• Fri, Oct 12 2012

What Happens During Xanax Withdrawl

Oh, Neely O'Hara...

In an effort to kick my co-dependency to meds, I have decided to give up one of my anti-depressants and Xanax.

I have been on anti-depressants since senior year of high school. For the longest time I was on only one, but a second was added to my daily “treatment” two years ago. Since I’ve been feeling good and my psychiatrist has agreed with me that perhaps giving up one of them might be OK, I’ve been slowly cutting down my dosage so I can eventually be completely rid of it. He warned me that there would be withdrawals symptoms, but if I stuck to his plan of “slowly, but surely” we could keep those symptoms to a minimum.

A few days after I started to wean myself off my anti-depressant, I decided to give up Xanax, too. I did not run this by my psychiatrist, because that would mean admitting to him that my reason for wanting to give it the boot is because I’d been taking more than I should in the last couple months, instead of the intended “as needed basis.”

As one who rarely sees shades of grey and is very black and white in my thoughts in behavior, I decided to give up Xanax cold turkey. Bad idea. Actually, to be more direct: worst fucking idea I’ve had yet.

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  • jamiepeck

    I am constitutionally ~super chill~ so benzos don’t do that much for me. However, I will take this under advisement. And don’t try to do this shit without your doctor, girl! He/she’s not gonna judge you if he/she is a good shrink.

  • Ms. Pants

    I’m a xanax fan, but I’m also hyper-self-controlling. The moment I start to crave *anything* more than just a “oh, that would be fun/nice,” I cut myself off entirely. And the xanax I take for anxiety attacks are like baby aspirin, they’re so small a dose. Weed does more for me than xanax.

    Neely, next time try the Sleep Cure. (Oh how I wish the Sleep Cure worked.)

  • Samantha_Escobar

    Hayden went through Xanax withdrawal last year in rehab and apparently he smelled rotten meat the entire time. It sounds horrible. :( Apparently, it’s worse than most withdrawals of other drugs, guh, and I hope you feel better ASAP.

  • mjeeeeeloise

    Xanax is NOT a drug you should ever mess with. Four years ago my husband tried to kick it cold turkey and he went through utter hell. He had heart issues to begin with, and unfortunately, the withdrawal symptoms ended up giving him a coronary and he didn’t make it. It was truly the most awful thing anyone should ever have to experience. Amanda is right, JUST SAY NO.

  • Rose D.

    Paxil is the same way, only, possibly, worse (diarrhea, suicide, anger, random vomitting, SO MUCH FUN!). I wouldn’t wish the withdrawl on anyone. But, it will end, and it will get better, even if it doesn’t seem that way right now. You can so this!

    • Amanda Chatel

      Ah, yes… Paxil. I dealt with those withdrawals in college… not pretty.

  • Tania

    I love your articles most of the time (the ones I don’t love make me want to pull a big sister smackdown, but I refrain due to my desire not to be an insufferable bitch on the internet), but I hope your comment about Advil destroying your liver was a silly nod to your self-professed love of liquor. I am assuming it is, but one can never be sure.

    The withdrawals are what have made me avoid medication for my social anxiety, and up until my recent panic attack after a “friend” broke up with me (it’s nice finding out after five years someone you love is an asshole. You, I *know,* understand entirely), I haven’t really needed it.

    In any case, feel better soon! I would share with you my butter tarts (might be an exclusively Canadian treat, I don’t actually know) if I could, because buttery caramel raisin tarts make me feel better.

    • Amanda Chatel

      Well, Tania since you did just mention that you want to “pull a big sister smackdown” sometimes, I encourage you speak up, girl! You just made me love you with that comment, so now it’s going to be hard to hate you after such brutal honesty.

      And yes, on the Advil front… although, a lot of things in mass quantities will destroy livers. Or at least that what I learned in high school health class.

      If you could ship those butter tarts this way, that would be swell. I’ve never heard of them, but you can’t go wrong with anything that has “butter” and “tart” in them. xo.

    • Tania

      If you buy pre-made tart shells, they are incredibly easy! You can use nuts in place of the raisins, if you are a heathen: http://gocanada.about.com/od/wheretoeatanddrink/r/butter_tart.htm

      Another thing that’s easy to make that Americans miss out on: http://www.joyofbaking.com/NanaimoBars.html

      You should have Jennifer make them in her cooking quest. ;)

    • Amanda Chatel

      I’m printing these out and forcing Jennifer to make them for me this week. It is her duty to keep me knee-deep in treats. Thank you!

  • Marissa

    My husband works in the ER at a large hospital, and a ridiculous number of drug seekers come in with fake symptoms for two things: vicodin and xanax. They take extremely large amounts and are constantly asking him for “xanie bars.” It’s ridiculous how much their systems can handle after daily use for years. This is just so they feel normal now. To top it off, they are coming in for an $800 ER visit. This is a serious strain on healthcare resources. Xanax is serious stuff! It needs to be passed out way less easily. With that said, I require 500 mg for all flights.

