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Xanax Withdrawal

Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam, which is a benzodiazepine primarily prescribed to manage the symptoms of anxiety and panic disorder. Xanax is a Schedule IV Controlled Substance, which means that it has potential for misuse, physiological dependence, and addiction. If you are dependent on or addicted to Xanax and attempt to quit, you will likely experience unpleasant and even potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Medical detox is the safest option for someone addicted to Xanax.

4 Minute Read | Published Aug 03 2023 | Updated Mar 01 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
David Levin
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
David Levin
Reviewed by

Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms

Long-term Xanax abuse or use can lead to a physiological dependence, which means your body and brain have adapted to Xanax and cannot function optimally without it. When you abruptly quit using Xanax, you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Xanax cravings
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature
  • Profound sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Agitation
  • Overactive reflexes
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Due to the risk of seizures, you should never attempt to detox from Xanax at home. Seizures can be life-threatening and require medical care at a detox facility. Aren’t sure where to find one? Call our confidential helpline at (800) 429-7690 to speak to a knowledgeable treatment support specialist.  

Xanax Withdrawal Timeline

The Xanax withdrawal timeline depends on its onset of action and length of effects. Short-acting benzodiazepines have a more rapid onset of effects, with a shorter Xanax withdrawal timeline, whereas long-acting benzodiazepines have a delayed onset and longer duration of symptoms.

Xanax is a short-acting benzodiazepine, which means its timeline may resemble below:

  • Xanax withdrawal symptoms emerge within about 24 hours.
  • Symptoms peak in intensity within 48 hours.
  • Symptoms typically dissipate within five days.

Although there is a somewhat predictable timeline for Xanax withdrawal, everyone’s symptom onset, severity, and duration will vary. Ultimately, your Xanax withdrawal timeline will depend on the following factors:

  • How much Xanax you regularly use
  • How long you’ve been using Xanax
  • Method of use (snorting or injecting can cause a more severe dependence and withdrawal syndrome)
  • Whether you mix Xanax with other substances, such as alcohol or opioids
  • The presence of co-occurring mental health or medical conditions
  • Your unique physiology
  • Whether you’ve gone previously gone through Xanax withdrawal

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

Once your acute Xanax withdrawal symptoms have dissipated, you may experience lingering symptoms called post-acute withdrawal. These symptoms may last for weeks, months, or even years after you quit using Xanax. Protracted Xanax withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Apathy
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Anxiety and panic
  • Xanax cravings
  • Sleep problems
  • Increased sensitivity to stress
  • Problems with memory, learning, and problem-solving

Xanax post-acute withdrawal symptoms are a risk factor for relapse, so it’s important that you receive the ongoing support and treatment you need to manage these symptoms and continue living a life of sobriety.

Are Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms Life-Threatening?

Yes, Xanax withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening, due to the risk of grand mal seizures. As such, you should never try to detox from Xanax on your own, without medical care. Between 20% and 30% of individuals who go through unmanaged sedative withdrawal experience a seizure.4 Without proper medical attention, seizures can be potentially fatal.

Moreover, severe Xanax withdrawal may cause tactile, visual, or auditory hallucinations, which themselves are not life-threatening but may lead to fatal consequences and accidents due to impulsivity, delirium, paranoia, and violent or aggressive behaviors.

The safest option for Xanax withdrawal is to seek an inpatient medical detox program where you will receive around-the-clock care and supervision to prevent and address any potential medical emergencies.

Find Medical Detox for Xanax Withdrawal

If you’re addicted to Xanax and want to quit, don’t do it at home. Because of the risk of seizures, you should enroll in a medical detox program where a treatment team of nurses, doctors, and therapists will supervise your Xanax withdrawal process. At a medical detox program for Xanax withdrawal, you’ll receive:

  • Emotional and psychological support throughout Xanax withdrawal
  • A supervised Xanax tapering schedule
  • Medications for symptoms
  • Supportive care, such as IV fluids and nutrients
  • Around-the-clock supervision and monitoring

It takes courage to admit that you need help, and then to take the next step toward a life of change. If you’re overwhelmed by your search for a Xanax detox program, give us a call at (800) 429-7690. One of our rehab support specialists can assist you.

Medications for Xanax Withdrawal

Currently, there are no FDA-approved medications for the management of Xanax withdrawal. But that doesn’t mean a medical detox program can’t provide you with the best care possible, designed to mitigate Xanax withdrawal symptoms and keep you safe and comfortable.

The most common method of Xanax detox is to create a tapering schedule in which you are gradually weaned off the benzodiazepine over a predetermined period of time. This will prevent unwanted withdrawal symptoms from emerging as your body slowly adjusts to the lower doses.

While the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved any medications, many treatment teams will use medications off-label for the management of symptoms. These medications include:

  • Paxil: This antidepressant may improve symptoms of depression and anxiety brought about by Xanax withdrawal.
  • Melatonin: Research suggests that this hormone may help manage insomnia and sleep disturbances during Xanax withdrawal.

Resources

bullet U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2021).
"Alprazolam."
Retrieved on October 14, 2021
bullet Drug Enforcement Administration. (n.d.)
"Drug Scheduling."
Retrieved on October 14, 2021
bullet National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018).
"Prescription CNS Depressants DrugFacts."
Retrieved on October 14, 2021
bullet American Psychiatric Association. (2013).
"Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.)."
Retrieved on October 14, 2021
bullet Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. (n.d.)
"Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS)."
Retrieved on October 14, 2021
bullet Garfinkel D, Zisapel N, Wainstein J, Laudon M. (1999).
"Facilitation of Benzodiazepine Discontinuation by Melatonin: A New Clinical Approach. Archives of Internal Medicine 159(20), 2456–2460."
Retrieved on October 14, 2021
bullet Nakao, M., Takeuchi, T., Nomura, K., Teramoto, T., & Yano, E. (2006).
"Clinical application of paroxetine for tapering benzodiazepine use in non-major-depressive outpatients visiting an internal medicine clinic. Psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, 60(5), 605–610."
Retrieved on October 14, 2021
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