Does Xanax Help with Alcohol Withdrawal?

xanax dosage for alcohol withdrawal

In this article, we’re going to discuss how to use Xanax for alcohol withdrawal. The process of quitting drinking can be made much easier by taking a benzodiazepine like Xanax for alcohol withdrawal symptoms

As alcohol consumption increases over time, withdrawal symptoms can progress from mild to psychologically exhausting and even dangerous. Many people avoid discussing their true levels of alcohol consumption with their doctors. As a result, they do not find out about the proper use of benzodiazepines for alcohol withdrawal. Binging, abstinence, and relapse can form a vicious cycle that continues for many years.

It’s important to understand that alcohol withdrawal is not all in your head. Symptoms like rapid heart beat, panic attacks, or a profound sense of impending doom can get worse and lead to fatal seizures. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms become more severe with repeated episodes because of a phenomenon known as kindling.

In a medical detox environment, it’s common to receive benzodiazepines for alcohol withdrawal. A patient may be given an initial injection followed by 1-2 weeks of tapered oral doses that are carefully monitored.

xanax dosage for alcohol withdrawal

Overview of Xanax

Xanax is in a family of anti-anxiety drugs called benzodiazepines. Xanax is a brand and its generic name is alprazolam. Other benzodiazepine brands include Librium, Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin.

xanax dosage for alcohol withdrawal

All of these drugs can be effective for alcohol withdrawal symptoms because they reduce anxiety, prevent convulsions, and help with sleep. Because they vary in terms of strength and their length of effects, doctors choose between them depending on the patient’s symptoms.

Xanax is effective at alleviating or preventing the following symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Restlessness
  • Panic attacks
  • Tremors
  • High blood pressure
  • Delirium Tremens

Benzodiazepines work by activating GABA receptors in the brain, which are also stimulated by alcohol. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter associated with feelings of calm. Alcohol intoxication causes a spike in GABA and withdrawal involves a plunge in GABA. Many alcohol withdrawal symptoms (including panic and even seizures) are caused by insufficient levels of GABA in the brain.

xanax for alcohol withdrawal

Using Xanax for alcohol withdrawal can provide temporary peace of mind and prevent severe symptoms from manifesting. Because of the effectiveness of Xanax for alcohol withdrawal symptoms, hospitals often prescribe this drug to alcoholics and then gradually reduce the dose to taper them off of it.

Here are some things to consider before obtaining a prescription of Xanax for alcohol withdrawal symptoms:

  • Because everyone is biochemically different, another benzodiazepine may work better for you than Xanax. Many doctors recommend Ativan or Librium instead of Xanax for alcohol withdrawal.
  • Depending on the severity of your alcoholism, your doctor may recommend inpatient detox or prescribe you with Xanax that you can taper off of while you quit drinking at home. If you quit drinking at home, make sure you have support and that you repair your body proactively.
  • All benzodiazepines including Xanax can be addictive, which is why they should only be used for a short period of time and in the lowest effective dose.
  • All benzodiazepines including Xanax can cause overdose if too much is taken at once. Mixing these drugs with alcohol can be very dangerous and lead to blackouts.
  • Even if you take Xanax for alcohol withdrawal, you will still need to repair nutrient deficiencies caused by excessive drinking. You may also have other symptoms such as low motivation and depression that benzodiazepines cannot resolve.
  • Using Xanax for alcohol withdrawal is a great strategy for the short term, but in the longer term, it’s important to have external support and to renew your sense of purpose in life.

xanax for alcohol withdrawal

How To Take Xanax & Xanax Dosage For Alcohol Withdrawal

Here are some things to consider as you take Xanax for alcohol withdrawal symptoms:

  • Only take Xanax with a prescription and under the supervision of a doctor.
  • Xanax tablets are typically 0.25 or 0.5 mg.
  • Doses of Xanax are often divided throughout the day.
  • There is no standard dosage of Xanax for alcohol withdrawal; a doctor can determine this depending on your situation.
  • Most people do not need to take Xanax for alcohol withdrawal for more than a few days or a week.
  • To avoid dependence, do not use Xanax for longer than you need it.
  • Xanax may be harder to get off of than other benzodiazepines, but it can work just as well to relieve your symptoms in the short-term.

Further Considerations

By preventing complications caused by low levels of GABA in the brain, using Xanax for alcohol withdrawal can help you have a much safer and more pleasant detox than going cold turkey. Even if your symptoms aren’t severe, envisioning life without alcohol is hard enough. Nervous exhaustion and insomnia can make the task of quitting drinking seem nearly impossible.