    • Amanda Chatel

      I have heard of and seen those “xanie bars” on the Internets — holy shit! Those are fucking huge! I don’t even know what one of those would do to me. Oh, I know what it would do: I’d black out and live tweet my emotions while crying into the floor.

  • Jane

    Yikes. I take 1 mg of Xanax but only during a full-blown panic attack or a particularly stressful night, to sleep. (They were prescribed to me when I saw a friend get hit by a car a few feet away – there was no sleep to be had that night.) This is making me seriously reconsider even that.

    I was recently put on Cymbalta for anxiety. The doctor prescribed it to me without checking my chart, which showed prn Imitrex for migraines (from my previous doctor). All was well for about a week, when I took an Imitrex for a migraine I felt coming on and all hell broke loose. I started twitching/convulsing, sweating, running an extremely high fever and became inconsolably angry. Serotonin syndrome. The next week was a nightmare, and as I sit here a month later I’m still having tremors.

    The moral of all these stories is, don’t mess around with prescription meds, even ones that aren’t for anxiety/depression.

    • Ms. Pants

      I had to stop taking Imitrex for my migraines cos it reacts with friggin EVERYTHING. Migraines are miserable, but moot if I go off my anti-ds and off myself. I feel ya, Jane. xo

  • Lucid

    IMaybe I can save you more pain from this advice… Get on klonapin(sp?), it’s easy-peasy to get off of compared to the Xanax. That’s the only thing that worked for me. Transition to klonapin instead and then get off that. Simple.

    • Amanda Chatel

      The one time I had klonapin (I don’t know how to spell it either), I had a severe reaction. However, you’re right — it is far easier on the addiction end of things. In fact, it’s the one I plan to have as my “emergency only” pill. My doctor seems to think that since my reaction was back in college, that maybe things will go smoothly this time. I’d rather have the reaction again of throwing up and hives to know for sure, than this shit.

  • Heather

    I’ve only taken Xanax once. I’m sure it was a lower dose since the Dr. prescribed it for me, at my request, before an uncomfortable/invasive exam and I’d had no previous experience with it. I could hardly walk once it kicked in and passed out as soon as I got home from my appointment. I’ve always wondered how anyone could function on it or take it regularly. I guess drugs can affect people very differently.

  • LC

    Next time you want to do something like this at least go talk to a pharmacist (like me!). They would obviously try to get you to talk to your doctor before attempting something like this but they would also let you know what terrible symptoms you would be getting yourself into by cold-turkeying xanax!

    And FYI, Advil (ibuprofen) is not hard on your liver, that’s Tylenol (acetaminophen) you’re thinking of and using the recommended dose of either is totally safe and fine for a few days (granted you’re not on other meds that might interact or have liver or kidney failure).

  • Jenny

    Ugh, withdrawal is the WORST! When I was weaning off an antidepressant it felt like sporadic little lightning storms in my brain, especially if I moved too fast.

    I’ve got issues with anxiety and, it may not work for you, but I use an app called “Simply Being” when I’m feeling edgy. It’s guided relaxation/meditation. Something about the combination of soothing voice and music always helps me.

  • Pixie

    I’ve always stayed away from Xanax because the withdrawals just sound awful. Also, not good for someone with an addictive personality. I recently came off Avanza/Remeron after 4 years on it. It was BRUTAL. I did it as slowly as possible and still I had 4 weeks of brain zaps, random shaking, severe nausea, headaches and itching. Oh god the itching was possibly the worst. Good luck lady!

  • mm

    In my crazy party days I used to take xanax while drinking, once while on coke, too. One time I passed out face down on my bed like I had been praying – on my knees, face on the bed. The time on coke I couldn’t breathe, my heart was beating in the weirdest way. I called my best friend 300 miles away at 4 in the morning because I thought I was going to die. Then I fell asleep, missed a midterm, and had to drop the class. Xanax is super powerful…both of these times were at least half a bar and I guess I didn’t know how much that is, seeing the comments about bars below. I’ve taken it (without a prescription) a few times with nothing else when I was really depressed or angry about something, and it works like a charm but it always made me doubly upset the next day because life is not, in fact, a xanax dream when you’re not on it. I’m so sorry you’re going through these withdrawals, but you’re so brave for doing it and writing about it so other people know it’s not something to mess around with. I’m here to say ESPECIALLY don’t mess with it as a way to get extra drunk or fucked up. It sounds like the withdrawals can kill you after extended use, and it can definitely kill you when mixed with other drugs/alcohol. It blacks you out and does all sorts of other nasty feeling things.

  • OS

    Hi everyone! My doctor just stated me on Paxil in order to cut back my use of xanax. I have been on 1.5 a day spread over three times. I so want to stop the Paxil asap! Last night woke up with nausea and headache the woke me out of deep sleep. Well had to take .50 mg to finally get through the panic attack that came on. Xanax worked for but made the mistake of telling a doctor I think I want to wean off of it. he scared me by telling me I shouldn’t ever be on Vanness for more than 3 months. I have disability because of my anxiety and panic I don’t know that his decision was the right one. any thoughts?

    • OS

      sorry for typos