prescribing doctor in order to set up a long term tapering program catered to your individual needs. Have you schedule a consult to speak about your concerns?

4:37 pm April 6th, 2014

Being on .5 xanax 2 times a day morning and close to bedtime and sometimes A1\2 of that 5 mg in afternoon
I have been on it for 37 days I want to wean off
Cutting the 1\2 pill in afternoon a correct start?

11:53 am April 7th, 2014

Hello Gwendolyn. Your prescribing doctor or even a pharmacist can help you better. Each individual reacts differently to Xanax tapering, and needs a personalized calendar.

6:02 pm May 9th, 2014

Here is my story. I am a 33 year old male. About 2 months ago I experienced a panic attack on a Monday after smoking marijuana. I am also a cigarette smoker and I was able to calm myself down after smoking a few. I first had a marijuana induced panic attack back when I was about 19 or 20 but never experienced one again until this time and never experienced one when not smoking marijuana although at times I have felt anxiety. Anyway, I felt fine for the rest of the week but the following Monday I experienced another one, again after smoking marijuana and again was able to calm myself down. However, throughout the rest week I was having intense feelings of panic and anxiety. I attributed it to the marijuana so I stopped. I haven’t smoked marijuana for 2 months now. In the days that followed, I didn’t sleep for a total of 8 days due to the intense feelings panic and anxiety. I normally had trouble sleeping after going off marijuana for periods of time but was able to correct myself eventually and get sleep. Not sleeping for such a long period of time was very scary for me as it was something I have never experienced and I felt I was losing control.

6:09 pm May 9th, 2014

Is it possible to reverse the tolerance of Xanax without the use of other drugs? I know tapering down is a suggestion but I want to be able to be completely drug free and not experience anxiety. Ive been using Xanax as described for about a month. I don’t get the drowsy feeling that some people get but I just feel back to normal and some days I dont have any anxiety at all although I still take the 1mg twice a day. For the past two days though the intense anxiety has returned and taking one just hasnt cut it so I have upped my dosage to 4 mg throughout the day

2:28 pm May 20th, 2014

I been on xanax for 5years Im trying to quit I lost my job my man…I need to get better I still have a child to look up to

Nadia Skalla
4:42 am May 25th, 2014

I have been taking xanax 2mg daily for 2 years. I have tapered down to .5mg daily for the past 2 wks. Is it risky to stop all together at this time since the dosage is small?

7:59 am May 27th, 2014

Hello Nadia. You’ll need to consult with your prescribing physician for an individualized treatment and tapering plan. You might also want to consult with a pharmacist.

3:34 pm May 28th, 2014

Tappering xanxa.was on xanxa for 20 yrs.was taking 1 mg aday.tappered to .5 for 46 days now I’ve been on .25 for two weeks.when do I stop taking it.yes I’m having some withdrals but not to bad.after I stop will I have more withdral and will the be worse?

12:55 pm June 17th, 2014

I wish the FDA would take this drug off the market. It has caused more harm than help. There are doctors who will just “up” the mg and then their are the great one who refuse to prescribe the drug because they say it does more harm to a patient than help the patient.

8:40 am September 1st, 2014

I have been on Xanax for not less than 6 to 7 mg a day for the past 2 years. How do I taper off or do away with this drug?

8:43 am September 2nd, 2014

Hi Michael. For your own safety and well-being you should never, never, never go off Xanax on your own without your physician’s counsel and guidance. Sudden or rapid stopping Xanax at daily doses of 4 mg or more can cause moderate to severe withdrawal and this is not a trivial thing.
I’d suggest you make a doctor’s appointment. Your doctor can give your guidance and help you create a tapering schedule that fits your needs. Doctors can also refer you to someone who specializes in treating Xanax dependence and withdrawal.

