How Long Does Withdrawal From Xanax Last? (2023)

What is the most important information I should know about Xanax withdrawal?

  • Suddenly stopping Xanax can lead to severe and dangerous withdrawal symptoms; never adjust your dose or quit taking Xanax without talking to your doctor first.
  • Xanax withdrawal can occur even when medication is taken as prescribed, but treatments are available that can help.

Xanax (alprazolam) is a common anti-anxiety medication. Doctors prescribe it for patients struggling with insomnia and mental health issues such as excessive worry, panic attacks, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Xanax can help people who are in acute distress, but it is not intended for long-term use. The long-term use of benzodiazepines like Xanax can potentially create problems with dependence and withdrawal.

How Long Does Withdrawal From Xanax Last? (1)

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Overview of Xanax Withdrawal

Even if you only take Xanax for a period of several days, you may develop a physical dependence on the drug. This means that you will likely experience Xanax withdrawal, or the uncomfortable physical and mental symptoms of discontinuing the drug. The intensity of your symptoms depends on your dosage, or how much Xanax you've been taking and for how long.

Xanax withdrawal can also be medically serious. If you have been taking Xanax several times a day, then quitting is going to take time, patience, and determination. The only safe way to quit is to slowly taper down your dose under the direction of a doctor.

Quitting cold turkey can increase your risk of extreme and dangerous withdrawal symptoms, including delirium and grand mal seizures.


Delirium is a state that involves temporary, abrupt changes in cognition and behavior characterized by agitation and disorientation. A grand mal seizure (also known as a tonic-clonic seizure) involves violent muscle contractions and a loss of consciousness.

In 2017, doctors wrote nearly 45 million prescriptions for Xanax (alprazolam). Statistics suggest that one in 20 people in the U.S. fill a prescription for benzodiazepines each year.

Reckless prescribing practices have contributed to thousands of cases of dependence and misuse. Research shows that in 2018, an estimated 5.4 million people over the age of 12 misused prescription benzodiazepines like Xanax.

Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms & Signs

The signs and symptoms of Xanax withdrawal vary from person to person. Research indicates that roughly 40% of people taking benzodiazepines for more than six months will experience moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms. The remaining 60% can expect milder symptoms.


  • Headaches

  • Insomnia

  • Hyperventilation

  • Muscle spasms

  • Racing pulse

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  • Seizures

  • Sweating

  • Tremors


  • Anxiety

  • Delirium

  • Depression

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Feelings of unreality

  • Hallucinations

  • Panic attacks

  • Restlessness

    (Video) How Long Do Benzo Withdrawals Last?

Xanax is a high-potency drug, which makes its withdrawal symptoms more intense than symptoms of withdrawal from other types of benzodiazepines such as Valium (diazepam).

What Does Xanax Rebound Mean?

Xanax's potency is linked with increased rebound effects. A rebound effect is the reoccurrence of a symptom after a person stops taking the medication that was treating it. For instance, someone taking Xanax for anxiety is likely to have a reoccurrence of their anxiety symptoms during withdrawal. This is sometimes called Xanax rebound anxiety.

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, the level of anxiety you experience during Xanax withdrawal may be more intense than what you experienced before taking Xanax. It is common to feel nervous, jumpy, and on-edge during your taper.

Many people experience irritability and agitation, which can cause problems at home, work, or school. You might be easily annoyed or short-tempered with family or friends. Insomnia, another symptom, can also contribute to these feelings of anxiety and agitation.

How Long Does Xanax Withdrawal Last?

The symptoms of Xanax withdrawal typically appear within 8 to 12 hours of your last dose. If you fail to taper your dose, your withdrawal symptoms will grow increasingly intense. Withdrawal is generally at its worst on the second day, and improves by the fourth or fifth day; however, acute symptoms can last significantly longer.

  • Early withdrawal symptoms: These symptoms usually occur within the first two days after your last dose. They usually include: headaches, insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, and/or panic attacks.
  • Acute withdrawal symptoms: Symptoms tend to peak between the third day and the fifth or sixth day after your last dose. Additional symptoms may include: hallucinations, aggression, confusion, memory problems, high blood pressure, muscle aches, nausea, tremors, and more.
  • Late withdrawal: After about a week of Xanax withdrawal, the physical symptoms may become more tolerable; however, other symptoms may occur after this period which includes Xanax cravings, anxiety or depression, insomnia, and/or suicidal ideation.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact theNational Suicide Prevention Lifelineat988for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see ourNational Helpline Database.

Protracted Withdrawal

Estimates suggest that about 10% to 25% of people who use benzodiazepines long term experience what’s known as protracted withdrawal.

Protracted withdrawal is a prolonged withdrawal experience marked by waves of mild psychological symptoms that come and go over the course of several months.Protracted Xanax withdrawal can last up to one year.

