The following list of Xanax withdrawal symptoms comes from both independent and drug manufacturers’ research, and may not be a complete list due to gaps in reporting between clinical and non-clinical settings.1,4,8,30,31
Xanax withdrawal symptoms include the following:
Seizures, grand mal seizures
Drug cravings (physiological/psychological dependence)
Anxiety, panic attacks
Muscle pain, cramping, weakness in the muscles, stiffness
Nausea, vomiting, dry-retching
Mood changes, depression, crying spells
Special Note on Symptoms Experienced During Xanax Withdrawal
If coming off Xanax has caused other withdrawal symptoms not listed here, you are invited to make a voluntary medical report online to FDA’s Medwatch site, which may be useful to others in the future.
WARNING: Never stop using benzodiazepine drugs suddenly. A person can ease withdrawals by gradually reducing the dosage over time, instead of stopping all at once, especially for rapidly acting benzodiazepines such as Xanax.6,7-10
Xanax withdrawal gets the best outcomes when done slowly and gradually, with adequate support in place. Unfortunately, detox facilities using a short timeline for treatment may miss the mark, which can make the process more difficult than necessary, with more discomfort than any patient would want.
Xanax withdrawal can cause harsh reactions that are extremely difficult to tolerate. Clinics should not handle benzodiazepine withdrawal like other types of drugs. The strategy for eliminating benzodiazepines needs to be precise, and very gradual. Find out more about effective holistic support for inpatient Xanax withdrawal at Alternative to Meds Center.
Do Your Symptoms Require Xanax?
Alternative to Meds has been the expert on benzodiazepine withdrawal for nearly 20 years. We have published evidence regarding our success. While some CAN transition from benzodiazepines rather easily, many people will require a much more nuanced path back to a state of ease. For instance, neurotoxicity can result in constant CNS overdrive that can create some pretty torturous effects. At the center, we clean up that neurotoxic burden as a preparatory step for withdrawal. Truly, every person is different and we give each client a thorough investigative and step-by-step process.
You are likely well aware of the horrors of Xanax — the anxiety, the increasing doses, the life of true confusion, and panic. Trying to live life on benzos can be punishing, and getting off of them can seem impossible. We know. That was us. Please watch the videos you see here or call us today. There is hope for your situation.
Watch as our founder, Lyle Murphy, discusses some of the most popular questions regarding Xanax withdrawal and how to mitigate harsh Xanax withdrawal symptoms. Topics include neuroadaptation, a pragmatic approach to cross-tapering, drug-free interventions for panic attacks, and the importance of diet modification and clearing out neurotoxins for a full recovery. We hope you find the following information helpful on your journey to natural mental health. Enjoy!
15 Years Experience by Professionals Who Understand Your Journey.
Yes. Studies show that Xanax withdrawal can cause a particularly harsh profile of rebound anxiety.
Xanax rebound symptoms cause more extreme discomfort, compared to other benzodiazepines.
Researchers have published many studies that outline the difficulties with drug treatment, and the consequences of Xanax and benzodiazepine withdrawal when done too fast. A selection of such studies is found below.
Studies Outline Difficulties in Drug Treatment and Withdrawal
One study published in 2018 showed after a 4-week withdrawal schedule, 15 out of 17 participants who had been treated with Xanax for panic disorder experienced increased panic attacks, and 9 of the 17 also experienced newly emerging withdrawal symptoms like insomnia, malaise, dizziness, and tachycardia (racing heart rate at rest).25
Another study published in the 1990 Journal of Clinical Psychiatry followed its participants who were diagnosed with combat-induced PTSD. In the study, they were treated with Xanax, and then the drug was withdrawn. Subsequent to an 8-week-long Xanax withdrawal, all 8 reported worsening anxiety, rage reactions, hypersensitivity, intrusive thoughts, newly emerging insomnia, sleep disturbances, and nightmares. Of significant concern, 6 of the 8 participants in the study experienced homicidal ideation. During or post Xanax withdrawal, 4 of the 8 experienced suicidal ideation, and 7 of the 8 reported increased irritability and other undesirable adverse effects persisting after the 8-week Xanax withdrawal process.29 According to the aforementioned study, delirium, and psychosis are more frequently reported during Xanax withdrawal compared to other benzodiazepines.25
More Studies Reveal Surprising Results
The 1987 American Journal of Psychiatry reported that only 4 of 17 participants in a Xanax withdrawal study could complete their withdrawal as scheduled, that is within 4-5 weeks, and only 4 more could complete it within 7 to 13 weeks. Of the 17 participants, Xanax withdrawal induced 15 participants to experience increased panic symptoms, and 9 participants reported newly-emerging withdrawal symptoms such as weakness, insomnia, malaise, lightheadedness, tachycardia, and others.27
A study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry documented similar findings one year later in a 4-week-long Xanax withdrawal trial. In this placebo-controlled trial, half of the 126 participants (all with panic disorders) took Xanax for 8 weeks, and half were given a placebo. After a 4-week withdrawal, 27% of the medication group experienced a rebound of anxiety and panic attacks. The placebo group experienced no change in their baseline symptoms. The study recommended patients being treated for panic disorder with Xanax be withdrawn over 6 months to avoid significant relapse of anxiety, panic attacks, and agoraphobia symptoms.26
What is Xanax?
