Wednesday April 23rd 2014

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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19 Responses to “How to stop taking Xanax
Kaitlin
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!

nader
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

rita
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. http://aa-intergroup.org/ . The real time chat meetings might be a great place for you.

Best of luck.

Tina
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.

Tina
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!

Mohammed
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.

Mohammed
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

Mary
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,

Mary
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.

MELISSA
6:08 pm November 20th, 2013

HELLO MY NAME IS MELISSA I HAVE BEEN TAKING XANAX 0.5MG EVERY DAY TWICE A DAY MY DR TOLLED ME TO TAKE IT 5 TIMES BUT SINCE I STARTED I ONLY TOOK ONE IN THE MORNING AND IN THE AFTERNOON SOMETIMES I WOULD TAKE ONE IF I COULD NOT SLEEP IN THE NIGHT BUT IT’S BEEN A YEAR AND MY ANXIETY AND PANIC ATTACKS ARE GETTING WORSE AT FIRST IT HELPED BUT NOW I FEEL IT’S GETTING WORSE I WANNA STOP TAKING MY XANAX BUT I AM SCARED CASE OF THE side effects I READ IT ALL AND SEARCHED TROUGH SO MANY SIDES I CALLED MY DR HE TOLLED ME TO STOP BUT WHEN I ASKED HIM WAIT A MINUTE ISN’T THEIR side effects HE SAID YES SO I DO NOT WANNA GO BACK TO THE DR OFFICE I NEED HELP I WANNA STAY AWAY FROM MEDS AND KILLER PILLS I AM 27 MOTHER OF 2 THE WORST FELLING IS CHOCKING AND LOSING MY MIND THAN I GET NUMBNESS AND DIZZINESS FEEL LIKE I WILL PASS OUT MY HEART POUNDS VERY FAST AND I SHAKE PLEASE ANY ADVICE FOR ME HELP

Carol
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?

Gwendolyn
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.

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