How Long Does Xanax Withdrawal Last: Alprazolam Withdrawal Symptoms, Signs, and Treatment Options

Xanax, alprazolam, can be helpful for people who struggle with anxiety, panic attacks, or other types of chronic stress, they pose a number of risks when taken for an extended period of time or in high doses. In fact, prolonged use of Xanax has been shown to have negative long-term side effects on users. As such, many people may wonder how long does Xanax withdrawal last.

The answer to this question will depend on several different factors related to the individual such as their age, Xanax dosage, and what other substances they are also using at the time. If you are struggling with addiction to Xanax or another benzodiazepine, you should discuss your options with a licensed treatment professional.

Understanding how long the withdrawal lasts can help you know what to expect during that time and how to support your recovery process after you discontinue its use.

How long does Xanax withdrawal last? Weeks or months depending on the tapering process, dosage, other substances in use and age among other factors


What is Xanax?

Xanax is a brand name of alprazolam, which is a type of prescription medication called a benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines are often used to treat anxiety and panic disorders, sleep disorders, seizures, muscle spasms, and other conditions.

Xanax is also sometimes prescribed for medical or dental procedures, and it is sometimes used as a sedative before surgery. Benzodiazepines work by altering the level of neurotransmitters in the brain. Xanax produces a dopamine surge in the brain which has been associated with its addictive properties.

Alprazolam ativates gamma-aminobutyric acid-ergic receptors and inhibits the activity of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA). The effect is increased GABA in the brain due diminished role of binding GABA to receptors.

Moreover, Xanax increases the amount of dopamine in the brain, which helps reduce anxiety and stress and also helps calm the brain and central nervous system. Because of this, benzodiazepines can be helpful for people who have anxiety disorders or very stressful lives and are at risk for panic attacks and other types of stress-related disorders.

Long-term effects of Xanax use

The long-term effects of Xanax use will vary depending on the individual, but some of the most common side effects include increased risk of mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression, cognitive issues such as reduced cognitive function, and physical health issues such as weight gain, reduced bone density, and increased risk of diabetes.

Additionally, prolonged use of Xanax has also been shown to decrease the user’s ability to process information and learn new skills, making it more difficult to retain information and perform at work or school.

In addition, those who use benzodiazepines such as Xanax for a long period of time may find it more difficult to discontinue the use of the drug when compared to those who only use it for a short period of time.

This is because the longer one takes benzodiazepines, the more difficult it can be to discontinue their use due to the development of physical dependence on the drug. This can result in more serious withdrawal symptoms occurring when the individual stops taking the drug.

Short-Term Effects of Xanax

While the long-term effects of benzodiazepines such as Xanax can be extremely harmful, the short-term effects can also be dangerous. Benzodiazepines are known to be highly addictive and habit-forming drugs and may lead to significant withdrawal symptoms when the individual stops using them.

When a person begins using Xanax, it will start to affect the GABA neurotransmitters in the brain almost immediately. Withdrawal causes a sudden reduction of dopamine which can cause serious withdrawal symptoms.

Because of this, withdrawal symptoms associated with Xanax will begin almost immediately, though this will depend on how often the individual takes the drug, how much they take, and how long they have been taking it.

Related: Does Xanax Cause Memory Loss? The Truth Revealed

What is Xanax Withdrawal?

Xanax withdrawal occurs when a person who has been regularly taking the drug, usually at a high dose, suddenly stops taking it. Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that are prescribed for anxiety, insomnia, and other conditions.

Xanax is most commonly prescribed to treat anxiety disorders and panic attacks. When someone takes Xanax regularly, their body becomes physically and psychologically dependent on the drug.

This means that after a few weeks or months of taking the drug, their body will experience withdrawal when they stop taking it. Xanax withdrawal can be difficult, but it is also very treatable.

Early or immediate withdrawal symptoms: rebound symptoms (1-5 days)

Early withdrawal symptoms, or rebound symptoms, occur after the initial discontinuation of the drug and can last for 1-5 days. These can include:

  • Anxiety – This will be significantly higher than the person’s baseline anxiety level.
  • Nervousness – The user may be excessively fidgety and unable to sit still.
  • Sleep Disturbance – The person may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
  • Nausea – The person may experience feelings of nausea and have difficulty eating.
  • Sweating – The person may feel abnormally hot and experience significant sweating.
  • Trembling – The person may experience shaking in the hands and fingers.

The symptoms may subside after the period elapses or continue to the acute withdrawal phase described below. Some of the symptoms start or become worse when you stop taking alprazolam for anxiety and other mental conditions as prescribed by the doctor.

