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Xanax withdrawal side effects

Withdrawal side effects of Xanax

When you stop taking Xanax (alprazolam) after weeks or months of daily use, it’s normal to experience side effects. In fact, the group of symptoms associated with Xanax cessation are called Xanax withdrawal symptoms. And although detoxing from Xanax can provoke serious side effects, how do you know if symptoms of Xanax withdrawal are normal? What if you require medical help?

Keep reading if you would like to know more about how Xanax withdrawal can affect you and what to expect with Xanax side effects. For example, Xanax withdrawal lasts how long?Then, we invite your questions about Xanax withdrawal at the end.

Withdrawal effects of Xanax

Xanax (alprazolam) is an extremely effective mood stabilizer which is prescribed to treat anxiety. Xanax effects the GABA receptors in the brains which calms the “nerves”, taking care of anxiety or panic disorders.

Part of its effectiveness is due to the fact that alprazolam is a short acting benzodiazepine. However, you can become dependent on Xanax quickly and the longer you use Xanax, the greater the body will rely on its presence to keep body functions normal. So, withdrawal is a process by which your body tries to regulate itself after a period of physical dependence when Xanax is no longer in the body. While the central nervous system normalizes, your body experiences pain and discomfort.

Withdrawal can occur for a few reasons and at different times. You can trigger withdrawal by missing a dose of Xanax. Or you can trigger Xanax withdrawal effects when you significantly decrease regular dosing amounts or frequency. Finally, Xanax withdrawal effects occur when stop taking Xanax cold turkey (dangerous, and not recommended). But what are the exact effects of Xanax withdrawal?

Effects of Xanax withdrawal

You may not want to hear this, but Xanax is one of the hardest medications to withdraw from. The effects of withdrawal from Xanax can be very uncomfortable and potentially risky because Xanax withdrawal can induce seizures, psychosis, and suicide (especially if you don’t taper your doses). Not only can withdrawal side effects mimic being sick, but the symptoms that Xanax was originally used to treat (anxiety, panic, depression, etc.) can resurface and may be worse than before. The physical and mental discomfort of getting off Xanax compound the experience of withdrawal. Side effects of Xanax withdrawal can include:

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

Furthermore, stopping Xanax suddenly can be dangerous and can make post-acute withdrawal more likely in the months after acute withdrawal. Most doctors don’t recommend decreasing alprazolam doses by more than 50% at a time. However, even if you slowly taper off Xanax you can still experience symptoms of withdrawal in terms of mood and temperament changes. Exepct some form of withdrawal side effect as your body tries to re-establish homeostasis.

Side effects of Xanax withdrawal

Xanax reacts with specific sites in the brain which directly affect mood and serotonin regulation. This makes withdrawal a complicated and dangerous process. Below are several complication that can occur because of a sudden discontinuation of Xanax.

Psychosis: If you stop taking Xanax too quickly, detox can result in psychosis and spark suicidal thoughts or other harmful behaviors. If this occurs, you should be admitted to a hospital so that you can be monitored and helped through the process of withdrawal without harming yourself.

Post-acute withdrawal (PAWS): This set of symptoms occurs in the weeks to months after initial Xanax withdrawal. Post acute withdrawal side effects associated with Xanax include discomfort, difficulties with sleeping, and mild irritation. If you experience PAWS, it is important to know what is going on and to attribute symptoms to this condition. You can help treat Xanax PAWS with natural and over the counter sleeping aids, supplements, and daily exercise to help regulate withdrawal side effects.

Seizures: One serious side effect of sudden Xanax withdrawal include seizures. Carbamazepine or another type of anticonvulsant can be prescribed and administered to control seizures induced by alprazolam withdrawal. These medications can help manage side effects of Xanax withdrawal as well as the tremors that can occur during withdrawal.

Xanax withdrawal side effects treatment

You can trigger serious withdrawal effects when you stop taking Xanax withdrawal cold turkey. This is why the best form of Xanax withdrawal side effects treatment includes a slow taper off alprazolam UNDER MEDICAL SUPERVISION. When you withdraw in this way, you allow the body time to regulate without alprazolam. Because so much can go wrong during Xanax withdrawal, tapering is the most frequentlyrecommended treatment for Xanax withdrawal side effects

Further, if you are suffering from addiction to Xanax, don’t withdraw on your own. Seek out a Xanax detox center and treatment facility that can help you withdraw safely, treat side effects, and address the psychological aspects of withdrawal. There are ways you can treat Xanax addiction and withdrawal side effects simultaneously, but you’ll need medical help.

Xanax withdrawal side effects questions

Do you have any Xanax withdrawal side effects questions? Please, if you still have questions regarding the side effects of Xanax withdrawal ask. We will get back to your questions as quickly as we can.

