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Avatar universal

Xanax Use

I would like a rational response to my question.  I have visited web pages dealing with prescription drug addiction and been told I'm in danger of becoming a criminal and will probably start having seizures any time now. I have been taking on a daily basis for 3 months 1mg of Xanax for insomnia due to menopause - not hot flashes, just being unable to fall asleep. I understand this is an addictive drug and want to know if I should continue to take it.   It has been very helpful and I have not had any side effects (I fall asleep, so I guess I wouldn't feel them) and tolerance has not increased.  When I do stop taking it do I have anything to worry about other than rebound insomina?
90 Responses
Avatar universal
Contact your doctor. I personally haven't ever taken this med but my father has. The thursday before Labor Day it is beleived he had a seizure from instantly stopping taking his meds. He had double dosed a couple of days on Biaxin, by mistake,and got very ill. So he quit taking everything. I spent two days trying to convince him he wasn't crazy (although I really wasn't sure at the time). He begged us not to take him to the hospital until Saturday night. Intially, it was beleived he had a stroke because the cat scan showed a spot on the frontal lobe. But evidently the tech who read it failed to info us he was thrashing around as they were doing it. My father's dr. finally came back from his Labor Day Vacation Tuesday, and cleared everything up. He didn't have a stroke, he'd lost all potassium from vomiting and diaharrea, and he was going thru withdrawl.They put him back on the lowest dose of Zanax and a high blood pressure patch. And he's doing great.                                                    So discuss with your Dr. your intention of stopping the Zanax.And he should be able to help you reduce your dosage. I also have had trouble sleeping for YEARS. I use a half of robaxin to help me(sometimes I have to take the other half). I'm not sure if it is very addictive(comments anyone?)but it helps me. My therory (am I putting my neck on the chopping block?) it's the lessor of two evil's.
Avatar universal
From what you say, it sounds as if you are taking the xanax as prescribed, and not abusing it.  After 3 months, you may or may not be physically addicted. My understanding is that xanax leaves the system in 8 hours, so you would have to take it two or three times a day to become physically addicted. I could however, be very wrong about that.

Talk to your doctor to get the facts about how physically dependant you may be on the xanax. If you are not abusing it, and it is working, it may not be a problem.  If you are thinking about it all the time, seeing several doctors to get other sources of it etc, that would indicate abuse and a deeper addictive syndrome. If you are physically dependant, and want to go off, you do need to taper slowly, since going off it suddenly can cause a seizure.

Xanax is most often used for short term relief of anxiety. Most docs won't use it as a first line medication for sleep, because of its addictive potential.

Chat with your Doc, be honest, and you'll be able to decide whether to stay on it or not.

Avatar universal
Thanks for the fast (and rational :-) responses.  My doc thinks it's okay, but I personally have found that doctors are not always up to date on addiction or dependency information. My feeling, which my dr. echos, is that 1 mg once a day just isn't enough to form an addiction.  But the way I look at it, I drink two cups of coffee every morning and I'm addicted to that...I have withdrawl symptoms if I stop - headache, tiredness, etc. When I went to the other sites for prescription meds, everyone was going on and on about how dangerous it was to stop and how you had to taper off.  But they were taking 10-15 mgs and more a day.  So it's confusing.
Avatar universal
I forgot to mention that my doc prescribed Ambien initially, but apparently I am the one person in the US that has an adverse reaction to it.  It gives me horrible nightmares. Works otherwise.
Avatar universal
I think that some folks are of the opinion that anyone who regularly uses an addictive medication is automatically an addict.  

I don't agree with that point of view. Many people are able to take medications such as xanax appropriately, as prescribed. They never run out early, don't get it from multiple docs, don't plan their days and lives around making sure they have enough pills etc.  If you can honestly ask yourself whether you have psychological preocupation with the xanax, and the answer is no, chances are you are one of the lucky people who can take it appropriately.  I sure can't make that assesment for you, you have to just be very honest with yourself.  For ages, I told myself I wasn't addicted to vicoprofen because I needed it for pain, but deep down inside I knew I was lying to myself.

From what you say, it sounds like you are trying your best to be sure this med doesn't become a huge problem, and I commend you for that. But it is also really important to be cautious with xanax. Addiction does have a way of creeping up on us unaware.

keep us posted!

