Withdrawal from Xanax: What to Expect

Written by Chloe Nicosia

The Withdrawal from Xanax Process and Treatment Programs That Can Help

Alprazolam, the main ingredient in Xanax, is a medicinal product that is most commonly used for anxiety treatment. However, it is also a controlled substance because as a benzodiazepine, it has a high possibility of abuse due to the effects the drug has on the brain. In 2015, the abuse of benzos such as Xanax led to the death of nearly 9,000 people. If you want to break dependence to the drug, one of the first things you’ll have to get through is withdrawal from Xanax.

To better understand what’s involved in the detox from Xanax, we will explore the withdrawal symptoms, timeline and treatment programs for Xanax dependence.

What is Withdrawal from Xanax?

Frequent abuse or misuse of Xanax ultimately causes changes in the way the brain works, which is why prescriptions don’t usually last for too long.  One of the reasons why brain chemistry and structure change is due to the body’s response to the presence of Xanax: the body attempts to counteract the effects. However, this causes a new balance in the brain that only works if Xanax is used. When stopping the use of Xanax, the body – which is still in an altered state – struggles for a time to go back to a normal balance and function. During this time, the person experiences various symptoms of withdrawal from Xanax.

What are the Common Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms?

Xanax is the same class of drug as Valium, Klonopin and other benzodiazepines. These are central nervous system depressants and as such, the withdrawal from Xanax is expected to have the following common symptoms:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety, which can be severe in people who were being treated for anxiety with Xanax
  • Tremors
  • Numbness in the extremities
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle pain
  • Sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Seizures
  • Paranoia
  • Panic attacks
  • Light and sound sensitivity
  • Headaches
  • Cravings

In general, the symptoms are not expected to be life-threatening; however, pre-existing medical conditions can prove to complicate the process, making symptoms more severe.

Xanax Withdrawal Timeline

When a person ceases their use of the drug, the Xanax withdrawal symptoms first start to appear after roughly 6 to 12 hours. The general symptoms during the Xanax withdrawal timeline occur between day 1 and 4. During this time, they are expected to peak, but when they peak varies from person to person.

While most of the symptoms usually dissipate after day 4, the psychological symptoms such as anxiety can continue for months when post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) occurs. If the person doesn’t seek out treatment, these mental symptoms can continue for months before they finally disappear.

Professional Detoxification

Withdrawal is a time that is very difficult to deal with. The symptoms of withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable, and people who detox alone are often faced with overwhelming symptoms that cause them to want to relapse just to find relief.

However, there is a professionally-made treatment program called a “medical detox” that incorporates the use of medication that can drastically reduce the severity of the symptoms. This is usually achieved by offering the patient a medication that has the same effects as Xanax, but in a controlled way to avoid abuse. In this way, the person can then taper off the drug, as opposed to stopping cold turkey, which helps to greatly reduce symptoms and makes the entire process much easier to handle.

Of course, in order to prevent future relapse, the addict must attend various therapeutic programs designed to address poor coping skills and negative behavior so that the person doesn’t have to rely on drugs to cope.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.

Sources:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction