Depression/Mental Health Forum
This expert forum is not accepting new questions. Please post your question in one of our medical support communities.
Avatar universal

Withdrawal from Xanax

I have been on .5 xanax for 18 years, psychiatrist recommended.  For 14 of those years, it was prescribed 3-4 xanax a day.  I have brought myself down to one and half-2 a day maximum.  I'm now working at going lower and hopefully one day, getting off it completely.  For several weeks now, I've been on only three fourths of a tablet daily, taken by fourths.  
I do have trouble falling asleep regardless of how tired I am and this is even with the use of sleeping pills.
I hope maybe you can tell me a safe and gradual way of either getting to the very lowest point I can go with them or get off completely.  
It's scary to be so addicted to a drug like this!

Thank you.  Nicoletosk
19 Responses
242532 tn?1269553979
You will have to consult your doctor, and do it under his guidance,but here is a recognized safe way of weaning yourself.  think of this as  a three week end cycle, in which you not only decrease the dose, but also the frequency.  by the last week you should be taking the lowest possible dose every third day, then stop. Your doctor may want to cover you to make sure you don't have seizure risk.
Avatar universal
No matter how long or how much Xanax you take, all dosage is addicting. Here is my story:
I have been on Xanax for three months. I only took .5 - 1 Mg twice a week, never daily. I never had extreme panic attacks, just some anxiety in certain situations.
I was hospitalized this week, after it had been a few days since I took Xanax. My heart was racing, and creating such a pain in my chest, I thought it was going to explode. My entire body was shaking nearly like I was having a seizure, and I was almost blacking out. I thought I was having a heart attack, and dieing while driving, and drove to the nearest hospital. The doctor told me there was nothing wrong with my heart, luckily. I started crying in the hospital I was so happy. I was an emotional wreck. I really did not link this near death incident with me being off of Xanax for a few days, until I went on the web and read the withdrawal symptoms. I have gone cold turkey off of Xanax for three days now. Each day, nearly the same symptoms occur, just a lot milder each day. But know that I know what is causing this, breathing deeply, and trying to stay relaxed helps, until the episode passes. I read online that withdrawal symptoms can last a year, unless I go on some other medication, like an antidepressant. The past three days have been the longest of my life, and I really hate being on any medication. I am so anti anti-depressant, or anti-anxiety medication.
110220 tn?1309310461
I too was addicted to Xanax.  I took it for 3 months (this included me tapering off the benzo.  I have been off of this drug for 2 weeks today and last night I woke up to a rapid heart beat that went crazy fast.  It took about 10 minutes to get back to normal.  I'm exhausted today from this episode.  I averaged 1mg per day at first and then tapered from there.  

I know that I'm still in withdrawl, but it's frustrating to think that for such a short period of time, I was addicted.  

I agree that you should not take an anti-depressant for it will start a new set of problems.  I have read that the panic attacks will subside around  6 weeks off of xanax....I'm counting everyday.

I started xanax due to panic attacks and they are back.  I do the deep breathing and try not to fight and flight, but it is scary as hell....as you know.

Take care
Avatar universal
i was on .25 to 1 mg xanax for about 5 yrs. started with .25 mg 3-4 x per day and tapered to .25 mg daily for 1 yr. when my doc refused to refill, i was forced to quit cold turkey. it was very difficult for the first month, with the symptoms tapering each week. it has now been 3 yrs since i have had a xanax.

i also have trouble sleeping, and was on restoril for yrs and then switched to ambien by dr. was up to 10 mgs per night which made me extremely drowsy and forgetful the next day. i am slowly tapering off the ambien now to about 3 mgs per night and am actually sleeping better and more restfully. i hope to be off the ambien entirely in the near future.

many prescription meds relieve symptoms, mask the underlying prob and create addictions. i know that now - especially after taking paxil which was supposedly "non-addictive" and prescribed by a medical professional. i quit it cold turkey several yrs ago and thought i would DIE for the first couple of days and the doc said i was "over-reacting"...!!

hang in there...it WILL get better. in the meantime, keep urself busy to distract u from the feelings u r having. good luck
110220 tn?1309310461
I wish that these doctors that prescribe all these mind altering medications, were forced to take them.  It's amazing to me how they say we overract to the withdrawl symptoms.  They don't have a clue.  My dr said that I might be irritable for a couple of days.....well it's been 15 days of many many symptoms and sleepless nights.  

But I'm improving everyday and xanax is becoming a distant nightmare!

Good luck.
Avatar universal
hi this is ***@****
for xanax and rest of meds...
Avatar universal
110220 tn?1309310461
Withdrawl from xanax should be done gradually.  To cold turkey this drug can be done, but with suffering.  I'm not saying to go back on xanax and taper, but you might have to if you can't stand the withdrawl.  