Avatar universal
If you don't mind me asking, how old are you. My dr. also prescribed hormone replacement therapy for me. I am fourty and I've also been to scared to start that. I'm always worried they may be wrong.Lauren Hutton advocates it but what about the issues such as stroke. Oh and there's a good one on tv right now Baycol. Well, how do we know if dr.'s are diagnosing us correctly, ANYONE? Does anyone have some advice for me, I'm reading this and realize I sound paranoid, oh excuse me, hypervigilant as the counselor says.
Avatar universal
One Doctor told me that it takes 7 days to get xanex completly out of your system,I would stop taking it now,or you'll end up like me,been addicted for 9 years!!!!

Maybe Ambian would help you.
Avatar universal
How did you all determine perimenopause, blood test or symptoms? My blood work came back within normal ranges. Symptom wise he thinks it maybe perimenopause,how do you  know for sure? Although, I've had other problems healthwise, not major, but best guess on that has been fibramyalgia(sp). As far as your sleeping, I know there are different types of insomnia. Mine is easy to manage. I fall asleep fairly easily, but I wake up frequently thru the night. Mine is due to pain and discomfort. I feel like I've been beatin' and flip flop all night. Yours sounds more extreme like you can't sleep. Maybe that's why the dr. gave you Zanax treating it more like anxiety. Do you feel it's like that?
Avatar universal
hi everyone- i have the use of a computer for the evening- question about the ambien- i specifically asked the druggist about its addiction potential- and he told me that it was not addictive- i have enough other addictive problems without adding yet another one to my life-  ambien puts me to sleep quickly and as mentioned- zero groggy side effects in the morning- so i really like it- please tell me "it aint so"- that is that it really isnt addictive- where did the info about it being addictive come from?
Avatar universal
I agree with ww on the addiction part, you have to answer that one. The thing I have a personal problem with , as my counselor stated, is me being hypervigilant. I've got a prescription for ambien sitting for 2 months that I won't take because of fear. I've had some bad experiences with some med (Zocor and Wellbutrin I remember well). And you sound similar to me that you fear the what if. I always take half of what the dr. prescribe so if I feel I have a problem with it I don't have  so much in my system.I actually fustrate my dr. How can you expect me to help you if you won't take the med. But I say you have the ultimate authority, and erring on the side of caution is  not such a bad thing.So I guess the  nightmare part is good to know and the ambien can just sit in the cabinet.
Avatar universal
Thanks, everyone for comments.  I guess I'll stop taking it just to err on the side of being safe, or "hpervigilant" :-) I really hate having insomnia.  

Shotsy, I am 48 and just started perimenopause about 6 mos. ago which means, according to my gynecologist, I could reach menopause anywhere from 6 mos. to 3 years. I have opted against HRT simply because I want to know when I stop getting my periods.  It's just a wierd thing on my part. I exercise diligantly so bone loss and heart disease are not a big risk.  Once I reach menopause, I may start it. I know women who swear by it.  They usually started because of hot flashes. Since I exercise in an unairconditioned gym, I'm used to feeling overheated and sweating buckets so although hot flashes are uncomfortable, I don't mind them that much.  As for the Ambien, as I mentioned, I am the only person I know who ever had nightmares.  And lots of people take it.  It is addictive though and it is a designer drug.  Also, it hasn't been on the market long enough to find out all the side effects, IMHO. It does work well and superfast, like in 20 minutes.  No residual effects the next morning either. I just wish TV was better at 3 am :-)
Avatar universal
Let me suggest a few other options for sleep.

Have you tried herbs such as Valerian, Hops, Passionflower?
They are not as strong as a medication, but they do work for some people.

I've been having horrible insomnia since getting clean. The thing that finally worked for me is a supplement called melatonin. It is a hormone that is naturally produced in the brain. Natural production of it increases when it gets dark out, and it makes us sleepy. You can buy it in a health food store. They recommended dosage to start with is 1mg, but I need the 3mg pills. It is not addictive, does not make you groggy in the morning.  Some people say that it has anticarcinogenic properties. It is considered one of the "anti-aging" nutrients by some.

I've researched it and I feel comfortable taking it, but I always suggest you run it by your Doctor first, just in case there is something about it that would not be ok for you.

let us know how you are!

Avatar universal
Hi there..nice to see you posting again!

I entered "ambien" into a search engine, and came up with several sites that said the drug does produce withdrawal symptoms if stopped suddenly after taking it for a few weeks.

I'll paste one of the paragraphs here:

"When sleep medications are used every night for more than a few weeks, some may lose their effectiveness. Remember, too, that you can become dependent on some sleep medications if you use them for a long time or at high doses.

Some people using Ambien have experienced unusual changes in their thinking and/or behavior. Alert your doctor if you notice a change.

