Getting off Xanax can be incredibly difficult due to the withdrawal symptoms that often arise. However, recovery is possible with appropriate help and guidance.

Whether you are hoping to find out how to get off Xanax for yourself or to support a loved one, our short guide can assist you.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax (alprazolam) is a potent benzodiazepine that works by enhancing neurotransmitter activity in the brain and slowing down the central nervous system.

As with all drugs, including prescription drugs, Xanax is addictive. People who become dependent on Xanax and then try to quit will usually experience an acute withdrawal period, which may be followed by protracted withdrawal.

Xanax Detox

When a person decides to stop taking Xanax, it is essential to remember that Xanax should not be suddenly quit. Instead, those living with addiction must stop using Xanax slowly.

Going cold turkey – stopping drug abuse abruptly – can cause many people to experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures and rebound symptoms from mental health issues. By tapering off of Xanax gradually, withdrawal symptoms may not be as intense and are often much more manageable.

Attempting to detox from Xanax alone is not safe nor recommended. Due to the withdrawal symptoms that can arise, detox must be completed in a professional environment, such as an inpatient or outpatient rehab.

Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms

Stopping using Xanax can, as noted above, induce physical withdrawal symptoms and also psychological withdrawal symptoms, such as:

  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Panic
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures
  • Muscle pain
  • Tremors
  • Diarrhea
  • Numb fingers
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Loss of appetite

Xanax Withdrawal Timeline

Xanax has a half-life of around 11 hours, meaning it takes the body 50 hours to remove it completely. Usually, Xanax withdrawal symptoms begin six to 12 hours after the last dose, with some of the first symptoms including anxiety, insomnia, and a headache.

One to four days after the last dose of Xanax, more severe withdrawal symptoms may be felt. At this stage, anxiety and insomnia could worsen, and people who began using Xanax to treat anxiety disorders may experience a rebound of their original symptoms. Flu-like symptoms may also be felt, and the risk of dangerous withdrawal symptoms increases during this period.

Five days after Xanax cessation, symptoms peak and begin to reduce, with most of the intense withdrawal symptoms alleviating. Flu-like sensations start to decrease, as does the risk of seizure. However, it is common for anxiety and insomnia to still be felt at this stage of Xanax withdrawal.

Two weeks after the last dose of Xanax, normal functioning begins to return. For some people, this period of acute withdrawal is often followed by a protracted withdrawal known as post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS).

Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms

As acute withdrawal symptoms subside, some people often experience further symptoms of Xanax withdrawal. These symptoms are significantly less intense than during the acute period, but they can linger for up to two years. PAWS include:

  • Irritability and hostility
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Limited ability to focus or think clearly
  • Low libido
  • Chronic pain
  • Drug cravings

These symptoms tend to come in waves. While they are not as strong as those experienced during the acute stage, they can cause some people to relapse due to the length of time that they are experienced.

If a person in recovery experiences PAWS, there are a number of things they can do to cope better to prevent relapse. These include:

  • Journaling. Any way of expressing emotions can be helpful while protracted withdrawal symptoms are ongoing. Journaling helps express any uncomfortable thoughts and feelings, releasing the tension experienced during early recovery.
  • Attending recovery-based meetings. There are many different types of meetings designed to help those recovering from addictions. Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is the most popular for people in recovery from drugs such as Xanax.
  • Meditating. Meditating for five or 10 minutes a day can be very effective for reducing stress in early recovery.
  • Taking a yoga class. Yoga combines exercise and mindfulness, both of which can help with PAWS. There is no need to attend a challenging class – instead, we recommend finding a style and teacher that suits each person’s needs.

Why Do People Use Xanax?

Xanax abuse arises due to a range of different factors. Below, we share just a few reasons people start using the drug.

  • Recreational use. Some people initially start using Xanax recreationally. Often, they are given a Xanax pill at a party and find the experience enjoyable. Although they might not think about Xanax all of the time, they may use the drug again upon attending another party when it is available. Over time, they start using the drug when they are not at parties, which causes a dependency to set in.
  • Prescription use. People living with anxiety are often prescribed Xanax by their doctor to reduce some of the effects they experience and improve their quality of life. Though Xanax is initially highly effective, the effectiveness weans over time, causing some people to seek an additional illicit source of the drug. Once they have this, drug use can begin to spiral. When they run out of Xanax, their initial anxiety becomes far worse, and they also have to contend with withdrawal. They continue to use Xanax to cope, causing the body and brain to rely on it to function.

