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  • Xanax (Alprazolam) Withdrawal | Symptoms, Timeline, Taper, & Detox

    man experiencing xanax withdrawal symtpoms

    Xanax is the brand name for a prescription drug called alprazolam. As a benzodiazepine or “benzo,” it can help treat anxiety disorders like panic disorder. 

    If you abuse Xanax or take it for a long period of time, you may develop a physical dependence on it. This means your body requires the drug to function normally. When you try to stop using it, you’ll likely experience benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome.

    If you or a loved one is physically dependent on Xanax, it’s important to learn about the withdrawal and detoxification process. 

    Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms

    The most common symptoms of Xanax withdrawal are:

    • headache
    • blurry vision
    • sweating
    • anxiety
    • panic attacks
    • insomnia
    • irritability
    • aggression
    • depression
    • muscle cramping or twitching
    • sensitivity to light or noise
    • altered sense of smell
    • tingling, numb, or painful hands or feet
    • uncontrollable shaking of a body part
    • vomiting
    • diarrhea
    • loss of appetite
    • weight loss
    • trouble concentrating
    • seizures

    Most of these symptoms are uncomfortable but not life-threatening. 

    However, some people experience severe seizures that can be fatal when left untreated. Others experience intense depression that leads to suicidal thoughts. To stay safe, it’s best to withdraw from Xanax under medical supervision. 

    Xanax Withdrawal Timeline

    Your experience of Xanax withdrawal will depend on personal factors such as:

    • genetics
    • age
    • how long you’ve been using Xanax 
    • how much Xanax you’ve been using
    • whether you abused Xanax or took it as prescribed

    For most people, though, Xanax withdrawal symptoms follow this general timeline:

    Early Stage

    Withdrawal symptoms typically begin within six to twelve hours after your last dose of Xanax. These early symptoms often include symptoms that Xanax is designed to treat, namely anxiety, panic attacks, and insomnia.

    Middle Stage

    Within 1 to 4 days, you’ll usually start experiencing additional withdrawal symptoms. During this time, symptoms tend to peak (reach their most severe point). 

    Late Stage

    After 5 days, your withdrawal symptoms should start to gradually fade. In general, they’ll disappear by day 14, though some symptoms persist for months or, in rare cases, years. 

    How To Taper Off Xanax

    You’re more likely to experience intense, long-lasting withdrawal symptoms if you quit Xanax suddenly (or “cold turkey”). That’s why medical professionals recommend slowly lowering your dosage instead. This process is known as tapering. 

    Your doctor will work with you to create a personalized tapering schedule. Most schedules look something like this:

    • Week 1: Stay on current dose
    • Week 2: Decrease dose by 25 percent
    • Week 3: Decrease dose by 25 percent
    • Weeks 4-8: Stay on current dose for one month
    • Week 9 and beyond: Continue decreasing dose by 25 percent until you’ve discontinued Xanax or reached your ideal dose

    To make the tapering experience as comfortable and safe as possible, you should enter a medical detox program. 

    Xanax Detox

    During medical detox, a team of health care professionals will closely monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, and other vital signs as you taper off Xanax. They may prescribe medications to ease more severe withdrawal symptoms. 

    Once you’re finished detoxing, your doctor may recommend that you attend a Xanax addiction treatment program. Available on an inpatient or outpatient basis, these programs offer services like peer support groups and mental health counseling to help you manage drug cravings and avoid relapse. If you or someone you love struggles with Xanax dependence, please reach out to an Ark Behavioral Health specialist to learn about our drug abuse and addiction treatment programs.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2023 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    PubMed: Addiction, vol. 89, no. 11 - The benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome
    U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs - Treatments for PTSD: Helping Patients Taper from Benzodiazepines
    U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Alprazolam

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on June 29, 2022
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