Regulators classify Xanax as a benzodiazepine and tranquilizer. The FDA approved Xanax to be used as a sedative to treat anxiety and panic disorders.1 Drugmakers created both an immediate and a delayed-release version. Doctors often prescribe benzodiazepines longer than recommended by health authorities, putting consumers at higher risk of dependence. According to the Heather Ashton guidelines, a person should take benzodiazepines for a few days to a few weeks at the most. These guidelines also suggest that Xanax withdrawal need not be traumatic if done correctly and with individual support care in place.2
We provide more information below, on the most frequently requested topics concerning Xanax and Xanax withdrawal. Always do your best to research before starting or stopping Xanax or other medications.
What is Xanax (alprazolam) Used for?
Xanax suppresses the central nervous system and prescribers give it to treat anxiety or panic disorders. If you suffer from anxiety and/or panic attacks, there are studies showing how methods of controlled breathing, exercise, yoga, and other nonpharmacological interventions can be highly effective, for example, turning off a panic attack or reducing their frequency without drugs.35,36
CAUTION: Just as you would not drink and drive, Xanax’s dampening effects on alertness and cognitive function make driving or operating machinery inadvisable while under the influence of Xanax.
Xanax — Generic, Brand, and Slang Names
Xanax is the brand or trade name given to the generic drug, alprazolam. Other brand names are used in the US including Gabazolamine-05 and Niravam.
Xanax has developed a presence as a street drug. People can purchase it on the street for as little as $5 per pill. Its popularity is possibly due to its sedative effects and pleasurable sensation of mild euphoria. According to the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, numerous street names have evolved, including bricks, footballs, bars, zanbars, and others.3
FDA Recommendations for Xanax Withdrawal
Quitting Xanax or any benzodiazepine drug abruptly can be deadly. A gradual reduction, the FDA’s recommended approach, can lessen these severe and potentially life-threatening Xanax withdrawal symptoms. Several factors can affect the timeline of your withdrawal including how long you have used Xanax, how high the dosage is, general health, age, and even some genetic factors that may affect the rate of clearing from the body.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Xanax withdrawal symptoms and Xanax adverse effects have many similarities which may cause some physicians unfamiliar with Xanax withdrawals to misdiagnose the ups and downs that can occur during Xanax withdrawals. An incorrect diagnosis may be given, either thinking the patient has relapsed, or some newly emerging mental disorder has occurred, leading to further errors and complications in treatment.34
There are several safety warnings on Xanax packaging.
Xanax combined with opioids can produce profound sedation, suppressed respiration, coma & death.
Xanax use carries a high risk of abuse and drug dependence
Because of the risk of dependence after continued use, and due to the very short half-life7 of alprazolam, sudden Xanax withdrawal should not be attempted due to the risk of acute withdrawals which can be severely uncomfortable, and potentially life-threatening.
Driving or operating heavy machinery is not recommended due to drowsiness, confusion, blurry vision, and others.
Xanax Withdrawal FAQs
Below are some of the questions we receive most frequently about Xanax withdrawal, including safety, health risks, mechanisms of action in the brain, and other important subjects of interest. We highly recommend that a person learn as much as possible about a drug before starting or stopping a prescription.
How Does Xanax (alprazolam) Work?