I have been off of xanax for a month and I tapered for a month.  I took between 1mg and 1.5 mg per day for 2 months.

You will have minimum  to no sleep for a few days and I did experience tinnitus (ringing of the ear) but it does go away.  All the withdrawl symptoms eventually go away.  I had a incredible tenseness in my stomach, I lost 10 pounds (the only good thing for me) weakness in the legs and the dreaded rapid heart rate.  I can honestly say that I don't have any of those symptoms now.  I am symptom free and xanax free!

You have to determine if you can hang in there with the withdrawl or go on a lower dosage and get off gradually.  Your body is in somewhat of a shock from cold turkey and is rebelling.  Xanax is a powerful benzo and it takes its time getting out of your bloodstream and system, after all it does suppress our nervous system and the chemical in our brain.

Hang in there, I am living proof that it does get better with time.

Avatar universal
You might try picking up a book called
"Benzo Blues" written by a Psychiatrist which name eludes me at the present.  I was on 4 mg per day and weaned off with no problems.  I am currently back on it... but I was able to get off of it.
Good luck
Avatar universal
I am sure glad to find this active sight. It is very helpfull, essential really, to speak with others and see what they are going through.

...just weaned myself off of pain pills, that was hell. Now I am getting serious with Xanax. Currently taking 1.5mg/day down from 6mg. Cannot say these past few months have been any fun.

I'd like to think I could be totally off in three weeks but that is probably too optimistic.

The fear of never getting off these drugs and living a normal productive life is what concerns me the most! Physically I am a wreck. Finally went to a GP the otherday because I was so depressed. She handed me a sample of Zoloft. Did not know that stuff was evil until I started reading and hearing about the horror stories of it. Not going there.

Go to drugawarness.org and it will scare the heck out of ya.

Anyway, I would love to hear from any of you all 'cuase I know I am going to need some help through this.

110220 tn?1309310461
Dear Scared and Sick:

WHAT YOU ARE EXPERIENCING IS CALLED WITHDRAWL OF XANAX AND KLOPOLIN.  It is ashame that no one tells you the cons of these drugs. You are in withdrawl.  I took xanax for 3 months and have been off of them for 5 weeks now.  I had tightness of the head, rapid heart rate, weak legs, unbelievable tenseness in my stomach, ringing in my ears(tinnintus) and feeling dis connected in general.

It does subside, I'm living proof, the best thing that you can do is leave that poison alone.  I went through many withdrawl symptoms and they do go away, hang in there.

Avatar universal
I really need some help! I do not know what part of all of this is still anxiety or withdrawl. I took xanax (only 25 total, 1mg. each, since mid-November of 2005 to February 3, 2006.) I took 1 or just 1/2 of 1 every few days,never straight through. Then the doctor gave my Kloapin, it is now mid-March and I only took 5 total since February. My last one was taken March 3rd, it is like 8 days later. I feel a terrible tightness in the right upper chest with pain, I feel it in my right upper back too. I have been almost passing out and have lots of uncontrollable twitching and inner nervousness. I have also been urinating all over myself and have shallow breathing. The right side of my head feels very tight and I have no balance and my stomach feels as though I am going to vomit. What is all of this???

Avatar universal
Am I just kidding myself?
I am heavily addicted to xanax. I was taking as much as 6 mg/day back in December. Now I am down to about 1.5mg/day. I worked my way up to this point to cope with school.

I have been trying to prepare for a national exam in order to work in the field I got my degree in. However, I have all of the same symptoms that others have mentioned - fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite, nervousness, vertigo, abdominal pain, panicky feelings, and obsessively worrying about my future. Is all of this worrying normal?

Am I just going to have to bite the bullet and realize that I am going to have to end the addiction first before starting a profession?

110220 tn?1309310461
What you are feeling is withdrawl and the symptoms are normal for lowering your dosage of xanax.  At least you don't have to worry that you have a dreaded disease, and feel assured that in time the withdrawl will fade.

Sometimes having to focus on something else helps us.  When I was going through withdrawls, once I was able to get out of the house (after the morning panic and rapid heart rate) I did well during the day.  It kinda gets your mind occupied on something other than our withdrawl.

There is a website that deals with benzo withdrawl and many many people that post there issues and successes.  It is www.benzo.org.uk.  It help me understand the way I was feeling was normal in withdrawl.  There is a wealth of information.  Good Luck...
Avatar universal
Thanks for the imput. You are right, if I keep my mind and body totally occupied on something else I can go almost all day without taking anything.