Tapering the withdrawal process helps to either eliminate or reduce the severity and frequency of the withdrawal symptoms. You should talk to your doctor to get a withdrawal plan that suits your dosage and other factors.

You should note that the withdrawal symptoms for Xanax which is short-acting mostly come faster as compared to the withdrawal symptoms for long-acting medications such as Valium.

Acute Xanax withdrawal

After the first week of discontinuation, users will likely see the peak of withdrawal symptoms. In most cases, this will last approximately 5–28 days. This is also the point at which many withdrawal symptoms are likely to be at their worst.

Acute Xanax withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Anxiety – This may be even higher than at the onset of withdrawal.
  • Depression – The person may experience severe depression and a lack of motivation.
  • Insomnia – The person may have trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep.
  • Nausea and/or vomiting – The person may experience nausea and vomiting.
  • Sweating – The person may feel abnormally hot and experience significant sweating.
  • Tremors – The person may experience shaking in the hands and fingers.
  • Urge to urinate – The person may feel like they need to urinate frequently and urgently.
  • Headaches – The person may experience headaches that are different from their usual headaches.

It is important to note that the symptoms will vary from individual to individual depending on the factors described above including dosage, age, abuse of other medications among others.

Protracted Xanax withdrawal

Some individuals who have been taking Xanax for an extended period over several years may experience protracted withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms may vary from individual to individual but they can markedly reduce the quality of life.

The protracted Xanax withdrawal can last for months or a year or more. Studies have shown that protracted Alprazolam withdrawal symptoms affects 10–25% of users and last a year or more.

They are generally more severe than acute withdrawal symptoms and can include:

  • Anxiety – This may be significantly higher than at the onset of withdrawal.
  • Depression – The person may experience severe depression and a lack of motivation.
  • Poor concentration – A person with protracted withdrawal symptoms will be unable to concentrate at work or in school
  • Insomnia – The person may have trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep.
  • Nausea and/or vomiting – The person may experience nausea and vomiting.
  • Sweating – The person may feel abnormally hot and experience significant sweating.
  • Tremors – The person may experience shaking in the hands and fingers.
  • Loss of sex drive – The person may have a reduced feeling for sex in the long term.
  • Headaches – The person may experience headaches that are different from their usual headaches.

How long does Xanax withdrawal last?

The general consensus is that withdrawal symptoms from Xanax, which start 24 hours after stopping the medication, can last anywhere between 2 weeks and a few months, though it can be longer in some cases. In terms of how long the withdrawal symptoms last, the general rule of thumb is that the longer the individual takes Xanax and the higher the dosage they take, the more severe the withdrawal symptoms will be.

The exact length of time that Xanax withdrawal lasts will vary depending on the individual and how much they used the drug and for how long. The length of the withdrawal symptoms depend on the following:

  • How long you have been on Xanax
  • Xanax dosage
  • Whether you have misused Xanax
  • If you are using Xanax without a doctor’s guidance or without a prescription
  • If you have an underlying mental health condition
  • If you are taking other medications at the same time
  • Misuse of drugs or alcohol

It is also important to note that the withdrawal symptoms will be different for every person and that not everyone will experience every symptom listed below.

Signs and symptoms of Xanax withdrawal

Some of the common signs and symptoms of Xanax withdrawal include anxiety, anxiety attacks, insomnia, panic attacks, mood swings, irritability, fatigue, cravings, restlessness, and more.

While the withdrawal symptoms from Xanax are not life-threatening and are not akin to the withdrawal from opioids such as heroin, they can still be very disruptive to an individual’s daily life.

To reduce the severity of these symptoms as much as possible, it is best to taper off the drug rather than stopping abruptly.

Xanax rebound anxiety

One of the most significant dangers associated with Xanax withdrawal is the risk of what is known as “Xanax rebound anxiety”. This is when the individual’s anxiety increases at a higher rate than the drug’s ability to reduce anxiety.

It is important to note that the rebound anxiety from Xanax is a very real phenomenon and happens in many cases, but it is difficult to predict which individuals it will happen to and when.

Causes of Xanax Withdrawal symptoms

The primary cause of Xanax withdrawal symptoms is a reduction in dopamine. This is the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of reward and pleasure in the brain. The benzodiazepines suppress the central nervous system (the neural pathways that control bodily functions) by increasing GABA (the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain).

The increased GABA inhibits dopamine — the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of reward and pleasure. This creates a calming effect, helping the user deal with anxiety, panic attacks, etc. When a person stops taking the drug, their brain’s ability to produce dopamine suddenly reduces. This results in the person experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms.