4:40 pm September 12th, 2014

I have been taking a 2.5 dose of Xanax for sleep for a few years… I recently heard that it might contribute to Alzheimers and I want to get off of it… Can I go cold turkey with this low dose or should i decrease gradually? Please advise, do you think halfing the dose is enough of a decrease for a week or so? Thanks

8:47 am September 17th, 2014

Hello Sandy. I’d say that suddenly getting off 2.5mg of Xanax, would be very difficult without any tapering down or substitution. Medical proffesionals say it could be dangerous due to a risk of seizures. It’s best to make an appointment and talk to your doctor. He can help create a tapering schedle that you’ll be comfortable with, and give you other over-the-counter meds or alternative medications for the withdrawal symptoms.

5:32 am September 19th, 2014

I am 64 yrs old. I was put on 1 MG xanax 10 mo ago by a doctor who I had been with for over 30 yrs to replace valium.
Now the new Dr.who replaced my Dr that retired and moved out of state wants me to stop cold turkey, and will replace with sleeping pills if needed. Should this be wise? I don’t know what to do. I’m stressed. I have as pain Dr that I go to but have never addressed this issue with him. I only use the xanax to sleep with, should I be expecting all this dangerous withdrawal? Please help. Thank you.

9:12 am September 19th, 2014

Hi Bette. Quitting Xanax after 10 months of regular use woun’t be easy. And, it’s not recommended nor is it safe to quit cold turkey, and your doctor should know that. Ask him to make a tapering schedule for you before completely stopping.

Private Person
3:35 pm September 28th, 2014

Why is it “doctors” do not care these days. Mine is a drug dealer. Wants to give me drugs I no longer take. Tells me there is no less than 1mg Xanax XR. Do all drs think we are stupid and only for their monetary gain?

10:10 pm October 7th, 2014

Start looking for valium not kidding half life much longer then try clown a friends I mean clonapens

9:48 pm October 8th, 2014

I take 1mg zanax 4 times daily (sometimes only three). How can I safely taper off of this drug. It shows up in every pre-employment drug screen I take and has cost me two jobs. Should I just talk to my doctor about this?

12:33 pm October 13th, 2014

Hi Bob. See a doctor and have him/her create a tapering schedule that fits your needs best. Also, ask what withdrawal symptoms you can expect and what to do when they occur. Xanax withdrawal can be uncomfprtable, but slowly tapering doses down can help you minimize the discomfort and can increase your chances for success.

10:47 am October 28th, 2014

Hi, I am concerned about my girlfriend. She’s been on Xanax and Prozac for over 15 years each and I’m interested in being able to understand the side effects, or the science in how it effects the body. She also regularly uses cocaine and MDA/MDMA and I’m concerned that the illicits pairedwith the prescribed compound each other and do greater physical damage when taken together. She obviously can’t consult her physician for these questions for fear of the Xanax being taken away. I just want to understand the basics of what’s physiologically going on so I can explain to her why it’s not a good idea to mix all that if it’s incredibly dangerous because if she knew, I know she would keep off the illicits.

8:31 am November 2nd, 2014

i am taking 0.5mg of zanax per day for the last 20 years and want to ween of could you please tell me how

4:04 pm December 18th, 2014

my Dr. is having stop taking Xanax, replacing it with trazadone, I do not know how this will help as he gives me trazadone once before bedtime. It does not work in lighting conditions. Taking one helps me to sleep but like I said, it only works at night. How will this drug help me ?

12:30 pm December 22nd, 2014

I’m taking alprazolam with melatonin combination from last 10years.presently I take around 10-12 pills in a day.means 5 mg of alprazolam+30 mg of melatonin. Now I feel that I’m addicted.
Please advice me how to stop it.

12:46 pm December 23rd, 2014

Hi AK. My advise to you is to make a doctors appointment and say you want to gradually taper doses down in order to finally quit when it will be safe. Tapering is important since it helps decrease the stress your organism experiences form suddenly stopping the medications, plus it helps minimize the withdrawal symptoms and discomfort. Your doctor can prescribe other medications to manage withdrawals if needed and offer some alternative solutions for the treatment of your condition (that you are taking the current medications for). Good luck to you!

