Is Quitting Xanax Cold Turkey Safe?

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Xanax is a branded formulation of alprazolam, a prescription benzodiazepine that is prescribed for the treatment of anxiety disorders or sleep disorders. Quitting Xanax can present some concerns if not done safely, or with the supervision

Like all benzos, Xanax can be highly effective when used short-term and as prescribed. If you misuse this class of medication, though, physical dependence can rapidly build. When you become dependent on Xanax, you will experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms upon moderating or discontinuing use.

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If you are thinking of quitting Xanax, this guide outlines the dangers of stopping Xanax cold turkey – reducing dosage without medical supervision. You can also discover how hard is it to get off Xanax and how to quit taking Xanax as safely and comfortably as possible.

What happens if you try detoxing from Xanax cold turkey, then?

Is It Dangerous to Stop Taking Xanax Cold Turkey?

If you are dependent on benzos, you might be wondering how to stop taking Xanax cold turkey. This is not only dangerous but also potentially life-threatening.

Physical dependence is a physiological change of the body in response to an additive substance. The body becomes accustomed to the continuous presence of the substance and adjusts to maintain homeostasis. Moderating or discontinuing use of the substance will trigger uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. If you become heavily dependent on Xanax, you may continue to compulsively abuse benzos to avoid the presentation of withdrawal symptoms.

Research shows that quitting Xanax cold turkey may result in life-threatening seizures, leading many people addicted to benzos to ask “How do you stop taking Xanax safely?”

The symptoms of withdrawal from Xanax can be alleviated if withdrawal occurs under medical supervision. The most effective pathway to detoxing from Xanax involves a tapered reduction in dosage, with the use of prescription medications if required. Other types of benzos may be substituted for Xanax as your dosage of alprazolam is gradually reduced.

What Happens When You Stop Taking Xanax?

Xanax is classified by the DEA (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration) as a Schedule IV controlled substance. While alprazolam has a recognized medical use, there is also potential for misuse and addiction.

Studies indicate that those with a history of addiction are at heightened risk of abusing Xanax and becoming addicted to the benzodiazepine.

Taking benzos like Xanax long-term causes physical dependence to form. When you quit using the medication, getting off Xanax side effects – also known as Xanax withdrawal – are a physical and psychological response from a system struggling to cope in the absence of benzodiazepines.

Side Effects of Stopping Xanax

A cold-turkey Xanax detox can trigger uncomfortable and potentially dangerous side effects that include:

  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Tremors
  • Difficulty with focus
  • Muscle pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Headaches

The more serious signs of Xanax withdrawal include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Relapse to Xanax use
wife is wondering is my husband dealing with xanax withdrawal symptoms

Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms

Xanax withdrawal symptoms may present within 24 hours after the last dose. Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks.

Research shows that dependence on Xanax can develop in three to six weeks, even when the benzo is used as directed by a physician. The same data indicate that 40% of those prescribed Xanax for six months or more will experience moderate or severe withdrawal symptoms upon quitting the medication.

Xanax withdrawal occurs in two phases:

  1. Acute Xanax withdrawal: The acute phase of withdrawal lasts from 5 to 28 days after discontinuing use.
  2. Protracted Xanax withdrawal: Those who undergo protracted benzo withdrawal may experience psychological withdrawal symptoms that persist for a year or more.

Acute signs of Xanax withdrawal include: 

  • Panic attacks
  • Rebound anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Hyperventilation
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Appetite loss
  • Muscle spasms
  • Sweating
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Psychosis (delusions, hallucinations, and delirium)
  • Seizures

Memory and cognition problems triggered by long-term Xanax use may persist after discontinuation.

How to Make Xanax Withdrawal Easier

If you want to know how to deal with Xanax withdrawal safely, there is only one recommended route: a tapered reduction in dosage under medical supervision.

If you have been abusing Xanax long-term or in large amounts, the tapering process may take longer – see below. Even if you have been using Xanax in smaller doses, it is still advisable to connect with a medical detox to streamline the withdrawal process.

Following Xanax detox, you should engage with continued care. Medical detox is a vital component of the recovery equation, but it only addresses the issue of physical dependence. Through ongoing therapy, you can unpack the underlying issues that led you to abuse Xanax and build the confidence you need to stay benzo-free after detox.

Low Dose Xanax Withdrawal

Low dose Xanax withdrawal typically involves the administration of benzos in gradually dwindling amounts. Some people require stabilization with long-acting benzodiazepines like Valium (diazepam) or Klonopin (clonazepam) before the dose of Xanax is gradually tapered.

This is a typical low dose Xanax taper:

  • Days 1 to 3: Xanax is initially replaced with Valium (diazepam) at a rate of 10mg diazepam per 1mg alprazolam. Depression, anxiety, insomnia, and restlessness are common symptoms that present during this stage of the taper.
  • Days 3 to 7: Dosage will be reduced by 10% to 25%, depending on tolerance to Xanax. Withdrawal symptoms peak at this stage.
  • Week 2: Dosage will be reduced by 25%. Withdrawal symptoms will subside.
  • Week 3: Dosage will be reduced by 10%.
  • Week 3: You should now be taking half the original dose of Valium.
  • Weeks 5 to 8: Dose is maintained and most physical symptoms will dissipate. Therapy and counseling may be effective during this stage of the taper.
  • Weeks 9 to 10: Dosage will be reduced by 25%.
  • Weeks 11 to 12: Dosage will be reduced by 25%. Many people continue engaging in psychotherapy and counseling.
  • Weeks 13 to 14: Dosage will be reduced by 25% during the final stage before discontinuation.
  • Week 15: Most people will discontinue the use of benzos after 15 weeks of detox.

Detoxing Centers

Engaging with a tapered reduction in Xanax dosage allows you to benefit from close medical supervision as you break dependence on benzos.

Connecting with a licensed medical detox center will help you to withdraw from Xanax as safely and comfortably as possible. You will then be ready to address the psychological side of benzo addiction in an inpatient or outpatient treatment center.

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Get Help with Quitting Xanax at California Detox

If you need help with Xanax addiction withdrawal, initiate your recovery with our supervised Xanax detox program at California Detox in Laguna Beach, CA. Access medications to streamline the withdrawal process and benefit from a tapered reduction in dosage rather than coming down off Xanax cold turkey. After addressing the issue of physical dependence during detox, you can then transition into one of these treatment programs:

  • Inpatient programs (residential rehab)
  • PHPs (partial hospitalization programs)
  • IOPs (intensive outpatient programs)
  • Dual diagnosis treatment programs (for addictions with co-occurring mental health disorders)

All treatment programs at our luxury beachside rehab center offer personalized treatment that combines science-backed interventions with holistic therapies, such as:

  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Psychotherapy
  • Group therapy
  • Individual counseling
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic therapies
  • Aftercare

Stopping alprazolam isn’t easy, but with the right support and structure, you can soon begin living benzo-free. Call admissions today at 949.694.8305 for immediate assistance and a supervised Xanax detox.


Yes, Xanax withdrawal may sometimes trigger hallucinations. If you suddenly stop taking Xanax after developing physical dependence on the benzodiazepine, you may experience withdrawal symptoms that include hallucinations. Hallucinations associated with Xanax withdrawal may be mild to severe and are mainly visual in presentation.
No, it is dangerous and possibly life-threatening to abruptly discontinue use of benzos like Xanax without medical guidance.


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