Resources: Pub Med: Seizures
Daily Med: Alprazolam
NCBI: Alprazolam use and dependence. A retrospective analysis of 30 cases of withdrawal

Photo credit: atzu

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44 Responses to “Xanax withdrawal side effects
Brenda Clarke
9:05 pm March 18th, 2013

I was detoxed off Xanax in A MEDICAL FACILITY LAST WEEK. I was tapered off iwth the drug valium at 2 day inventervals, After 8 days I was released. I am now feeling just like I did before the detox. Is this normal or do I need to see a dr. asap?

5:58 am April 11th, 2013

Hello Brenda. Monitor your symptoms and call for help if you start feeling extreme anxiety, restlessness, or other Xanax withdrawal symptoms. You may have cleared the worst of the symptoms, but keep an eye out for protracted symptoms which can crop up after acute withdrawal.

Garbha
9:32 am April 18th, 2013

I have been taking xanax for 2 and a half months only – for sleep at about 1 to 1.5 mg. i am now in my second week of withdrawal and it has been horrendous. i tapered for 2 weeks, and all, but i have night time convulsions that last for about 4-5 hours, where i cannot be still at all and from my chest and gut surge these uncontrollable wave that convulse my whole body. i cannot be still at all – the only relief is continuously walking, pacing, all night long. i am wondering if anyone has any insight as to what this might be and if i should just hang in there. i am very determined not to take any benzos ever again, or any drugs for that matter. if anyone can might know from experience if this will eventually stop that would be so helpful. the hardest part is feeling like this will go on forever (already 15 days) and that i will no longer have a life – even though i am not taking these. Thank you for any advice or experience. i have heard of protracted withdrawal and wonder if that is what is happening…. it is unbearable, truly….

7:54 am April 19th, 2013

Hi Garbha. Have you consulted with your prescribing doctor or a pharmacist yet?

George
3:19 pm May 15th, 2013

I have tapered off from 2 mgs daily to .25 after a month with doctor
supervision. I am very successful with minimal withdrawal sx.
I was advised to finish with only .25 for 10 days. So far good results.

Caryn Harpring
4:56 pm February 17th, 2014

Can the side effects cause permanenet nerve or brain damage if you quit taking Xanax cold turkey without supervision from a medical professional? I am still experiencing nerve problems and my blood pressure won’t stabelize and I’m afraid of losing touch with reality again. I completely lost my mind and was living in a nightmare reality that was only in my mind. I am still scared. Please help!

3:13 pm February 18th, 2014

Hello Caryn. I’d suggest that you seek medical help from a prescribing physician or even a psychiatrist, who can assess you, diagnose the issue, treat it, and provide you with more details about the long term effects of going cold turkey off Xanax. Best of luck to you.

Caryn Harpring
4:04 pm February 23rd, 2014

I was taking about 7 mg a day of xanax, then went almost 10 days without any. During that time I had every reaction to going cold turkey. Including severe detachment from reality. Severe halutionations. I believed 100% there were people in my house trying to poison and kill me. I am now back taking xanax but only 3 mg a day. I am still experiencing nerve problems and high heart rate. Still having nightmares. Is all of this ever going to stop? Am I going to have permanent nerve damage? I don’t want to leave my house and am afraid to be around people. Just the thought of doing that causes me severe panic attacks. Can anyone help me?

Justin
7:54 pm September 21st, 2014

Is weight loss a side effect of stopping xanax?

9:51 am September 22nd, 2014

Hello Justin. When stopping Xanax, you usually loose the appetite. You’d eat far less because you no longer have the food cravings created by the benzos, which is probably responsible for the weight loss. But to put your mind at rest, you can see the doctor.

Justin
6:01 pm September 23rd, 2014

Ivana, thank you very much for your response. I have another question. I was prescibed 4mg (never abused) a day of Xanax for 5 years and wanted to stop so I went to a rapid detox for ten days and the PAWS (post acute withdrawls) are terrible. No sleep, no appetite, the worst anxiety ever and the list goes on. I am on week 4 out of detox now and they haven’t gotten any better. I really think I should have done a slow taper with my doctor. When and will this get better? I’ve been thinking about going to the dr and seeing if maybe I could get a longer acting benzo and taper down. My 45 day work release is almost up and I’m afraid of loosing my job due to the fact that I cannot focus on anything and not getting any sleep if going to effect my performance as well. I’ve tried melatonin and basically every otc for sleep that’s made and they do not help. Should I try to stay strong or go for the taper?

1:48 pm September 25th, 2014

Hello again, Justin. I really can’t tell you what’s better. It’s understandable you need to be ready and functioning for work, but you wouldn’t want to substitute one medicine for another. If you are willing to do it, you can see a doctor, make a plan, a tapering plan and follow through. On the other hand, your system has just started to return to homeostasis, and taking more benzodiazepines can prolong the healing process.