I'll try to register with Benzo. org.uk today.
Thanks much,
Avatar universal
Hello All,
my sister is going through similar stuff as you all right now and i have found a new hope and thats the reason i am posting this. Please look into amino acid therapy, go to your book store, get this book by Julia Ross called "mood cure". There are natural ways of dealing with anxiety and depression and thats through 5-HTP and amino acids and without any side effects.
Also, read this articles,

good luck to you all. Please do not stop your medicines cold turkey because you will go through hell. The key is to start amino acid therapy and then slowly wean off the prescription medicine. Amino acids r available in nutrition food stores and GNCs
110220 tn?1309310461
Hi coolman2,
How are you doing? Did you have a chance to sign onto the benzo.org.uk website?  If so, did it help?  Hope all is well.
Avatar universal
I had my first panic Attack on 8/27/05.  I was put on Ativan, but then became to need more than needed to keep the attacks away.  So they put me on Xanax.  It's been about 2 months that I've been on them, but I've abused them to the point I was taking upwards of 6-8mg a day.  Then I had an accident at work and was in a pain and still am.  About two weeks ago, I went through my whole months supply, not to mention the 90 2 mg pills I bought online.  I was in a Xanax stupor for 2 weeks. I'm surprised I didn't overdose.  I recieved my prescribe for the month supply and week later it was gone.  

So of course now I don't have any and can't have any until at least the 25 when the ins, pays for it. I'm refusing to go back to mexico to get them or even orde them online.  My last Xanax was on Tuesday night 2 mgs.  I had a panic attack after an MRI and they gave it to me.  While cleaning, my husband found one 1mg xanax on the floor.  It's in my bathroom and has been there all day.  I want to take it...but don't want to.  I have not felt myself in these last few days since stopping.  Yesterday was a good day for me...today...does not feel real.  My husband suggests that it's the withdrawal symtpoms.  I do believe it is.  MY doc told me he isnt gonig to give it to me anymore.  Though I have two refills left.  Ive read the Ashton method, but I dont want to die from not taking the meds.  I'ts been 4 days now and I've experienced no appetite, EXTREME headaches, irritability, surreal, depressed.  

What do I do?  If I stick it out and just do this (I used crank when I was a teen for a year and stopped cold turkey only because it became not available to me...i made it throug it...it was tough...but I made and have been meth free for over 13 years now), do you think I can make it?  Will I REALLY DIE from not taking it like I keep reading?
Avatar universal
I would recommend that you go back to your doctor and tell him/her to help you get off the xanax GRADUALLY, and if he/she is unwilling to prescribe you a dose to wean yourself from xanax, then go to a different doctor who WILL.  However, be REALISTIC with yourself and your addiction.  To stop taking the drug may mean going into a hospital or having your husband or someone else you trust to watch over your dosage daily (control it for you) before a doctor will even dare prescribe you with more xanax for fear of your abusing it again.  If you can show you have taken one of these steps, you will find a doctor (maybe not the one you see now) who will help you wean off the drug.  Also, I doubt that what you are feeling is actually going to kill you as much as it FEELS like it will, which I know is just as scary.  However, it is a valid concern and you should bring that up to your doctor or two for a different opinion.  After all, your doctor DID prescribe you something that is incredibly addictive and should own up to his/her misjudgement.  So that you don't feel too bad about yourself which is common in these situations, realize that you only did what everyone is told to do - you believed in your doctor - the addiction is not your fault but the doctor's fault for not informing you of the nature of the drug or realizing the risk involved.  Do admit to and own your addiction now, however, or else you will never be able to quit.  Your recovery from this addiction should be more important to your doctor than his fear or anxiety in treating you - after all he did cause it in the long run and how dare anyone make you feel suffering so extreme as withdrawal?  If you do decide to quit cold turkey, it should be your decision and based on your needs.  Not everyone can take that much time off from their daily activities/work/chores to completely come off of a drug like that.  However, remember to trust your instinct b/c I've had doctors that were complete idiots, and I would never go see them for a cold, let alone anything serious.  Remember - it's your body, you have the final say in what you will or will not take or undergo, a doctor simply makes his recommendation and it's up to you to decide the course of action.  Find a doctor that's willing to give you that much respect.  After all, a doctor doesn't have all the answers magically just because they got a M.D. - they are only as knowledgeable as the amount of concern they have for your situation, i.e., by looking up the information (that is not in their common knowledge because it would be impossible to know everything) and by keeping on top of drug symptoms and side effects are the only way a doctor can make smart decisions.    Make sure you can tell a smart doctor from a not so smart doctor, and you can tell this simply by how he/she treats you and speaks to you.
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
15 signs that it’s more than just the blues
Can depression and anxiety cause heart disease? Get the facts in this Missouri Medicine report.
Simple, drug-free tips to banish the blues.
A guide to 10 common phobias.
Are there grounds to recommend coffee consumption? Recent studies perk interest.
For many, mental health care is prohibitively expensive. Dr. Rebecca Resnik provides a guide on how to find free or reduced-fee treatment in your area