Q: Dear Dr. Mao,
How difficult is it to make the switch from Xanax to kava?
A: If you are taking Xanax or other drugs in the benzodiazepine family, switching to kava will be very difficult. You must seek a doctor’s supervision because withdrawal symptoms can be severe and even life threatening. Additionally, if you are taking Xanax on an “as needed” basis to stop acute panic attacks, kava cannot be expected to have the same rapidity of action. It is easier to make the switch from milder anti-anxiety drugs, such as BuSpar, and antidepressants. Nonetheless, a doctor’s supervision is still strongly advised.