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Avatar universal

xanax withdrawal

In the late 90's, I had seven jaw joint surgeries. The first one was bad. The second revealed both sides required total discectomies and a bone infection in the right side. The additional prodedures were to debrief scar tissue and culture.
In 2001, afraid to touch the joints anymore, oral surgeon referred me to the Pain clinic where they gave me methadone. Averaged 80 mgs. the past 4 years.  I became tolerant, wanted to taper off slowly, began 11/04, got down to 5 mg. 7/05 when it became too hard.  I've been seeing a rehab doctor and taking suboxone.  While tapering, in order to continue work and not suffer withdrawal, I was given xanax.  I became addicted at one time up to 25 mg.s a day, down to 15 now.  It's been close to a year.  What is the best way to detox without losing my job?  If I take a medical leave for 30 days in December and take no xanax, will that be enough time or should I continue to slowly taper?  Also, my rehab doctor has given me Prozac to help withdrawal from the xanax.  Is that effective or is Effexor a more proficient medication?
30 Responses
242532 tn?1269553979
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Both prozac and effexor are good for helping with withdrawals...that is a whopping dose of xanax and you must taper very slowly, very slowly , starting now so that by decemember you are in the range of .5 to 1 mg/day, then taper over three weeks, by alternating dose and lowering dose so end of third week you have taken the lowest possible every 3 days, then stop.  you might also ask your doctor to cover you for seizures during the stop week and the week after.
Avatar universal
I also feel a dependence to xanax because of anxiety disorder and inability to sleep. Just a suggestion, my doctor prescribed me Klonopin, a low dose to wean off xanax. Klonopin is apparently much easier to get off of when you are ready. Klonopin is also much longer lasting effect. Hope this helps.
Tammy
Avatar universal
I need help with this too. I posted this under another question but I realized that no one had posted since September.

I had my first panic attack Sept., 17, 2005.  I am 36 years old. It was horrible, we had just had a death in the family and my husband told me at about 6am. My first thought was okay I have control over this I need to call a funeral home and then all the sudden this pain shot up my left arm and got progressively worse within 20 minutes. I even took a hot bath and it still did not go away. Then I thought I was having a heart attack and I started hypervetilating, My husbad said he could feel my heart busting out of my chest. I thought was going to die. The paramedics came and took the vitals, said this is an axiety attack, but I made them take me to the hospital anyway. I didn't believe them. I was in the ER three hours, they took blood tests, had EKG on, and gave me Xanax...I think 4MG because the pills were large oval and white.

When they released me I asked for more just in case, they were like if you do this again just deep breathe. So a day goes by...nothing but a tad more edgy ,then on the second day I had two more panic attacks. We did not call the ER because my hubby just made me breathe but I needed ice packs all over me, drink lots of water I was shaking like a leaf. By the Monday I was a wreck, like having cluster attacks. It was awful. we found a shrink who said I would continue on Xanax. I alraedy had a therepist but of course they can't prescribe meds.

The psychiatrist was an *** but he gave me .25 Xanax (Alpromazoram SP?)three times a day. I was okay for like two days then I needed taking more.I became agorophobic because I had an attack outside. I thought about dying constantly. So he upped me to .5 (the peach ones) 3xs a dy but I needed to take it 5xs so 2.5MG a day. Then it was to drowsy for me and I dropped to 4xs- 2MG. For two weeks I felt great and even would have to remind my self to take it rather than feeling the chest pains and arm pain. BUT!!!! when I tried to drop the evening pill and go to 1.5 MG, I halfed the 4th pill, for two days then quartered it on the third day. The next morning I nearly had a panic attack again (legs jittering, hot flashes).  I dumped my shrink b/c I did not like him and went to a reg doc. She tough .5  4xs a day was too much Xanax for me esp at my weight 114lbs. So yesterday she put me on 10 MG Prozac onec a day(she wanted to do Paxil or Lexapro but I said no cause I hear they are terrieble, esp Paxil). She said I want you OFF XANAX. So she gave me a perscription of .5 but she stipulated AS NEEDED NO MORE THAN 3xs A DAY!! She said in a month the Prozac will build up.

So far so good. I took my first Prozac yesterday. No side effects. But I still needed 2 MG Xanax cause anxiety did come. Today I woke up at 2AM and could not sleep, so at 4AM I took half a peach (=.25), then Prozac at 9am, felt anxiety then too a Xanax at 10am, but guess what I did not need anothe Xanax till nearly 4pm! and even then it was not really an axiety thing, I just felt like I should taper it more. So I will try to go as long as I can tonight before taking one. Lets say I make it till 11pm that is still some progress and puts me down to 1.75MG at least.