10:10 pm January 12th, 2015

I was given the generic Zanax because of my too early waking and then worrying. I took one .25 mg zanax pill each morning for 30 days. I did not know what I had been prescribed was a rather dangerous drug: no idea and thought they were some sort of gentle sleeping aid or tranquilizer.
Then after taking one .25 mg zanax pill each morning for a month, I felt my head was feeling some kind of a pressure feeling (difficult to explin) but I decided to stop taking them. I was fine at first and thought it stange it felt lke some muscles in my upper arm were gently moving. Then, five days after quiting the pills I experienced a night of ‘NO’ sleep. After that, I slep fine for five days but then experienced another night with “no” sleep. Ten days later another night with no sleep. Then the sleepless nights began to come clower together and the last episode was four nights with no sleep, It has been forty six days since i quit the zanax and I would lke to know if the withdrawal symptoms of insomnia will get worse before getting better? Any suggestions? I really hate to think of resuming taknig the drug that caused this. If it gets worse before getting better and if I took such a low dose, and maybe if i were to take a supplement like aminos for sleep, multivitamins or a sleep aid called Calm Forte, can I expect things to be getting back to normal soo? Than you so much. I have never taken precrition drugs, except for my thyroid medication, and I want to recover from this experience without having to rely on yet more drugs.

3:55 pm January 16th, 2015

Hello Elizabeth. One month is enough time to get your body accustomed to the presence of Xanax, that’s how dependence is formed even at low doses. Once your organism is dependent on a substance, the absence of that substance leads to withdrawal symptoms. It will take time for everything to return to balance. In the meantime, you can talk to a doctor about alternative ways to treat the symptoms you’ve been experiencing.

7:38 pm January 26th, 2015

i am suffering from panic attacks from 7 years i am 45 years now i started to take xanax the dose was o.5mg at the biginning but now i am taking 0.125 mg for 3 years per day with indral 10 mg 3time per day i want to stop xanax completely can i do this i dont want to take antidepressant drugs what can i do when i have a panic attack how to stop it without drugs .
thank you

5:53 am January 29th, 2015

a lot off stuff happened in my life over 2 years ago , lost my mom, hurricane sandy….other..i developed anixety , my doc gave 1 mg take two a day . i was feelin ok, then he started talking about taking me off, the minute he said ….i couldnt sleep the next twp night ,,i had that panic in my chest…i know its not a lot but what is the best way to stop…….is there any herbs . other medicins….to make it easy…

5:55 pm February 2nd, 2015

I take 2 mg xanax to sleep. If i try quitting can i use clonodine for side effect. What can i take to sleep?

Bob Jr
5:02 pm March 11th, 2015

I’ve been on 40 milligram citrolopram for approximately two years I’ve been taking 1 or 2 0.5 milligram xanax for about 2 months I cut myself to one tablet per day taken in the morning just to relieve some of the days anxiety would like to get off at completely is it safe to stop cold turkey?

7:23 pm March 15th, 2015

I’ve been on xanax for sometime. I would like to try cold turkey. I’m taking 0.5 twice a day. I haven’t had a pill since yesterday at 8am. Should I be ok? It’s now 1:30pm

11:19 am March 16th, 2015

Hi Mary. Although going cold turkey off any dose of Xanax is not recommended, you already started the process. When you start getting withdrawals it won’t be very comfortable, but you can get over-the-counter medicines that will treat separate symptoms and make the process more bearable. Seek doctor’s help if you feel symptoms are getting too harsh. Good luck!

5:16 pm March 16th, 2015

Hi Bob Jr. No, you should not cease treatment with any medication in an abrupt manner. See your doctor first and get informed slowly reducing doses, possible withdrawal symptoms and how you can treat them. Going off a medication cold turkey can really cause unwanted and harsh withdrawal effects. While tapering can take more time, it’s fat less stressful.

7:07 am March 24th, 2015

I have been on alprazolam – .5 mg – 1 at night for about 2 years and I want to start getting off of them. Can I just stop taking them, or should I take 1/2 a pill for week or so, and then can I stop them all together? I have had anxiety/panic attacks in the past. I have heard stories that you should not just stop taking them. Can you tell me if that is true? Thanks!

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