October 4th, 2011
02:57 PM ET

Is there a wrong way to detox off Xanax?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Tuesdays, it's Dr. Charles Raison, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University, and an expert in the mind-body connection for health.

Question asked by D. Epps from Georgia:

Is there a wrong way to detox off Xanax?

Expert answer:

Sadly, there are probably more wrong ways to detox off Xanax than right ones. Lots of people have a very hard time getting off Xanax if they’ve been on it for awhile no matter what approach they take. This is one of the reasons Xanax has fallen from favor in the last decade.

Xanax was the hottest thing going in the late '80s and early '90s. It was considered the most potent and useful of the class of medications called benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines, which include such well-known drugs as Valium, Klonopin and Ativan, promote relaxation and sleep by making it harder for brain cells to fire.

These medications can be spectacularly helpful when used appropriately. But their use comes at a price. When taken on a daily basis for more than a few weeks, the brain develops a dependency on them for normal functioning.

Xanax has a very short half-life, which is a fancy way of saying that it goes into and out of the body very quickly. This property appears to make Xanax even more likely to cause emotional and physical dependency than other benzodiazepines. The short half-life means people will often start withdrawing from Xanax between scheduled doses, which tends to powerfully reinforce their psychological dependency of the medication.

This property has, over time, made Xanax among the least popular of benzodiazepines among psychiatrists.

If you take Xanax long enough, you will become physiologically dependent on it. This does not mean that you are an addict or that you are abusing it. It only means that if you stop the medication suddenly you are at risk for a very dangerous withdrawal syndrome that can include delirium and seizures and can be lethal.

So the wrongest way to detox off Xanax is to just suddenly stop taking it. This can literally be a fatal mistake.

Another very common “wrong way” of trying to detox from Xanax is to attempt to get off the medication too quickly, which can cause such discomfort that people become afraid to continue the detox process.

It can take months to successfully come off Xanax, and often the last little bit is the hardest to get off.

So patience is of great importance for successfully weaning oneself from Xanax. Under the guidance of a physician, the detox can often be made easier by switching from Xanax to an equivalent dosage of a benzodiazepine with a long half-life such as Klonopin or Librium, and then gradually tapering off that agent.

Ask our doctors a question

Sometimes this works. But in my experience, this switch is so uncomfortable for some people that they can’t tolerate it.

Benzodiazepines get a bad rap because they do have abuse potential and they do cause dependency. But they can be wonder drugs for some people. Many year’s worth of long-term data suggest that they do not cause significant harm, even when taken for long periods.

I like benzodiazepines, but I would never start anyone on Xanax for the reasons I’ve outlined above. On the other hand, more than once I’ve seen people - especially older folks - who have literally ended up in the psychiatric hospital trying to get off Xanax. Most of the time they had been doing just fine for years and it was some new doctor who decided they had to get off the Xanax “no matter what.”

This seems crazy to me. Not being on Xanax is better than being on it. But living a reasonable life on Xanax is considerably better than making yourself sick trying to get off it.

A final important point. No matter what you do, make sure you work closely with a clinician with expertise in detoxing off benzodiazapines.

Follow @CNNHealth on Twitter.

soundoff (796 Responses)
  1. RV Repairs Nearby


    June 16, 2021 at 03:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. RV Repair Nearby


    June 16, 2021 at 07:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. RV Repair Near Me Now


    June 16, 2021 at 11:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. RV Repair Orange County California

    Having read this I believed it was extremely informative. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this article together. I once again find myself personally spending way too much time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!


    June 16, 2021 at 11:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Sprinter Repair Orange County


    June 16, 2021 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. vons near me


    June 16, 2021 at 20:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. RV Repair

    Hi there! I could have sworn Iíve been to this web site before but after browsing through some of the posts I realized itís new to me. Anyways, Iím certainly delighted I discovered it and Iíll be book-marking it and checking back often!


    June 17, 2021 at 04:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. RV Repairs Nearby


    June 17, 2021 at 08:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. IKimediumb#randeom[a..z]c

    community marine biology positive velocity , ivermectin 3mg tablets sale ivermectin tablets for sale community america login. culture theory community medical center . individual level characteristics buy ivermectin for humans , community biology episode community america financial solutions culture jamming positive feedback loop biology example ofhio 843830a , positive reinforcement leash training , positive affirmations kassandra .

    June 17, 2021 at 08:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. RV Repair Near Me Now

    Your style is so unique compared to other folks I've read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this site.


