Saturday October 25th 2014

What is Xanax withdrawal?

Are you planning to go through Xanax withdrawal?

Here, we review what happens in the body when you withdraw from Xanax and why. Plus, how Xanax withdrawal feels and what can help ease symptoms. Your questions about withdrawing from Xanax are welcomed at the end.

What is Xanax withdrawal?

Once you have abruptly stopped using Xanax, the body will experience a period of withdrawal. Withdrawal happens because the brain is trying to reach homeostasis and compensate for the depressant effect Xanax has on the brain. Because Xanax slows brain activity, once you stop taking Xanax, the brain rebounds sometimes resulting in seizures. This feeling of the body speeding up is uncomfortable and people who try to avoid it by taking more Xanax can develop an additional psychological dependence on Xanax.

What is Xanax withdrawal syndrome?

The grouping of symptoms that occur when you stop taking Xanax is called “Xanax withdrawal syndrome.” But why does Xanax withdrawal syndrome happen?  Xanax (alprazolam) is a drug in the benzodiazepine class of medicines. It is prescribed to treat anxiety, panic disorders, and sometimes depression. Some people experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking benzodiazepines abruptly instead of tapering off, and anxiety can return once you stop taking Xanax.

Xanax withdrawal syndrome occurs because Xanax has a depressant effect on the nervous system and calms physical symptoms of anxiety. After a while on Xanax (more than 3-4 weeks of regular dosing), your body will develop as dependence on alprazolam. Because of this, the body starts to crave Xanax in order to regulate levels of alprazolam in the system. When a body developing tolerance to Xanax or starts to show physical dependence on Xanax symptoms and does not get regular doses of Xanax, symptoms of withdrawal from the body system occur.

What is withdrawal from Xanax like?

Withdrawing from Xanax can be really uncomfortable as the body is no longer relaxed and craves movement. Basically, the body goes from a state of sedation into over activity. There can be several symptoms that might occur after ceasing to use Xanax. The more common symptoms of Xanax withdrawal can include:

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

A withdrawal reaction may occur if Xanax is stopped abruptly. A withdrawal reaction may be mistaken for a return of the anxiety because many of the symptoms are similar. Sometimes the body will react violently with tremors and sometimes seizures. This is why 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. More severe symptoms that occur while withdrawing from Xanax have included:

  • anxiety
  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • increased blood pressure
  • loss of appetite
  • panic attacks
  • seizures
  • severe skin rash
  • shakiness

What does Xanax withdrawal feel like?

Xanax withdrawal can feel like life has sped up. Increased anxiety and insomnia will probably occur, as well as tremors and increased confusion and mood swings. There are also increased feelings of depression as a result of Xanax withdrawal which makes weaning off the drug harder. Onset of these symptoms starts about four to five days after you stop taking Xanax. The withdrawal symptoms which result from stopping Xanax can last up from days to weeks after you stop taking Xanax.

What helps Xanax withdrawal?

It is essential that you talk with the doctor before discontinuing a benzodiazepine like Xanax. After a person has taken benzodiazepines for an extended period, the dosage is gradually reduced before it is stopped completely. This is why it is important that you are monitored by a physician during Xanax withdrawal – so that a medical professional can slowly decrease Xanax doses and taper alprazolam medication to minimize the effects of withdrawal symptoms.

Three possible treatments for Xanax withdrawal include: tapering, medications, and home remedies.

1. Home remedies for Xanax withdrawal – Home remedies to help deal with symptoms of withdrawal during Xanax detox aim to treat specific symptoms. For symptoms of restlessness, some people recommend supplements of Potassium and Zinc. For symptoms of insomnia, some people use valerian or melatonin supplements to help them sleep after they have tapered Xanax dosage.

2. Medications – Sometimes doctors will prescribe antidepressants to help with depressive episodes that occur during Xanax withdrawal but there should be care in how these methods are used. Otherwise, alternative medications for the treatment of anxiety can be offered, including non-benzodiazepine medicines such as Buspiron or beta blockers to help ease symptoms. Psychotherapy is also an alternative non-pharmaceutical treatment for underlying anxiety and depression issues.

