How To Get Off Xanax (Alprazolam)

Quitting Xanax or any other benzo without a taper can cause severe withdrawal symptoms, which can be life-threatening. Going through a tapered detoxification under medical supervision eliminates the most serious risks.

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Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS

on October 10, 2022

Xanax is a slow-acting benzodiazepine that is often used to treat severe anxiety and panic disorders.

This prescription drug works by directly targeting the GABA receptors of your central nervous system to calm neural activity.

The surge of dopamine that accompanies Xanax use is a side effect and is likely responsible for the drug’s habit-forming qualities.

Both of these interactions with your central nervous system are complex. As a result, getting off Xanax requires a gradual taper plan that allows your body to slowly adjust to the drug’s absence.

Xanax Taper Plans

Xanax taper plans are highly individualized.

In the beginning, your plan will be designed according to your current daily dose of Xanax. This information will put you in a high-dose or a low-dose category.

From there you can expect your personal taper plan to evolve.

During medical detox, your healthcare team will adjust your dosage according to your withdrawal symptoms. That might mean more or less time in between dose reductions.

Ultimately, the point of a Xanax taper plan is to reduce your substance abuse safely with the least amount of discomfort.

Switching Medications To Get Off Xanax

Xanax is quite strong in small doses with a short half-life. That makes it very difficult to reduce your dose gradually without serious benzodiazepine withdrawal.

In order to counter this problem, addiction centers will generally switch you to an equivalent dose of another benzo that has a longer half-life and can be more gradually reduced.

Switching From Xanax To Valium

Valium, the brand name for diazepam, is the most common drug used in Xanax tapers.

Five milligrams of Valium is equal to 0.5 milligrams (mg) of Xanax, making it a lot easier to gradually decrease your dose over multiple stages.

Valium also has a long half-life, allowing the drug to exit your system slowly, which prevents serious acute withdrawal symptoms.

If your detox program uses Valium as a taper for Xanax, you can expect your healthcare provider to spend the first few days getting you used to an equivalent dose of diazepam up to 40 mg.

Once you have acclimated, the taper schedule will begin.

Other Benzodiazepine Alternatives

If you cannot use diazepam, then another long-acting benzo such as chlordiazepoxide (Librium) may be appropriate.

Can I Stop Taking Xanax Cold Turkey?

Quitting Xanax or any other form of benzodiazepine “cold turkey” is not recommended.

Without an appropriate taper, the withdrawal from Xanax use is dangerous and can be life-threatening.

Quitting Xanax abruptly can result in:

  • seizures
  • panic attacks
  • psychosis
  • irregular heart rate
  • irregular blood pressure
  • death

How To Treat Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms

By following a taper plan under the observation of a healthcare professional, you can minimize the side effects of your withdrawal.

In these controlled conditions, you can expect some cravings, anxiety, discomfort, and insomnia but little more than that.

In order to counter these side effects, your detox team will check in with you on a regular basis and administer medications that are safe for you to take during detox.

How Long Does It Take For Xanax To Exit The System?

The half-life of Xanax is about 12 hours, so it exits your system fairly quickly in comparison to long-acting benzos.

Assuming you were able to safely quit Xanax without a taper, the drug could pass through your system in a matter of 3 to 5 days. However, that isn’t realistic or safe.

To complete a taper plan, you should set aside a minimum of eight weeks for a 25% reduction schedule.

Treatment Options For Xanax Addiction

Drug abuse is common, and Xanax addiction is very similar to other forms of drug addiction.

Fortunately, you have treatment options that can provide the healthcare and mental health support that you need to get through this difficult time in your life.

While a tapered detox can seem daunting, you will find that qualified Xanax treatment programs are willing to help in any way they can to make the process easier.

Many offer inpatient and outpatient options to open up their recovery programs to as many people as possible.

Find Substance Use Disorder Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

At Bedrock Recovery Center, we want to make sure that you receive the individualized addiction treatment that you deserve.

We offer outpatient detox services for people with mild to moderate cases of addiction, as well as residential options if you need round-the-clock care.

Don’t wait to see where addiction takes you next, call our Massachusetts treatment center to learn more about addiction recovery.

  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine: PubMed — Treatment of alprazolam withdrawal with chlordiazepoxide substitution and taper
  2. National Library of Medicine — Withdrawal Management

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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