Xanax, the brand name for alprazolam, is a slow-acting benzo commonly used to treat severe anxiety disorders and panic disorders.
This prescription drug works by targeting your central nervous system. Xanax interacts with the GABA receptors to calm neural activity.
Due to the drug’s interactions within your central nervous system, it is highly recommended that you slowly taper your Xanax dose rather than quitting “cold turkey.”
This process should always be done under medical supervision in order to prevent the potentially life-threatening symptoms of acute benzodiazepine withdrawal.
Does Xanax Need To Be Tapered?
Xanax absolutely needs to be tapered for your safety. Without a medically supervised taper plan, Xanax withdrawal syndrome can cause serious symptoms.
These symptoms may include:
- panic attacks
- irregular heartbeat
- irregular blood pressure
Tapering you off benzodiazepines using a long-acting alternative to Xanax like diazepam (Valium) will allow your body to slowly adjust.
This is the safest way to end Xanax abuse.
What Is A Xanax Tapering Plan?
Your Xanax tapering plan will be individualized based on a myriad of factors. The two most important are your current daily Xanax use and your reaction to each reduction stage.
The beginning of the tapering process will be based on whether your daily dose is categorized as low-dose or high-dose.
From there, your healthcare staff will personalize your tapering schedule based on the withdrawal process.
The first week of your medical detox will be devoted to switching the benzo you use. Xanax is not easy to taper because it’s strong in low doses and has a half life of just 12 hours.
Diazepam and other long-acting benzos are far better-suited to a taper plan.
Most if not all of your first week will be spent getting your body used to a benzodiazepine taper equivalent to your daily dose of Xanax up to 40 milligrams per day.
Once your body has stabilized on the equivalent dose, it is time for your first reduction. Currently, standard practice reduces the previous dose by 25%.
Assuming that your body has regulated, it may be time for your second dose reduction. If you’re still experiencing symptoms of withdrawal, you may have to wait a few more days.
Current research suggests that there should be a minimum of one week in between dose reductions. If your body is still reacting to your first dose reduction seven days later, this is perfectly normal.
If your body is adapting at a good pace, you may be ready for your third dose reduction at the beginning of week four. Keep in mind that many people will still be on their second dose reduction at this time.
The goal with a taper is to take it as slowly as you need to prevent serious side effects. Do not try to rush yourself, and do not conceal symptoms of withdrawal from the medical professionals trying to help you.
Week Five And Beyond
At this point, you will likely be on your third or fourth dose reduction. If you’re only on your second taper, that’s fine too.
On average, it takes a minimum of eight weeks to completely taper off Xanax, and it takes many people longer than that.
If you feel like your progress is slow, try to stay patient. That slowness is protecting your physical and mental health from the side effects of acute Xanax withdrawal.
Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms That May Affect Tapering
Under controlled conditions, your Xanax withdrawal symptoms should be relatively mild. With a proper taper, you can expect to experience some anxiety, discomfort, insomnia, and cravings.
With that said, there is a small risk that you could experience more severe symptoms affecting your cardiovascular system and psychological state.
If you present with more severe withdrawal symptoms at any time during your medical detox, the medical professionals in charge of your care will need to re-evaluate your plan.
Follow-Up Treatment Options For Xanax Addiction
Detox is the first step in treating your substance abuse disorder, but it isn’t the end. Drug abuse has physical and psychological components that need to be addressed if you want to avoid relapse.
Qualified addiction treatment programs offer a wide range of therapeutic options from support groups to cognitive behavioral therapy to ensure those needs are met.
Fortunately, you can find treatment centers that offer these services on an inpatient or outpatient basis, so there will always be something that works for you.
Find Addiction Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center
At Bedrock Recovery Center, we offer medical detox as well as scientifically backed options for therapeutic aftercare.
If you or a loved one needs help tapering off Xanax, give our Massachusetts treatment center a call.
Bedrock Recovery Editorial Team
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This page does not provide medical advice.