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Tolerance to Xanax

Does Xanax (alprazolam) not work quite as well for you anymore?

Are you concerned that you might be developing a tolerance to or physical dependence on Xanax? Maybe worried your tolerance will become an Xanax addiction? In this article, we’ll explore Xanax tolerance, as well as its relationship to Xanax dependence and addiction. We’ll also talk about what you can do about your tolerance to Xanax. Your questions about tolerance to Xanax are welcomed at the end.

Developing tolerance to Xanax

Although tolerance to Xanax does not affect how fast Xanax works or how long Xanax effects last, it affects HOW MUCH Xanax you need to take.  When you are tolerant to alprazolam, you need higher and higher doses to achieve similar therapeutic effect.  So when does higher Xanax tolerance occur?

1. After taking either the brand name Xanax or generic alprazolam for extended periods of time or in high doses, it’s common to develop a tolerance to Xanax.

2. You’ll develop a tolerance more quickly if you aren’t taking Xanax as directed by your doctor – for example, in larger than normal amounts.

Tolerance to Xanax usually accompanies a physical dependence on Xanax, making it difficult to quit taking Xanax without careful planning. However, unless you’re experiencing strong cravings or psychological symptoms which compel you to take Xanax, you likely HAVE NOT developed an addiction.

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Xanax tolerance symptoms

Xanax tolerance has two main symptoms:

1. Xanax (alprazolam) slowly stops working to control anxiety symptoms.

2. You need to keep taking higher doses of Xanax to get the same effect of initial relief as when you started taking Xanax.

It’s important not to jump to conclusions and assume you have a Xanax addiction just because you’re developing a tolerance to the medication. In fact, Xanax tolerance is a medical outcome that doctor anticipate after long term use of the drug as your body gets used to the Xanax in your system and doesn’t respond to alprazolam as well as it used to.

Xanax tolerance: How long?

It doesn’t take very long to develop a tolerance to Xanax. You can become resistant to the effects of the drug alprazolam in a month or less. You can also develop a physical dependence on Xanax just as quickly. This is especially true if you start out at a higher dose of Xanax.

High tolerance to Xanax

Most people start off with very low doses of Xanax, only .25 – .5 mg, and this is gradually increased until it becomes effective in the treatment of anxiety. Over time, the dose may be increased as a tolerance develops. Some patients may need to take 10 mg per day or more to get any effects from Xanax.

How to lower tolerance to Xanax

The only way to lower your tolerance to Xanax is to lower your dose. Unfortunately, you won’t be getting the desired effect from Xanax when you do this, which can be unpleasant for people suffering from anxiety disorders. It can also take a long time for Xanax tolerance to go back down – especially if you’ve taken it for a long time. If you’re suffering from anxiety and Xanax no longer helps, it may be worth talking to your doctor about alternative treatments which might work better long-term.

Building up tolerance to Xanax questions

Do you still have questions about Xanax tolerance? Please share your questions and experiences with Xanax in the comments below.

Reference Sources: DailyMed: Xanax XR
PubMed Health: Alprazolam
ToxNet: Alprazolam

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59 Responses to “Tolerance to Xanax
fran
6:52 pm August 14th, 2012

my levels are 220 what other drug could cause theese levels to b so high any input would be greatly appreiated

11:48 am August 18th, 2012

Hi Fran. Thanks for your question. Can you please be more specific about the 220 levels – Is Xanax or alprazolam showing up on a drug screen with levels of 220 ng/ml? I’m confused about what you mean by “levels”.

Margaret
6:17 pm August 23rd, 2012

I was started out on a high dose of xanax 4 yrs ago. (2mgs 3 times a day).
I started out breaking them in half. Three months after I got this script, I found out my mother was dying. We had not been on god terms so I began to take the recommended dosage when I heard the news.
Here’s my question/problem: I can tell I have developed a tolerance due to the fact after taking one, my anxiety level is still there. Unfortunately there are days when I am capable of having 2-3 panic attacks a day. What do I do about that? Recently (a month or so ago – my script had been stolen) I went 3 weeks without taking any xanax. I don’t know how I got through that time. But I am wondering if my tolerance is down now and I am just afraid it isn’t. I had bumped it up to one 2mg and part of another 2mg (.05) due to tolerance and knowing my doctor would not bump up my dosage. What are my options at this point?

