How to Use Xanax to Detox From Alcohol


The long-term effects of alcoholism have the potential to permanently damage vital organs and increase incidence of fatal accidents. Dangerous side effects like seizures, sleeplessness and suicidal thoughts are certain concerns and possible side effects. A variety of methods are used to help alcoholics detox safely. Alprazolam (Xanax) is often used in a drug-replacement program to help reduce symptoms of alcohol detoxification. To detox from any drug, including alcohol, you must be under the supervision of a physician, or an addiction specialist.

Things You'll Need

  • Physician
  • Addiction specialist
  • Prescription for Xanax from your physician

Tell your physician or addiction specialist exactly how long you have been drinking, how much you consume and how many days a week you drink. This is vital information that will tell your medical provider when your withdrawal symptoms are likely to begin, approximately how long they will last and the symptoms you are at risk for developing.

Take your medication as directed by your doctor. If you are in a detox facility, your medical team will put you on a medication schedule. You may be directed to take your Xanax once every four to six hours. If you are detoxing at home, your physician will advise you to either take your medication a specific number of times daily or as needed. Taking your medication as needed means that once symptoms of withdrawal begin to appear, or once they become intolerable—but not dangerous—you can take the dosage your doctor suggests. Never take more Xanax than prescribed by your physician. Depending on how long you drank, and how much alcohol your body is accustomed to getting, your withdrawal symptoms could start anywhere from several hours to 72 hours after your last drink.

Give your doctor regular updates about your health and all of your symptoms, from the most mundane, like anxiety, but severe especially: if you cannot sleep at all, have seizures, memory loss, suicidal thoughts or hallucinations. Do not stop taking your Xanax. It is not likely that your medication is causing your symptoms, but rather, your body is reacting adversely to not having the alcohol it was so accustomed to.

Continue to keep track of your symptoms even after the five to seven day period after you stopped drinking. At this point, they should be more manageable. You should no longer have medium to severe tremors. And the risk for having potentially dangerous side effects has greatly decreased. It is important to continue taking your Xanax as directed. It can be dangerous to abruptly stop taking Xanax.

Communicate to your treatment team what your craving level is. Craving is a normal, but risky, part of detoxing and recovering from alcoholism. One of the top reasons that people relapse is due to cravings. Xanax helps minimize these thoughts. Because your system is not accustomed to doing anything without alcohol—from sleeping to completing everyday tasks—you may become anxious more easily than ever. Xanax is designed to reduce feelings of anxiety.

Tips & Warnings

  • An important fact to know about drug-replacement therapy is that it is not a short-term solution. You may need to be on medication and under the observation of an addiction specialist for many months, or years.
  • Xanax is addictive. You should take your medication exactly as prescribed by your physician. If you have had an addiction to benzodiazepines in the past, you may want to avoid this method of drug-replacement therapy.

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