Factors That Affect Xanax Withdrawal

Xanax withdrawal isn't the same for everyone—there are unique factors that come into play. Be sure to consult with a healthcare professional if you have any mental health conditions including but not limited to:

(Video) 5 Steps to Withdrawal SAFELY from Benzodiazepines | Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, Valium

  • Panic disorder: One small study found that 15 out of 17 patients with panic disorder who were treated with alprazolam experienced panic attacks again (some at higher levels than pre-treatment) after discontinuing Xanax. These patients were tapered off of Xanax after four weeks, yet this rebound effect still occurred.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): In another small study, all eight patients with PTSD who tapered off of Xanax after eight weeks experienced worsened anxiety, sleep disturbance, nightmares, irritability, rage, and homicidal ideation.
  • Pregnancy: If you are pregnant, you are at an increased risk of Xanax withdrawal symptoms, including seizures.

Coping & Relief for Xanax Withdrawal

The best way to try to lessen the severity of your Xanax withdrawal symptoms is by slowly tapering down your dose of Xanax. Tapering means taking progressively smaller doses over the course of several weeks. It is not recommended to taper without the assistance and recommendations from your prescribing doctor.

Xanax is a short-acting drug, which means your body metabolizes it very quickly. Tapering Xanax is challenging because the amount of the drug in your system quickly goes up and down with each dose. To help you avoid these peaks and valleys, doctors often switch you from Xanax to a long-acting benzodiazepine such as Valium (diazepam).

Switching from short-acting Xanax to its longer-acting cousin Valium will make it easier for you to quit. Once you are stabilized on a dose of diazepam, your prescribing doctor will help you slowly taper down a little bit at a time. This gives your body and mind the time to adjust to life without Xanax.

Alleviating Symptoms of Breakthrough Withdrawal

If you have breakthrough withdrawal symptoms when your dose is reduced, your prescribing doctor can pause or stretch out your taper. It’s up to you and the doctor to figure out the best tapering schedule for your individual needs. The doctor may also recommend one or more of the following treatment types:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (though research is mixed on the effectiveness of CBT after three months)
  • Exercise
  • Herbal sleep aids such as valerian root and chamomile
  • Meditation
  • Melatonin
  • Mindfulness practice

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Warnings About Xanax Withdrawal

Unlike many other withdrawal syndromes, benzodiazepine withdrawal can be complicated and, occasionally, life-threatening.

  • Xanax withdrawal seizures may occur in some people—especially in those undergoing unsupervised and untreated withdrawal from Xanax.
  • If you have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness in the past, such as a panic disorder, PTSD, bipolar disorder, or borderline personality disorder (BPD), then great care should be taken when coming off of Xanax. In such cases, a doctor’s help will be invaluable. It can be difficult to predict which dormant symptoms, if any, may return when Xanax is removed from the equation.
  • People with a history of complicated withdrawal syndromes and people with underlying health issues should also work closely with a doctor.
  • Older adults and people with cognitive decline should also work closely with a doctor as there are unique risks for these groups.

If you plan to or have become pregnant, you will need to discuss your options with a doctor. Part of that conversation should include reviewing the risks and benefits of continuing versus tapering benzodiazepines during your pregnancy. Some people continue taking benzodiazepines throughout their pregnancy while others follow a dose tapering schedule.

If you are using Xanax without a prescription, you can still work with a doctor to taper down your dose. Start by visiting a primary care doctor or urgent care center and tell them that you are in or are planning to be in benzodiazepine withdrawal. If you don’t have insurance, visit a community health center.

If you are concerned about the risks involved in Xanax tapering for any reason, discuss these concerns with a doctor. You may be better suited for inpatient detoxification. While inpatient treatment is typically more expensive, it is covered by many insurance plans.

Long-Term Treatment for Xanax Withdrawal

When it comes to the long-term management of getting off benzodiazepines, there are two directions you can go. Research shows that most stable, healthy adults will achieve long-term abstinence after completing a taper.

The key to achieving this goal is to follow the tapering schedule to the very end. By the end of your taper, you might be cutting pills into halves or quarters.

(Video) How long after quitting Benzodiazepines do you feel normal??

Some people may be better suited for a harm reduction approach, in which the taper leads to a maintenance dose rather than abstinence.


How long does benzo withdrawal anxiety last? ›

The withdrawal symptoms, which vary in severity, typically begin within 24 hours and may last from a few days to a few months. Benzodiazepines are a group of drugs called nervous system depressants. People may take them to treat anxiety or sleeping issues.

