When someone develops a dependence on Xanax (alprazolam) and suddenly stops taking the medication, he or she may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
Although the exact withdrawal process can vary, a general Xanax withdrawal timeline is as follows:
- Stage 1: Typically, this stage happens within the first six to 12 hours after the last dose. Withdrawal symptoms are at their worst during this stage. Xanax is a short-acting benzodiazepine, which means it is quickly absorbed and expelled from the body. Individuals may begin to withdraw from Xanax between scheduled doses, which may influence their dependence on the drug. Insomnia and anxiety are the most common symptoms during this time.
- Stage 2: The second stage of Xanax withdrawal takes place one to four days after the last dose. This stage is most commonly associated with continued symptoms of insomnia and what is sometimes referred to as “rebound” symptoms. Rebound symptoms are those someone experienced before taking Xanax, only more intense, which is why medical detox is often recommended. Flu-like symptoms may also show up at this time, including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
- Stage 3: Individuals withdrawing from Xanax are likely to feel withdrawal symptoms for five to 14 days. Although it is typical for symptoms to peak in severity between days one through four, they can continue well beyond that point. Anxiety and insomnia are the most common symptoms at this point and are more easily managed with help from a medication-assisted program.
- Stage 4: During the final phase of Xanax withdrawal, any remaining symptoms are typically mild or slight. At this point, some individuals may be able to return to their normal functioning without the medication, while others may experience the return of symptoms from the psychological conditions that the drug was working to soothe.
Depending on how long someone has taken Xanax, they may continue to feel the withdrawal symptoms of Xanax for several months to a year, or more.
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Factors That Affect Xanax Withdrawal
The overall length and symptoms of Xanax withdrawal vary from person to person, depending on several different factors.
Factors For Xanax Withdrawal May include:
- How long they have taken the medication
- Their tolerance to Xanax
- If they combine Xanax with other substances
- Their age at first use
- Method of administration (snorting or oral consumption)
- Their unique biological factors, such as genetics and ability to metabolize the drug
Increased levels of stress, a family history of addiction or mental health issues and any underlying medical conditions may also influence Xanax withdrawal.
Xanax Detox Symptoms
Xanax is commonly used to treat anxiety problems, and anxiety is one of the most common and early occurring symptoms during Xanax withdrawal. Anxiety is even a common symptom in individuals who did not have a pre-existing anxiety condition.
Other common psychological symptoms felt during Xanax detox include:
- poor concentration
- trouble sleeping
- night terrors
- daytime drowsiness
Possible physical symptoms of Xanax detox include:
- elevated heart rate
- increased blood pressure
- muscle tension
- body aches
- blurry vision
- flu-like symptoms
- trouble maintaining balance
The Danger Of Suddenly Stopping Xanax
Abruptly quitting Xanax can cause the body to go into shock. Sadly, many people are under the false impression that their willpower alone will get them through Xanax withdrawal. However, depending on willpower alone can be very dangerous, as some individuals may experience fatal reactions when they suddenly discontinue Xanax.
When someone stops Xanax “cold turkey,” it can send them into severe withdrawal very quickly. In most cases, people who try to stop suddenly will end up relapsing and start to take Xanax once more.
Safely Coming Off Xanax
Because coming off Xanax too quickly can produce severe withdrawal symptoms, detoxing from Xanax can be a long process. Most healthcare professionals believe that slowly tapering off alprazolam gives the body more time to adjust to being without it.
Tapering off Xanax usually involves gradually cutting back on the dosage of the drug over an extended period. In severe cases of Xanax abuse, some addiction specialists may recommend that an individual is switched over to a less potent benzodiazepine with a shorter half-life, such as Klonopin, to help their bodies become accustomed to not having the drug in its system.
Medically Assisted Xanax Detox Programs
Even after uncomfortable or unpleasant withdrawal symptoms subside, and the underlying anxiety is treated, other symptoms may occur unexpectedly. Some individuals recovering from Xanax abuse or addiction have reported experiencing short-term memory issues, caused by excessive Xanax use.
Medically assisted detox is the most effective way to stop taking medications such as Xanax because these programs can provide 24/7 assistance for any withdrawal symptoms that may arise. Within medical detox programs, individuals are kept as comfortable as possible and given additional medications to help ease any unpleasant withdrawal symptoms they may have.
Medication-assisted detox can play a vital role in helping individuals stop the use of Xanax for good. Many people who try to stop the drug on their own will not succeed due to the intense drug cravings they experience during withdrawal.
Treatment For Xanax Withdrawal And Addiction
After completing a medical detox program, it is highly recommended that an individual continue alprazolam addiction treatment in an inpatient or outpatient setting. A combination of behavioral therapies and medication-assisted treatment are usually the most effective way to combat Xanax addiction. Talk therapy is also the most effective way to treat underlying issues with anxiety.
Typically, the best way to ensure that someone recovers from an addiction to Xanax is to treat the underlying anxiety condition for which they started the medication. It is essential for an individual to communicate with a healthcare professional or addiction specialist throughout the withdrawal process, and enrolling in a formal addiction treatment program can provide access to these types of resources.