Exploring the Link Between Xanax and the Risk of Seizures

By: Lakeview Health Staff
Published: March 7, 2024

Xanax is primarily recognized as an anti-anxiety medication within the benzodiazepine class of drugs. While not traditionally used or approved for seizure control, research shows that benzodiazepines can be useful in managing certain types of seizures in acute situations. However, despite being in this class of substances, Xanax can actually cause seizures sometimes, so it’s always best to consult a healthcare professional for advice and treatment tailored to individual health needs. 

What is Xanax?

Xanax is a prescription medication known generically as alprazolam that belongs to the class of drugs called benzodiazepines. It’s commonly used to treat anxiety disorders and panic attacks. Xanax works by enhancing the activity of neurotransmitters – specifically GABA – in the brain to promote calmness and relaxation, providing quick relief from symptoms of anxiety. 

Why do people think Xanax helps seizures?

The misconception that Xanax should be used to help with seizures could stem from the recognition of its class – benzodiazepines – as being effective in preventing severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures and delirium. These risks can arise during abrupt cessation of alcohol intake, especially after prolonged periods of heavy drinking.

However, Xanax is not one of the benzodiazepines typically used for alcohol withdrawal, which may lead to some confusion regarding Xanax and its use to prevent seizures. 

Ultimately, you should always consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate medications for your particular health concerns. 

Xanax use and seizure risks: What you need to know

It is essential to be aware that Xanax can actually cause seizures if it’s discontinued abruptly after three to four weeks. Stopping this medication right away can lead to potentially life-threatening withdrawal seizures, making the gradual weaning off extremely important for safety.

If you’re considering stopping or experiencing challenges with your benzodiazepine treatment, immediately contact your healthcare provider for counsel on how to move forward safely to avoid this serious side effect. 

Signs Xanax withdrawal is causing a seizure

Recognizing the indicators that Xanax withdrawal might be causing a seizure is critical to ensuring safety during the detoxification process. Shortly after stopping this medication – typically between one and four days – the signs of withdrawal can begin to surface.

Common symptoms are those akin to having the flu, such as muscle pains, sweating, nausea, loss of appetite, and headaches. Along with these symptoms, individuals may also experience increased anxiety, shaking, blurry vision, and diarrhea and vomiting.

If you’re going through severe withdrawal symptoms after stopping Xanax – like experiencing severe shaking, blurry vision, or gastrointestinal issues, it should be treated as a red flag for the potential risk of seizures. It’s crucial to seek immediate medical help to minimize risks and ensure proper management during this vulnerable time. 

How else does Xanax affect the body when taking it?

When taking Xanax, this medication primarily exerts its effects on the central nervous system to produce a calming sensation, commonly prescribed for anxiety and panic disorders. However, along with inducing relaxation and drowsiness as intended therapeutic effects, there can be other adverse side effects that take a toll on your physical and mental health.

Xanax can influence the body and mind in a variety of ways. Some individuals may experience:

  • Feelings of lethargy or fatigue
  • Vertigo or lightheadedness
  • Sleeping challenges, such as insomnia
  • Cognitive issues, like forgetfulness
  • Stability issues affecting balance and coordination
  • Difficulty articulating words clearly
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Increased irritability or unexpected mood shifts
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances – diarrhea and constipation
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Headaches that may range from mild to severe
  • Feelings of nausea, leading up to throwing up
  • Changes in vision, such as blurriness
  • Decreased interest in sexual activity
  • Potential aggravation or exacerbation of depressive symptoms
  • Episodes of hypomania
  • Reduced cognitive function

As you can see, taking Xanax can induce a range of side effects, making it imperative to consume this medication strictly under medical supervision and stay attuned to your body’s responses.

Treatment to prevent seizures due to Xanax withdrawal

Effective methods to lessen the likelihood of seizures due to Xanax withdrawal must consider both preemptive strategies for individuals not yet dependent, and intervention techniques necessary after dependence has developed. 

Replace Xanax With Different Medication 

Another method is to replace Xanax with a different medication. Certain benzodiazepines, like Xanax, carry an increased risk for misuse and perception of withdrawal. A prevalent method to mitigate these risks involves replacing shorter half-life drugs such as Xanax with ones that have a longer half-life, like diazepam. 

Manage Withdrawal Symptoms Once Dependent

If it’s determined that an individual withdrawing from benzodiazepines is at high risk for severe withdrawal symptoms, certain steps can be taken to manage these symptoms effectively. 


Once dependence has formed, it is strongly recommended to prevent withdrawal symptoms by carefully tapering off of the medication rather than suddenly stopping use. Rapid dosage reductions or abrupt discontinuation of a drug like Xanax can trigger acute withdrawal syndrome.

A medically supervised gradual reduction of the Xanax helps mitigate potential adverse reactions which, in severe cases, could be deadly. It’s crucial to always consult your healthcare professional when managing dosages and deciding on an appropriate tapering timeline. They provide the expertise needed for a safe withdrawal to give you the best chance at avoiding seizures.

Drug Treatment Facility Specializing in Detox

A drug treatment facility specializing in detoxing from Xanax offers a structured and supervised environment specifically tailored for individuals withdrawing from substances like benzodiazepines.

Here’s why they are helpful:

Medical Supervision: While in a detox facility, there are medical professionals who can look after you at all times. If you’re experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms and are at risk of having a seizure, you will always have someone there to help.

Tailored Treatment Plans: When you go to a detox facility, they can individualize a treatment plan for you based on your needs. Whether this includes medication management or other types of support, like counseling services, they can likely provide this.

Treatment After Detox: Once you finish the detox phase, it’s important to continue treatment to avoid a relapse and dependence on Xanax again. A Xanax addiction treatment facility can help to address the underlying issues associated with substance use and provide a smoother transition into recovery. 

Safe Environment: Detox facilities offer a safe place with less triggers than a person might experience in their own home-environment.

Always prioritize your safety and health by reaching out for professional help during the withdrawal process to ensure it’s managed in an informed and careful manner.