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:
- gastrointestinal upset
- increased pulse
- increased blood pressure
- panic attacks
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:
- The tapering schedule will depend on the presence of co-morbid medical or psychiatric conditions.
- If hospitalized, Xanax can be tapered by 10% per day.
- 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
Photo credit: Pete Prodoehl