Or should I half the pill I take tonight?

Has anyone been on Xanax and Prozac? How did you wean off Xanax? I want to get off this stuff.
Avatar universal
The tapering plan the doctor has posted on this forum is too fast!! You have to go REALLY slowly off xanax in order to minimize withdrawal symptoms.

This forum can help:

http://www.benzo.org.uk/forum

Avatar universal
hey guys it feels so good to know theres others out there, ive been living a scary cold dark life. i started with vicodin till they didint even faze me anymore went on the percocets, on to oxycontin and morphine, onto heroin 4-5 times. after irealized im using such a horrible drug like heroin i had to do something. i am know seeing a specialist that prescribes me suboxone. i started with 8 mg a day on to 12 a day on to 24 a day on to 12 a day and now im on 8 as day again. its been two weeks that im clean but i smoke alot of weedt to now think about doing ox. im so happy im atleast trying to stop but i dont know if this will work. ive tried mixing suboxone with benzo's but i liked it so much i stopped. please responmse wiht any words of advice iwould love to hear from anyone, ive neever been able to speak to others in my situation. im embaressed to try na. any reply wiht any positive comments would be amazing. im tired of this bull**** life its time we all take control and become succesful, good bless all of you and thanks for taking ur time to read. 21 yr old male, ny. thanx again good luck. my im is mrmazman14.
Avatar universal
i have been taking xanax .25mg just started this week due to getting severe pain in my chest and upper back. The doctors told me that it was stress but i'm afraid that after the medication is completed that i will get withdrawl syptoms and the anxiety will come back even worse than it was. what should i do?
Avatar universal
My doctor prescribed 1 mg Ativan twice a day for my withdrawal symptoms. I was only on .50 once a night of Xanax, but when I stopped taking it, couldn't sleep and was so anxious and depressed. But now I am hearing that the Ativan can be just as bad. Has anyone heard of using Ativan for Xanax withdrawal? Also, what is the norm for how long the withdrawal symptoms last? Thanks for any help.
Avatar universal
I am on 1 mg. Xanax 3 times a day. I want to withdraw off of it. Please any help I could use.
Avatar universal
its really hard to go off such a drug but you cant do it over night. What you need to do is take the xanax as prscibed and everyday or week reduce your dose bit by bit. Ok there are time you may need little more just go and take little but by the next day you can go on by with thr reduction.
I am one of the few and i had a major problem to quiet and i was in a different enviroment and it was too hard but i did.
Avatar universal
Marge,

Do Not Cold Turkey or Withdraw Too Fast!!

Please go to the British website www.benzo.org.uk and join their private support forum. Don't do any cutting back yet. The volunteers and other members there will help you devise a safe, slow and intelligent withdrawal plan, while offering you the emotional support you're definitely going to need in order to get off the Xanax. This benzo is one of the most addictive and crippling drugs ever invented, though I'm sure your doctors never told you this. Everyone has trouble with it. As tolerance takes hold, insomnia, anxiety, depression, muscle pain, fatigue, gastrointestinal disturbance, distorted thinking, memory and attention difficulties all grab on and won't let go until about 18 months of being off. If you cold turkey, or taper too quickly, such as the advice usually given by doctors, you're likely going to kick in horrible and painful post-withdrawal symptoms. At your current dose, assuming you can do a valium cross-over and taper, it could take up to 12 months to properly taper off, minimizing withdrawal symptoms.

When you go to the British website, look up the Ashton Manual and start reading. Then, read the stories of benzodiazepine victims and how they were eventually able to get over their unintended addiction. Also loook into the legal and governemtal interventions listed. There are over 600 pages of resources and information on that website, the world's most comprehensive cache of benzo-related data. Finally, join the forum for the support and guidance you'll never, ever get from any American doctor.

Good luck and God bless
110220 tn?1309310461
I am weaning off of xanax.  I was taking 1.5mg (.5 three times a day since Nov. 4 2005)for a panic attack I suffered that landed me in the emergency room (rapid heart rate).  My heart is fine after many test were ran.  Panic became a constant companion after this incident and my doctor prescribed xanax.  It worked like a dream for me and not once did my doctor speak of the addictiveness of the drug.

