Xanax (alprazolam) is a widely used anti-anxiety drug. Doctors prescribe it to patients struggling with insomnia and mental health problems such as worry, panic attacks, and PTSD.
Xanax does a lot for people in acute need, but is not intended for long-term use. Long-term use of benzodiazepines like Xanax can potentially lead to problems with addiction and withdrawal...
Withdrawal from Xanax isn’t as easy as some think. Depending on your dose and the frequency with which you use Xanax, your withdrawal experience can range from uncomfortable to real Really unpleasant.
It can also be medically serious. If you’ve taken Xanax several times a day, quitting will require time, patience, and determination.
The only safe way to stop is to slowly decrease the dose, as directed by your doctor.
Quitting a cold turkey can lead to extreme and dangerous withdrawal symptoms, including delirium and grand mal seizures.
That’s not a risk you want to take. Delirium is a condition that involves temporary, abrupt changes in perception and behavior that are characterized by restlessness and disorientation. A grand mal seizure (also known as a tonic-clonic seizure) involves violent muscle contractions and loss of consciousness.
If you’ve taken your Xanax prescription exactly as your doctor prescribed, it may come as a surprise to find you are facing a withdrawal experience.
Xanax does not discriminate. If you take enough of it for more than a few weeks, you will develop physical addiction. Once you become physiologically dependent on a drug, withdrawal symptoms will occur if you cancel or reduce the dose.
As you reduce your dose, you may experience anxiety and agitation. People suffer from physical and mental ailments to varying degrees. For example, you may experience unusual sensations, such as crawling out of your skin, as well as feelings of restlessness and irritation.
In 2017, doctors wrote nearly 45 million prescriptions for alprazolam (Xanax)..Reckless prescribing practices have contributed to thousands of addiction and abuse cases.
Research shows that in 2018 an estimated 5.4 million people over the age of 12 abused prescription benzodiazepines such as Xanax...
Signs and symptoms
The signs and symptoms of Xanax withdrawal vary a little from person to person. Research shows that around 40% of people who take benzodiazepines for more than six months experience moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms..The remaining 60% can expect milder symptoms.
Most people who leave Xanax will experience a brief surge in their anxiety levels. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may experience levels of anxiety that are worse than pre-treatment levels. It is common for you to feel jittery, jittery, and nervous during your rejuvenation.
The experience of retreat
Many people experience irritability and restlessness, which can lead to problems at home, at work, or at school. You could easily get upset or angry with family or friends. You may experience mood swings or depression.
Insomnia is another common symptom of Xanax withdrawal. Insomnia can be both mentally and physically stressful and lead to feelings of anxiety and restlessness.
Symptoms can and do occur during your Xanax rejuvenation. Physical symptoms such as headache, muscle pain or hand tremors can occur in different places.
Possible withdrawal symptoms
Feelings of unreality
Symptoms of Xanax withdrawal usually appear within 8 to 12 hours of your last dose..If you don’t reduce your dose, your withdrawal symptoms will become more intense. The withdrawal is generally worst on the second day and improves on the fourth or fifth day. However, acute symptoms can last significantly longer.
Unfortunately for some people that is not the end.
It is estimated that around 10 to 25% of long-term benzodiazepine users experience what is known as protracted withdrawal...
Long-term withdrawal is a prolonged experience of withdrawal that is characterized by waves of mild psychological symptoms that occur and occur over several months. Longer Xanax withdrawal can take up to a year.
Coping & Relief
The best way to avoid difficult withdrawal is to slowly reduce your dose of Xanax. Tapering means taking smaller and smaller doses over several weeks. It is not recommended to rejuvenate yourself without your prescribing doctor’s support and recommendations.
Xanax is a short-acting drug, which means your body metabolizes it very quickly. Rejuvenating Xanax is challenging as the amount of medication in your system goes up and down. To avoid these peaks and valleys, doctors often switch you from Xanax to a long-acting benzodiazepine like diazepam...
Switching from short-acting Xanax to its longer-acting cousin, Diazepam, makes it easier for you to quit. Once you are stabilized with a dose of diazepam, your doctor will help you gradually taper a little. This will give your mind and body time to adjust to life without Xanax.
If you experience breakthrough symptoms on the reduced dose, your doctor may stop or extend your taper. It is up to you and your doctor to find the best schedule for your individual needs.
Relief from breakthrough withdrawal symptoms
- Herbal sleep aids (valerian root, chamomile)
Cognitive behavioral therapy (research on the effectiveness of CBT after three months is mixed)..
- Mindfulness practice
- Melatonin ..
Seizures can occur in some people who are untreated with withdrawal from these substances..Unlike many other withdrawal syndromes, benzodiazepine withdrawal can be complicated and at times life-threatening.
If you have been diagnosed with a history of serious mental illness such as panic disorder, PTSD, bipolar disorder, or borderline personality disorder, great caution should be exercised when exiting Xanax. In such cases, the help of your doctor is invaluable. It can be difficult to predict which dormant symptoms, if any, may return when Xanax is removed from the equation.
People with a history of complicated withdrawal syndromes and people with underlying health problems should also work closely with their doctor. Xanax withdrawal carries the risk of seizures..Elderly people and people with cognitive decline should also work closely with a doctor as there are special risks.
If you are planning on or have become pregnant, be sure to discuss your options with your prescribing doctor and gynecologist about the risks and benefits of continuation versus tapered benzodiazepines.
Some women continue to take benzodiazepines during their pregnancy, while others follow a dose reduction schedule...
If you got your Xanax illegally, you can still work with a doctor to reduce your dose. First, visit a family doctor or emergency center and let them know that you are in or planning to be in benzodiazepine withdrawal. If you don’t have insurance, go to a community health center.
If for any reason you are concerned about the risks associated with Xanax rejuvenation, discuss these concerns with a doctor. They may be better suited for inpatient detox. While inpatient treatments tend to be more expensive, many insurance plans cover them.
When it comes to long-term benzodiazepine treatment, there are two options. Research shows that most stable, healthy adults achieve long-term abstinence after completing rejuvenation.
The key to achieving this goal is to stick to the tapered schedule until the end. At the end of your rejuvenation, you might cut pills in halves or quarters.
Some people may be better suited to a harm reduction approach where rejuvenation results in a maintenance dose rather than abstinence.
When you’re ready to stop Xanax, you must meet with your prescribing doctor. If you don’t have a regular doctor, first make an appointment with a family doctor, psychiatrist, or local health clinic.
You can find a doctor by searching your insurance company’s list of insured providers. Alternatively, you can find a free community health clinic using this searchable U.S. Department of Health database.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Agency’s National Helpline (SAMHSA) at 1-800-662-4357 Information about support and treatment facilities in your area.
Additional mental health resources can be found in our National Helpline Database.
A word from Verywell
Quitting Xanax takes time, patience, and determination. If you have been using it for more than a few months, it can be difficult to quit. There will be days when you will want to give up and give in. But with medical supervision and support, you can be successful. In the long run, the health benefits to you will be substantial.