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Addiction and Substance Abuse

Quit alcohol and Xanax at the same time?

02/13/2008

Question:

My husband is addicted to both alchohol and Xanax. He has begun attending AA meetings and feels it`s teachings apply to both alchohol and Xanax (prescription drugs). He is trying to quit both simultaneouly. I do not want to be a pesimist, but from everything I have read on-line, this is VERY difficult to do. Do you recommend he quit the alchohol first, then the Xanax? Or quit both together? Should he go to a treatment/detox center? How long, on average, do you stay in these faciliites until you are "dried out".

???

Answer:

Thank you so much for the excellent questions. Both alcohol and Xanax are "sedative - hypnotic" drugs, and they tend to intensify each other's effects. This includes withdrawal. Therefore, stopping both, at the same time is a very GOOD idea, but should be done with medical supervision. Sometimes this requires admission to a medical withdrawal or detox unit ... with an average stay of 3-4 days. This is needed IF people are on daily use of Xanax and daily use of alcohol.

If on the other hand a person is more of a binge drinker - drinking for a couple of days in a row, and a binge Xanax user ... then the person typically does not have physical dependence and can stop the medicine and the alcohol. Making this determination is where the "medical supervision" really comes in.

Thank you again for your good question.

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Response by:

Ted   Parran, MD Ted Parran, MD
Associate Professor of General Medical Sciences
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University