Finally, Xanax is a Schedule IV controlled substance, which means it is quite addictive and has a very high chance of abuse. Therefore, the drug should only be taken with a prescription and with a doctor’s supervision.

Xanax withdrawal Seizure

Seizures are the most serious potential health complication of withdrawal from benzodiazepines. Although they occur in less than 10% of patients withdrawing from benzodiazepines, they are the most feared complication of withdrawal.

Seizures can occur at any point during withdrawal and can be fatal in up to 5% of cases. Xanax withdrawal seizures are best managed with medication. The benzodiazepine antagonist flumazenil has been found to be the most effective treatment for withdrawal seizures.

Strategies to cope with Xanax withdrawal

There are a number of strategies that individuals can use to cope with Xanax withdrawal, including seeking professional assistance, communicating with loved ones, creating a support system, and taking care of one’s physical and mental health during the withdrawal period.

If you have been using Xanax for a long period of time and would like to stop using it, you should talk to a medical professional. They can help you taper off the drug in a way that reduces the severity of the withdrawal symptoms and makes the withdrawal process easier to manage.

The long-term use of Xanax leads to both psychological and physical dependence. You can reduce the dependence by withdrawing the medication in a slow tapering process as guided by your doctor. This reduces the withdrawal symptoms and also helps you feel better even without using the medication.

1. Medical detox

Medical detox is an important part of the Xanax withdrawal process. During medical detox, an individual is monitored and given support through the acute withdrawal symptoms that they will experience when they discontinue the use of the benzodiazepines.

Moreover, your doctor can recommend a tapering plan to ensure you do not get acute withdrawal symptoms from Xanax. The process will vary depending on the dosage and other factors that the doctor will consider.

Xanax is a Schedule IV controlled substance. This means that it has a high potential for abuse and addiction. For this reason, withdrawal from Xanax must be done under the supervision of a medical professional in a controlled and safe environment.

2. Counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be beneficial during withdrawal. These can help the individual address the psychological factors and stressors related to their addiction.

They can also help the individual learn how to cope with cravings and manage any symptoms of withdrawal. This can be useful for helping the individual move towards long-term recovery.

3. Using other medications such as flumazenil (Romazicon) and Buspirone

In some cases, the individual may experience severe withdrawal symptoms or protracted withdrawal symptoms. In this situation, other medications may be prescribed to help manage the symptoms.

  • Flumazenil (Romazicon) – This is a medication that is used to treat a benzodiazepine overdose or a benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. It works by quickly reversing the effects of benzo drugs. It can be used to treat individuals undergoing withdrawal from Xanax and other benzos.
  • Buspirone – This is an anxiety medication. It does not have the same withdrawal symptoms as Xanax does. It can be used together with Xanax to help reduce the withdrawal effects.
  • Other medications – Other medications, such as antidepressants and antipsychotics, can be helpful when used in conjunction with Xanax, but should be used with care.

Are Benzo Withdrawal Symptoms Permanent?

Benzodiazepines are known to be very addictive and dangerous drugs, and long-term use or high doses of this drug can lead to significant damage to the individual’s mental and physical health.

Because of this, individuals who are on these drugs for extended periods of time should discontinue their use under the guidance of a medical professional.

Although some of the withdrawal symptoms from Xanax or other benzodiazepines can be severe, most of them will subside over time with proper support and time away from the drug.


Benzodiazepine withdrawal is rarely life-threatening, but the symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable, and can sometimes last for weeks or even months. If you’re struggling with benzodiazepine withdrawal, don’t be afraid.

The symptoms will subside with time, and you will feel more like yourself again after a few weeks. Don’t let these symptoms keep you from getting help. Please reach out to a helpline, or go to your nearest emergency room if you feel like you need medical attention. Remember that benzodiazepine withdrawal is a sign that you are taking control of your life.

If you are regularly taking benzodiazepine medication, we recommend that you speak with your doctor about both the benefits and the potential side effects. You should also consider discussing the risks and benefits of tapering off your medication as opposed to stopping suddenly.

Withdrawal can be a challenging process, but it can also be highly rewarding. Once you’ve successfully completed withdrawal, you’ll be able to better appreciate how far you’ve come.


Dr. David Barlow

David is a well-known researcher and author in the anxiety disorders area with extensive research on their etiology, nature, and treatment. He started the site to share his real-life experiences on the management of anxiety disorders with successful diagnosis and treatment being his motivation to write or review the content on this site.