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Can I Quit Xanax Cold Turkey?

Absolutely not. Xanax is a strong benzodiazepine and one of the most commonly prescribed drugs. It’s popular because it works quickly to relieve anxiety, but it’s not supposed to be used regularly. Dependence can develop in as little of two weeks of regular use. Once dependence develops, it’s dangerous to quit using it abruptly.

Xanax works by enhancing the effect of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. This reduces activity in certain parts of the brain and dampens anxiety. It doesn’t take long for your brain to adjust to the higher levels of GABA by producing less GABA of its own. This is when tolerance forms. A clear sign of tolerance is when you need to take more of the drug to get the same calming effect. At that point, quitting Xanax abruptly is dangerous because your brain is no longer producing enough of its own GABA to function properly.

Among other things, GABA is what keeps your neurons from becoming overactive and causing a seizure. A seizure caused by Xanax withdrawal is dangerous. It can cause brain damage or death. Xanax is more potent than other benzos and it’s shorter-acting, meaning it starts working quickly and gets out of your system quickly. Other benzos are not as strong and take a little longer to get out of your system so they have something like a built-in taper. They are still dangerous to quit cold turkey, but the crash from Xanax is more precipitous.

Withdrawal symptoms include insomnia, anxiety, irritability, panic attacks, shaking, seizures, headaches, muscle aches, nausea and vomiting, hallucinations, and psychosis. Often, the anxiety, panic, and insomnia that Xanax was prescribed for to begin with will come back with a vengeance after quitting, what’s known as the rebound effect.

The only safe way to quit Xanax is to taper under medical supervision. How long this takes depends on how much you were taking and for how long. Withdrawal usually starts in about six to 12 hours after the last dose. The rebound effect typically occurs during the first few days, and then acute withdrawal begins. Symptoms can linger for months without proper medical care.

By detoxing in a medical clinic, most of the withdrawal symptoms can be avoided. Typically, they will taper you off Xanax slowly while monitoring your response. Sometimes they substitute other benzodiazepines, such as Valium. During treatment, you may receive other medications combined with therapy to bring your anxiety under control.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction to Xanax or other benzodiazepines, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at to learn more.