Xanax is a medication typically prescribed to treat anxiety disorders and panic attacks. Alcohol withdrawal can also lead to anxiety and panic attacks, which may lead to the question, “Does Xanax help with alcohol withdrawal symptoms?”
The short answer is yes, Xanax can help treat the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. However, using Xanax to self-medicate your alcohol withdrawal symptoms can lead to dangerous consequences. The medication should only be taken under medical supervision as part of a well-rounded alcohol withdrawal treatment. How does Xanax work for alcohol withdrawal?
What is Alcohol Withdrawal?
Alcohol withdrawal is the set of symptoms that occur when someone who drinks heavily for a long period suddenly reduces their alcohol intake or stops entirely. The severity of withdrawal symptoms varies from mild to severe depending on a few factors, such as the amount you drink, how long you drank, or existing medical conditions.1
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Many different alcohol withdrawal symptoms may occur when you stop drinking. Some of these symptoms include:
- Delirium tremens (DTs)
In the most severe cases, alcohol withdrawal may cause seizures, hallucinations, and confusion. This is why seeking alcohol addiction treatment is the safest solution when you are ready to stop drinking.
How Does Xanax Help With Alcohol Withdrawal?
Xanax belongs to a class of medications called benzodiazepines, which work by slowing down the central nervous system. This function helps reduce the anxiety and tremors that can be commonplace during alcohol withdrawal.2 Many alcohol withdrawal treatments involve medication-assisted treatment with benzodiazepines as part of a comprehensive approach to care. However, using these medications at home without direct physician involvement can lead to disastrous consequences.
Risks of Using Xanax for Alcohol Withdrawal
Although Xanax may help manage the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, it does not come without risks. Benzodiazepines are highly addictive, just like alcohol, and may lead to dependence if used for long periods. They are also dangerous when mixed with alcohol, and taking Xanax while still drinking increases the risk of overdose.
Additionally, Xanax is not a cure for alcohol addiction. It should never be used as a long-term treatment for alcohol withdrawal. These medications are only intended for short-term use to manage acute symptoms of withdrawal during the first few weeks of sobriety.
Using Xanax for alcohol withdrawal may also mask an underlying mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety. Covering these conditions with medication may keep you from receiving the full extent of care you need and hold you back in the long run. Treating all aspects of your substance use and mental health is crucial for sustained recovery.
How to Find Alcohol Withdrawal Treatments
Xanax is an effective form of alcohol withdrawal treatment but should only be taken with the direction and supervision of a medical professional. Using Xanax for alcohol withdrawal can be risky and may lead to physical dependence and addiction if not used properly. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol use disorder, it’s important to seek professional help to develop a safe and effective treatment plan.
Programs like those at Silver Pines recognize both the risks and benefits of using benzodiazepines during alcohol withdrawal treatment. We offer supervised medication-assisted therapy to reduce the discomfort of the detox period and provide a smooth transition into early recovery. If you’re ready to seek help, reach out to us through our online contact form or call us at 866-345-2147 to speak with an admissions specialist and find the right program for you.
- American Society of Addiction Medicine. (2022). The ASAM Clinical Practice Guideline on Alcohol Withdrawal Management.
- Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research. (2015). Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome: Benzodiazepines and Beyond.