Quitting Xanax cold turkey can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms including intense anxiety, psychosis, and seizures. To protect yourself, you need to taper off usage slowly. Ideally, you should work with a doctor.

Wondering how to taper off Xanax slowly and safely? Keep reading for a look at the process.

How Long Do You Need to Taper Off Xanax?

The length of time you need to slowly reduce your Xanax dosage varies depending on how long you’ve been taking the drug, your weight, gender, and multiple other factors. In most cases, doctors give patients about 8 weeks to taper off their Xanax dosage.

If you are on short-acting Xanax, your doctor may switch you to long-acting Xanax. This helps slowly reduce the dose in your body. Then, they will slowly decrease your dose.

If you have been taking a high dose for a long time, expect to take a significant amount of time tapering off this drug. In contrast, if you’ve only been using Xanax for a short time, you may not need as long.

Xanax is a benzodiazepine, and most drugs in this category have serious withdrawal symptoms. If you have been taking any benzos regularly, reach out to your doctor to get help tapering off.

Why Does Xanax Cause Withdrawal Symptoms?

Xanax leads to serious withdrawal symptoms because your body gets used to having this drug in your system. Without a steady stream of this drug, your blood pressure increases and you can go into convulsions. In a worst case scenario, people can die from quitting Xanax too quickly.

Xanax helps with anxiety. As you build tolerance to the drug, you need to take more to help your anxiety. Unfortunately, when you quit taking Xanax, your anxiety increases. You may also feel intense cognitive effects such as the following:

  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Panic
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations
  • Derealization

Does Everyone Experience Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms?

Even if you’ve only been taking Xanax a few weeks, you may still experience withdrawal symptoms. After taking this type of drug for six months, 40% of people experience moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms when they quit. Most people experience an increase in anxiety when they quit.

Why You Need Medical Detox for Xanax

When you use Xanax regularly, you can become physically addicted to the drug. As explained above, quitting Xanax on your own can be uncomfortable, scary, dangerous, and potentially deadly.

At a medically supervised detox, a healthcare provider oversees your care. They help you determine exactly how much to take as you taper off, and they ensure that you get off Xanax without facing dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

In detox, you also get the support you need to stay the course. When you try to quit taking a drug on your own, you may get frustrated with the withdrawal process, and you may start taking the drug again.

Detox helps to minimize the risk of relapsing when you are trying to quit. If you have a low risk of relapse and a supportive environment, you may be able to wean yourself off Xanax at home.

However, you should still work with a doctor to ensure that you take the appropriate dose.

Tips for Going Through Xanax Withdrawal

While tapering off Xanax, you should:

  • Stay hydrated. Dehydration can intensify withdrawal symptoms.
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks. They can increase dehydration and exacerbate withdrawal symptoms.
  • Do not drink alcohol. Drinking while withdrawing from Xanax can make you feel nauseous.
  • Eat high protein snacks. Eating high protein snacks or small bland meals can help.

How Long Does Xanax Withdrawal Last?

Xanax withdrawal symptoms usually start in 8 to 12 hours after your last dose. Over time, the symptoms become stronger, and typically, they are the worst on about the second day.

While many people feel better by the fourth or fifth day, withdrawal symptoms can last a lot longer.

About 10 to 25% of long-time benzo users experience protracted withdrawal. This includes psychological symptoms for several months and up to a year.

Who Should Taper Off Xanax?

Think it might be time to taper off your Xanax use, but aren’t sure?Here are some signs that indicate you should taper off your Xanax use:

  • You are physically addicted to the drug. Physical addiction to this drug can occur quickly. If you have ever experienced withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit taking Xanax, your body is dependent on the drug.
  • You abuse recreational Xanax. Do not take Xanax without a prescription. Again, when used incorrectly, this drug can have serious consequences. Additionally, Xanax on the black market has sometimes been laced with fentanyl, a drug 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine and responsible for thousands of deaths
  • You have a prescription for Xanax but you can’t stop drinking alcohol. Xanax slows your breathing. When you mix Xanax with alcohol, you are combining this drug with another sedative, and ultimately, you may stop breathing. This combination can be deadly.  

Treatment for Xanax Addiction

Xanax can be a very helpful prescription drug for anyone who suffers from anxiety. But it should only be taken if prescribed to you by a doctor.

And even if you have been prescribed Xanax, it is important to follow directions on how to take it, without exceeding doses. Taking Xanax can become habit-forming, which can quickly lead to addiction.

If you feel you are addicted to Xanax or are abusing your prescription, it is important to seek help right away. Checking into an inpatient or outpatient treatment facility is your best bet to beat your addiction properly.

Not sure where to go for treatment? Look through our directory to find quality treatment centers near you, and call today.

Sources:

  1. How Long Does Withdrawal From Xanax Last?
  2. How Long Does Xanax Last?
  3. The Pandemic Is Spiking Anxiety: Before You Take Anti-Anxiety Medication, Understand the Risks
  4. “So Strong It Killed Two People” And That’s Actually a Selling Point
  5. What Does Xanax Feel Like?

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