Part of the Complete Guide to Understanding Addiction
Learn more about withdrawal
Learn more about Xanax
Table of Contents
- What causes Xanax Withdrawal?
- Xanax Withdrawal
- Withdrawal Risks
- What is the Xanax Withdrawal Timeline?
- Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms
- Factors that Affect Withdrawal
- Can You Die from Xanax Withdrawal?
- What Helps to Ease Xanax Withdrawal?
- Long Term Treatment for Xanax Addiction
Xanax, generically known as Alprazolam, is an anti-anxiety medication, part of the Benzodiazepine class of medications. It acts as a central nervous system sedative and increases the release of dopamine creating a calming effect in the brain. Doctors will prescribe Xanax for conditions such as insomnia, panic disorders, mental health issues or generalized anxiety. It can offer patients in acute distress a lot of relief and can being to work quickly to alleviate distressful symptoms. Xanax is the 5th most prescribed drug in the USA right now, with 37.5 million people using it. Many teenagers and young adults misuse Xanax. 7/10 teens who reported use say they got it from their relatives’ medicine cabinet. There is also illegally manufactured Xanax that is sold on the street and looks the same as prescription Xanax.
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The FDA requires that Xanax bottles have a warning label, stating its highly addictive nature and risk of abuse and misuse. Whether taken legally or illegally, the withdrawal process from Xanax can be difficult for patients with many experiencing severe symptoms.
What Causes Withdrawal?
Xanax influences the effectiveness of GABA in the brain, a brain chemical that slows down activity in the brain and produces a calm feeling. When the brain becomes dependent on Xanax, it becomes dependent on it to produce GABA. When Xanax leaves the bloodstream, withdrawal symptoms can occur as the brain tries to regain its natural equilibrium.
Once someone stops taking Xanax, they will experience withdrawal symptoms. The medication is only active in the body for approximately 12 hours, which makes it one of the quickest acting drugs. Therefore, people can experience minor withdrawal even while on the drug. This can cause someone to take higher doses or become addicted to relieve symptoms of withdrawal. Once someone’s body is detoxed from Xanax, they will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms will begin within 24 hours and can last from a few days to months. About 10%-25% of users, have withdrawal symptoms that last 12 months or longer.
Risks of Withdrawal
The withdrawal process from Xanax even if it was only taken for a short while can be exceedingly difficult. There are risks associated with withdrawal. Some of the risks are.
- Significant weight loss.
- Seizures, which can be severe and life-threatening.
It is therefore important that withdrawal is done through a doctor, facility or professional.
What Is the Xanax Withdrawal Timeline
Withdrawal symptoms and timeline differ for every individual. However, withdrawal will generally follow these four stages.
- First Stage: Withdrawal sets in typically within 12-24 hours after the last dose was taken. Once the body is detoxed from the substance, symptoms will begin, and are usually the most severe during this stage. During this time patients may experience symptoms of anxiety and Xanax withdrawal insomnia.
- Second Stage: This stage will begin one to four days after the last dose. The most common symptom during this stage, is known as the rebound effect. This occurs when patients experience similar symptoms to what they felt before taking Xanax. Flu- like symptoms are also common during this stage, such as vomiting, nausea and diarrhea.
- Third Stage: Withdrawal symptoms tend to continue up until day 14. During this stage, the most common symptoms are insomnia and anxiety.
- Fourth Stage: This stage occurs once acute withdrawal symptoms are done.During this stage, patients may experience some remaining symptoms that are mild. Many individuals can manage these symptoms and will return to work and resume their routine lives.
What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Xanax
Once Xanax is no longer active in the body, withdrawal symptoms can occur. These symptoms can range from mild to severe, and even possibly fatal. It is important that a professional oversees Xanax withdrawal to ensure that symptoms are managed, and a relapse does not occur.
- Muscle spasms
- Racing pulse
- Xanax withdrawal insomnia
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feelings of unreality
- Panic attacks
Factors That Affect Withdrawal
Symptoms and severity of Xanax withdrawal will differ amongst individuals and depend on varied factors.
Some of the factors that affect withdrawal are.
- duration of taking Xanax
- misuse of prescription
- using the drug without a prescription
- having an underlying mental health condition
- taking other drugs at the same time
- misusing other drugs or alcohol
Can You Die from Xanax Withdrawal?
Unlike many other drugs, withdrawing from Xanax can be fatal and complex. Symptoms such as seizures and tremors can be deadly if not treated. If a patient has prior diagnoses of serious mental health disorders like, PTSD, bipolar disorder, panic disorder or borderline personality disorder they should take extra caution when quitting Xanax. Symptoms from such disorders can start again, and there can be a risk of suicide. If taken with other drugs such as opioids that can add complications to the withdrawal process. Therefore, it is best to be under medical care while withdrawing, to ensure that the process is with minimal risk.
What Helps for Xanax Withdrawal?
Withdrawal from Xanax cold turkey will cause symptoms to be worse and is not recommended by doctors. Instead, a doctor will create a taper schedule, to slowly lower the dose of Xanax until it is completely detoxed from the body. This will prevent any severe or potentially deadly reaction from occurring.
Medications That Can Be Prescribed
A medical professional may also prescribe other medications to assist with the withdrawal process.
Some of the approved medications for withdrawing are.
- Long-acting benzodiazepines: These may be prescribed for tapering off instead of Xanax which is quick-acting. This may help reduce withdrawal symptoms over a longer period and offer a better solution than tapering off Xanax.
- Antihypertensives and antiseizure medications: A doctor may prescribe these to help with seizures or anxiety attacks.
Coping with Symptoms
These are some nonprescription solutions that can help one cope with the symptoms of withdrawal.
- Herbal sleep aids
- Mindfulness practice
Long Term Treatment
It is a challenging process to quit Xanax usage, however if done through a professional long-term abstinence is achievable. When a medical plan is combined with psychological support, the best results are reported. Therapy is often helpful for those in recovery and include coping tools, stress management and relapse prevention tools. Detox centers that include methods of medical management, therapy and holistic methods can help ease the recovery journey.
The research has proven that after tapering off Xanax, it is possible to lead a successful life and remain abstinent. The withdrawal process is a difficult one but with the right support and solutions, it is possible.
How long does Xanax last? Timeline, withdrawal, and expiration (medicalnewstoday.com)
BENZODIAZEPINES (Street Names: Benzos, Downers, Nerve Pills, Tranks) (usdoj.gov)
20 Profound Xanax Addiction Statistics – HRF (healthresearchfunding.org)