Xanax is a popular drug around the world. Doctors prescribe it to treat anxiety disorders, panic attacks, panic disorders, depression that’s accompanied by anxiety, insomnia, and other anxious feelings.
Essentially, the drug Xanax is a brand name for alprazolam, a drug that is known as a benzodiazepine (benzo). Benzodiazepines are a group of drugs that work by depressing the central nervous system (CNS) by increasing inhibitory neurotransmission in a person’s brain.
Other widely used benzos that work similarly (but are not as potent as Xanax) include Ativan, Valium, and Klonopin. However, due to their calming effect on the brain, some people user Xanax for recreational purposes, use it in higher doses, or use it more frequently than is prescribed by their doctors. Because of the addictive nature of this drug, it can be easy to develop a dependence on it.
When someone has been abusing Xanax for a while and wants to stop, there’s a good chance they’ll experience withdrawal. Although Xanax withdrawal symptoms are similar for many people, people may have different experiences depending on how often they use Xanax and the doses they consume.
Withdrawal symptoms from this drug can range from uncomfortable to brutal. Anyone who wants to quit abusing Xanax should do it in a medically controlled environment, because the side effects can be serious. However, the pot of gold at the rainbow’s end is that after the withdrawal, a person is physically clean from the drug.
Factors Affecting Withdrawal
Different people react differently to Xanax withdrawal. Research shows that about 40% of the people taking Xanax for more than six months may experience severe symptoms of withdrawal. The other 60% may experience more mild symptoms.
A few factors contribute to Xanax withdrawal. Basically, the more the body develops a dependence on Xanax, the longer and nastier the withdrawal is likely to be. Other factors also play a part, such as
- The method of ingestion.
- The size of the regular dose consumed.
- The genetics and age of a Xanax users.
- The amount of time a person has been using it.
- The use of other drugs or alcohol during a person’s Xanax use.
Depending on these factors, your journey to recovery might be short or more involved. But with focus and dedication, you’ll get to the finish line.
Xanax Withdrawal Side Effects
Because Xanax has the highest addiction potential of any benzodiazepine, it’s designed to be taken for only short periods. Because body chemistry varies from person to person, some people have experienced signs and symptoms of withdrawal from taking Xanax for only a few weeks and others from taking no more their prescribed dose. Withdrawal from Xanax can be difficult. You may experience some pain and discomfort before the process is done. Some of the most common physical symptoms of Xanax withdrawal include:
- Muscle spasms
- Racing pulse
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feelings of unreality
- Panic attacks
People who use prescription Xanax because of their panic disorders, anxiety disorders, or insomnia sometimes experience a rebound of their symptoms after they quit taking the medication. Although such rebound symptoms often don’t last a long time, underlying issues such as stress or depression should be treated by professionals to limit their frequency and negative impacts.
Xanax Detox Timeline
Most benzodiazepines are intended for oral use. But recreational users sometimes crush them into a fine powder and snort them. Doing this delivers the drug into the bloodstream much more quickly, which can be potentially lethal. Although fatal overdoses of Xanax alone are not very common, when mixed with other drugs or alcohol, the combination can create dangerous effects.
If you commonly mix Xanax with other drugs or alcohol, the withdrawal process can take longer. Since Xanax is a short-acting drug with a small half-life, someone can start feeling the withdrawal effects as soon as seven hours after the last dose.
When you starting to get clean, you may wonder how long does Xanax withdrawal last and how long do Xanax withdrawal symptoms last. The effects of the withdrawal typically last a few weeks, but can last months for heavy users.
Xanax Withdrawal Stages
Here is what you should expect during the first four weeks of withdrawal:
The first 72 hours: the first three days of Xanax withdrawal are usually the most painful and gruesome. During this time, anyone undergoing withdrawal from Xanax should be under medical supervision, since this is the point with the highest likelihood of seizures than any other throughout the entire process.
During these three first days, the heart might beat very fast. People may experience vomiting, insomnia, mood swings, and even display violent tendencies. For this reason, it’s essential to have supervision from medical professionals, just in case anything happens.
Week 1: Although the worst symptoms are usually over at this point, many people find that this period of withdrawal can still be challenging. Withdrawal symptoms may make people nervous, give them difficulty sleeping, and create cravings for Xanax that become more intense every day. If people were taking Xanax to keep anxiety at bay, some of their symptoms of anxiety might return.
Week 2: At this point, most people will not have many physical withdrawal symptoms. But they may still have intense emotional symptoms. They may be experiencing depression and irritability as well as mood swings. Insomnia might even be an issue, but thankfully, the risk of severe reactions such as seizures is now mostly gone.
Week 3-4: During these two weeks, people may find it easier to sleep. Although people might have some sleep problems during the next few weeks, they might notice that things are getting better. While many of the physical symptoms are gone, they may still experience occasional sensitivity and headaches. They may also experience emotional and mental symptoms while they think about their anxiety and their desire to use Xanax to treat it. After week four, the symptoms tend to fade, but people have a lot of Xanax in their systems, it might take a few months for the withdrawal symptoms to go away completely.
Xanax Withdrawal Guidelines
The detox process for Xanax is a long one. Because of the severe withdrawal symptoms of the drug, the cold turkey approach of quitting all at once is never recommended. Using the tapering down method has proven very effective and safe and is also a way of reducing the symptoms that come with withdrawal.
Tapering off Xanax means that the dose of the drug being given to the person is gradually cut back so that the tolerance and quantity in the bloodstream can gradually decrease, which is safer than a sudden decrease. By taking things progressively, people may be avoiding some complications such as seizures, comas, and even death. Without proper supervision, it is possible to fall into a coma, experience very intense hallucinations, psychosis, and delirium tremens (DTs).
Although people might think that they can detox from a drug like Xanax by themselves, they can’t. The best way to become clean and stay safe is by involving a medical expert in the process.
With a medical detox program, you nearly eliminate the possibility of Xanax withdrawal death and also ensure that the effects of the withdrawal symptoms don’t become life-threatening. If you need more Xanax today than you did a few weeks ago to feel the same, it means your body has developed a tolerance for the drug. You may suffer withdrawal when you stop taking it, so finding professional help is crucial.
- rxlist.com – Xanax Drug Information
- verywellmind.com – Klonopin Withdrawal
- healthline.com – Healthline: How Long Does Xanax Last
- ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – NCBI Withdrawal Management
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