6:44 pm August 24th, 2012

Hi Margaret. One option for treating anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which you can learn more about by visiting a psychologist. Basically, in cases of anxiety, patterns of thinking become repeated and imprinted on the mind. CBT aims to identify, understand and change your thinking…replacing negative beliefs with positive ones. How does that sound to you?

Margaret
10:14 pm September 23rd, 2012

I t sounds like a lot of work changing the way I think while in the meantime, my tolerance to xanax is not going to help me. Sorry.

J Hall
7:30 am November 11th, 2012

I completely agree with Margaret as I suffer for Extreme Anxiety Disorder as then some.I am 46 and my mother had a lower G-I when she was 3 weeks pregnant w/me.She did know at the time that she was pregnant.Through the whole pregnancy she has told me that she felt a constant tremor with me.After I was born she said as soon as they brought me to her I shook and had constant tremors which I still 46 yrs’later suffer from.I have been taking xanax since its inception before that it was valium.I now am prescribed 8 mg a day which is a joke as I have to take 24 mg to get myself pulled together enough to even leave to go to the grocery store.I know it’s not right but what am I to do as this was cause to me.I didn’t get it from tolerance build up but an accident to no ones fault.Now that you know my history is there anything out there that could do a better job like ativan or something because I know my liver has to be damaged even though my Dr.say’s its just fine every 6 months .I truly feel for you Margaret because it is a living hell.Dr’s back in the 70’s when they invented it thought they had found the miracle cure for anxiety and were handing it out like candy.Now they treat you like a drug seeker and they are the ones that addicted you and I to this Frankenstein of a drug to begin with.But,as I was the Director of Surgery for 13 yrs. for 2 very good eye surgeons.I know a little bit about medicine and Doctors.And there GOD complex.They never make mistakes I and all my Surgical Asst.Always take the blame.So,depend on their words like walking on a tight rope made of sewing tread.You hang in there O.K. I have suffered this my whole life.So just think at least 1 person in this universe of ours has it a little worse.If you would like to talk as I do know alot about Anxiety.You are welcome to message me ,please and i’m sure you will keep it confidential.Jay

Justin
5:54 pm January 14th, 2013

Is it possible to develop a tolerance after only a week of being on 1mg a day? The first day I took it I felt instant relief… second day still ok third day and following days not so much or is it just my anxiety/depression is so bad that it requires a higher dosage? or is the depression stopping it from working for my anxiety? Im so annoyed and confused.

11:02 am January 15th, 2013

Hi Justin. Tolerance is a highly individual phenomenon. I’d suggest that you consult with your prescribing doctor and report these symptoms. It’s possible that Xanax may not be right medication for you.

kim
5:17 am March 19th, 2014

ive taken at least 45 of the .5mg xanax in the past 2 days. is it possible i can have seizures in the next couple days if i dont take them on a regular basis.?

10:16 am March 19th, 2014

Hello Kim. Have you consulted with a physician yet?

jennifer
7:20 pm March 30th, 2014

Have been taking milligram of xanax twice a day for a mmonth or two. About last week it seems to not work. I take it and like 3 or 4 hours after I’m all gettery shaky and feel like I’m panicing. It seems to get worse by the day

rebecca griffin
7:03 pm April 14th, 2014

i have been prescribed 1mg of xanax for 7 years . not getting the relief like i used to . I am afraid to talk to my dr. afraid she will take me off of them . I was on colazapam for years and threy stopped working also.

1:52 pm April 15th, 2014

Hello Rebecca. It’s totally normal for Xanax to become less effective over time; it means that you have an increased tolerance for the medication. Speak with your prescribing doctor about this and look for solutions together. Perhaps a period of abstinence, or increasing doses will work for you. But you need to communicate your symptoms in order to adjust for your personal needs.

Barb
3:42 pm April 24th, 2014

My 28 year old daughter died suddenly 6 years ago. I was prescribed and have been taking .25 mg at night to sleep, for 6 years. It has always worked and the only time I have taken .5 is when I am upset because of memories/ thoughts of my daughter around holidays, her birthday etc.
If I am addicted to such a low dose, how would I stop. I honestly feel it helps me tremendously at night but lately I am concerned that all I am reading. Is addiction/withdrawal something I need to address. Is it the same no matter what dose you are on?

