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Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms: An Overview

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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. Additionally, Xanax addiction influences the effectiveness of GABA in the brain, a brain chemical that slows down brain activity and produces a calm feeling. When the brain becomes dependent on Xanax, it relies on it in order to be able to produce GABA. When the drug leaves the bloodstream, addiction withdrawal can occur as the brain tries to regain its natural equilibrium.

What is Xanax Withdrawal?

Once someone stops taking Xanax, they will experience Xanax withdrawal symptoms. The medication is only active in the body for approximately twelve hours, which makes Xanax one of the quickest-acting drugs. Therefore, people can experience minor Xanax withdrawal even while still on the drug. This can cause someone to take higher doses or become addicted to relieve their symptoms.

What are Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms? 

Symptoms of Xanax withdrawal can range from mild to severe and can even be fatal. It is important that a professional oversees someone undergoing Xanax withdrawal to ensure that their symptoms are managed, and a relapse prevention plan is in place.

Physical Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms

Although the exact symptoms of Xanax withdrawal will vary from person to person, below are some examples of the physical symptoms of Xanax withdrawal:

  • Tremors
  • Muscle spasms
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Racing pulse
  • Hyperventilation
  • Hand tremors
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Seizures
  • Xanax withdrawal insomnia

Psychological Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal from Xanax can also lead to psychological symptoms. Receiving professional help is extremely important in helping an individual to manage these Xanax withdrawal symptoms. Below are some psychological symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations
  • Feelings of unreality
  • Panic attacks

Long-term/Post-Acute Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms

The withdrawal process from Xanax, even if it was only taken for a short while, can be exceedingly difficult. There are risks and long-term side effects associated with Xanax withdrawal. Some of the post-acute withdrawal symptoms of Xanax include:

  • Relapse
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bad mood
  • Drug cravings
  • Lack of interest in one’s environment
  • Significant weight loss
  • Seizures, which can be severe and life-threatening.

 

Why Do People Take Xanax?

Xanax is a potentially dangerous prescription drug. Doctors will prescribe Xanax for conditions such as insomnia, panic disorders, mental health issues, or generalized anxiety. Xanax can offer a lot of relief to patients in acute distress and can alleviate painful symptoms. Xanax is currently the fifth most prescribed drug in the USA, with 37.5 million people using it. Unfortunately, many teenagers and young adults misuse Xanax. Seven out of ten teens who reported use say they obtained 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. Furthermore, the FDA requires that Xanax bottles have a warning label on, stating their highly addictive nature and the risk of abuse and misuse. Whether taken legally or illegally, withdrawal from Xanax can be difficult and uncomfortable for patients.

The Xanax Withdrawal Timeline

Once someone’s body is detoxed from Xanax, they will begin to experience symptoms of Xanax withdrawal. These symptoms will begin within 24 hours and can last from a few days to months. About 10-25% of users experience Xanax withdrawal symptoms that last longer than 12 months.

The Xanax withdrawal symptoms and timeline will differ for every individual. However, the withdrawal timeline of Xanax will generally follow these four stages.

  • Stage One: Xanax withdrawal symptoms typically set in within 12-24 hours after the last dose was taken. Once the body is detoxed from the substance, symptoms of Xanax withdrawal will begin and are usually the most severe during this stage. During this time patients may experience symptoms of Xanax withdrawal insomnia and anxiety.
  • Stage Two: The second stage of Xanax withdrawal 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 how they felt before taking Xanax. Flu-like symptoms are also common during this stage, such as vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea.
  • Stage Three: Xanax withdrawal symptoms tend to continue up until day 14. During this stage, the most common symptoms are insomnia and anxiety.
  • Stage Four: Stage four of Xanax withdrawal occurs once acute withdrawal symptoms are over. During this stage, patients may experience some remaining mild Xanax withdrawal symptoms. Many individuals can manage these symptoms of Xanax withdrawal while returning to work and resuming their routine lives.

Factors That Affect the Severity of Xanax Withdrawal

The severity and symptoms of Xanax withdrawal will depend on varied factors and differ amongst individuals.

Some of the factors that affect withdrawal from Xanax are:

  • Duration that Xanax was taken
  • Dosage
  • Misusing the prescription
  • Using the drug without a prescription
  • Underlying mental health condition or co-occurring disorder
  • Taking/misusing other drugs at the same time 
  • Mixing Xanax and alcohol

 

Can You Die from Xanax Withdrawal?

Unlike many other drugs, withdrawal from Xanax can be fatal and complex. Withdrawal symptoms such as seizures and tremors can be deadly if not treated properly. If a patient has prior diagnoses of serious mental health disorders such as 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 can lead to a risk of suicide. If taken with other drugs such as opioids, it can add even more complications to the Xanax withdrawal process. Therefore, it is strongly advised to be under medical care while experiencing Xanax withdrawal symptoms, such as the Avenues drug detox center, to ensure that the process happens with minimal risk.

 

Xanax Detox Options

When one is going through Xanax withdrawal, they should make sure to detox from Xanax safely. Avenues Recovery offers various treatment programs to help you. Below are some treatment options that can be beneficial for Xanax withdrawal: 

 

Medical Treatment for Withdrawal From Xanax

A medical professional may be able to prescribe medications to assist with the withdrawal process.

Some of the approved medications for Xanax withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Long-acting benzodiazepines: These may be prescribed for tapering off instead of taking 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 Strategies for Xanax Withdrawal

Furthermore, there are some non-prescription solutions that can help one cope with the symptoms of Xanax withdrawal, and can potentially take away or alleviate the symptoms. Below are some strategies:

Long-Term Treatment for Xanax Withdrawal

It is a challenging process to quit Xanax usage and experience Xanax withdrawal symptoms, however, if done under expert supervision, 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 includes coping tools, stress management, and relapse prevention tools. Detox centers that include methods of medical management, therapy, and holistic methods can help to ease the recovery journey. Additionally, one can choose inpatient rehab or outpatient rehab options based on their symptom severity and overall situation.

 

Can You Stop Xanax Immediately? 

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. Xanax detox in such a way will prevent any severe or potentially deadly reaction from occurring.

 

Xanax Withdrawal Treatment at Avenues Recovery

Research has proven that after tapering off Xanax, it’s possible to lead a successful life and remain abstinent. Due to the unpleasant Xanax withdrawal symptoms, the withdrawal process is a difficult one. Nevertheless, with the right support and solutions, recovery from Xanax withdrawal is still possible! At Avenues Recovery, we offer a variety of treatment programs and resources to help you. Our experienced professionals understand the difficult Xanax withdrawal symptoms and are ready to guide you ahead to a sober life. Reach out to us today and begin your journey to recovery!

 

Sources

[1] www.drugabuse.gov

[2] medlineplus.gov

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