Xanax Withdrawal Timeline

Last Updated: April 23, 2024

Article at a Glance

  • Xanax is a benzodiazepine drug used to treat anxiety or promote sleep.
  • Xanax can be addictive and create withdrawal symptoms when it is stopped.
  • Xanax withdrawal symptoms can last two weeks or more and may create long-term cravings.
  • Seizures are a dangerous complication of Xanax withdrawal that people taking it should be aware of.
  • The best way to stop Xanax is typically by tapering it off slowly over time.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax is a benzodiazepine drug that doctors often prescribe for panic, anxiety or sleeping disorders. It makes people feel calmer and tired because it slows down brain signals. Because of these effects, people often take it recreationally with stimulant drugs or other “uppers.” Once a person starts taking it, it can be hard to stop. Xanax can lead to dependence and addiction.

Xanax Withdrawal

When a person is dependent on a drug, their body becomes used to it to function normally. When they stop taking the drug, they will experience withdrawal symptoms. Although these symptoms might differ for each person, many will experience a similar Xanax withdrawal timeline in which the symptoms appear and disappear following certain patterns. People who take Xanax at high doses or for more extended periods often develop a stronger dependence on the drug, have a harder time stopping or reducing their use and experience more severe withdrawal symptoms. If someone continues to take Xanax, they may become addicted and continue to take the drug despite having negative consequences.

When Does Xanax Withdrawal Start?

Xanax withdrawal starts as the drug is processed and removed from the body. The concentration of Xanax in the blood peaks one to two hours after it is taken. The average half-life in healthy adults is 11.2 hours, meaning half of the drug is gone from the body approximately 11 hours after it is taken. Xanax withdrawal symptoms may start around this time as the drug concentration in the body decreases. The onset of withdrawal will typically be longer; however, if extended-release Xanax is used. The total time for Xanax withdrawal differs from person to person but often lasts a few weeks.

Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms Timeline

The general timeline of Xanax withdrawal symptoms often follows certain patterns:

  • 6–12 hours: Physical symptoms of Xanax withdrawal may start during this period as the drug is cleared from the body. Xanax is a short-acting benzodiazepine, so it is metabolized and removed from the body more quickly than some other drugs in this category.
  • One to four days: Withdrawal symptoms often appear one to two days after a person takes their last dose. Some people have flu-like symptoms during Xanax withdrawal, including muscle aches, sweating, nausea and loss of appetite. Other physical symptoms may include shaking, headaches, blurred vision, diarrhea and vomiting. An early and potentially dangerous symptom within the Xanax withdrawal timeline is seizures. These are most likely to happen within the first 24–72 hours. Seizures have been reported for people taking high and low doses and have occurred both when people have gradually tapered off Xanax and stopped using it suddenly.
  • 5–14 days: Acute Xanax withdrawal symptoms usually continue during this period. In addition to physical symptoms, people will likely experience mental symptoms such as increased sensitivity to sights and sounds, problems sleeping, trouble focusing, anxiety, irritability, aggression and depression. People are less at risk for seizures during this phase, and the intensity and number of symptoms often decrease.
  • Up to one month: Symptoms usually last two to four weeks, although some may have a longer Xanax withdrawal time. Physical symptoms will generally subside first, but people may continue to have problems with their mood and sleeping patterns.
  • More than one month: Often, people who started taking Xanax for a panic disorder or insomnia have their symptoms return. Some may even have more frequent or severe panic attacks once they stop taking Xanax. These Xanax withdrawal symptoms can last long-term, for several months or more.

How Long Do Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Some patients who were taking the drug because of mental health issues experience lasting symptoms like panic attacks, tiredness, rapid heart rate and suicidal thoughts once they stop taking Xanax. Sometimes, people have worse anxiety than before they started taking the drug. It’s not always clear whether these are withdrawal symptoms or if they indicate that the person’s original disorder is returning. Xanax symptoms may last several months. In these cases, taking a different benzodiazepine can help. Other medications in this category, such as diazepam, have similar effects but are less likely to cause abuse, dependence and withdrawal symptoms. There also may be non-pharmacological treatment options that should be considered.

Xanax withdrawal symptoms may not last as long if a person takes care of themselves while experiencing symptoms. People can eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water. They can also talk to their doctor about ways to treat symptoms. For example, it may be possible to relieve pains and aches with over-the-counter painkillers.

Factors Affecting Xanax Withdrawal Duration

Drug withdrawal can be longer or more severe based on several factors. A person’s genetics and overall physical and mental health can play a role, as does their age, sex or race. Additionally, if a person has a history of substance abuse or if someone in their family has struggled with drug or alcohol addiction, they may be more likely to form a stronger dependence on a substance and have a longer duration of Xanax withdrawal.

