How to withdraw from Xanax

The best way to withdraw from Xanax is by slowly reducing doses of alprazolam over the course of 6 weeks to 6 months. More on how to withdraw from Xanax safely here.

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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
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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