Xanax Withdrawal Seizures: Causes And What To Do

Get Help Now!
Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


One of the most severe Xanax withdrawal symptoms is a withdrawal seizure.

If you take Xanax (alprazolam) on a regular basis, you should be prepared in case you need to stop using it abruptly.

Even short-term use of alprazolam can cause seizures, with the consequences ranging from mild to severe, including death.


Can Xanax Increase The Seizure Threshold?

A person’s likelihood of having a seizure is known as their seizure threshold. The lower the threshold, the less probable a seizure will occur.

Xanax slows down the central nervous system and reduces anxiety. The medicine can alleviate anxiety, lessen muscle spasms, and reduce the risk of a person having a seizure when it is taken.

However, when someone experiences Xanax withdrawal, such as due to an addiction to or dependency on the medication, their threshold for having seizures may increase.

Causes Of Xanax Withdrawal Seizures

The major causes of withdrawal seizures are:

Long-Term Xanax Use

Long-term use of a benzodiazepine is the most common cause of alprazolam withdrawal seizures. The benzo is extremely addictive, especially after prolonged use.

Stopping use of the medication when you have a Xanax addiction may lead to sudden and uncontrollable electrical disturbances in your brain.

It could also lead to changes in your behavior, emotions or feelings, and degree of consciousness.

High Doses Of Xanax

Another common cause of withdrawal seizures is high doses of benzodiazepines.

People who take a lot of Xanax for an extended period of time can develop a Xanax tolerance, which means that they have to take higher and higher doses in order to feel its effects.

They might find themselves taking extremely high doses that put them at risk for withdrawal seizures when they try to stop taking it.

Low Levels Of Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA)

GABA is a neurotransmitter that acts as an inhibitory chemical in your brain. It helps reduce anxiety and produce feelings of calmness.

Taking Xanax for an extended period reduces your brain’s natural production of GABA. Your body has to start producing GABA again when you stop using the drug.

That can cause low levels of GABA, which can trigger seizures during withdrawal.

How To Prevent Xanax Withdrawal Seizures

Xanax withdrawal seizures are usually not life-threatening, but you may fall, break your bones, or injure other people. Here’s how you can prevent withdrawal seizures.

Taper Off Xanax

The first step in preventing withdrawal seizures is to safely taper off Xanax.

If you are taking a benzodiazepine like alprazolam and plan to stop your medication, it’s essential to do so under medical supervision until the symptoms subside.

This will allow your body to adjust to lower doses of medication before completely stopping it.

Don’t Stop Cold Turkey

Stopping your medication cold turkey can cause severe withdrawal symptoms.

It is best to work with a doctor or other medical professional who can help you slowly taper off of your medication over time especially if you used benzos for a long period of time.

If you stop taking benzodiazepines suddenly, you may experience seizures, intense anxiety, panic attacks, and other negative side effects, according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

Are Xanax Withdrawal Seizures Dangerous?

Xanax withdrawal seizures are rarely dangerous. However, there have been reports of epileptic-like seizures and other potentially dangerous side effects.

Seizures and psychotic episodes can occur as a result of a person abusing excessive amounts of Xanax and other benzos, such as Valium (diazepam).

Withdrawal can result in Grand Mal seizures, which are marked by a complete loss of consciousness, rapid and severe muscle contractions, and violent muscle pain.

Make sure you work with trusted medical professionals in drug addiction treatment centers if you have withdrawal seizures or need help putting a pause on the use of Xanax.

What To Do In The Event Of A Seizure

Seizures can be terrifying, especially if they occur during the Xanax withdrawal process when you’re dealing with anxiety disorders and other severe withdrawal symptoms.

The best way to deal with seizures is to remain calm while devising a plan to get yourself out of harm’s way as soon as possible.

Next, seek immediate medical attention from healthcare professionals.

Treatment Options For Xanax Addiction

There are several options for Xanax addiction treatment. The most common are inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment programs.

Since many people with Xanax addiction also have opioid and other addictions or mental health issues, such as psychosis, intensive dual diagnosis care is often necessary.

Your doctor may recommend a medical detox, cognitive behavioral therapy, and certain prescription drugs to help with cravings and treat withdrawal syndrome.

Using other non-benzos for anxiety treatment might help reduce physical dependence on Xanax.

Ensure that you do your research well before enrolling in a substance use disorder treatment facility.

Find Substance Abuse Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

Bedrock Recovery Center offers various addiction treatment services to help you or your loved one beat drug abuse or alcohol addiction.

If you’re struggling with Xanax withdrawal seizures or your loved one is suffering from any form of substance abuse problem, we can help.

Call us today to learn how you can get enrolled in our substance use treatment programs.

  1. American Family Physician Journal https://www.aafp.org/afp/2000/0401/p2121.html
  2. Journal of Investigative Medicine High Impact Case Reports https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2324709620969498
  3. National Library of Medicine https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4635822/

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

Prefer Texting?
We've got you covered.

Receive 24/7 text support right away.
There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time.

Sign up for text support

Receive 24/7 text support right away.
There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time.
Ready to make a change? Talk to a specialist now.
(617) 657-2877
icon-angle icon-bars icon-times