3. Tapering – The best way to detox from Xanax is to use a tapering method. It can take several weeks to wean a person off of Xanax. During this process, a psychological need for the drug might emerge. For this reason, it is important to talk to someone and make sure you have supports available to you. It is helpful while in the detox phase you have a place that is quiet and darker as to help with sensitivity to light and sound.

In general, the recommended procedure for tapering off Xanax is to first reduce Xanax intake in three day increments. The rate of reduction should decease slowly about 0.5mg every three days to allocate for withdrawal symptoms. Some people may need to be on a slower reduction in order to compensate for withdrawal symptoms.

Questions about Xanax withdrawal

Do you still have questions about Xanax Withdrawal? Please share your questions and experiences with Xanax in the comments section below. And we’ll try to respond to your Xanax questions personally ASAP.

Reference Sources: The Partnership for a Drug-Free America: Getting High on Prescription and Over-the-Counter Drugs Is Dangerous
New York State Office of Mental Health: Booklet about Prescription Medications
Pub Med Health: Alprazolam
Drug Enforcement Administration: Benzodiazepines
National Library of Medicine: Alprazolam use and dependence. A retrospective analysis of 30 cases of withdrawal.
Daily Med: Alprazolam tablets

Leave a Reply

46 Responses to “What is Xanax withdrawal?
Zmonk
12:57 am August 5th, 2012

It is hard to tell the exact duration of the withdrawal period. The worst symptoms will usually subside within one to two weeks. However, the mental distress and depression will not be so fast or easy to overcome and is one of the main reasons people fail. If one is a long time user, the time of withdrawal can last months, even with a taper.

Albeit, it is worth it. When you take potent drugs such as xanax, you are not yourself and go through life cheating everyone by drowning your true character in benzos.

8:02 pm August 5th, 2012

Thanks for sharing your experience, Zmonk. It seems like you’ve been there! Do you have any tips to share with others about how to get through the worst of Xanax withdrawal symptoms?

chris
12:38 pm August 17th, 2012

You are killing people with this devil pill. If you take this pill for more than two weeks it may take you up to two years of being in hell in order to recover. Benzodiazepine are the worst drugs ever created to make people addicted and doctors rich.

Alex
8:15 pm August 19th, 2012

Chris, ifdoctors don’t tell EVERY potential side effect and people abuse or misuse this class of drugs this is what it happens… but I’d prefer a heroin cold turkey than xanax withdrawal

suad
8:52 am August 20th, 2012

my son take 0.5 mg xanax for amonth not regulary on need during amonth he took only12 tab now he quit he had dilated pupil bradycardia he is on meprazol and antiacid syrup malox why he had bradycardia and dialated pupil

6:56 pm September 5th, 2012

Hello suad. Bradycardia (abnormally slow heart action) has been reported as an adverse side effect to taking Xanax (alprazolam). Prescription sedatives like Xanax can cause bradycardia and dilated pupils because they slow normal brain function. It sounds like Xanax is not the right medication for your son. I’d suggest that you follow up with a consult and look into alternatives for managing anxiety.

chris
4:35 am September 10th, 2012

Guy’s benzos are the worst drug ever created. I don’t thing that can help anyone. It only covers your problem for a short period of time until tolerance comes and higher dosages needed. If you try to quit from it, it will cause inhuman withdrawal symptoms that you have to deal with them for a long long long period of time. Almost all (psy) doctors will take advantage of these symptoms in order to concise you that you have a mental problem and make you their regular customer.

Jake
7:11 pm November 22nd, 2012

Due to the holidays I will go 2 days without the xanax because the doctors office is closed Friday. I tried to get the receptionist to ask an available doctor to give me a couple days dose or get advise on what I should do. The receptionist told me to cut the dose in half. I have trouble sleeping. Should the doctor leave me without for a couple days? Please advise.

Jake
7:46 pm December 26th, 2012

I am due for my monthly Xanax prescription. 23rd of each month. I contact the Dr. every month and get a prescription written. For the past few years no problems. In the last couple months they are not giving it to me on a timely basis. Because of the holiday season there is a couple days overlap. It is NYS very strict. Please advise.