I have read the Ashton/benzo withdrawl reccommendation and I don't quite agree with it because their feeling is that you should wean off of xanax by beginning to take another addictive benzo..valium.  Perhaps for people that have been on xanax for 5/10 plus years will need other drugs to cope with the withdrawl, but I'm praying and am determine to wean off xanax with no other medication.

Weaning is hard, tightness in my head, muscle spasms, anxiousness, headaches, not sleeping peacefully at night is what I am going through now and I am down to .75 per day (.25 three times a day) and I've been on xanax just over 2 months. Having these withdrawl symptoms makes me more determined to get off of them, it can only get worse.  I can only imagine how a person might feel weaning off after years of use.

Every day I try to hold off as long as possible before taking a xanax.  I take a .25 in the morning around 6am and the next pill isn't until 5pm.  My next goal is to drop the mid day dosage totally or even break that pill in half 012.5.  I realize that weaning is going to take time due the serious side effect (seizures), but everyday, I'm getting closer to my goal.

One thing that I did do while taking xanax is meet with a therapist to learn relaxation techniques...deep breathing is a unbelievable help when a panic attack is approaching and I am 50 years old and have had panic/anxiety since my early 20's.  This was the first time that I took the medication route.

Good luck to all who are faced with xanax withdrawl.
110220 tn?1309310461
Marge,
I think I read your e-mail in Benzo.org web site about weening off of xanax where their response was to taper using Valium.  I could tell that you didn't want to do that and your insurance would not allow you to change doctors and your current doctor would not prescribe Valium.  If that e-mail was not you, please excuse me.

I am not a expert on xanax, but I'm weening off of taking 1.5 mg per day for the last 10 weeks.  I didn't think that it would be difficult....wrong. I do have withdrawl symptoms that are scary!  But this motivates me to continue, I figure the more that I go through now, the less time I have to deal with this.  I did find a website that offers a weening/tapering plan of xanax that doesn't suggest to add more medication to your body.  The website is www.dearest.com/educate/xanax.htm.  

While I can't regret taking xanax because I did need it when it was prescribed, but if I knew after a few weeks I would be addicted, I would have stopped sooner instead of enjoying the comforts of feeling free from the world of anxiety.  I probably would have worked harder on the recovery as I have done recently.
Good luck and I hope that this helps.

rose
Avatar universal
Hello all, I am new to this site and am so glad I found it. I am 46 yrs old and have been on xanax since my mid 20's. for severe panic and anxiety.  I have been on a pretty steady dose, .75mg 4x daily. I am now in counseling with someone I really have clicked with and we are tapering down my xanax. I absolutely hate this drug, and my body certainly tells me when a dose is due.  I am tapering down 1/8th a mg at a time.  This is going to be a LONG  process.  Months and months.I have tried many times in the past to get off xanax but couldnt get lower than 1.5 mg. Anyway the counselor put me on ativan (1mg) and said I can break it in half at first to see how  I do.  I am really nervous about side effects of both the new med and the taper off of the old. The hope is that by going on a longer acting benzo, I will be able to someday be med free totally. I really need support with this. I just took my first one half ativan at noon.. Lets hope :)
110220 tn?1309310461
I am not an expert on benzos (xanax) or other anti-depressants, but what I do know is that adding an addictive drug to another addictive drug can't be good.  I was encourage to taper off of xanax by using valium which is another benzo...I just could not do that to myself.

Xanax does have a way of telling your body that it is time.  I have tapered from taking 1.5mg per day to now 012.5 three times a day.  At first I felt bad, minimum sleep, spasms, tightness around my head and hot and cold flushes, this is now very mild and could probably stop sooner than originally planned but I don't want to experience a possible seizure or a setback.  I'm just enjoying the fact that I am beating this xanax addiction and I did it my way.

By the way I must add that it took me 4 weeks to taper.  All of our bodies are different.  Stay focus and determined and you can do it!

Best Wishes
Avatar universal
Hi nurseaide46,

The reason for the switch to valium from any other benzo is that valium's longer half-life makes interdose withdrawal much less intense. It's also 20 times less potent than Xanax and Klonopin, making it much easier to cut into pieces as your taper gets lower. Thousands of Europeans and Brits have used the Ashton Manual's schedules to successfully get off benzos.

You've been on Xanax for 2 decades...you will not be able to withdraw from it directly.  

I strongly suggest you go to www.benzo.org.uk and read the Asthon Manual, as well as the personal stories of hell.