Co-Occurring Disorders With Xanax Abuse

Xanax abuse often begins with mental health issues. As noted above, people who abuse Xanax may have a panic or anxiety disorder that can be masked with Xanax use.

Once someone starts abusing Xanax, they may feel like their mental health has improved, but in reality, their Xanax use merely means that they are temporarily not experiencing their mental health problems.

Combining Xanax With Other Drugs

People who take Xanax often combine it with other drugs, making it even more dangerous. If someone becomes hooked on more than one substance, they could develop a strong drug dependence and experience more intense withdrawal symptoms.

Some of the most common combinations include:

  • Xanax and heroin. People use these two drugs together to potentiate the effects. As they are both downers that slow the central nervous system, they dramatically increase the risk of overdosing.
  • Xanax and cocaine. People who take cocaine (and other stimulants) often experience anxiety due to drug use. Xanax can help reduce this, but it can also cause people to act increasingly uninhibited. People using this combination often find themselves in dangerous situations.
  • Xanax and alcohol. Another combination of downers, mixing Xanax and alcohol has proved fatal on many occasions. People who become addicted to alcohol can develop a physical dependence and can experience a withdrawal period that is similarly dangerous to Xanax.

Other Benzodiazepine Drugs

Xanax is not the only type of benzodiazepine drug. There are many others with different strengths, usages, and durations. The most commonly used benzodiazepines are:

  • Xanax (alprazolam)
  • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
  • Valium (diazepam)
  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Restoril (temazepam)
  • Halcion (triazolam)

How Can I Get Off Xanax?

Attempting to get off Xanax alone is dangerous. For this very reason, anyone who has become addicted to Xanax must reach out for professional addiction treatment. While the thought of contacting a medical professional and discussing Xanax addiction can be frightening, completing benzodiazepine withdrawal and addiction treatment is advised.

Across the United States, there are treatment centers for substance use disorder in most towns and cities. Most treatment centers have staff who have experience treating benzodiazepine withdrawal and can offer medical detox and medical supervision.

When it comes to getting off Xanax, medical detox provides a safe and comfortable space for many people. During detox, Xanax and any harmful toxins are removed from the body under the guidance of a professional, which in turn ensures that withdrawal symptoms can be managed.

If a person has a co-occurring mental health problem, such as trauma, panic disorder, or another drug addiction, it is essential to address these problems during Xanax addiction treatment. However, this requires care from a treatment center that can offer dual diagnosis treatments.

Upon completing medical detox, additional addiction treatment is available to treat the psychological reasons that a person began using Xanax in the first place.

Conclusion

If you are trying to stop using Xanax and have been using it for a long time, professional medical advice and care is the safest and most effective way of ceasing use.

At NPAC, we can help you or your loved one deal with all of the issues that keep people trapped within addiction. You don’t have to do this alone. Call (888) 574-3506 to speak with one of our team. We are available to take your call and answer any questions you may have surrounding substance abuse.

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Samantha Kelly​

Director of National Business Development & Admissions Coordinator

I am a dedicated and passionate professional with extensive experience in business development Admissions and marketing. I have an incredible passion for showing others that there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel if someone truly wants it.
Being in recovery myself I understand the struggles of addiction and alcoholism. I Started this Career path in 2009. With multiple years of experience, I bring a multi-faceted approach and am always seeking new ways to make a difference in the lives of those I work with.

Kim L. Buckner

Facilitator

As a Substance Abuse Motivational Speaker, Pastor, Peer Advocate, and Facilitator. Kim helps clients avoid relapse by understanding their triggers. Those people, places and things that can cause craving, as well as internal triggers like feelings, thoughts, or emotions. Kim also clients with identifying and building healthy relationships now that they’re clean and sober.