12:21 pm December 31st, 2012

Hi Jake. I wonder if you can address this problem with the administrative department of the doctor’s office? Have you tried to call and see what can be done?

Anne
4:47 am March 1st, 2013

My mom has been taking .25 mg Xanax 3 times daily for 1 week for anxiety after a surgery. She feels like she no longer needs it (doc concurs) so she wants to quit. After just one week does she have to wean off?

10:51 am March 1st, 2013

Hi Anne. Dependence on a drug is a very personal experience, and is determined by a number of factors. I’d suggest that you consult with your mother’s prescribing physician and follow the medical advice. If your doctor thinks cold turkey would be OK after a week, it’s based on her/his medical experience.

S Balasubrahmanyan
3:19 am March 19th, 2013

I am 72 years old. I am on alprazolam 1 mg. once a day at bed time for the past 10 years. I have started tampering down and I am no on 0.75 mg once a day at bed time. I find it difficult as all symptoms of withdrawal tortures me. Please guide me as to how I can withdraw safely and totally.

Elizabeth
4:00 pm April 10th, 2013

My partner is tapering off Xanax. At first, he went cold turkey, but obviously that did not work, not to mention that it’s dangerous. Based on your own experiences with tapering and withdrawal, how can I best support him? I am utterly clueless where drugs are concerned, and I want to be there for him through this. Please share. Thank you.

5:19 am April 11th, 2013

Hi Elizabeth. I’d suggest that you learn as much as possible about Xanax withdrawal to help your partner. Speak with a pharmacist in person about it, and see what over the counter support aids might help. Also, because Xanax helps mitigate feelings of anxiety, ask your partner to see a psychologist to talk about fear and anxiety. Meditation can also help, as can lifestyle changes such as exercise, diet changes, and sleeping courses. Learning about the deeper nature of our fears can be a daunting task, but it leads to inner development and growth.

S Balasubrahmanyan
9:15 am April 11th, 2013

Thank you and find this article helpful

4:37 pm April 12th, 2013

Hello S Balasubrahmanyan. Check in with your prescribing doctor for an individual tapering plan. And learn more about sleeping methods and how you can manage sleep without sleep aids. I took a great course by the Institute for Applied Meditation on this topic; it was online and very helpful.

Notmyself
8:34 pm April 16th, 2013

Was prescribed Xanax 3 years ago by my cardiologist ,the
minimum dose of .25 mg, after a month she would not refill,
said to see a psychiatrist – why prescribe in 1st place ?
Anyways, always had problems sleeping from time to time,
and here I am 3 years later on 3 mg a day. I know this is a lot.
At most I will take .5 mg up to 2x a day – usually 1x.
I have built such a tolerance it now takes 2nd for sleep.
The bottom line is I am under a lot of stress – underemployed
in a new job, so I need to sleep. But the other part is I have been
taking it so long, that I feel as though I’m not the same person.
Lately have been taking .5 as said twice a day, and notice I’m
even more anxious than usual. Also, I have been a avid exerciser
and partly due to being drained from stress and not having the
energy and boredom ( after many years) , have basically stopped
- except for a few exercises on weekends. Noticed that I was
unusually weak – even allowing for not doing.

I believe I am going through withdrawal between doses, and taking Xanax so long has had a negative effect on me mentally
and physically. I was anxious to begin with , now I feel even worse. The exercising,which used to make me feel good about
myself, for over 35 years, I have no inclination to do.
My situation financially, career wise is much more stressful now
than it ever was, so of course it’s related. I find that I am self conscious about things,have anxiety of things I wouldnt used to
give a second thought. Probably should be on a sleeping pill.
As I said, my situation lends itself to feeling this way, previously
did not really worry about money, wasn’t rich , but had some extra if needed. Now, watching all the time. Have great partner,
kids, otherwise let things go career wise. I’m mentioning all this
cause in better times did not take anything, and usually slept
well.