    June 17, 2021 at 12:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. stop and shop near me


    June 17, 2021 at 16:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. spirit halloween near me

    Your style is really unique in comparison to other folks I have read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I'll just book mark this blog.


    June 17, 2021 at 21:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. indeed jobs near me

    Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It will always be exciting to read content from other authors and practice a little something from their sites.


    June 17, 2021 at 22:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. https://shiatsu-web.com

    Best view i have ever seen !


    June 17, 2021 at 22:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. take out near me


    June 17, 2021 at 22:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. places hiring near me

    I needed to thank you for this fantastic read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it. I've got you bookmarked to check out new stuff you postÖ


    June 17, 2021 at 23:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. tacos near me


    June 18, 2021 at 00:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. mediterranean food near me


    June 18, 2021 at 00:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. rv rentals near me


    June 18, 2021 at 02:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. nissan dealership near me


    June 18, 2021 at 03:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. canes near me

    Good post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon every day. It's always useful to read through articles from other authors and practice a little something from other web sites.


    June 18, 2021 at 03:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. small engine repair near me

    Spot on with this write-up, I truly believe this website needs much more attention. Iíll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the advice!


    June 18, 2021 at 04:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. verizon stores near me


    June 18, 2021 at 05:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. chick fil a near me


    June 18, 2021 at 05:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. meat market near me

    I couldnít refrain from commenting. Exceptionally well written!


    June 18, 2021 at 05:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. discount tires near me

    Everything is very open with a clear clarification of the challenges. It was really informative. Your site is extremely helpful. Many thanks for sharing!


    June 18, 2021 at 06:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. entry level jobs near me


    June 18, 2021 at 06:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. puppies for sale near me

    I could not refrain from commenting. Exceptionally well written!


    June 18, 2021 at 07:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. laundry near me

    This blog was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Cheers!


    June 18, 2021 at 08:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. near me


    June 18, 2021 at 09:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. rental car near me

    Can I just say what a relief to find an individual who truly understands what they're discussing online. You actually understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More and more people should read this and understand this side of your story. I was surprised that you aren't more popular given that you surely have the gift.


    June 18, 2021 at 10:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Sprinter Repair Orange County

    Iím amazed, I have to admit. Rarely do I come across a blog thatís both equally educative and amusing, and let me tell you, you've hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that too few people are speaking intelligently about. Now i'm very happy I found this in my search for something relating to this.


    June 18, 2021 at 11:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Colin Bicking

    This is not effortlessly achievable as you might currently know it. Over the weekend, the final eight gamers produced their way to the Sunday finals. The game gets more exciting when a participant raises the bet instead of matching it.


    June 18, 2021 at 13:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Sprinter Repair Costa Mesa


    June 18, 2021 at 15:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. RV Repair Shops Near My Location


    June 18, 2021 at 16:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Sprinter Repair Orange County

    May I simply just say what a comfort to discover an individual who really knows what they are talking about over the internet. You actually understand how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I can't believe you're not more popular since you most certainly have the gift.


    June 18, 2021 at 17:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. RV Repair Places Near Me


    June 18, 2021 at 18:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. instant covid testing near me


    June 18, 2021 at 20:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. sprouts near me


    June 18, 2021 at 23:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Nearby RV Repair

    I'm pretty pleased to discover this site. I want to to thank you for your time for this wonderful read!! I definitely enjoyed every bit of it and i also have you saved as a favorite to see new stuff on your website.


    June 19, 2021 at 02:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. covid-19 testing near me


    June 19, 2021 at 03:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. RV Repair Shop


    June 19, 2021 at 04:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. napa auto parts near me


    June 19, 2021 at 04:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. RV Repair Near Me Now

    Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful article. Many thanks for providing this information.


    June 19, 2021 at 06:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Jomwins

    I do not even understand how I finished up right here,
    however I assumed this post was good. I do not recognize who you are however
    certainly you're going to a well-known blogger if you happen to aren't already.

    June 19, 2021 at 07:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me


    June 19, 2021 at 11:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. RV Repairs Nearby


    June 19, 2021 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. RV Repair Around Me

    I quite like reading through an article that will make men and women think. Also, many thanks for allowing me to comment!


    June 19, 2021 at 13:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Sprinter Repair Shop Near Me


    June 19, 2021 at 14:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. grocery near me


    June 19, 2021 at 16:13 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.