Drug makers and regulators state they do not know the exact mechanics of action of benzodiazepines. Drug lab and other research projects suggest that benzodiazepine drugs likely activate GABA, a naturally occurring neurotransmitter, which has a sedating or inhibitory effect on the central nervous system.
Regulators stipulate a person should take Xanax and other benzodiazepines for no more than 2 to 4 weeks. Unfortunately, many people take benzodiazepines far longer. Paradoxically, long-term use can exacerbate anxiety rather than control or reduce it. This worsened anxiety may be a significant driver for continuing to take Xanax for much longer than the recommended short-term time frame. A person may become more and more desperate as their symptoms spiral out of control 24
Xanax alters how natural brain chemicals work. After a short time, the body can become used to these effects and will need some time to adjust to stepped-down doses. If not done correctly, cravings and heightened desire for the drug can sabotage the attempt.11
Can You Overdose on Xanax?
Yes. Emergency clinics and hospitals cite benzodiazepines as the frequent cause in drug overdose deaths. This is especially prevalent if benzodiazepines were taken in combination with other CNS depressants such as opiates or alcohol. Even taking histamines obtained over the counter concurrently with a benzo can cause severe reactions, requiring immediate emergency intervention to prevent coma or death.12,37
Symptoms of Xanax overdose include slowed breathing, slow heart rate, blue color in the lips or face, confusion, weakness or loss of muscle control, slurred speech, loss of consciousness, and death.
Why are Benzodiazepine Drugs High-Risk Medications?
Xanax has a high risk for dependence, especially when taken for more than several weeks.13
After dependence sets in, abrupt Xanax withdrawal can produce severe withdrawal symptoms, sometimes deadly in their effect.
As with all short-acting sleep aids, by the morning, their sedating effects will have worn off. One of the considered factors regarding Xanax is that it is short-acting. If someone takes Xanax at night, it can be that by morning they are no longer feeling the sedating effects, and, in addition, the person may be troubled by worsened daytime anxiety.
A prescriber may initiate additional daytime dosing to mitigate these manifestations. This can cause a situation where the patient is taking the medication 3 or more times each day as well as at night but with no resolution in sight to their recurring symptoms.
Always seek competent medical guidance and advice when it comes to the time that stopping Xanax is desired.
Are Benzodiazepines Controlled Substances?
Yes. Government regulators classify benzodiazepines as Schedule IV drugs. Schedule IV drugs are considered habit-forming but are also considered to have valid uses in treating certain medical or psychiatric conditions.14
How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System?
Xanax is a relatively short-acting benzodiazepine compared to other drugs in this class. However, urine tests will show the drug present for up to 7 days after taking Xanax.15 Saliva tests will test positive for between 2 and 3 days, and a blood test will be reliably read up to about 6 days.
Xanax, or generic alprazolam, has a half-life of approximately 12 hours, with many factors that can shorten or lengthen that time frame. Some factors can increase or decrease a drug’s half-life, including liver health, age, diet, and certain genetic factors affecting metabolization. These factors affect the onset of withdrawals and must be well-considered during Xanax withdrawal.
Can Xanax Damage the Liver or Kidneys?
The FDA warnings on the drug’s label state that those with impaired renal or hepatic function should avoid taking Xanax or any product containing alprazolam. These impairments can cause the drug to build up in the system excessively, due to the inability of the drug to be broken down or metabolized quickly.2,5
In general, the length of time taking Xanax increases the the toxic impairments attributed to benzodiazepines. Such impairments may slowly reverse after stopping, although some damages appear to be permanent.33
Discuss any known kidney or liver damage with your prescribing physician and ensure these issues are medically monitored before starting a prescription of Xanax or embarking on Xanax withdrawal, or other medications.
Research has not found yet exactly what causes dementia. However, studies have associated certain environmental factors including lifestyle and genetics, as possible contributors. Doctors primarily diagnose the condition in elderly populations, but also in younger-onset dementia, though the medical literature reports the latter as rare. Symptoms of dementia include cognitive impairment, memory loss, confusion, and personality changes. There is some consideration that heredity may play a part in this disorder.
