Is it Dangerous to Quit Xanax?

Xanax withdrawal is accompanied by very unpleasant symptoms which can become dangerous if you try to come off this benzodiazepine cold turkey. Xanax withdrawal is even more dangerous when done at home without medical assistance. Read more about safe alternatives to quitting Xanax here.

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ARTICLE SUMMARY: Yes, it can be dangerous to quit Xanax. DO NOT try to stop on your own or go “cold turkey”. The safest way to quit Xanax is under medical supervision with a doctor experienced in benzodiazepine withdrawal. Detox protocols include tapering doses and gradually weaning off.



The Need for Help

If you are taking Xanax for longer than 2 weeks you will need to look for professional help in order to quit. Physical dependence occurs after this time and tolerance to Xanax can build up only after 2 to 3 weeks of use . So, when you feel like this medication no longer produces its effects and you need to increase the dose to be able to perform your day-to-day activities, seek medical help.

Xanax withdrawal can be fatal if it’s not carefully monitored. Read on to learn more about what Xanax withdrawal looks like and what to expect. Plus, we’ll review how to stop taking Xanax safely. We discuss these issues here and invite your questions about quitting Xanax at the end.

How Addictive Is Xanax?

Xanax is prescribed for the moderation of several health issues such as:

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Depression
  • Panic disorders

However, Xanax can be extremely addictive when used long-term. However, its addictive potential is down-played. Xanax – like other benzodiazepines – is still a Schedule IV drug under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA).

Because of the rapid growth of abuse and harm associated with Xanax, The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) of Australia rescheduled Xanax from a schedule IV to a schedule VIII controlled drug. Medicines on schedule VIII have an additional layer of monitoring and control to support quality prescribing and reduce drug dependence and diversion. According to this article published in the Guardian, studies conducted by the University of New South Wales prescriptions for Xanax dropped by 22% in the first 12 months since the tighter regulations were introduced.

What Makes Quitting So Hard?

Xanax is the brand name for a benzodiazepine medication that contains alprazolam. Xanax has a short half- life. This means that your body will metabolize a Xanax pill in about 6 to 12 hours after you take it. As opposed to other antidepressants, which require days or weeks to turn down brain anxiety, Xanax and other benzodiazepines produce quick relief of symptoms.

After only 2 (two) weeks of repeated use, your brain chemistry will become adjusted to Xanax, a state known as “physical dependence”. Over a short mount of time, Xanax tolerance will require dose adjustments, meaning you’ll need more Xanax to be able to relieve your anxiety and depression.

If you do not report Xanax tolerance to your doctor and continue to use it, you risk developing addiction extremely quickly. Once you’ve become addicted to Xanax it will be very hard to stop without medical help. The painful and dangerous withdrawal symptoms are the main reason which make Xanax hard to quit.

What Makes Quitting So Dangerous?

Quitting Xanax on your own, abruptly, or without medical supervision can be dangerous.


Because these methods of discontinuation carry a high risk for relapse and, in some situations, quitting Xanax on your own can be deadly or fatal. To repeat, quitting alprazolam cold turkey, without doctor’s clearance, or under medical supervision are considered dangerous methods of withdrawal. These methods of discontinuation are NOT recommended.

1. Cold turkey Xanax

Going cold turkey off Xanax means quitting this medication abruptly with no weaning period and no professional assistance. If you think you can stop using Xanax just as easily as you began taking it, then you are wrong. It is not advised to go cold turkey on Xanax due to the serious health risks of withdrawal.

2. Stopping Xanax without medical supervision.

When not performed under the supervision of a licensed medical professional in a safe environment, Xanax withdrawal can be dangerous. Slowly dose tapering to reduce the amount of Xanax in your body can minimize the chances of life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

3. Lowering doses of Xanax suddenly and abruptly.

Withdrawal symptoms are most severe when a high dose of Xanax is abruptly discontinued. NEVER try to regulate Xanax doses on your own. Any attempts to lower Xanax doses abruptly can result in: panic attacks, raise in blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, confusion, hallucinations and even seizures which can lead to death.


Xanax withdrawal symptoms that have been reported by people include:

  • Aggressive behaviors.
  • Anxiety.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Death resulting from suicide or other health complications.
  • Depression.
  • Intense sweating.
  • Nervous feelings.
  • Seizures.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Weight loss.
  • Uncontrollable shaking.
  • Muscle pain and stiffness.

Medical Detox

Regardless of how challenging Xanax withdrawal may feel, a properly managed medical detox in combination with a residential treatment and pharmacotherapy can help you quit Xanax for good. The following ways of Xanax discontinuation are considered safe and effective.

1. Quitting Xanax under medical supervision.

Coming off Xanax at home with a doctor’s clearance is only recommended for less severe cases of physical dependence. This method means you’ll detox from Xanax at home following doctor’s guidance and using pharmacotherapy to ease withdrawal discomfort.

However, since Xanax has a specific detox procedure followed by intense withdrawal it’s best to go through it in a safe and controlled environment instead of doing it at home. This way of discontinuation includes following a structured tapering regimen and drug screening before and after you quit to compare treatment progress.

2. Tapering Xanax.

Tapering Xanax includes a gradual reduction of doses before quitting completely. This is a longer lasting process than cold turkey, but a far safer one. Tapering plans are unique for each individual, so this means that if you decide to come down from Xanax by this method, you’ll create your own tapering plan in accordance with your doctor. The dynamics of the tapering will be tailored to your own individual needs.

3. Xanax detox clinics.

Getting through the physical effects of Xanax is the initial stage of treating a possible addiction problem. Xanax detox can be difficult, but with the support and care of medical staff at detox clinics the process is much more streamlined. Medically assisted detox is a supervised weaning of Xanax, using substitute medications to treat withdrawal symptoms. Klonopin and Tegretol are most commonly used to help you with Xanax withdrawal difficulties.

  • Klonopin (clonazepam) is prescribed to regulate anxiety, insomnia and panic attacks.
  • Tegretol (carbamazepine) is prescribed to help you deal with the emotional symptoms during Xanax withdrawal.

4. Pisslbe inpatient Xanax treatment.

Inpatient addiction treatment is usually the next stage after detox. Some residential facilities provide detox as part of their services. If you are facing Xanax addiction problems, residential treatment centers will help you quit Xanax during the course of a 30-60-90 DAY or longer treatment stay. Residential treatment provides you with a better chance of reaching long-term recovery and staying healthy.

Your Questions

Still have questions about difficulties during Xanax discontinuation? Please send them to us through the comments section below. We try to answer your questions personally and promptly, and in case we do not know the answer to your particular question, we will refer you to someone who does.

Reference Sources: DEA: Drug Schedules
The Guardian: Xanax restrictions have significantly cut its use in Australia, study finds
CNN: What are the long-term brain effects of Xanax?
Novus Detox: Xanax: The Dangerous Benzodiazepine
American Addiction Centers: The Dangers of Quitting Xanax Cold Turkey
Acadiana Addiction: Xanax Abuse & Addiction Signs, Effects & Symptoms
Addiction Center: Xanax Withdrawal and Detox
Addiction: I Love to Know: Medications to Help Xanax Addiction
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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