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Butterfly32 10-24-2007 08:16 PM

Xanax addiction...Please help me
Hello everyone,

I am in desperate need of help. I would greatly appreciate any advice you could offer me, as I am in quite a situation and I have not been able to get out of it on my own.

Here is a bit of history that I have crammed into a small nutshell.

I have had an anxiety disorder for many years, since I was actually 11 years old. I wasn't diagnosed until I was 22; before that, it was assumed I had a cardiac issue due to heart palpitations, etc. Who would ever think an 11 year old had panic disorder, right? Tests were normal, but anxiety was never suspected, even though my family history is significant. My mother, aunt and sister have major panic disorders as well.

When I was 22, I discussed the symptoms with my doctor and sure enough, I was diagnosed with Panic Disorder. By this time, I had full blown panic attacks on occasion. I can not drive on the highway without medications, can't shop in certain stores (high ceilings do it to me) and sometimes, there is no known reason; they just come on. So, I triuly do have anxiety and panic; I didn't start taking pills for fun.

I was prescribed a daily medication (Prozac which actuallly made the panic worse; this was switched to Paxil, then Wellbutrin) and Ativan to take as needed. I only tok them as needed and never took more. I was on Ativan for 7 years and never once took more than the prescribed dose. Ever.

Fast forward a few years. My husband of 13 years left me for another woman. I had the worst time of it. I couldn't sleep. I started taking more Ativan at night just to sleep.

After awhile, the Ativan didn't work as well. I got a new prescription for Xanax. As we all know, tolerance changes over time. Before I knew it, I was taking more and more. I started taking them to go to work. I took them before meetings. There was always a reason.

My current useage is 4 mg a day. I tried stopping cold but experienced major tension in my jaw, headaches, extreme anxiety and heart palpitations, etc. It was horrible. My hands would shake uncontrollably, the whole nine yards.

Please understand this story is very condensed.....but the bottom line is, I am hooked. Big time. And it is taking over my life.

I get a script for 60 .5mg pills monthly. I have resorted to buying more pills a month to support my habit. I have been taking between 3mg and 4 mg for three years now.

I need to stop this madness. And I will. I just need some help.

I just want this to end. I am scared because I do legitimately need a medication in the event I have a panic attack, because I legitimately do have them. What is strange is that I never, ever abused the Ativan before he never gave me a feeling that I wanted to get over and over.

The Xanax mellowed me out and helped me through the rough times when he left....I don't know why I started taking them during the day. I guess I am an addict and was just wanting that mellow feeling. I just find it odd that I was on Ativan for several years with no problems.

Anyway, I can get enough pills to do whatever kind of taper I need to do. I just need to know where to start.

Please help me. I hate what this has done to me. I feel empty, depressed, lackluster, I am losing my memory and have no interest in anything. I know it is the pills.

Here are my questions:

1) Can someone please suggest a taper plan that would make the withdrawel less dangerous and uncomfortable?
2) I read that withdrawel from xanax is nasty and even life threatening. Is this true?
3) The amount I am taking, the 4mg daily, is this a terribly high dose? Could I have seizures if I did stop suddenly?
4) Could someone die taking this high of a dose? This scares me. I don't want to die....I want to live and not be hooked on these damn things.

In case more details are needed, I take 1 mg in the morning, 1 mg in the afternoon and 2 mg at night. Don't know if this is relevent, but I thought I would throw it in there.

I truly appreciate any advice you could offer. Thank you so much.


luvbnclean 10-24-2007 08:53 PM

Re: Xanax addiction...Please help me
Hi Butterfly,
First of all, just calm down, take a deep breath, and relax for a minute. You are not alone. I cannot help much with the xanax problem, percocets were my drug of choice. But I can answer at least one of your questions. Yes, you could have severe seizures and actually die if you have been used to taking a high dose everyday and just quit cold turkey. When you quit pain pills cold turkey, the withdrawals are horrible and you may feel like you could die, but with benzo's, you actually can.

So PLEASE do not try to quit them cold turkey. You will have to do a taper. I don't know how to tell you to do that. I'm sure someone else on this board can tell you, but most importantly, you need to go to a dr, either the one that prescribes these to you, or an addiction specialist. I know that you are embarassed to tell the doc that prescribes them to you, but I can guarantee you that he/she will have the utmost respect for you for admitting that you have a problem and they will know exactly what to do to safely taper you off of the xanax. Please make the appointment, do not wait another day. It was hard for me to tell my doctor that I was addicted, but like I said, he respected me for being mature enough to admit it and to want help. And almost 99% of the time, the dr's already know you are addicted to them. It's not a big surprise to them!

I wish I could be of more help. But just please don't try to quit cold turkey, please make an appt as soon as possible, and please remember that you are not alone.


FullCircle08 10-24-2007 09:09 PM

Re: Xanax addiction...Please help me
butterfly --give "reach" a chance to respond. We are all opiate addicts on here and the WD's and Taper and completely different for the 2 types of drugs. Reach did a LONG taper and her story is publishable. She is awesome and her words are deep. Listen to her when she responds to you and she will lead you better than ANY therapist.


Butterfly32 10-24-2007 10:23 PM

Re: Xanax addiction...Please help me
Thank you both so much for your responses. I will anxiously await Reach's response.

Luv, I have definitely contemplated talking to my doctor. And I certainly haven't ruled it out. My fear of course, is that I have been taking more than double what has been prescribed. That is not going to be easy to admit. :( I would love to not have to go that route.....but as a last resort, I will.

