Discontinuing Anxiety Medication: What You Need to Know

discontinuing anxiety medication

If you’ve been taking anxiety medication like Ativan, Valium or Xanax for a while and have started feeling better, you may consider quitting. While it might seem like you no longer need to rely on daily doses of benzodiazepines to balance your mood, abruptly discontinuing anxiety medications can be dangerous.

How Does Anxiety Medication Work?

Benzodiazepines enhance a brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid that makes you feel calm and drowsy. Like opioids and cannabinoids, these drugs also release dopamine, which causes a surge of pleasurable feelings. Over time, taking anxiety medication can change the structure and function of specific brain receptors, leading to a physical and psychological dependency.

Even when you take benzodiazepines as prescribed by your primary care physician or a psychiatrist, you can still develop a to these drugs. At this point, you might experience withdrawal if you try to discontinue your anxiety medication because your brain struggles to reach equilibrium without it.  

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms Can Be Severe

The safest way to discontinue anxiety medications like benzodiazepines is to talk to the doctor who prescribed them to you. Instead of abruptly stopping, a physician can help you gradually taper off in a way that works best for you and your treatment goals.

Quitting cold turkey without consulting with a health professional can compromise your mental and physical health. First, your anxiety symptoms will return, and may cause even more severe issues than what caused you to seek help in the first place. Meanwhile, you’ll also have to contend with benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms like these:

  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Headaches and body aches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Mood changes
  • Panic attacks
  • Heart palpitations
  • Muscle tremors

A Detox Center That Puts Your Needs First

The challenges of trying to stop using anxiety medications without medical supervision can be overwhelming. Side effects like agitation, panic, hallucinations and seizures are possible in users who abruptly discontinue benzodiazepines with no professional help. Fortunately, medication-assisted treatment managed by experienced health providers can eliminate these uncomfortable side effects.

At Acworth Outpatient Detox, our team will work closely with you to make your detoxification experience as pleasant as possible. We’ll create a regular schedule for you to visit our clinic and receive personalized attention from our medical staff. Continuous check-ins allow us to adjust your medication and quickly address any breakthrough symptoms.

While you are in treatment with us, you’ll also benefit from additional services like counseling, withdrawal symptom management and more. If you need to get sober on your schedule without leaving home or taking time off from your usual responsibilities, Acworth Outpatient Detox is here to help you. Contact us today to learn more about who we are and what we do.