So, now is not a good time to stop, but if I’m going to be viable
physically, mentally, to make myself as good a candidate for
a job I need to get off – before it gets worse.

Any advice? Thanks

Notmyself
8:37 pm April 16th, 2013

P.S- not to confuse anyone,, in reading myost I realized
when I prescribed my dosage might sound confusing,
what I’m saying is I take .5 to 1 mg during day and 2 mg at
night, for sleep, total of up to 3 mg.

olivia
3:01 pm April 27th, 2013

Xanax has ruined my neice’s life. She was only on a low dose for 8 months. She is 40 years old!! Her depression and hormonal problems after stopping taking this drug is causing her all sorts of problems especially Foggyness , depression and crying bouts!
She came off it gradually, but this still is causing her problems.
This drug should NOT be prescribed . I cannot understand why there are so many unscrupulous so called professionals who keep prescribing this cursed drug!!!!!!

Greg
11:05 pm April 28th, 2013

Chris, you really sound like you have been through this. I’m going through it also or at least I think I am. Sometimes I think it’s a disease or some kind if medical problem. I never felt like this before. I’m going through hell . It seems like I’m getting better sometimes and I get more symptoms. Would like to connect. Thx greg

S Balasubrahmanyan
3:00 am May 2nd, 2013

Doctors should think twice before prescribing this benzo kind drugs.
But what to do when patients are not happy with insomnia and anxiety ? Once started taking this drugs you cannot come out so easily , especially the aged ones. Let them have peace of mind atleast than suffering with withdrawal symptoms

Greg
1:36 am May 7th, 2013

I still have headaches, loss of balance, pins and needles, twitching , fasciculations , tinnitus, over all don’t feel well. This has been going on for 7 months. Does anybody know if I can can take .25 every couple of weeks (Xanax) to help some of my symptoms without hurting me anymore.it was a lot worse , but I still feel bad. I just don’t know if this small dose that does help a little bit when I take it will keep hurting me. I know I won’t ever take any more than that for what I have been through. I can’t find anything that says after you have been on it and got off that its ok every once in a while. I just hope I’m not prolonging it . Greg

Lisa
2:56 am August 2nd, 2013

I have been prescribed alprazolam for a few years. I take up to 3 mg a day. Last week I went to sleep one night and thought I woke up the
next morning. I think I slept through a day but I’ve never taken more than prescribed intentionally. When I woke up I discovered a gash in my shoulder a bump on my head and a scrape on my face.
would it be possible to wake up, get up fall and go back to bed? I know this sounds crazy, but it is really scary. I have’nt taken any in a week and I’m having a really hard time. I just need to figure this out and find a better way to deal w/my anxiety. Sorry this is so long. Thank you.

LByrd
12:33 am August 4th, 2013

I was taking Xanax or Alprazolam for over 2 decades. They cut me off way too fast. After taking 4 Mgs a day for so long, One Dr reduced the amount to 3 Mgs for a couple of months and then I was put on 1 Mg E R for 2 or 3 months and then was cut off with no explanation.
Anybody with negative remarks about this medication should experience the reason people were put on it in the first place. I’m still going thru serious withdrawals 8 months after being completely cut off. Now I won’t go to a Dr and can’t get prescriptions for High Blood Pressure and Cholesterol or Diabetic medicines

LByrd
2:52 am August 4th, 2013

I didn’t mean to sound like other people don’t care. Doctors don’t treat patients as individuals. I don’t want to need it but I do. I drank from the time I was 11 years old to do anything. Then a specialist gave me the name of a Psychiatrist that put me on Xanax in 1981. I was finally able to function without alcohol. It was great. Now things are worse than ever.
I don’t understand why people need a prescription for Xanax but not alcohol.
Sorry if that sounds bad.

7:51 am August 13th, 2013

Hello LByrd. I hear you. Thanks for sharing more about your experience. I agree that alcohol gets off scot-free in terms of social acceptance. Because you started drinking so early, I wonder if there was any major trauma that occurred in your childhood? It can really help to resolve painful events when dealing with chemical dependence or use issues.

