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How long can i take Xanax for anxiety?

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Posted on Sat, 4 Oct 2014
Question: Because if stomach issues and anxiety, I take .5 mg of Xanax about 5 days a week. This medication does help my anxiety. How long can I take this med without serious side effects?
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Answered by Dr. Matt Wachsman (24 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
Not sure there are serious side effects

Detailed Answer:
Seriously.
First, there is NOT accumulation of drug nor accumulated damage to anything from taking it forever. I've had many patients taking that dose for years as a sleeping medication.
The one issue is dependence/addiction and Xanax is pretty bad for it. It is higher risk than similar drugs because it is intense and short acting. BUT because it is short acting I'm rather doubtful that the 20-30 hrs Per Week it is in your system is going to be able to trigger tolerance or withdrawal. Certainly I've never seen that happen. What IS truly common especially as a sleeping medication is psychological addiction... "well, I've always taken it for sleep; I don't think I could ever get to sleep if I didn't have it". But... not taking it every day nor consistently... it doesn't seem a very big concern in your situation. No horrible organ damage is going to pop up. Withdrawal addiction probably not possible, psychological addiction.. unlikely.
So, in answer of the main question. It's safe.
However.
Another issue is the time course of action versus time course of need. It has about a 30 minute time of onset and lasts 4-6 hrs. For most panic attacks they end before the pill would work and couldn't be predicted when to take it. Taking an anti-depressant with anti-panic effects All the Time Preventatively (not having anxiety) or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (to deal with anxiety) are generally a better overall option.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Yogesh D
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Dr. Matt Wachsman

Addiction Medicine Specialist

Practicing since :1985

Answered : 4065 Questions

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How long can i take Xanax for anxiety?

Brief Answer: Not sure there are serious side effects Detailed Answer: Seriously. First, there is NOT accumulation of drug nor accumulated damage to anything from taking it forever. I've had many patients taking that dose for years as a sleeping medication. The one issue is dependence/addiction and Xanax is pretty bad for it. It is higher risk than similar drugs because it is intense and short acting. BUT because it is short acting I'm rather doubtful that the 20-30 hrs Per Week it is in your system is going to be able to trigger tolerance or withdrawal. Certainly I've never seen that happen. What IS truly common especially as a sleeping medication is psychological addiction... "well, I've always taken it for sleep; I don't think I could ever get to sleep if I didn't have it". But... not taking it every day nor consistently... it doesn't seem a very big concern in your situation. No horrible organ damage is going to pop up. Withdrawal addiction probably not possible, psychological addiction.. unlikely. So, in answer of the main question. It's safe. However. Another issue is the time course of action versus time course of need. It has about a 30 minute time of onset and lasts 4-6 hrs. For most panic attacks they end before the pill would work and couldn't be predicted when to take it. Taking an anti-depressant with anti-panic effects All the Time Preventatively (not having anxiety) or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (to deal with anxiety) are generally a better overall option.