What can I use when I run out of Xanax? ›

Some non-addictive alternatives to benzodiazepines for anxiety available by prescription include:
  • SSRIs (antidepressants)
  • SNRIs (antidepressants)
  • Beta-Blockers (blood pressure medications)
  • Buspirone (anti-anxiety)
  • Hydroxyzine (brand name Vistaril, a prescription antihistamine).

Do side effects of Xanax go away? ›

Your symptoms will likely fade before the medication has completely left your system. The bulk of your symptoms should subside within 24 hours of your last dose. You may still experience minor symptoms, such as decreased appetite, for one to two days after your last dose.

Do benzo withdrawal symptoms come and go? ›

PAWS is a random bout of withdrawal symptoms, like anxiety, insomnia, and depression that come and go. It may take months for PAWS to go away entirely, so you may experience it even after leaving your drug addiction treatment center.

What does benzo withdrawal feel like? ›

If you experience withdrawal problems from benzodiazepines, you may have some of the following symptoms: abdominal cramps. agoraphobia (fear of situations which feel difficult to escape) anxiety, including physical symptoms such as muscle tension, tight chest, fast heartbeat, sweating, trembling or shaking.

How long does anti anxiety withdrawal last? ›

Withdrawal symptoms usually come on within 5 days of stopping the medicine and generally last 1 to 2 weeks. Some people have severe withdrawal symptoms that last for several months or more. See your doctor if you get severe withdrawal symptoms after you stop taking antidepressants.

What is considered long term benzo use? ›

As mentioned before, benzodiazepines are not meant to be used for long periods of time. By using benzodiazepines for an extended time, there is an increased risk of the development of certain health conditions. The amount of time considered “long-term” in regard to benzodiazepine abuse is around three to six months.

How long does Xanax stay active in the body? ›

Studies have shown that the half-life of Xanax ranges from 6.3 to 26.9 hours, depending on the person. It takes several half-lives to fully eliminate a drug. For most people, Xanax will fully clear their body within two to four days.

Does Xanax cause rebound anxiety? ›

Rebound anxiety is common and is often severe with alprazolam discontinuation because of its short half-life and the unique alpha-2 adrenergic effect.

What are the serious side effects of Xanax? ›

If you experience any of the following symptoms or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment:
  • shortness of breath.
  • seizures.
  • severe skin rash.
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes.
  • confusion.
  • problems with speech.
  • problems with coordination or balance.
May 15, 2021

What is a paradoxical reaction to Xanax? ›

Benzodiazepine treatment can sometimes result in paradoxical reactions in susceptible individuals causing an increase in anxiety, agitation, hallucinations at the onset of sleep, aggressiveness, hyperactivity, irritability, hyperactive behavior, insomnia and exacerbation of seizures in epileptics.

How do I get off benzos? ›

Even benzodiazepine tapers lasting one to two years can be successful. There are three basic approaches to a benzodiazepine taper: (1) use the same medication for tapering; (2) switch to a longer-acting equivalent; and (3) use adjunctive medications to help mitigate potential withdrawal symptoms.

What are the unusual features of the withdrawal symptoms from benzodiazepines? ›

Visual hallucinations, distortion of the body image (“my head feels like a football/balloon”), feelings of insects crawling on the skin, muscle twitching and weight loss are not uncommon in benzodiazepine withdrawal but unusual in anxiety states.

How long does benzo depression last? ›

You may feel exhausted but better around day 15. However, people severely addicted or dependent on benzodiazepines may experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) after the acute symptoms subside. They include chronic insomnia, persistent anxiety, and depression which can last for months or years.

Do benzos make anxiety worse long term? ›

People who are looking for more long-term strategies to fight anxiety often have better luck with other medications or treatment plans. In fact, when used long-term, benzodiazepines can actually increase anxiety. Additionally, benzodiazepines don't necessarily help with every type of anxiety.

What is the success rate of benzo taper? ›

Although tapering off benzos is not pleasant, patients have found that The Ashton Method is very tolerable compared to other options. The Ashton Method has reported a 90% success rate. This method's protocol recommends using diazepam to taper, as the benefits of a long half-life are important for tapering.

Are withdrawal symptoms sooner and more intense with benzodiazepines that have a long half-life? ›

While withdrawal will be similar for both, users of short-acting benzos may experience withdrawal symptoms sooner and with more intensity, as benzos with longer half-lives will stay in the body longer, therefore slowing the onset of withdrawal.

How fast can you taper benzo? ›

Benzodiazepine Taper:

Reduce dose by 50% the first 2-4 weeks then maintain on that dose for 1-2 months then reduce dose by 25% every two weeks.


1. How long did your benzodiazepine withdrawal take?
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2. Protracted Withdrawal from Benzodiazepines
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6. Seth Doane on the growing addiction to anti-anxiety medication, debilitating withdrawal symptoms
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