Friday February 27th 2015

How to withdraw from Xanax

How to withdraw from Xanax

How you can withdraw from Xanax

Are you wanting to quit Xanax (alprazolam)?  Whether you need help with Xanax addiction or physical dependence you must seek medical advice first.  Why? Because alprazolam can cause severe side effects of Xanax withdrawal, you should not stop taking Xanax suddenly. Cold turkey Xanax withdrawal can provoke tremors, seizures, or thoughts of suicide. This is why it’s best to talk to a doctor so s/he can slowly taper your dose of Xanax over the course of weeks or months.

So, how can you clinically withdraw from Xanax? What can you expect and how long does it take to withdraw from Xanax? More here on how to withdraw from Xanax, plus a section at the end for your questions.

When do you withdraw from Xanax?

Xanax has a depressant effect on the body, which accounts for its calming effects on the nerves and blocked feelings of anxiety or panic. However, if people use Xanax for more than a few weeks at a time, the body will develop a physical dependence to Xanax. Dependence is a condition of learned adapation when the central nervous system needs a chemical in order to function normally. So when you miss a dose or when you decide to stop taking Xanax, physical depedence manifests in the appearance of withdrawal symptoms. You generally experience withdrawal any time you are physically dependent on Xanax and reduce your dose of alprazolamby more the 50% at any given time.

Withdraw from Xanax symptoms

Common symptoms people experience as they withdraw from Xanax can include:

  • a harder time going to sleep or staying asleep (insomnia)
  • feelings of apprehension and fearfulness
  • increased excitement and restlessness
  • increased levels of anxiety

But sometimes the body will react violently as you withdraw from Xanax. Symptoms such as tremors and seizures are possible, especially in cases of dramatic dose reduction or after Xanax abuse.  This is why medications for Xanax addiction treatment may be prescribed.  More severe symptoms that can occur while withdrawing from Xanax include:

  • abdominal cramps
  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • increased blood pressure
  • panic attacks
  • paranoid psychosis
  • seizures
  • severe skin rash
  • speech problems
  • tremors
  • vomiting

How long to withdraw from Xanax?

Because of the nature of Xanax as a benzodiazepine, withdrawal can take longer than other types of medications. Furthermore, withdrawing from Xanax can fluctuate between severe and mild symptoms. At first, you feel like you have withstood the worst of it only to find acute symptoms returning. This “rebound” effect takes longer to fully resolve compared to opiate withdrawal, for example. However, you can generally expect the onset of Xanax withdrawal symptoms to appear 6-8 hours after the last dose has worn off. These symptoms will peak over the next 72 hours and should even out in about two weeks. Still, it can take weeks to months before you have resolved withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety. Some symptoms may need to be addressed with another medication or via behavioral therapy.

How to withdraw from Xanax safely

To withdraw from Xanax safely, make sure that you are monitored by a physician. The most important protocol for Xanax withdrawal is a slowdecrease in Xanax doses and a tapering calendar to minimize the effects of Xanax withdrawal symptoms. Generally, benzodiazepines are reduced at a rate of 10% weekly. But each person is different and will be given individualized instruction. It is not advised that you stop taking Xanax cold turkey as the symptoms can be severe and life threatening, especially if you’re abusing Xanax. Always avoid alcohol when taking alprazolam, even during withdrawal.

Can I withdraw from Xanax at home?

All cases of Xanax withdrawal should be SUPERVISED BY A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL. So before withdrawing from Xanax at home, you should first schedule a consult with your prescribing doctor. You should NOT withdraw from Xanax at home cold turkey or suddenly. But if you meet the physical and mental health requirements for home withdrawal AND have an outlined procedure you have prepared with your doctor… then yes, you can withdraw from Xanax at home. Plus, if you haven’t been taking Xanax for very long then you may be able to quit Xanax suddenly without too much complication.

How to ease withdrawal symptoms from Xanax

There are a number of treatments that you can prepare to ease withdrawal symptoms from Xanax. Following are a few treatment ideas:

1. Antidepressants – It may be helpful to find an alternative antidepressant during Xanax withdrawal that is not as strong nor have as a high dependency rate as Xanax on the body. Many times, anxiety and depression is still present during Xanax withdrawaland still needs to be addressed to support the withdrawal process.

2. Detox clinics – Medically supervised detoxcan help ease the plethora of withdrawal symptoms which occur during Xanax withdrawal. Additionally, clinics can perform more rapid forms of detox, over the course of a couple of days to quickly get rid of alprazolam in the body while under supervision. Medical detox allows medical staff to address complications as they occur.

3. Psychotherapy – Behavioral therapy, psychologists and psychiatrists can help address underlying mental conditions and figure out a more helpful ways to address anxiety and panic attacks during Xanax withdrawal. Talk therapy can accompany physical withdrawal and support successful outcomes.