11:20 am May 14th, 2014

Hi Barb. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. You may be physically dependent on Xanax (you’re body has adjusted to the presence of alprazolam in the brain and central nervous system)…but this does not mean that you’re an addict. I’d suggest that you record your concerns and then speak with your prescribing doctor, seek a second opinion, or even speak with a pharmacist. Collect professional wisdom and make a decision from there. My thoughts go out to you.

zena
1:17 pm May 29th, 2014

I tapered down to .25 xanxa from 1 mg.when do I just stop taking xanxa.

10:43 am May 30th, 2014

Hello Zena. You’ll need to consult with your prescribing doctor or a pharmacist about your individual case. You can, however, find some recommendations about tapering via The Ashton Method here:

http://www.benzo.org.uk/manual/

R Blankenship
7:37 pm June 21st, 2014

I have been on xanax for 14 yrs. and always taken it the way the doctor ordered. 4 mg qid. I have cut the dose to 0.25 qid. This seems to be to lowest dose I can get. I did this in 2 wks with very little side effects. I need to know how to go lower.

barb
5:48 am July 2nd, 2014

I was taking between 6-10mg a day for almost a year. I had to be detoxed in the hospital. I’ve been off for two months and took 2 mg the other day and felt nothing. Is it possible I still have a tolerance to this medicine?

10:06 am July 3rd, 2014

Hi barb. It takes a longer time for the tolerance to benzodiazepines to lower. Sometimes it takes months of not taking any for them to start to work half as good as they used to.

Teo
12:59 pm July 5th, 2014

Hello,
Is it possible to develop tolerance with just 0.5mg every 3-4 days ?

Maggie
8:15 pm August 2nd, 2014

You mentioned talking to your doctor about alternative treatments which might work better long-term. What are the options that are avaliable? Mainly prescription as I can not afford to go see a psychologist. I barely can afford my Dr for the xanax prescription. But I am fixing to be eligable for Medicare so don’t know if it would cover a psychologist or not. I”ve been taking 1 mg at night for a year, and now it is not working anymore. I am fearful of increasing the dosage as I already know what coming off it is like I did it once, and it triggers panic atacks even when done slowly. So if I encrease the dosage I’m fearful of being more hoked and harder to get off of if necessary.

Chelle
4:41 pm August 10th, 2014

I have been on 1 mg of Xanax 4x/day for almost six years, and I am certain that I have developed a tolerance to this drug. My prescribing doctor tried changing me to Klonopin, but that drug had zero effect on me, so back to the Xanax now. I did a controlled experiment last night to find out just how high my tolerance was and I never reached a high enough dose to experience any kind of disorientation or loss of fine motor skills or feelings of euphoria. I felt as I always do. I am notorious for having very high tolerances to any medication, but of course, no doctor ever believes me, so I always suffer. I’ve done the research and discovered some people have to take up to 10 mg per day for the anxiety condition I have, but my doctor claims I am on the highest dose possible. What do I do? Since I took 15 last night and experienced no adverse effects whatsoever, I’m forced to cut back to compensate.

Maggie
5:08 pm August 11th, 2014

Your dosage isn’t working any longer, because you have to keep going higher and higher until you are trapped into a clinical withdrawl program. Is that what you want for yourself? There are alternative choices for you while withdrawing. Read as much as you can about it.. I was on 1 mg once a day. Start at the level you are at. MIne quit working too, I had to make a choice, keep going higher when I see the trap, or stop it now before it gets that bad. It is a guaranted no win situation with xanax. Please don’t get yourself into that horrible trap later down the road, as xanax will always quit working, stop now while you can.

s bair
8:09 pm August 22nd, 2014

I currently am taking 8 milligrams of xanax a day I am facing a DUI charge and am afraid I will go to jail and not be able to get the medicine that I need what is the severity of withdrawal when you been taking 8 milligrams per day for the last 5 years can it kill me?

jon
4:23 am September 11th, 2014

I am taking .5mg of alprazolam 2 times per week for sleep. Am I at any risk of developing a tolerance?

Amy
12:20 am December 1st, 2014

I have been struggling with anxiety since I was a child due to a tough childhood. I’m now 19. During may, I got drugged and raped which left me with a lot of PTSD. My doctor started prescribing me .5 mg of alprazolam and I was instructed to take two as needed. In September, I started having sleeping issues and my doctor prescribed me a separate bottle of alprazolam and I took .5 mg. It was a 15 day supply and I took it every night for that amount of time. I’ve noticed that I’ve built up a tolerance and my anxiety is getting a lot worse. I never get a full night of sleep anymore because I wake up with nightmares about me getting raped. I have to face the guy who raped me in court in less than two weeks and I’ve been having at least 2 or 3 panic attacks a day. What do you suggest I do?