Kim’s background includes extensive experience as a motivational speaker and work in faith-based organizations helping youth and adults alike. He says he is motivated by giving back to the community, understanding, and not judging who she comes into contact with. Kim’s favorite quote is by Dr. Raymond Johnson: “The respect given to others rebounds to the giver to deny the scared in the Other is to deny it in oneself.”

Caty Burns

Clinician

Caty graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minors in Counseling and History. Throughout her undergrad, she worked at the local CASA program, supporting volunteers advocating for children who had experienced abuse and neglect. Caty worked for seven years at a community mental health center (CMHC), partnering with children, adults, and families.

During those seven years, she taught life and coping skills as well as behavior management, provided case management and peer recovery services, and facilitated treatment teams that included the client, family, providers, and community members. I have also worked at an IOP providing group therapy services. She is currently working towards my Master of Social Work.

In her free time, Caty enjoys reading, especially historical fiction, spending time outdoors and having movie nights with her family. Disney World is her happy place, and she dreams of living among the elephants.

Madison Knowles

Mental Health Therapist

My name is Madison Knowles, I am a Mental health therapist at NPAC. I am a single-mother of two and I have a daughter who is globally delayed and has been diagnosed with autism. I have been in this industry since I was 16 years old, as I was fascinated with human behavior. I obtained my masters in applied behavioral analysis and started off working with people with disabilities. I then found my love for counseling when I worked with juveniles who had mental health and substance use issues. I then decided to go back for my mental health therapy license after that and working in a forensic treatment center. I went on to obtain my therapy credentials and since 2017, I have also been working on my PhD in forensic psychology in which I am currently working on my dissertation. I am inspired by change and how resilient people can be. My favorite inspirational quote is “Some will, Some won’t, So what, NEXT!!!” This quote has inspired me to try, try, and try again no matter how hard life gets, someone will give you a chance eventually. As a therapist at NPAC, I have been given the opportunity to work with diverse populations such as in substance use and mental health and I am known for my work with people on the schizophrenic spectrum as well as with other clients with other severe conditions including personality disorders.

Megan Carmona, LMHC

Lead Therapist

Our Lead Therapist, Megan, is a bilingual Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in working with adults who struggle with addiction, anxiety, depression, and trauma. As Lead Therapist, she provides individual, family, and group therapy sessions to our clients.  Megan says “I am very passionate about therapy, especially about supporting my clients in exploring their strengths and identity. My goal is to provide individuals with the tools that can help them achieve independence in coping with their challenges and facilitating personal development.” In her free time, Megan enjoys watching docu-series and playing video games with her family. Her dream is to own acres of land so she can care for vulnerable animals, especially old dogs, cats, and horses. 

Kristen Bensley

Primary Clinician

As Primary Clinician, Kristen works with all aspects of our clinical team, from case management to primary therapy.  She has broad experience working in the mental health field. Prior to joining our team at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic, Kristen was part of the team awarded the Evernorth Behavioral Health Center of Excellence Designation by Cigna. She says her motivation is to help people rediscover who they are and become excited about the future and all the possibilities life offers. Kristen’s favorite quote is: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Ronn Daigle, MSW

Therapist, Utilization Review Clinician

Ronn Daigle services as a Therapist and Utilization Review Clinician at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has been working in the field of substance use disorder treatment since 2011, with experience in all facility-based levels of care. Ronn earned, both an Associate of Arts in Psychology (2013) and Bachelor of Science in Human Services, with an Addiction Studies Concentration (2015) from Indian River State College. 

Ronn additionally earned a Master of Social Work degree in 2021 and is a current Registered Clinical Social Work Intern working toward licensure (LCSW). He describes himself as detail oriented, and solution focused.

Ronn says: “There is nothing more fulfilling than working with someone who doesn’t believe in himself or herself, and being there in the moment with them when the belief begins. We work with individuals who come to us at a point and time in their respective lives where they do not believe that change for others is possible; let alone for themselves…throughout the process they eventually come to a point where they realize that change is not only possible, but achievable.”