You also need to go to http://www.bnf.org/ and read the British government's official position on benzos, as well as the recommended withdrawal schedule they suggest to their own doctors. Sign up for the free membership, then type "benzodiazepine withdrawal" in their search box. Then, click on "4.1 Hypnotics and anxiolytics".

Scroll down about 2/3 and find their withdrawal schedule, which in part reads:

"The benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome may develop at any time up to 3 weeks after stopping a long-acting benzodiazepine, but may occur within a few hours in the case of a short-acting one (Xanax). It is characterised by insomnia, anxiety, loss of appetite and of body-weight, tremor, perspiration, tinnitus, and perceptual disturbances. These symptoms may be similar to the original complaint and encourage further prescribing; some symptoms may continue for weeks or months after stopping benzodiazepines.

A benzodiazepine can be withdrawn in steps of about one-eighth (range one-tenth to one-quarter) of the daily dose every fortnight. A suggested withdrawal protocol for patients who have difficulty is as follows:

Transfer patient to equivalent daily dose of diazepam preferably taken at night.

Reduce diazepam dose in fortnightly steps of 2 or 2.5 mg; if withdrawal symptoms occur, maintain this dose until symptoms improve.

Reduce dose further, if necessary in smaller fortnightly steps; it is better to reduce too slowly rather than too quickly.

Stop completely; time needed for withdrawal can vary from about 4 weeks to a year or more."

Keep in mind that this is the OFFICIAL withdrawal recommendations of the British Government's medical regulatory agency. Europe and the British Isles have experienced the benzo tragedy and epidemic for 3 decades. There have been dozens of Parliementary sessions held specifically addressing the criminal malprescribing of benzos. The schedule above is the result. American doctors have yet to recognize the dangers of long term benzo prescribing. The longest amount of prescribing of benzos, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), is no longer than 4 weeks. That's because of their known dependence and accidental addiction properties.

Please do yourself a big favor and go to www.benzo.org.uk and start reading. If you are really ready to get off your benzo then join their Benzoisland forum, which is linked at the very top of their home page. The staff of this free, private forum will help you to set up a withdrawal schedule, while giving you genuine and kind emotional support as you experience the pain and horror of withdrawal.

Good luck and God bless,

Terramuggus
Avatar universal
oh i m so happy to found this website.i m suffer very bad xanax withrawl symstoms.i took xanax (.5 twice a day ) for 3 months. then i stop cold turkey (cause doctor dint tell me about withrawl symtoms) 2 weeks after stop.i m so fine. but now i feeling anxiety, cant sleep....and..ringing in my ear..this ringing thing is so..bad...please help..wat should i do now. thanks
Avatar universal
I have been on Xanax less than a week now, and from what I have been reading it's possible to get hooked after 2 weeks.  The doctor prescribed me 0.25mg & I started with a half of that every 12 hrs & it seemed to work so I have not increased the dosage. Have I been taking this long enough to experience withdrawl symptoms if I just stop??? They only prescribed me 12 in the 1st place w/ out a refill so I don't think they intended for me to take it for too long anyway.  I am researching some holistic remedies to my anxiety & I am going to stay busy just as another person posted ;)  

Please answer!!!
110220 tn?1309310461
If you have taken xanax for less than two weeks then you should be fine if you stop taking them.  If you should experience any withdrawl, it will be minimum, very tolerable.  

For the person who has ringing in the ear (Tinninus), it does go away.  I had that for a few days in total (over a two month period) and it's gone now.  It was the absolutely scariest symptom, it could drive me crazy, that constant buzzing, ringing.  

I wish that these doctors would tell you the drawbacks of these drugs....