Mohammed
8:33 am August 17th, 2013

I started reducing xanax. By doctor supervision. I used to take I mg. then. .05. For one year then I reduced to 0.25 for 4 monthes. Then I was told to stopped it. Now I’m having withdrawl sumptoms. My life is he’ll. they gave me another medicine. Sirotex. Just to make my body tolerate the side effects. But it’s getting worse. He’ll to thr pill. Xanax. I don’t know wht to do my life is in he’ll

S Balasubrahmanyan
6:05 am August 19th, 2013

Fine article on Withdrawal Symptoms

david
1:10 pm December 12th, 2013

Hi I have been of alprozolam for about a mount now I have been weening myself of with diazapam it is very very hard to do I get stomach cramps my back is sore I hurt all over what can I use to ease the pain a little and how long is it stil going to last

Chris
4:37 pm December 12th, 2013

Hi Greg. I am 15 months benzo free. I have mild symptoms now and I am 90% well. I was lucky that I found a forum with people who quit benzos and they gave me a the courage to continue. I couldnt do it by my self. God bless them.

tony
5:16 pm January 19th, 2014

hello to everyone, I have been using xanax for anxiety after quitting smoking because my depression and anxiety where really bad. I have been on Xanax for just about 1 year taking 0.5 to 1.5 mg a day and I have decided to quit using the drug I called my doctor to taper me off of it and wow I feel worse now than what I did. I am on week 3 I called the doctor to let him no how I feel and wanted to no how long the withdraw last and he wanted to put me back on them not really answered my question so this is why I am here. I quit using the drug and my body is doing odd things like shaking,sweating,waking up in the morning with a faster then normal heart rate,little aches and pains in my legs and chest,hands just about every where they come and go,noisy stomach, cramping with heartburn, I hope this will go away soon I don’t want to go back on the drug..

ronan
10:11 pm February 2nd, 2014

Hi,
I used to develop rashes on my face only-cause of cold,different water,some foods-no medicine hlped-someone suggested .25 mg alprazolam…surprisingly the face cleared completely …it has been 4 yrs now…I got off it for almost a year and a half..n the rash was unbearable….so I started taking it again.I try to limit it to 4 times a week to keep my skin clear.
I would be really thankful if you can suggest an alternative for this as ONLY THIS MEDICATION HAS WORKED ON MY SKIN…
I am 28 female.
ronnie

ELISABETH
4:43 am February 3rd, 2014

I AM TAKING XANAX 0.50 MG 1X /DAY FOR 15 YEARS.I LIKE TO STOP TAKING IT.I JUST DO NOT KNOW HOW ?

Sarah
2:10 am February 20th, 2014

Hi. I have only been taking 0.5 mg of xanax just at night to help sleep. I want to quit taking it because I have new medications to take to treat my adrenal issues. If I quit cold turkey, will I experience withdrawal symptoms such as some of you have experienced?

Thank you!

S Balasubrahmanyan
2:44 am February 25th, 2014

I am aged 73 years and is on Alprazolam 1 mg. in night to fight insomnia for the past 30 years. Is it safe to withdraw from use of Alprazolam at this age ; or is it safe to continue ? my family Doctor advises me not to take risk of withdrawal symptoms at this age. Please comment.

9:30 am February 25th, 2014

Hello S. While your body may be dependent on alprazolam, it seems that you’ve tolerated the dose well for a long period of time with no need for increased dosing. What makes you want to stop taking alprazolam now?

Marvin
2:21 pm March 13th, 2014

I take Zanax 0.25 only at night I am doing great now
I would like to quit taking it now . How to do I get off the medicine .and because I take a small dose only 1time all day will it be hard

zena
2:05 pm May 20th, 2014

I’m tapping off my xanxa.been on xanxa for 20 yrs at low dose betweem.50mg to1mgs.never abusing it 1 times aday.I’m tappering .5o for 46 daydys now on .25 for twweeks. Not sure when to cut that dose in half.I’m o zoloft for 5 months now.should I stay on zolof till off xanxa compleetly?