But while Xanax can help with getting off of alcohol, it is not a cure-all for the physical damage caused by alcoholism. Many people who use benzodiazepines like Xanax end up relapsing because they feel tortured by depression or alcohol cravings after their taper ends. These other symptoms are often caused by the following problems that are NOT resolved by benzodiazepines:

  • Low dopamine
  • Low serotonin
  • Magnesium deficiency (my life changed when I began taking magnesium!)
  • B-vitamin deficiencies
  • Other vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • Poor liver health

Fortunately, there is a way to address all of these problems at once. Check Fit Recovery’s list of supplements that work best for supporting the brain-body system through alcohol recovery.

Another trick is to take glutamine to resolve sudden, intense bouts of alcohol cravings. Try it and you’ll see that it works. Glutamine is an amino acid that can help to repair every cell in your body.

The bottom line is that using Xanax for alcohol withdrawal can be very effective, but it’s just the first part of a long process. Give your body what it needs during this time, and your mind will be sure to follow!

xanax for alcohol withdrawal

Conclusion

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article on the use of Xanax for alcohol withdrawal. Subscribe to the Fit Recovery email list to stay posted on more articles that can help you down the road.

If you have any questions about how to use Xanax for alcohol withdrawal, please leave them in the comment box below.

___________________________________

Dr. Ken Starr is board certified in both Addiction Medicine and Emergency Medicine, and diplomate of the American Board of Addiction Medicine. In addition to his work as the Addiction Medicine Director for Fit Recovery, he operates Ken Starr MD Wellness Group in Arroyo Grande, CA. His clinic offers advanced drug and alcohol detox methods, long term recovery facilitation, and IV nutritional programs including NAD+ therapy.

Hierarchy of Alcohol Recovery

Please review this post!

WANT TO DOMINATE ALCOHOL AND LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE?

CHRIS SCOTT

Chris Scott founded Fit Recovery in 2014 to help people from around the world dominate alcohol dependence and rebuild their lives from scratch. A former investment banker, he recovered from alcohol dependence using cutting-edge methods that integrate nutrition, physiology, and behavioral change. Today, Chris is an Alcohol Recovery Coach and the creator of an online course called Total Alcohol Recovery 2.0.

DR. REBECA ERIKSEN

Dr. Rebeca Eriksen is the Nutritional Consultant for Fit Recovery. She has a PhD in Nutritional Genetics from Imperial College London, and over ten years of clinical experience designing custom nutritional repair regimens for patients recovering from alcohol addiction. In addition to her work at the exclusive Executive Health clinic in Marbella, Spain, she helps to keep Fit Recovery up to date with emerging research.

COMMENT DISCLAIMER

The information we provide while responding to comments is not intended to provide and does not constitute medical, legal, or other professional advice. The responses to comments on fitrecovery.com are designed to support, not replace, medical or psychiatric treatment. Please seek professional care if you believe you may have a condition.

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Rochelle
Rochelle
6 months ago

My husband was just diagnosed with fatty liver (steotosis) which I’m just now finding out is the 1st stage of ARLD. He has been drinking heavily (15-30 beers per day) for apprx.7 yrs straight through. although he’s well aware of his outcome (fibrosis, hep b/c, cirrhosis, cancer, delirium, psychosis, mortality, ect) from continued drinking. Due to the fact that the psychological (reward system: dopamine, serotonin, etc) changes have already occurred. He is not able to stop drinking. Our fam primary care phy/dr is sending Rx’s which include, xanax, folic acid, & catapress. I do have some medical training & extensive… Read more »

Chris Scott
6 months ago
Reply to  Rochelle

Hi Rochelle! I spend most of my time in my online course, so that’s a great place to get more info. There are also many free blog articles on this website that may help you, depending on what you’re looking for. Good luck to you both!

david
david
1 year ago

can you still taper of alchol with xanax and drink as long as you taper off drinking

JJJ
JJJ
1 year ago
Reply to  david

I would be very careful mixing alcohol with a benzo, even a little of both at the same time can kill you.

Leslie Knight
1 year ago

Who makes Calm Support and where can you purchase it?

Chris Scott
1 year ago
Reply to  Leslie Knight

Hi Leslie, please find the CalmSupport link here! And you can read more about it in this article.

Helen
Helen
1 year ago

I hade to take 4 mg of xanax to get thru the day

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
1 year ago

Very helpful information, thank you so much! You note in the article that Xanax can be harder to stop taking than other benzos. I’ve heard this elsewhere but just want to get some clarity… do you mean that there can be the benzo withdraw symptoms of anxiety and related discomfort? Xanax is all I have right now and I don’t have access to a doctor? What can I expect as I taper? I’ve never experienced any addictive relationship to benzos despite past prescriptions but I don’t want to create one in the wake of alcohol withdrawal.

Chris Scott
1 year ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Glad you enjoyed this article Elizabeth! I can’t give medical advice regarding your situation, but Xanax can cause addiction if used for too long. It also has a shorter half life than other benzos such as Ativan, which is what I was prescribed when I detoxed.

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