In this article, I’m going to discuss how to use Xanax for alcohol withdrawal. People who cross the line from heavy drinking to alcoholism are often shocked at how difficult it can be to quit drinking. Quitting cold turkey is painful and dangerous, and the process can be made much easier by taking a benzodiazepine like Xanax for alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
I remember vividly how over the span of about a year, quitting drinking after a binge went from merely annoying to psychologically exhausting and painful. Because I hated going to the doctor, I had no idea that I could have used a drug like Xanax for alcohol withdrawal. Usually I endured prolonged periods of nervous exhaustion on my couch. Of course, it was only a matter of time before I drank and the process started all over again.
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.
When I finally quit drinking, I was prescribed a benzodiazepine called Ativan for alcohol withdrawal. I was first given a shot of Ativan in the arm and then doctors tapered my oral doses slowly over the course of about 10 days.
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.
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:
- Panic attacks
- 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.
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. When I quit drinking years ago, I tapered off of Ativan in less than two weeks.
- 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. When I quit drinking, I began a personal transformation that permanently altered my view of drinking culture while making me a much happier person.
How To Take Xanax
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.
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. 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. Calm Support (read my review here) is an organic nutritional supplement designed specifically for rebalancing your mood. I wish it had been available when I quit drinking, because in my opinion it is by far the best supplement for repairing your body and brain after you quit drinking.
If I had to quit drinking all over again, I would take Calm Support as soon as I tapered off of Valium (or another benzodiazepine) for alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol addiction is a complex brain disorder and GABA is not the only neurotransmitter that needs to be addressed when you quit drinking.
The bottom line is that using Valium 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!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article on the use of Xanax for alcohol withdrawal. If you’re in the position that I was once in before I quit drinking, I feel your pain. Subscribe to my email list to stay posted on future 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.