When people use Xanax at doses above 4 mg per day or when they use Xanax regularly over a long period, the duration of Xanax withdrawal symptoms may be longer, and symptoms can be more severe. More severe symptoms like seizures are also more likely for people who suddenly stop taking Xanax or don’t taper their dose slowly enough.

The Link Between Xanax Withdrawal and Seizures

Xanax decreases the risk of seizures while taking it but has the opposite effect during withdrawal, increasing the risk of seizures. This can make Xanax withdrawal quite dangerous and increase its risks. 

The Science Behind Withdrawal Seizures

Xanax works by stimulating GABA receptors in the brain. These receptors increase the seizure threshold, making it more difficult for someone to experience a seizure. During Xanax withdrawal, the opposite happens. GABA receptors become underactive, increasing the seizure threshold and likelihood of a seizure. It is important to note that during withdrawal, the seizure threshold doesn’t just go back to a normal level; it overcompensates, making the risk of seizures artificially high.

Identifying the Symptoms of Xanax Withdrawal Seizures

Xanax withdrawal seizures are like other seizures. Seizures occur when signals in the brain fire all together instead of in patterns. This can cause a loss of consciousness, convulsions and sudden muscle stiffness. It can also cause an absence seizure, where no abnormal muscle activity occurs, but the person having the seizure becomes completely unresponsive and stops moving until after the seizure.

Are Xanax Withdrawal Seizures Dangerous?

Xanax withdrawal seizures can be dangerous. During a seizure, the person having the seizure cannot keep themselves safe or control their actions. A seizure can be particularly hazardous if they are standing or doing something like driving a car. The seizures themselves are not often harmful; however, the injuries a seizure can cause make them dangerous. Seizures can cause an uncommon condition called status epilepticus, which causes a prolonged seizure and can lead to brain damage. 

Tapering off Xanax To Reduce Withdrawal Time

Gradually tapering off Xanax, rather than suddenly stopping the drug, is the safest way to quit using Xanax. It reduces the chance that someone will have a seizure. Some medical professionals recommend decreasing the daily dose by 0.5 mg or less every three days. However, some patients may need to lower their amount even more slowly to reduce the overall Xanax withdrawal time and prevent symptoms from occurring.

Tapering should always be done with the help of a doctor who can manage symptoms and adjust the tapering schedule as needed. If patients experience withdrawal symptoms, doctors may recommend returning to their previous Xanax dose until they become more stable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any medications or treatments that can help prevent seizures during Xanax withdrawal?

Some medications can help prevent seizures during Xanax withdrawal; however, they have almost the same effect as Xanax, making them counterproductive to use during withdrawal. For this reason, most professionals will recommend tapering off of Xanax rather than stopping it, as typically treating withdrawal seizures means ending the withdrawal before it is complete.

What are some strategies for managing anxiety and other symptoms during Xanax withdrawal?

Managing anxiety during Xanax withdrawal can be difficult, but some potential options exist. Group or individual therapy sessions can provide great resources for those seeking help with anxiety. Relaxing practices like meditation and yoga can also improve mindfulness and promote decreased anxiety. Finding ways to occupy your mind can also help, such as taking up a new hobby or becoming involved in a new social circle.

When should I seek medical help for Xanax withdrawal symptoms?

You should seek medical help for Xanax withdrawal if it starts to cause seizures or if the symptoms begin to become severe. You don’t, however, have to wait for symptoms to become dangerous. Seeking medical help early in the withdrawal process can help you avoid serious symptoms before they occur.

If you are experiencing symptoms whenever you try to stop or reduce your Xanax use, it may be a good idea to talk to a medical professional about how to go through withdrawal safely. The Orlando Recovery Center can help people not only manage withdrawal but also learn how to develop new habits that can reduce the chances that a person will use again. Call us today to learn more!


Ait-Daoud, Nassima; et al. “A Review of Alprazolam Use, Misuse, and Withdrawal.” Journal of Addiction Medicine, Jan-Feb 2018. Accessed November 1, 2019.

Food and Drug Administration. “Xanax.” August 23, 2011. Accessed November 1, 2019.

MedlinePlus. “Alprazolam.” September 15, 2017. Accessed November 1, 2019.

National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens. “Tolerance, Dependence, Addiction: What’s the Difference?” Drugs & Health Blog, January 12, 2017. Accessed November 1, 2019.

Piper, Megan E. “Withdrawal: Expanding a Key Addiction Construct.” Nicotine & Tobacco Research, December 2015. Accessed November 1, 2019.

World Health Organization. “Withdrawal Management.” Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings, 2009. Accessed November 1, 2019.

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