3:30 pm December 9th, 2014

Hi Amy. I’m very sorry for what he did to you! I understand it’s stressful and unpleasant, but you have to stay strong and not let this define your life. I’d suggest seeing the doctor again, you might get switched to another medication or your doc will up your dose. I wish you well from the bottom of my heart!

pat
3:27 pm April 20th, 2015

can you have phsycial symptoms increase between dosages of xanax though you have not upped dosage? I have taken 1.75 mg of xanax for 14 years, feel anxiety has improved but have begun to have withdrawl like signs between dosages? What to do, going to talk to Internist…I am currently decreasing dosage, now at 1.25 a day in an attempt to wean off this drug but very difficult with side effects. Main quesiton is to go back to original dose, up it to stop phsycial symptoms which are miserable or try complete withdrawl at very very slow pace.

Yigler
5:39 pm July 3rd, 2015

Slso guys i went to med school for 7 years i know my shit ant real answers…NOT SOME STUPID RAMBLINGS BECAUSE YOU ARE SO HI! I WILL NOT HELP THOSE PEOPLE..THANK U…

cheryl
11:07 pm July 19th, 2015

Do you have a medical intake program

3:05 pm July 20th, 2015

Hi Cheryl. You can call the helpline number displayed on the site to get in touch with our trusted and highly professional treatment providers, who will help you get informed about treatment options fit for your needs and available to you.

Justin
1:48 am August 28th, 2015

Well after reading how much people are taking I don’t feel too bad about having taken .25 mg 3 times a day for the past 10 years and just now noticing they don’t work. I guess this is normal. Now… How hard is it going to be to come off of them if my doctor sees fit?

kim
8:06 pm September 10th, 2015

Ive been taking 0.25 name brand xanax for 30 years. Started experiencing anxiety and had to go to generics due to the cost if name brand. Took 0.5 mg generic with 1/2 of my name brand in 1 day and felt great. Now doc perscribed 0.5 for each day so i take 1/2 in the morning and 1/2 at night of generic equals .05 perday which is ,025 more than i took for 30 years. Its been 5 days dince ive had my name brand?. How long can it take at a double dose of generuc before i start to feel better. I feel alert and happy except like im tense inside bad. Thanks

tim
7:01 pm September 17th, 2015

I’ve been on 0.25 mg of xanax for a year and a half every 4 hrs. Recently I started expierencing like withdrawal symptoms. And now I’ve been trying to wean off and after a week I’m still having same issues whether I take it or not! Can it be possible that its capable of causing me issues that way? Can’t get relief with or without it. Don’t wanna go in higher dose either. Help???

Carol
4:56 pm October 10th, 2015

I have taken .5 xanax most days for 4 weeks. Making me depressed. Don’t want to get addicted. How can I get off?

mardie
2:19 am November 7th, 2015

I have been taking Xanax for the last 2 week I was just talking 1 and now I find its not working should I start taking 2 instead of 1

mardie
2:24 am November 7th, 2015

How long dose it take to get addicted

5:43 pm November 9th, 2015

Hey, Mardie. I believe that you should consult your doctor, or your pharmacist for any issues you have while taking Xanax.

12:21 pm November 10th, 2015

Hi Mardie. Xanax dependence can develop after only 1-2 weeks of taking the drug regularly. Plus, the longer you take Xanax and the higher the dose, the more likely you are to develop a dependence. This is the point where if you lower doses abruptly or quit suddenly – you will experience withdrawal symptoms.

Nsthan
7:15 am November 27th, 2015

My name is Nathan I’ve been married for 3years my wife been taking zan ax for 30 years she can’t control them she will take 60 2 mil a day she is perscibed 90 month but she is eating them in 2 days most how can I help her please

gia
3:22 pm November 28th, 2015

I have been trying to lower my dose but I get very sick. I hallucinate and my ptsd and anxiety are off the charts, I had a seizure and I vomit and dry heave, so if you can tell me what else I can do to avoid a seizure and the physical pain.

