How To Wean off Xanax (Alprazolam)
Last Updated: October 26, 2022
Xanax is a prescription medication often used for panic or generalized anxiety disorder. While recommended for short-term use, tolerance and dependence can develop in as little as weeks of consistent use. Stopping this medication safely and effectively can be difficult without help from a medical professional.
Is Xanax Hard To Quit?
Xanax (alprazolam) can be challenging to quit, depending on how much of the medication you take and how long you have been taking it. Abruptly stopping this medication can result in uncomfortable, even severe Xanax withdrawal symptoms.
For these reasons, it is essential to always speak with your healthcare provider about wanting to discontinue Xanax. They can help you devise a safe and practical plan to stop using this medication.
Quitting Xanax Cold Turkey
Quitting Xanax cold turkey is not recommended. Stopping any benzodiazepine, especially Xanax, cold turkey can lead to severe or uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, including seizures and coma.
Xanax Rebound Anxiety
Xanax works to slow brain signaling, which leads to feelings of calm and relaxation. When you are tolerant of Xanax (your body has become used to the drug), and the dose is changed too fast or stopped entirely, you may feel more anxious than you did even before starting this medication. This rebound anxiety can lead people to relapse and take more Xanax. This could lead to overdose, especially if you started weaning off.
Always consult your healthcare provider if you experience rebound anxiety while trying to quit Xanax. Options usually include slowing down the taper schedule, switching to longer-acting benzos (like Valium), or other medications for anxiety.
Benefits of Tapering off Xanax
Tapering, or weaning off a medication, is a way to stop taking it slowly over time and can help minimize cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Tapering can help ease anxiety about stopping Xanax while allowing healthcare professionals to discuss potential withdrawal symptoms before they happen and stress management strategies. In these ways, tapering can help you stop taking Xanax with fewer complications and a higher likelihood of success.
How To Wean off Xanax
Tapering schedules are plans for a slow and gradual decrease in Xanax over many weeks or months until you can safely stop taking the medication. These schedules consider many factors, including your lifestyle, stressors, reasons for taking Xanax and the amount of available support. Your dose of Xanax and how long you have been taking it, your age, other medications and other medical conditions may also influence how quickly you wean off of Xanax.
If you struggle to control your Xanax use or abuse the drug by taking it without a prescription or taking more than prescribed, tapering your Xanax dose may be difficult. In these cases, a medical detox may be recommended instead of a taper. Always discuss stopping Xanax with your healthcare provider to determine the best plan for your specific situation.
Example Xanax Taper Schedule
While each person will have an individualized taper schedule, an example may look like this:
- Week 1: Dose may be reduced, but not very much.
- Week 2: Reduce total dose by 25%. If you take Xanax multiple times throughout the day, this may be a slight reduction to each dose so that the overall change is 25%.
- Week 3: Like during week 1, the dose may be reduced slightly.
- Week 4: Dose is reduced by 25% (50% from your starting dose before tapering).
- Weeks 5–8: No change in dose. This is meant to give your body time to adjust to this lower dose.
- Week 9 and beyond: Every two weeks, the dose is reduced by another 25% until you can safely stop taking Xanax.
Xanax Tapering Side Effects
Weaning off of Xanax by tapering your dose down intends to minimize the symptoms you experience. However, side effects from tapering may be similar to Xanax withdrawal and may happen if you are weaned off the medication too quickly. Some side effects can include
- Memory problems
- Slurred speech
- Poor concentration
- Mood changes
Valium for Xanax Withdrawal
For some, switching to Valium (diazepam) from Xanax (alprazolam) can be helpful. Valium is a benzodiazepine like Xanax but has a longer half-life. This property means the effect of Valium is similar to Xanax, but each dose of Valium lasts longer in your body than Xanax and results in less likelihood of withdrawal with Valium. Also, Valium is less potent than Xanax, which often means reducing the dose can be more manageable.
It is important to speak with your healthcare provider to discuss which option is best for you. Like Xanax, Valium is available only as a prescription medication.
How To Wean off Xanax Safely
Weaning off Xanax can be an anxiety-inducing process, especially if you struggle with a Xanax addiction. Our medical professionals are here to help. At The Recovery Village Columbus, our Joint Commission Accredited facility offers a full continuum of Xanax addiction treatment programs to best serve you. Our medical detox services can safely support you through the initial phase of Xanax withdrawal. Next, inpatient or outpatientrehab can provide you with tools for a sustainable recovery. Partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs are available to continue to meet your individual needs. We even offer online drug rehab, so help is only a click away. Contact us today and begin your journey to a healthier life.
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- National Center for PTSD. “Effective Treatments for PTSD: Helping P[…]from Benzodiazepines.” 2015. Accessed June 19, 2022.
- Ait-Daoud, N, et al. “A Review of Alprazolam Use, Misuse, and Withdrawal.” Journal of Addiction Medicine. March 12, 2018. Accessed June 19, 2022.
- Drugs.com. “Diazepam Monograph for Professionals.” Reviewed November 9, 2020. Accessed June 19, 2022.
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