The art of Xanax tapering can elude even licensed professionals, let alone the person who is suffering through the process.
We have an 87.5% long-term success rate at getting people off of benzodiazepines like Xanax and still managing their anxiety, inability to sleep and other symptoms.
We are truly Benzo experts….
Our Xanax cessation program is solidly founded upon two main goals: one is how to get off Xanax or alprazolam gradually and safely, and use natural Xanax alternatives to avoid being left with debilitating side effects.
The other primary goal for helping our clients getting off Xanax is to discover and treat (reduce, eliminate, fix, repair) root causes for the original symptoms that led to starting the prescription in the first place. This is what we call “natural mental health” improvement.
There is a lot of information that can be retrieved on the benzodiazepine class of drugs, including how to get off Xanax (alprazolam). For anyone who is or has been trying to quit Xanax or other similar drugs, this short article is only meant to be a quick summary of some of the most important key points on the subject. Much more research is available regarding getting off Xanax safely and gently. Please contact us if we can help in this regard.
If a person could reduce or entirely eliminate such symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, etc., without relying on prescription drugs, it is likely that a significant percentage of both patients and doctors would have chosen an appropriate and effective non-drug-therapy over pharmaceutical medications. Most people would never decide to begin taking a drug that is so troublesome as stopping Xanax can be. It is true that benzodiazepines are able to dampen troublesome anxiety or insomnia for a brief period, but inevitably these symptoms can return and sometimes with a vengeance even though one may have been directed to continue to take the drug.
However, in addition to the original symptoms returning, likely side effects from Xanax or alprazolam may also begin to emerge as well. It is at this point that Xanax tapering would be timely. However, due to the largely inadequate training that medical doctors receive, the more usual response to “treat” side effects is to increase the dosage, or to attempt switching to or even adding additional drugs to see if that “works better”. The consequence of events can be quite unpredictable at this juncture, but the most typical reasons for giving their patients this advice is to “prevent a relapse”. There seems to be little recognition of the liability of benzodiazepine side effects, and the problem of tolerance, meaning the reduced efficacy that benzos provide when taken past a few weeks’ time. More information on these two important subjects can be found below and could be of great interest and importance to any person or their loved one who may be looking at Xanax tapering for relief. For those who enroll in our program, the clients receive a thorough educational component on how benzodiazepines and other drugs affect the CNS, and how diet, nutrition and rebuilding healthy neurochemistry is key to recovery.
Tolerance – Special Cautions Re Trying to Quit Xanax or Alprazolam
As early as 1988, the British Association of Pharmacology issued warnings against using benzodiazepines for acute insomnia or disabling anxiety for longer than 2 to 4 weeks. (1). This was based on several safety studies that concluded when benzodiazepines are so prescribed, they should be given only in the lowest dose possible and only for 2 to 4 weeks at the absolute maximum. This was because tolerance tends to build up so quickly, which typically results in new symptoms emerging and original symptoms returning and often intensifying.
These recommendations were reiterated in 2014 and published in other guidelines that indicated that benzodiazepines prescribed for acute insomnia or disabling anxiety should be considered a “one-off” and the 2 to 4 week period includes tapering the drug, such as Xanax tapering, quickly reducing it to zero. While this is much preferable to taking benzos for 20 years and then being unable to stop taking them easily, it remains that even after such a short time as 4 weeks, withdrawal from Xanax can be extremely difficult to tolerate, especially when getting off Xanax is attempted quickly. It may take longer than a few days or a week to be able to achieve tolerable and successful Xanax tapering results.
The study also concluded that benzodiazepines should not be used at all in treatment for mild anxiety or long-term insomnia. While the drug can suppress or mask symptoms, benzodiazepines can in no way be considered curative agents. And after stopping Xanax, or other benzos, the symptoms will commonly return, sometimes referred to as “having a relapse”.
Therefore, it seems likely that some people could have been prescribed benzodiazepines in error, and perhaps the drugs were taken for much longer periods of time than the guidelines stipulate. If so, trying to quit Xanax or similar drugs may have devolved into quite a complex issue. In fact, this is probably closer to the “norm” in the US rather than the exception, as most US doctors seem to be surprisingly unaware of these cautions and safety studies and guidelines. This, unfortunately, may have left many patients in a position of inadvertent drug dependence or addiction, in a position of trying to avoid harsh and intolerable withdrawal effects from stopping Xanax. Yet, very little help or information is available for a person about how to get off Xanax or similar medications.
Finding and Treating Root Causes
Benzodiazepines are typically prescribed for a number of reasons. These are:
- short term treatment of anxiety
- short term treatment of insomnia
- pre-surgical use (one-time only)
- alcohol withdrawal ( 1-5 days to prevent seizure)
For anxiety and insomnia, there may have been a missed opportunity to delve into root causes before simply offering the patient a prescription to benzodiazepines. For instance, did you know that Cambridge University published a study in 2018 that outlines a relationship between gut bacteria, anxiety and depression? (2)
Did you know that a dysfunctional thyroid as well as cardiovascular health issues, a body that has accumulated toxins, and food allergies can also lead to anxiety? (3)
There are many biological, genetic, dietary, and toxic issues that can be physically tested and then treated and if these are causing a person’s stress and anxiety, then the treatment of the underlying cause will be the answer to anxiety issues. These and other areas must be checked if a person is to enjoy a thorough diagnosis of what is causing their anxiety or insomnia. That will open the door to reducing or entirely eliminating the symptoms, as well as reducing or eliminating the need to take anti-anxiety benzodiazepines or other masking drugs. This is one of the goals of our program.
To Find Out More About the Xanax Tapering Program at Alternative to Meds
If you or your loved one have found yourself in the difficult position of being desirous of getting off Xanax or alprazolam, yet perhaps feeling trapped and frustrated and possibly not knowing exactly how to proceed. Do not despair. Please feel free to contact us At the Alternative to Meds Center. We have been helping our clients complete their Xanax tapering programs with remarkable success and significant improvements in natural mental health for over fifteen years now.
(1) PDF entitled “Guidance on the use and reduction of misuse of benzodiazepines and other hypnotics and anxiolytics in general practice.” by Chris Ford and Fergus Law, published July 2014, accessed December 3, 2019.
(2) Cambridge University Study, “Gut-brain actions underlying comorbid anxiety and depression associated with inflammatory bowel disease”, published in October 2018 and online: accessed December 3, 2019.
(3) Article entitled, “Seven Underlying Health Problems that Could Be Causing Your Anxiety”, author Amy Myers MD, accessed December 3, 2019.
Dr. Samuel Lee
Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente. He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.