1:48 pm November 30th, 2015

Hi Gia. Maybe you are lowering too big amount at once or you are decreasing too fast. Try a more gradual and slow tapering schedule, while using some over-the-counter medications to lower the intensity of withdrawal.

stacey
3:11 pm December 21st, 2015

Actually, i take 10 mlg. Of valium, …i take them once a month and feel more off those, and i somtimes, take 2 , and i feel them better, then the xanax? And i thought xanax, were stronger……

Steve
3:40 pm January 9th, 2016

If i stop taking xans and restart where will my tolerance level be??

joe 2268
3:32 pm January 26th, 2016

I have been prescribed xanax on and off for about 15 years. I started to abuse them once i joined the methadone clinic.my tolerance went through the roof.I’m not bragging when i say that i was taking over 40 mg daily. I just left the methadone clinic and started suboxone. I didn’t have any Xanax for days but no withdrawal either. I took 16mg art one time yesterday and my usual amount was half that at once multiple times a day. I took 8 sticks /16mg and felt nothing.

There is no interaction with the suboxone. And I’m not in withdrawal but I barely get anxiety relief or euphoria. ..

Does anyone know why

ja
5:47 am March 2nd, 2016

I am a GBS 2001 & cancer survivor stage 4 in 2010 with residuals from both. I have serious sleep issues, tried everything..I found that only 2mg of Xanax at night works well, sometimes one (1) more mg 6-8 hrs later..for 15 yrs now…is this safe?, conflicting answers from docs…thank you in advance

diane
7:32 pm March 4th, 2016

I take 1 and 1/2mg per day of Xanax for 10 years..i want to wean myself off totally .i am retired just recently and no stress level anymore. ..how do i do this safely on my own?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
3:16 pm March 8th, 2016

Hi, Diane. I suggest you consult with a doctor or a pharmacist to help you create an individualized tapering schedule.

Mark
8:53 pm March 8th, 2016

I have been taking 1.5mg of Xanax at night for two weeks for insomnia. It has worked very well and given me my sleep back. However the last few days I have been getting very anxious and nervous with pressure headaches on the following afternoons. Am I developing an addiction ? I have also just started taking Citalopram (20mg) for depression. If I come off the Xanax do I need to taper off and if so how ? Or can I just quit as it’s only been two weeks ?? Really need some advice. Thank you.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
12:58 pm March 11th, 2016

Hi Mark. I’ve read that experts claim that lowering the dosage gradually is a safer way to quit it. Hence, I suggest you consult with your doctor or a pharmacist to help you plan an individualized tapering schedule.

Raphaël
2:41 am March 19th, 2016

Do Xanax tolerance happen to everyone? If so, if I take 0.5mg of it as needed, will I build up tolerance?

Tammy929
6:43 pm April 29th, 2016

Took alprazolam when r only 16 year old daughter were sucked into propellers of speedboat. Lost my dad 1 week later. Lost my mom & sister a year ago. My tolerance is very high10-12-1mg tabs taken at once. Couple times week. My conern is I am now falling down. Is this a side affect or could it be something worse. Quit smoking 4 months ago. Extremely stressful, not to mention weight gain.

Bill
9:28 pm July 30th, 2016

It’s possible to get addicted to anything that helps,ive been on 4 mgs.of Xanax a day for over 30 years for chronic panic disorder and agoraphobia,i have been on so many different anti depressants and benzos it’s sickening,now because of all the propaganda about addiction i gotta suffer! Good god I’m a 60 year old man!

Pat
3:38 pm September 9th, 2016

I have been taking Alprazolam for years at 0.25 to sleep. But I have not been sleeping well lately and when I have added responsibility the next day it makes me anxious and I sleep even less. Sometimes I up my dose to .5 but I still don’t sleep well, now even when I don’t have the added responsibility. I also am very anxious in the day time now because of not sleeping. I feel I have built up an tolerance to it but I don’t want to take any more. How do I get off of it and what can I take to sleep while in the process?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
5:30 pm September 22nd, 2016

Hi Pat. I suggest that you speak with your doctor.

Robert
12:32 am October 16th, 2016

I took a xanax but it did not work. Should I take another one because I may have built up a tolerance?

Nicholas
1:33 am October 27th, 2016

I’ve been on xanax for about 8 years taken everyday originally for panic attacks now it’s turned into a everyday no matter what I have to take thing , I was wondering if anybody has ever had paradoxical side effects from tolerance , I am now taking my .5 xanax and it a lot of the time is causing severe anxiety and confusion like a opposite effect , any advice would be great thank you

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