Diana
6:34 am May 28th, 2014

I reckon xanax is the hardest drug, I’ve ever known of as far as getting off of them. I thought i had beat the (what I thought was going to be about a one week’s withdrawal which was bad enough) but, the actual withdrawal state from these benzo’s is very long and extremely uncomfortable. Day 4, started getting chills and felt horrible Day 5, awoke with headache and nausea to which i vomited later toward evening clear into Day 6. Being totally exhausted and unprepared for Day 7.. I awoke with a horrible migraine that led me to the hospital for E.R. treatment. And hopefully last, but, maybe not least – Day 8 – I was too dizzy to stand up, like i had gotten off of a merry go round, sweat started pouring off my body in buckets (it felt like)…told husband i was extremely sick and felt like i was going to die. I fainted about 3 or 4 times, whacking my head and face area several times. Back to ER this time by ambulance. Luckily I had no broken bones in face, neck or skull….just nasty bruises. Went to doc today, they put me on a lighter dose of Xanax – will see my GP in a few days. Still feel like I’ve been beaten, guess i’ll live

Sandra
4:54 pm May 30th, 2014

I suddenly stopped Xanax because I ran out. I have been off of it for a week now, and it’s been pretty uncomfortable. I started reading about getting off Xanax and I did not realize I shouldn’t Abruptly stop.
But now that I’m in to a week off, are all the worst symptoms over? when my prescription comes in the mail, should I start taking it again, Then taper down? I really don’t want to start taking it again.
So, my question is, now that I’ve been off of it abruptly for a week, should I start taking it again and taper off? I was taking it for anxiety and have been on it for about six years.
Thank you,
Sandra

Laura
12:35 am June 17th, 2014

I’ve been taking.5 mg xanax at night for sleep for 2 months now. Is that too long. Should I try tapering off? Trying yo adjust to a prescription of Lexapro.

vikrant
8:41 am June 25th, 2014

Hi I’m taking medication for major depression, now my doctor is giving me alprazolam 0.25mg in morning but from the start the doctor prescribed that I take it three times a day, then he tapered me off two times and now I only take it once in the morning. But sometimes I take alprazolam on my own decision. Sometimes at night and sometimes in afternoon when I feel anxious, so is it safe to take this medicine sometimes…

Karen
5:49 am July 9th, 2014

I was prescribed 0.25mg of Xanax about one and a half year ago because I was getting stress-induced migraines on a daily basis. The problem is I told my psychiatrist I had also started using it when feeling too anxious, only if I thought it was completely necessary; so she kept me on it. I have to say I’ve intentionally taken more than prescribed. I stopped taking it regularly since I left my job and had no more stress. But I started getting panic attacks and extreme anxiety again. At first, I didn’t relate it to quitting Xanax and went to see my doctor who gave me 50mg Zoloft .

louis
12:05 am October 6th, 2014

I just had a question about the duration of xanax after you taper off or reduce the amount. I had abused it in the streets for a Lil while on and off mixing with alcohol like an idiot and didn’t know the drug was that serious then I over dosed on a different street drug. “Meth” and after that the docs starters prescribing me xanax. I been on it not so tough but on it for about 5 months and I feel like straight crap now in the first few days of sobriety. I’m clean off everything. I use to drink a lot but reduced and stopped meth I used rarely and I’m 21 just wondering when this hell will end?

lena
3:43 pm October 6th, 2014

I was on xanax for maybe 4 months taking about .50 a day and on my really bad days (probably a total of 5 days) maybe 1 mg. The first week of withdrawals was horrible. I felt sick and My whole body and muscles ached like I had the flU. Then started the weird sensations of my body vibrating (inner wise). As as a precaution (but my dr said it would ease my mind more than anything) my dr had me get an EEG which came back fine. Now I did taper off of this within an appropriate time period. It’s been about two or three months since I took my last dose and I still experience the muscle aching and inner vibration sensations on and off. Is this normal after so long of not being on it? It makes my anxiety 10x worse because I start researching the symptoms and think I have the worst case scenario disease. But the only comfort I can take in this, is knowing these symptoms didn’t start until after I had stopped xanax….is this normal!?

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