Again, thank you, Luv and O. Hugs.


luvbnclean 10-25-2007 07:44 AM

Re: Xanax addiction...Please help me
I was exactly the same as you. I was getting 120 percocets each month and could only make them last about 12 days, 15 tops. Then I had to spend the rest of the month searching and searching and I got so sick of it. That is why I decided to quit. I couldn't stand the searching for them anymore. But I will tell you for a fact that most doc's would rather try to get you off of them than to prescribe more for you each month. If you take benzo's or opiates for years, your body is definitely going to become tolerant on them and almost always your mind too. They actually change the physical make-up of your brain. When you're addicted, its your brain telling you that you have to have more. Please take it from me, your doctor will gain the utmost respect for you for admitting you have a problem and will safely help you taper off of these drugs. If you do it his/her way, you can legally do this. If you taper another way, I'm assuming you will probably be buying the additional xanax's from someone which is illegal. Wouldn't it be such a shame if you got caught now that you are trying to get off of them? Just please think about it.


reachout 10-25-2007 08:39 AM

Re: Xanax addiction...Please help me
Hello Butterfly

That is a good name for you right now because you are in a very fragile state.
Some of what I say to you concerning my own taper from Xanax is going to sound harsh and impossible to do for you. I understand this because I felt so overwhelmed when I began tapering from Xanax. (I had tapered before this from oxycodone, an opiate, and then took a short break before tackling the Xanax. And Fullcircle is very correct in that there are some big differences between an opiate like oxycodone and a benzo like Xanax).

Expectation-wise, I would say to expect a successful taper for you to take a full year. (I was only on 1.5Mg total a day). The basic rule of thumb here is to [U]never[/U] make a cut greater than 5%-10% from the current dose. The taper goes a bit faster in the beginning and then slows down a great deal because of this. At the end of the Xanax taper, I was smashing 1/4 tabs and splitting the crumbs into portions that I would ingest by licking my finger to pick up the crumbs. Quite humbling.

I took my doses three times a day. I only made a cut on one of those doses each time. Each cut would be followed by a leveling off period of two weeks. Then, IF I felt I could make another cut and MAINTAIN it, I made the next cut. Sometimes it was ten days, sometimes fourteen, sometimes even a few longer. Each time, we must feel the mental fortitude to make the cut and stick with it. We have to bear with the withdrawal and endure it. It is not pleasant. Anxiety will hit in the pit of the stomach. I had to physically move around, cry, pray and get human support to make it through these times. It was harsh, but I survived. And it MUST be slow, not only because of the big chance of seizures if we go too fast, but also because to be successful and not go back to using... misusing and abusing... the Xanax.

And yes, it [B]can[/B] be done. I am certainly not alone in making it through withdrawal from Xanax. You can do this.

My belief is that no one can withdraw alone. No one. It can not be a dark, hidden secret in our lives. If it is, success will never come! For me, the first step is full disclosure to a partner if you have one. Then it is full disclosure to a doctor... and I mean FULL disclosure. I worked with my family doctor. I told him the exact amounts I was taking and how often. If we do not disclose all the details of what we are doing to the doctor, then we can not expect the best help possible in beating this. There is no shame in seeking help... and trust me, your story is going to be so not new. With your doctor, a plan, a full plan needs to be set up and put into place and FOLLWED. This does not mean no flexibility in cuts.... what it does is ensure that cuts are made and progress continues steadily. my plan included my doctor, my family, my friends, a licensed clinical social worker, a psychiatrist for a very shhort time, and lots of posting and reading on this board, and lots and lots of prayer. While withdrawal is harsh, I believe for many of us it is also a time of great spiritual growth.

A lot of learning had to take place for me in many areas. One very important area was techniques to control the anxiety during withdrawal... like breathing techniques, distraction skills (like vacuuming!), stuff like that. Think it would be wise to investigate some techniques to handle anxiety so you are armed as you start. I nalso took Magnesium, 250mg tabs, twice a day as it is a natural supplement that works on the nervous system to help calm and restore it.

Also, did you know that Xanax can actually exacberate depression and anxiety. You are so right about how we keep needing more and more for the same effect, but then there comes a point when the drug doesn't work for us, but against us. I think it is a good decision to get off.

Take it in baby steps, always baby steps. Do it honestly and up front. I really believe it is the only way we can do it.

Best wishes

tommy2times 10-25-2007 02:51 PM

Re: Xanax addiction...Please help me
My story is too long to tell... FIRST, do a search for alprazolam withrawal symptoms and you will see the LONG list... i.e. delirium, morbid thoughts, extreme depression, paranoia, agoraphobia (fear of outdoors).


I didn't sleep for 1 month. No exaggeration. If I dozed my body would violently shake me awake. I didn't leave the house for a few months.

The only course is to taper of course, but the BEST course would include switching to a longer acting benzodiazepine i.e. valium, clonazepam(clonopin) and then taper those medications down. Your doctor can help, but you will find he cannot BEGIN to understand what you're feeling. It's okay...

Believe me. Do it the right way. In all it was the worst hell I would never wish on anyone. It's opiate withdrawal times ten. All the physical pain (think stomach cramping like you swallowed a small sun, no appetite for like 6 months) plus the mental stuff I talked about. My ears rang constantly.

Most importantly, know you won't be fixed overnight. Think longterm. Think "everyday I am getting a little bit better", even if you don't feel it. It's important to have a strong support system as well.

Butterfly32 10-27-2007 06:54 PM

Re: Xanax addiction...Please help me
Thank you all so much for your replies. I was not able to get back on my computer until tonight, so I am just now able to read through everything. I did want to post a quick thank you though, as I truly appreciate all who took the time to post something. I am going to go back to my thread now and read everything.....

Thank you so much.


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