4. Supplements – When you can ease your anxiety you will be more likely to be successful in weaning off Xanax. You can also help ease Xanax withdrawal symptoms by replenishing your body with the vital minerals and vitamins you need such as Vitamin B, Magnesium, and Potassium to help with the agitation and restlessness. Vitamin B can help support energy and moods, which may be affected by Xanax withdrawal. Avoid St. John’s Wort, as this herb can speed up the metabolism of alprazolam in the body.

5. Tapering Xanax doses – Tapering doses of alprazolam allows the body time to slowly compensate for the lack of Xanax in the body. Again, it is always best to be in communication with a doctor that canmonitor Xanax withdrawal and treat symptoms. A supervising doctor can adjust Xanax doses as required then refer you to outside facilities if you need them.

The best way to withdraw from Xanax

Since Xanax is used to treat anxiety, it is important that you do not stop taking Xanax cold turkey. There are too many variables that can affect sudden Xanax withdrawal. Instead, working with a medical professional to reduce your medication slowly over time is the best way to withdraw from Xanax. In general, doctors recommended this process occur over a period of eight weeks, but tapering can go as long as 6 months. Doses of Xanax should be reduced no more the .5mg every three to four days. Tapering allows the body time to slowly heal and rewires itself without the presence of Xanax. Tapering will help decrease most of the withdrawal symptoms. It will also give you time to figure out alternatives if you still need to treat anxiety symptoms. While tapering off Xanax may take longer than just suddenly stopping, it will also give your body time to regain balance and homeostasis without too much complication.

How to deal with withdrawal from Xanax questions

Are you still wondering how to deal with withdrawal from Xanax? Withdrawal can be frustrating and complicated. Please ask any questions you may have about Xanax in the comments section below and we will get back to you personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: NCBI: Benzodiazepines: Revisiting Clinical Issues in Treating Anxiety Disorders
NCBI: St. Johns Wart
NCBI: Alcohol, barbiturate and benzodiazepine withdrawal syndromes: clinical management

Photo credit: U.S. Department of Justice

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17 Responses to “How to withdraw from Xanax
Bob E
6:20 pm March 14th, 2013

It has been our experience the this benzodiazepine family of drugs comes with an extremely volatile detox, especially if the drug has been in the system for longer periods of time. If in doubt of the result of the decreased dosage detox is much safer in a residential facility.

12:19 am March 15th, 2013

i have been taking 2 mg of xanax a day for about 5 yrs,how much should i start with taking off to wean my self of of the xanax and how log do you think it would take?

2:04 pm March 15th, 2013

Hello Charles. The best way to withdraw from Xanax is under medical supervision. Seek the counsel of a pharmacist or your prescribing doctor for a tapering plan that is customized for you.

Dennis O
5:48 pm April 19th, 2013

Greetings all! Just wanted to let everyone know that you CAN do without benzos. I was taking some type of benzo for the last 18 YEARS!! I WANTED TO QUIT. The detox is a living hell, so you need to be determined.I checked myself into rehab so I could be in a supportive environment. Still experiencing withdrawal symptoms even after 8 months clean. This is not meant to discourage you, just to let you know it IS possible.

8:14 am January 31st, 2014

Hello, I have been taking clonazepam for about two years at night to sleep .5 mil. I was recently in Greece and ran out of pills and was given .5 mil of Xanax which the pharmacist said was okay. Now I am worried. When I got home my shrink said to stop and start the clonazepam instead. I also take Dexadrine in the morning. I am bipolar…have been on different meds. but was running a lot and tapered off everything and was doing ok. Now I wonder what to do. I go right to sleep when I take a Xanax, but notice my temper getting worse and my eyes feel tired also loosing words and can’t seem to do anything easily like write a card or cook…
Would appreciate your thoughts. thanks, Andrea

6:51 am February 1st, 2014

Hello Andrea. I’d suggest that you follow your psychiatrist’s suggestion and stop taking the Xanax. Consult with her/him as well as a pharmacist about a tapering plan. Usually, Xanax requires a slow taper and one that is individualized for your specific medical history. Best of luck to you.

11:52 am June 17th, 2014

I’ve been tapering my xanxa for almost three months now from 1mg to .125 now for two weeks and I’m also on zoloft 50 mg for 6 months.should I stop my xanxa and stay on zoloft for now?I do want to get off zoloft to.I was on my xanxa for 20yrs.

1:53 pm June 17th, 2014

Hello Zena. You’ll need to consult with your prescribing physician before making this decision. This is a conversation you’ll need to have with an MD.