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI

Assistant Clinical Director

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI is the Assistant Clinical Director at Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic who specializes in the treatment of LGBTQ, addiction, as well as mental health disorders ranging from depression and anxiety, to Bipolar Disorder, trauma, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and eating disorders. Erika utilizes a number of modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Mindfulness amongst others. Erika has been in practice for close to a decade and has earned her license in Mental Health Counseling, as well as being a Master’s Certified Addiction Professional. Erika has worked with many individuals including couples counseling and family therapy, and is fluent in Spanish.
 
Throughout my years of practice, one of the things I enjoy helping people find is inner peace. Whether you are in the deepest parts of depression, overrun by your anxiety, controlled by your addiction, or there are certain issues in your life that are negatively impacting your ability to function, and have a happy, healthy life, maybe now is the time to talk about it. I am a big believer in empowerment, working hard in therapy, and utilizing different techniques to help you regain that inner peace that may have been lost along the way. I want to work with you as a team because with two people, absolutely everything is possible. I want to be there as a therapist, to help build you up, support you, but also help you be honest with yourself and accountable. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, my biggest goal for you is going to be simple….for you to no longer need my services. Why? Because if you no longer need my services, it means that you have regained your peace, you have regained your strength, you have regained your confidence. It means that you now have the tools to address any issues that try to derail you, and best of all, you will have the insight to overcome and thrive. So let’s begin this journey together, and get you to the place you want to be, emotionally, mentally, psychologically, and in your sobriety.

Aurelio Ayuso, MSW, LCSW, CAP, ICADC

Clinical Director

Aurelio has worked with those that suffer from the disease of addiction in adults and juveniles alike for over 10 years, beginning in the United States Navy where he proudly served for 20 years, working with those that were succumbed by addiction due to trauma and continuing his passion for helping those in need locally in Central Florida.

He specializes in both Addictions and Trauma, he has worked first as a therapist then as the clinical supervisor to both the Juvenile and Adult Drug Court programs in Brevard County. Aurelio has been instrumental in developing substance abuse treatment programs directly tailored to help those that also suffer from complex trauma due to their addiction. He has been recognized by several organizations for his forward thinking and ability to tailor treatment to individuals in the most restrictive environments.

Mr. Ayuso received his Graduate Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker as well as Certified Addictions Professional in the State of Florida, and Internationally Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor. Aurelio specializes in the treatment of Addiction, Trauma, and Abandonment using strength based strategies deeply rooted in Solution Focused, and Mindfulness Therapies. At the Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic he passionately develops holistic curriculums that foster the belief that through addressing the mind, body, and spirit together, the Disease of Addiction can be addressed successfully.

Robert Lehmann, MHSA

Chief Operating Officer

Bob Lehmann is the Chief Operating Officer at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Services Administration with a concentration in Mental Health Administration and over twenty-five years of experience as a senior executive at addiction and mental health treatment facilities.

One of the reasons for his commitment to excellence in addiction treatment was his experience related to family members who suffered from the disease of addiction. Bob has been actively involved in community organizations throughout his career. Recently he was one of the founders of the Florida Addiction Treatment Coalition (FATC) and is its present Vice President. FATC was designed to bring together treatment executives in Florida to advocate on behalf of treatment facilities and the clients they serve adhering to a foundation of integrity and service excellence.

Jose R. Toledo, M.D.

Medical Director

A well-rounded and accomplished individual, Jose R. Toledo, M.D., is the Medical Director of Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a neurologist with 25 years of experience and has been in private practice since 1991 on the Treasure Coast of Florida. He completed his neurology training at the State University of New York and his Fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh in Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology.

He also completed 24 months of acute inpatient psychiatry at the Western Missouri Mental Health Center, University of Missouri in Kansas City. In 2008, Dr. Toledo participated in and was certified in the continuing medical education activity entitled “Buprenorphine and Office-Based Treatment of Opioid Dependence” from The Medical University of South Carolina during which began his quest to found and head Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a brain specialist with particular competence in addiction medicine and out-patient detoxification treatment and integrates the fields seamlessly. He is certified to prescribe Buprenorphine (Suboxone). He incorporates his background in neurology into the addiction field. Dr. Toledo is member/fellow of The American Medical Association, The Florida Medical Association and The American Society of Addiction Medicine