Melanie
7:19 pm May 25th, 2015

my doctor did not taper me down, no she simply CUT ME OFF!!! Im now experiencing the ABSOLUTE worst side effects. she got me on the pills 8 yrs ago and when I asked about the side effects and the possibility of addiction to this drug, “we will worry about that later”, well its later and im hating it. I’ve been unable to sleep, unable to eat and worst of all, im ready to kill my husband

justin
5:18 pm June 13th, 2015

I have been taking alprazolam for 16 yrs now. My script says to take one to two pills 3 times a day but I love had to take one full .5 in the morning and half a pill every two hrs. Just withing the last week I started developing withdrawal effect of it even though I’m still taking it. Any thoughts?

Shirl
6:28 pm June 18th, 2015

I discontinued Alprazolam cold turkey and had a stroke in my eye with permanent loss of vision. Could this be the reason?

2:12 pm June 19th, 2015

Hello Shirl. I don’t know, anything is possible. What did the doctors say?

tms
5:45 am July 15th, 2015

I was prescribed .5ml 6 months ago. I’m attempting to come off completely under doctor supervision. Started .25 last week. Headaches are the only side effect.

Lynn
3:26 am July 29th, 2015

I have been taking xanax for 6 years. Began taking 0.5 mg to help me sleep. Over the years my usage was as high as 4 mg per day. Went “partially cold turkey” by stopping completely except for one mg. at bedtime about 5 weeks ago. Had the shakes for about two weeks but since feel emotionally numb and completely apathetic. I’ve always been a worrier with anxiety and bouts of depression so this “state” that I am in now is a blessing in many ways. Things that would normally upset me or cause great anxiety mean nothing to me now. I feel more “at peace.” Not happy, not sad just existing and hope it won’t go away. I no longer hurt or feel worried all the time. I’ve been down the anti-depressant road and am not interested in doing that again. Has anyone experienced anything like this? Does anyone have an opinion on whether this is just temporary or maybe I’ve experienced some brain damage that will allow me to continue feeling this way. People say you don’t want to live your life this way, but I do…it’s far better than the alternative.

Marti
5:18 am August 4th, 2015

I’ve been taking a 0.25 pill at night to sleep for the last 2 months, how should I adjust the tapering off, I want to quit. thank you

4:16 pm August 6th, 2015

Hi Marti. Yes, tapering will be the best way to come off Xanax and least stressful for your organism too. Although your dose is not that high, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. You can be prepared by having some general over-the-counter medications at home to help you treat the symptoms as they arise. Or you can buy specific medicines as you feel the withdrawal effects.

Marti
7:03 pm August 6th, 2015

I’ve been taking Xanax for about 2 months for sleep aid. 0.25 my Dr said to take 1/2 pill 2x a day for 5 days then 1/2 pill for 5 days, then 1/2 pill every other day for 5 days…Does that sound right?

pam
8:08 pm August 8th, 2015

55 in a nursing home. Took xanax..off it for a year now back on it. I am dizzy all the time…Have a under active thyroid medication synthroid is making me dizzy. Had sinus surgery dang

melina
1:04 am September 21st, 2015

I quit cold turkey zanax….i feel much better than before when i was taking them…(for 3 years) i do have some nausea and headaches and some chills since i quit..its been 6 days since…..i dont wanna go back but please tell me how can i control these side effects and not jeopardise my life or the life of my loveones….thank you.

Maria
4:44 am September 23rd, 2015

Can u have a significant side effect from stopping alprazolam .5 mg daily?

Smrati
7:42 am September 24th, 2015

one of my relative is addict of xanax. how can we help him to come out from it? please suggest

2:28 pm October 9th, 2015

Hi Smrati. Is he willing to get help for his addiction? If not, intervention is one approach to get him to accept that there is a problem and accept treatment. Stopping Xanax abruptly is not recommended at all. The treatment program should involve gradual tapering of doses as well as therapy sessions and counseling. I’d advise you to contact our trusted treatment providers through the helpline number displayed on our page to get better informed about the treatment options fit for your relative. You can also search online for treatment centers in your area here: https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/TreatmentLocator/faces/quickSearch.jspx

Carol
11:13 pm October 20th, 2015

I stopped Xanax 3 weeks ago after years of use, I have no issues with anxiety but have had pressure in my bladder and rectum area. Wondering if this could be a side effect of stopping xanax or something related to my recent hysterectomy.
any advise is welcome

George
6:09 am November 30th, 2015

I have taken xanax for well over 10 yrs.ive had 5 seizures trying to quit.I finally detoxed .since then ive sporadically tAken them. Do and will these seizures stAy with me every time I stop?? and how much damage to my brain do they cause??