9:05 pm September 26th, 2014

I am a 75 year old man and have been taking .5 mg of alprozolam a day for about 7 years. On my last visit to my doctor she told me about the studies linking long term use with Altzheimers and told me to try to stop using it. After reading the article above I am worried about doing this on my own because I have been taking it for so long even though it is a small dose. I also like a few glasses of wine with dinner a few nights a week. Can I cut the pills in quarters as I lower my dose? Are there any supplements or Vitamins I can take while doing this? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

Ivana @ Addiction Blog
10:02 am October 2nd, 2014

Hello Andy. You should ask your doctor to make a tapreing schedule that fits your needs. Your doctor can also give you advise on what suplements, other pills or alternative medicines you can take. It’s important to have a doctor’s clearence and medical assistance, considering your age.

5:56 pm October 6th, 2014

Hello Andy,

I took alprazolam for 30 months i always took a low dose, depression is what caused me to quit them 3 weeks + 1 day ago , i was like ” screw this i dont care what happens to me” it was TOUGH the first week i had the same pill mg size as you do, 0.50mg , i cut them into 8 pieces i took 0.0625 mg for around 10 months before i quit the reason why i started taking xanax was because i used to be a heavy drinker it gave me a seizure 2/14/12 a severe hangover i had, i did not want to take dilantin i took that in 2004 it was horrible .
dont quit xanax until you take 0.125mg or 0.0625mg , you can take that dose size a week before you quit. vitamins im taking that helps me are magnesium & Super b complex, in the morning with breakfast, i then take botox (vitamin b7) b12, and vitamin E , vitamin e is important to get more oxygen to your brain , omega 3 fish oil is essential also. its important to take those vitamins with food, this is very important also drink 1-3 cups of milk each day, the milk helps the vitmians you take pass thruout the body where you need them at . if your worried about seizures chamomille tea is very good to prevent them i like to make my tea strong i fill a coffee cup with water put a chamomille tea bag into the cup put it in the microwave for 1 min 45 sec. i leave the tea bag in the cup for 15 minutes when i take out the tea bag i squeese it with my fingers so the concentrateed juice goes into my cup. another good anti convulsant is eating a small piece of coriander you can find those in a supermarket in a produce area , if your having trouble sleeping take some potatssium. , you may become sensitve to light and sound as i did i wore sunglasses indoors , glasses with amber colored lenses worked best for me i got them from the $1 dollar tree, most of all if you have any spiritual faith , try this have something holy close to you like me i always carry a rosary in my pocket i feel comfort with it there. try to activate when possible you dont have to do much there was times when i felt my worst i walked just 5 minutes with my eyes closed on the treadmill. a simple 5 minute walk cleared my withdrawals temporarily

Im sorry this is a long long leter to read i just wanted to help you and others that read this as much as possible , god bless you Andy i wish you well.

2:11 pm October 7th, 2014

Thanks so much Katie for your helpful hints. I take most of the vitamins you have mentioned. I am doing fine now but have only gotten to 1/2 pill one day 1 pill the next. I will go to 1/2 every day soon. I have also gotten GABA sublingual pills that are supposed to help as GABA is activated by Xanax. So far so good. Thanks again and good luck and blessings to you too.

7:08 pm October 7th, 2014

I am ADD and take 30mgxr Adderal A.M. and 20mg at noon. I also take 4mg os Xanax daily as needed. Every time I apply for a job these two medications show up and cause me a lot of explaining and RX verification to get cleared for the job. I don’t feel I need the noon adderall and want to stop taking this. I also want to wean myself off the Xanax for the same reason. If I just stopped the noon adderall and started dropping out half of one Xanax every two weeks would this be a sensible and safe plan?

Ivana @ Addiction Blog
11:36 am October 13th, 2014

Hello Robert. Tapering down doses form two medications can be diffiult. My advise is to go see a doctor first. If your doctor gives you clearence, ask for help with a tepering schedule. You can also talk to your doc about OTC and alternative meds that can help you through this process.

10:59 am October 25th, 2014

I am using xanax from last 5 years. I was using it occainly, means in a week I was taking 0.5 mg and on some week I was taking 1 mg, now I want to stop it, plz suggest me a safer way to stop it.

3:06 pm February 14th, 2015

i have been dosing down on xnax reg im now down to 0.25 a day but it seems the symptoms are worse now then when ive cut down before

Ivana @ Addiction Blog
3:26 pm February 20th, 2015

Hello Donna. Now you need to stay on this dose for a week or two. During this time your body should get stabilized. Also, ask your doctor to prescribe medication to treat some of the symptoms, or suggest some over-the-counter meds that can also ease withdrawal for you. I understand the effects you are experiencing from lowering doses may not be comfortable, but tapering actually makes this process far more bearable. It’ll be all over soon, just stay strong! Good luck to you!

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