A liability of Xanax is that it can cause symptoms similar to dementia. Doctors frequently prescribe Xanax to the elderly. So far, researchers have not concluded whether Xanax causes dementia or whether it causes a similar set of symptoms that may be unrelated to genetics and heredity factors.20
Xanax can cause amnesia and retrograde amnesia, which may pass after Xanax withdrawal, though it may take considerable time.3,4
FDA Guidance on Xanax Prescriptions
The FDA recommends that for day-to-day stress or tension, such as workplace stress, family discord, or other challenges, benzodiazepines should not casually be prescribedin these cases.2
However, the Top 300 Drug Stats Report for 2021 revealed that Xanax ranked at #37 of the top 300 most prescribed drugs in the US. More Xanax prescriptions were written than for Oxycodone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid) and Penicillin combined.21 Deaths due to benzodiazepines rose from 1000 per year in 1999 to roughly 9,000 per year in 2019. In 30% of these deaths, doctors prescribed benzodiazepines concurrently with opioid medications, a potentially lethal combination. Tragically, opioids combined with benzodiazepines resulted in 85% of benzodiazepine overdose deaths. And despite recommendations for short-term use only, the CDC reports that doctors prescribe Xanax for much longer periods. According to CDC’s report from August 2021, from April 2019 to April 2020, prescribed benzodiazepines caused deaths at an increased rate of 21%. And, illicit benzodiazepines caused a rise in deaths by a staggering 520%.21,22
Comprehensive Treatment for Xanax Withdrawal at Alternative to Meds Center
At Alternative to Meds Center, we specialize in safe Xanax withdrawal treatments. Another pillar of treatment of equal or even greater importance is to provide the testing and therapies that can relieve symptoms for which prescription drugs may have been prescribed in the first place.
The Alternative to Meds program uses investigative lab testing to detect accumulated toxins. The client’s program includes removing toxins from the body in safe, gentle ways. Commonly, toxin accumulations can cause symptoms like anxiety and insomnia. This phenomenon is especially troublesome in our industrialized world. Physicians commonly overlook toxic exposure. Toxicity can cause illnesses that mimic psychiatric disorders. Environmental medicine informs us that pollutants, including pesticides, food additives, and heavy metals, do have the capacity to damage and interfere with normal healthy hormones. Toxic accumulations can also impair reproductive systems, neurochemistry, and other innumerable parts of the complex human body. It is truly unfortunate for many that attention has not been given to toxicity. As a result, toxins have been largely ignored in mental health treatment.23 Clearing these toxins from the body is a positive and in many cases necessary step. Cleansing is highly beneficial to restore natural mental health and long-term success.
Contact Alternative to Meds Center for Guidance
Holistic detox at Alternative to Meds Center is not what typical drug rehabs deliver. We can help those who have found limited or no success in drug-based treatments or failed attempts at discontinuing Xanax. We assist persons who wish to discontinue Xanax in a comfortable, safe, and gradual manner. Clients here find relief from original symptoms, as well as those induced by benzodiazepine use or improper Xanax withdrawal in the past.
We invite you to contact us at Alternative to Meds Center if you are struggling with dependence issues. You may be interested in holistic answers using safe, healthy, restorative protocols. We are happy to provide more detailed information on gradual and comfortable Xanax withdrawal by calling our comfortable residential facility in Sedona, Arizona directly.
12. Kang M, Galuska MA, Ghassemzadeh S. Benzodiazepine Toxicity. [Updated 2021 Jul 1]. In: StatPearls Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482238/ [cited 2023 May 24]
This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.
Dr. Michael Loes, M.D.
Dr. Michael Loes is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Pain Management and Addiction Medicine. He holds a dual license in Homeopathic and Integrative Medicine. He obtained his medical doctorate at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 1978. Dr. Loes performed an externship at the National Institute of Health for Psychopharmacology. Additionally, he is a well-published author including Arthritis: The Doctor’s Cure, The Aspirin Alternative, The Healing Response, and Spirit Driven Health: The Psalmist’s Guide for Recovery. He has been awarded the Minnesota Medical Foundation’s “Excellence in Research” Award.
Diane is an avid supporter and researcher of natural mental health strategies. Diane received her medical writing and science communication certification through Stanford University and has published over 3 million words on the topics of holistic health, addiction, recovery, and alternative medicine. She has proudly worked with the Alternative to Meds Center since its inception and is grateful for the opportunity to help the founding members develop this world-class center that has helped so many thousands regain natural mental health.
Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.
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