I am xanax free now and I will deal with my panic attacks, never to take another benzo, they are addictive and hard to get off of them without suffering....
Avatar universal
I have been on methadone (40 mg) for a year for chronic back pain. I began taking xanax for insomnia. I am trying to get off the xanax now. I am taking 12 mgs. 1x nightly. How do I need to detox off this and can this be done at home with no other meds. What do I expect for withdrawals? Any help would be appreciated
Avatar universal
Just reading these posts I am terrified.  I was prescribed xanax 15 years ago for panic attacks and agoraphobia.  That is all behind me now, but I continued for years taking xanax as needed.  Sometimes just once a week (dosage 0.25mg) and then sometimes maybe a few times a day for 2 to 3 days.Back then I could go weeks without needing any.  I would always check with my MD and he assured me I wasn't even in the dosage range that signaled addiction.  Fast forward to three years ago....I took care of a very difficult mother that had a terminal illness and also lost my big brother to a motorcycle accident six months before Mom finally passed away.  During that extremely difficult time I took Xanax everyday at a dose of 1.5 mg divided over 3 doses with my MD blessings. Over the last year I have tapered myself down to just one dose of 0.5mg that I take everynight and that as far as I can go.  If I do not have that one dose before bedtime, it is awful.  No sleep, fast heartbeat,anxiety,muscle and body pain.  I realize this is a small dose, but since I have been on it for so long I just don't know how to get below this last daily dose. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia last year and am beginning to wonder if a lot of my problems may be related to long term xanax use.  MD today prescribed Cymbalta and a new sleep medicine that is non-narcotic and non addictive, it is called rozerem.  Do you think I should allow that anti-depressant to reach therapeutic level and then begin tapering?  Is there anyway to minimize the effects of withdrawal without using another narcotic?   Just reading about this has produced massive anxiety, but I have got to do it and am fearful I am not strong enough.  Any help or input would be greatly appreciated.
110220 tn?1309310461
babyrn,

You are definitely in a withdrawl cycle with xanax.  When I started tapering, I reduced my dose.  If you are taking .5mg at night, you might want to break the pill in half.  You cannot escape the withdrawl totally, but reducing the dose will help.

After I took my last dosage of xanax, I did not sleep for 3 days, I had rapid heart beats, stomach tenseness and weak legs and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).  It has been a month since I took my last pill and the rapid heart beats are sporadic (happens every now and then, once a week), the tinnitus stopped(that had the potential to drive me crazy), I DO SLEEP NOW.  My GP tried to prescribe Ambien for sleep and I am finish with mind altering medicine, NO WAY.  I will do it the natural way.  While some of the sleep medicine is not addictive, you body can become depended on them.  NO thanks

Xanax did help me during a crisis period, I just didn't know that I was becoming addictive.  If I would ever take a xanax again, it would be for a long flight where I'm feeling anxious. but it would be limited to that one time.  

Good luck on tapering, and you can and will be fine even with all the symptoms (withdrawl).  They do pass with time.

Avatar universal
I am in the process of weaning myself off of Xanax XR.I was taking up to 4mg a day for anxiety and panic attacks only to find that after a certain amount of time not even that dose was working.I have gradually worked my way down to 1.5mg per day ( .5 3x a day-I split my 1mgXR in half)and I have not felt too much physical discomfort ( night sweats and rapid heart beat in the morning when I wake up).There is nothing I want more than to function without Xanax in my life. I find myself on the verge of tears most of the time, my emotions are almost worst than the physical withdrawal symptoms.I feel as my mind is going to have a harder time dealing with this than my body. Have already spent THOUSANDS between therapy and "revisits" that were required.Very frustrating since I feel worse than I did before I went on the meds.
110220 tn?1309310461
I know what you mean about feeling worse...Xanax does mask the anxiety and panic, but once off of them, you have panic and the withdrawl of the xanax.  I tell you to me the withdrawl is worse than the anxiety/panic attacks.  The rapid heart rate, tightness around the head, tinnintus (ringing of the ears, weakness, muscle spasms, no sleep...to name a few.  The good thing is that it does go away eventually.  It is scary that you become addicted to a drug that your doctor recommended.  It's not like you started a crack addiction...this is FDA approved medicine that has you like a junkie.

I have been off now for 5 weeks (after taking xanax for 3 months).  I still have withdrawl, but the symptoms are milder now and they don't throw me into a panic.

And like you I did spend thousands of dollars getting reassurance from cardiologist and general practitioners that all these symptoms were from withdrawl and not because I'm dying or have a dreaded disease.  My doctor never shared with me the side effects or withdrawl that I would experience when I stopped taking xanax.  You live and learn.

Best Wishes
Avatar universal
rosetoes,
Please read my post to you under "withdrawal from xanax".
I have read almost all of your post and I believe you are right on the money. I wish one could quit benzo's cold turkey like pain killers - a month of hell I might add.

I am glad to see someone that was once were I am pull it off!

I remember saying to myself after self-detoxing off of pain meds years ago; "I will never touch those things again!" I wanted nothing to do with them and I ment it. After injuring my back again several years later I had forgotten the hell of withdrawal. Next thing I new I was hooked again.

My point is, never, ever forget what you just went through.
Congrats, and
......never forget
SK



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