Ambien and other sleep medicines can cause a special type of memory loss. It should not be taken on an overnight airplane flight of less than 7 to 8 hours, since ``traveler's amnesia'' may occur.

When you first start taking Ambien, until you know whether the medication will have any ``carry over'' effect the next day, use extreme care while doing anything that requires complete alertness, such as driving a car or operating machinery.

Use Ambien cautiously if you have liver problems. It will take longer for its effects to wear off.

If you take Ambien for more than 1 or 2 weeks, consult your doctor before stopping. Sudden discontinuation of a sleep medicine can bring on withdrawal symptoms ranging from unpleasant feelings to vomiting and cramps.

When taking Ambien, do not drink alcohol. It can increase the drug's side effects.

If you have breathing problems, they may become worse when you use Ambien. "

so, that's what I found.


Avatar universal
I'm confused about the ambien also. I was told it was non-addictive also.  Although my sister took it twice and said that the way you feel so refreshed the next morn could be addictive. At any rate, can you be an addict if your taking something a dr. prescribed and your not abusing it(as in dosage)? Hope not, although I've wondered why we're all hung up about treating pain and such.
Avatar universal
There is a *huge* difference between physical addiction and psychological addiction.  If someone takes a narcotic round the clock long enough, they will get physically addicted. If they are taking it appropriately for pain, and are not preoccupied with getting high and finding sources for pills etc..they are not psychologically addicted.

Too many chronic pain patients unfairly go undertreated for their pain due to fear of addiction.

my two cents

Avatar universal
Hey there Cindi,
Happy birthday to youuuuuu
Happy birthday to youuuuuuuuuu
Happy birthday, happy birthday, happy birthday tooooo

Remember...you are like Fine Wine!

::smooches and birthday hugs to one of the angels in my life.

I hope it is a good one, and I'm hoping I got the date right!

Avatar universal
Hi! I had a HUGE craving to use today but didn't....Just thought I would share that...When you think about it, drug use is a real simple issue.....just don't use! That's it! Now why can't I come to that point every other time I wanted to get high??? Chad
Avatar universal
hi everyone- thanx for taking the time in answering my question about ambien- i certainly havent been abusing it- just taking  one at night and it has certainly helped me sleep-  regarding other issues- i have not yet been successful in facing down the other demons- doesnt mean i have given up hope or faith- just means this particular battle is going to be much harder than i ever realized- but one is never defeated until they give up hope- and this much i am sure of- i have not given up hope- so.....
anyway- i will have the use of a computer again in a few days- and hope to read the posts of those that i have come to consider friends- late everyone- and God bless us each and every one
Avatar universal
Lots to relate...been researching on the web.  

First, shotsy, like you, I had a blood test when I was about 43 and it came back normal.  I didn't have any symptoms at that time, just wanted to check it.  My periods were so regular I figured I'd know when it started.  My diagnosis was made by my symptoms as I have hot flashes and irregular periods now.  Also, the mood swings and insomnia and the forgetfulness. I think for most women it's dramatic enough that you know.  Don't believe all this Oprah babble about this wonderful transition.  I haven't talked to a woman yet who didn't hate it. You feel like your body is acting all whacko. And the emotional ups and downs are a drag too, although not everyone gets them.  But, the forgetfulness is pretty universal.  You feel like you're developing Alzheimer.

ssfr, Ambien is not completely safe. And it is addictive. Check out this link: www.rxlist.com and type it in and read it for yourself.  The thinking is that it doesn't make you high so you won't abuse it.  Well, how many people get addicted just taking a drug medicinally, not to get high.  Quite a few.  There's a new painkiller out, Ultram, that my doc prescribed instead of codeine which I wanted because he said it wasn't addictive because you don't get high and it doesn't "induce drug seeking behavior."  I looked it up and it is addictive, so I have a whole bottle sitting in my drawer because I won't take it. It's some wierd designer drug as far as I'm concerned and they can test it on someone else.