12:12 pm November 30th, 2015

Hi George. You can go to a detox clinic and go through the process under medical care to avoid bigger risks while quitting Xanax. This benzodiazepine medication is one of the hardest ones to stop, but medical staff can significantly lower the discomfort of unwanted effects. They can also use medications to prevent seizures until you are in the clear.

diane
1:28 pm January 17th, 2016

I tapered too fast and was having paranoid/ocd psychosis,will this go away.i just up dosed to before my fast taper? Only been taking for 6 weeks. Half .25 mg twice a day

Eileen
9:31 pm January 23rd, 2016

I have been taking half the regular dosage of 0.5 mg. I have cut the dosage down for the last week and haven’t taken any for 4days. I feel a little uncomfortable but I am going to start taking it again tonight because it calms me and I need it for sleep. I have been taking this for many years and take it under a des. Watch

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
8:30 pm January 24th, 2016

Hi, Eileen. Thanks for sharing. All the best!

Smckay
8:18 pm February 7th, 2016

Trying to reduce Xanax ER, should I have any side effects going from 2mg to 1.5mg ?

5:22 pm February 9th, 2016

HI Smckay. It is possible to experience mild withdrawal symptoms from lowering your dose. But, they should be gone in about a week or two.

Gary
6:08 am February 10th, 2016

I have chronic anxiety. . I’ve been on 12 mg/of Xanax/day for 16 years. I was recently rushed to the ER because of withdrawing cold turkey. I spent a week in the hospital detoxing, another 2 weeks on Xanax 1mg 2x’s/day. I’m now on 1mg of klonipin 3x’s/day. I’m still suffering from mild anxiety. I was wondering how long it would take before I start feeling normal?

oliver
1:52 pm February 25th, 2016

Hi. How long should withdrawal symptoms last? Took .5mg for about 2months. Started tapering to .25mg per day. Severe chest pains n lost of appetite, gas throughout. When will it end?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
11:58 am February 26th, 2016

Hi, Oliver. Usually, Xanax withdrawal may last anywhere from several weeks to several months. But the major withdrawal symptoms should resolve within a month. However, Xanax affects each person differently, depending on the dosage amount and frequency you’ve been prescribed as well as how long you’ve been taking Xanax. Each withdrawal period is unique.

Barbara
3:42 pm February 27th, 2016

You cannot go cold turkey, you should be under supervision. I have been on Xanax for years as high as 4. Mg and I’m withdrawing with very little side effects. You have to go down a quarter of a dose every 2 weeks or longer. I am now down to .75 mg and will wait for my body to adjust. I will get headaches and confusion, but they will stop shortly. You need to let your body tell you how slow you should go, BUT YOU CAN NOT GO DOWN FAST OR COLD TURKEY…IT IS NOT GOOD FOR YOUR BRAIN AND BODY TO DO SO!!!!!! Talk to your pharmacist at least. You might have to go up a little to calm down, and slowly withdraw again.

Kelly
8:14 pm March 2nd, 2016

Hi can someone help me with a taper plan please? I was taking .25 mg Xanax at bedtime from 11/2014 through 10/2015 and slowly got down to 0.171875 mg roughly. I would like thoughts on best way to successfully and safely finish please

Brandon
1:26 am March 3rd, 2016

I recently stop taking xanax cold turkey and after five days I had a granD Mal seizure and still waiting to see if it was not a mini stoke. Worse possible thing someone could go through. I had the stroke, or seizure and it’s been 6 days and I’m still not right in the least. During the seizure I though I was gonna die and

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
2:27 pm March 3rd, 2016

Hi, Kelly. I’d advise you to speak with a doctor or a pharmacist who can help you create an individualized tapering schedule.

ron
6:18 am April 10th, 2016

at what dose of coming off it will effect you. will 1 mg and to 1//2 mg then a quarter of a mg then can you stop cold turkey

Karen
9:18 pm August 27th, 2016

I’ve been taking Xanax for 10 years for anxiety and panic attacks. I have been suffering from depression my doctor increased the 0.5 mg to 3 x’s a day I complained of sleeping to much so he said cut the pill in half which I did but now all I do is cry! He said that is all he can do. I would like to get off of it completely I also take Wellbutrin and buspar I need help I’m always tired depressed too

Lisa
2:17 am September 1st, 2016

I’ve been taken Valium/ Xanax for 41 year due to a nervous condition I have. My Dr. told me on Monday, she was not going to refill my Xanax and didn’t give me any reason why. I am 60 years old have a lot of health issues and now I am on disability. Not sure what I need to do. Please send me some info on this. Thank you

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