Xanax is the brand name for the drug alprazolam, and when you reduce your dose or stop taking it all together you may suffer from Xanax withdrawal.
Xanax is prescribed to treat anxiety and other panic disorders. Although extremely addictive, it is one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States.
When you take Xanax it will slow down your thinking and other processes in the brain. When taken in small doses Xanax is useful to manage symptoms of anxiety. This is because typically if you have anxiety you will have high levels of worrying or stress as compared to the average individual.
Regardless of whether you have prescribed Xanax or not, it is extremely addictive. Even if you take it as directed, it can lead to drug abuse.
Xanax Withdrawal and Side Effects
The experience of Xanax withdrawal can be unpleasant. Despite this, it is a necessary step in getting healthy and away from your drug habits. Symptoms of withdrawal from Xanax may begin within about 11 hours. This is because Xanax has a half-life of 11 hours. In total it will take about 50 hours for the body to remove Xanax altogether.
This may seem like a long time, but Xanax is actually one of the faster-moving benzodiazepines. This also means that withdrawal symptoms set in very quickly compared to other drugs. If you decide to stop taking Xanax, it should be taped down . If you do not stop slowly then you may have a seizure or other dangerous side effects.
Physical Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms
Physical Xanax withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Convulsions or seizures
- Increased menstrual bleeding
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle spasms
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sore muscles
- Excessive perspiration
- Weight loss or gain
Psychological Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms
In addition to physical side effects, Xanax withdrawal symptoms can be psychological.
These might include:
- Heightened senses
- Nervousness or tension
- Withdrawing from family and friends
When you enter a treatment program to treat a Xanax dependency, or any other benzodiazepine addiction treatment, most often there is an initial phase of medical detox. During this time the body metabolizes and removes Xanax from the system.
Detox is a critical stage on the road to recovery. It is painful but essential. Xanax withdrawal can be challenging, but it is truly the first day of the rest of your sober life. It is essential you do not go through an at-home detox. This can be extremely dangerous. Instead, going through a medical detox is the best course of action.
The process of detox includes:
- Medical support while the body clears the drug.
- The half-life of Xanax is about 11 hours, so it takes the body 50 hours to completely clear it.
- May be extended for those using a taper plan.
- Detox can take up to several months because the process is based on whether the drug is still in the body.
- You may be able to taper faster while in a medical detox facility.
- Rehabilitation centers typically provide additional care that family and friends are unable to offer.
- The process is not over after Xanax withdrawal
Living a sober life requires a new set of skills that only a treatment program can provide. It is essential to go to a good facility that offers proper therapy, in order to gain skills.
These skills are gained through various methods such as individual counseling, family counseling, group therapy, support group meetings, and other forms of treatment. This is essential if you hope to remain sober, and for a drug-free rest of your life.
Xanax Withdrawal Timeline
Xanax withdrawal starts anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Unfortunately, it is possible to experience symptoms for years after your last dose. Xanax and other benzodiazepines are actually very unique in how long your symptoms can last.
There are many factors in which the length of Xanax withdrawal can last:
This starts anywhere from six to 12 hours after your last dose. These symptoms will begin around this time. The most common initial symptoms are anxiety, trouble sleeping, and headache.
One to four days after your last dose you will notice your anxiety and insomnia intensify. If you originally used Xanax to treat your anxiety, this may be when you experience rebound symptoms.
These symptoms may return worse than you originally had, which is why it is essential to go through medical detox. You may also experience symptoms such as:
- Flu-like symptoms
All of these symptoms should lessen on the fourth day, but seizure risk is at an all-time high at this time.
Five to fourteen days after your last dose your symptoms will be slowly getting better. Although you may notice that your anxiety and insomnia are still prevalent, you should notice that headaches and muscle aches will begin to get less . It is also common that stomach ache can occur during this time, but may not subside for weeks or even months. Continue to monitor for seizure risk.
Two weeks to several months after your last dose, you will notice that you feel much better. Although you may still experience poor mood symptoms, this can be eased with different methods. Addiction professionals can help you in this process, and help you to make a plan that will keep withdrawal symptoms at a minimum.
What Affects Withdrawal?
Your environment can change the pace of your withdrawal time. This is why going to a rehabilitation center is the best option to undergo detox and withdrawal. It provides you a safe environment without any triggers.
Although many factors influence the severity and length of Xanax withdrawal symptoms, your personal body chemistry can make a huge difference. How often and how much Xanax was taken are also significant factors in your withdrawal pain.
Treatment Options for Xanax Withdrawal
You might try to go through a “cold turkey” detox at home, and this is not safe. It is better to go through detox with the support of a physician or in a medical detox rehab facility. If you have a prescription for Xanax it may be a possibility to detox at home, but your doctor should specifically taper down your medication.
Otherwise, going to an inpatient or outpatient treatment program can help give you the support you need and make withdrawal as safe as possible.
Inpatient rehab will require you to live at the facility during your treatment. It is the most intense and effective form of treatment. Outpatient treatment will allow you to live at home, and require you to have a good support system. Unless you are heavily emotionally and psychologically addictive, you most likely do not need to go to an inpatient program. Instead, outpatient rehab should work perfectly fine.
If you or someone you know is addicted to Xanax and needing help to go through Xanax withdrawal, there is help.
At Find Addiction Rehabs we offer the opportunity to find the program that works for you, and which will work with your insurance program as well.
With a wide network of facilities and options near and far from your home, we can help you get healthy again.
Charles F. has been an active part of the Florida recovery community for over 5 years. He began as a behavioral health technician at an addiction treatment facility in Ocala, Florida and has since begun training as a Licensed Addiction and Chemical Dependency counselor in Boca Raton. Charles’ passion involves the promotion of recovery and helping spread the hope of recovery to as many readers as possible!