Now to my research...I am flipping out because I think I have become dependent on the Xanax.  I think the anxiety I was blaming on my menopause is actually withdrawl.  It always comes in late afternoon, when the drug would be completely clearing my system.  This is what I discovered:

"Individuals who take only one pill daily for sleep or anxiety are not exempt from withdrawal problems. In my private practice during the last few years I have worked with several people who were unable to stop taking a once-a-day standard dose of Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, or other minor tranquilizers. In each case, the attempt to stop the medication led to a disturbing degree of anxiety or insomnia within twenty-four hours. The problem seemed to be caused by rebound anxiety or rebound insomnia (see ahead). In a personal communication in late December 1990, internist John Steinberg confirmed that patients taking one Xanax tablet each day for several weeks can become addicted. Steinberg is medical director of the Chemical Dependency Program at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center and president of the Maryland Society of Addiction Medicine. He points to research that Xanax and other short-acting benzodiazepines can cause a reactive hyperactivity of the receptors that they block. The hyperactive receptors then require one or more doses of Xanax each day or they produce anxiety and emotional discomfort. Steinberg calls the impact of Xanax "a fundamental change in the homeostasis of the brain." After the patient stops taking the Xanax, according to Steinberg, it takes the brain six to eighteen months to recover. Xanax patients should be warned, he says, that it can take a long time to get over painful withdrawal symptoms. Since doctors frequently don't realize this, they, too, are likely to be confused and to continue the drug in the hope of "treating" the patient's drug-induced anxiety and tension."

I am stopping on thursday...got some stuff to do and need to get through the next two days without symptoms..and I will do it cold turkey which is probably safe as it was a low dose.  Well, I guess I'll say it "Hi, my name is Karen and I'm an addict." I guess I knew it all along or I wouldn't have been here looking for reassurance.

Sorry, I know this is a long post.

Avatar universal
I agree with you.But from the posts I've read you seem to me you have physical pain. So why can't you be treated and not labeled and addict because of it? That I don't understand. Several years back there was a young girl (12) that had a inoperal(sp) brain tumor.She was dying. Nothing anyone could do but the dr. was trying to slow the growth.She was on steroids I believe and balloned up. She was in a lot of pain, but was refused med because she would get addicted. SO WHAT! She was dying. Two of her ribs broke from the weight was my understanding. I just think that's unjust and cruel. I thought the dr. oath was to do no harm. I'm angry I know. Anyways, the tide has turned in America and if you not tuff enough to ruff it out something's wrong with you. I want to be able to  move around and get stuff  done with out worrying I might be labeled an addict or be in discomfort and pain
Avatar universal
Yes you are right, I do have chronic pain.
The doctors are willing to give me as much pain medication as I want.  

I went off the pain meds because I was severely abusing them, and my life was falling apart because of it. The Doctor did not cut me off.

If I went to my Doc today and asked for a refill, he would give me one. I do have pain that needs to be treated, but I am instead choosing to treat the pain with lots of motrin, and acupuncture. I"m not in the kind of pain that many on here with chronic pain are in..I am not a martyr and if the pain was as severe as it was right after the surgery, I'd give my husband my pain meds to dole out to me.

So, again...I'm not being mistreated by my Doctor or labeled a drug seeking addict.  This was my choice, and it was the right one.  The drugs were causing me all kinds of problems, both physical as well as emotional/social.  If the pain does not get better, or gets worse, I'll have to revisit my choices, but I'll cross that bridge if I get there.

thanks for your care and concern Shotsy, I too feel angry when I hear of chronic pain patients being denied the care they need.
It is just ..in my case, I did abuse the meds so had to take the steps to take responsibility for getting into recovery.

Avatar universal
I have never posted on this forum ,just floating around in here alot .I was just led to write and tell you thomas ,you are an incredible person!I have read through here day after day ,and I marvel at what a caring,heartfelt person you are!I ony wish I had just one  person like you as a freind.My hats off to you !There should be a new award or day in your honor!I've seen you over and over again help people and reapeat yourself over and over on some things but your alays here tp help and lend your smarts and your heart!I hope one day I will find the courage to post with my story or with my "problems".You just kep up the good help,the people who encounter you in life definetly have a treat in store for them!
Avatar universal
THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH   i can't believe you actually remembered the day...LOL   that was so nice of you  Skip and his wife also remembered...I can't believe the genuine love and caring in you guys......it was a difficult day and I was not online at all but what a pleasant surprise to wake up to  I had emails full of birthday wishes and gretting from everyone.....LOL   awwwwww gosh it's so nice to be loved   lOL  in the words of my favorite  Gomer    GOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLYYYYYYYYYYYYY.....Love you all   cin
Avatar universal
I am in tears after reading how you took care of the "COMPUTER" problem. That was just way to cool. You handled yourself beautifully!!! I am reposting my e-mail address ***@****---I think I left out the 1. I am sorry for all your troubles, like I said before you sound like me. Even after all the costly legal trouble I have been in I still feel like using sometimes. Not so much now since I'm on the meth. I feel so good on it but I am getting pressure from my husband to "Complete" the program. He wants me off of everything. I want to stay on it. Hope to hear from you. Take care, Gianna.
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