Overcoming Xanax Withdrawal Safely
Xanax is the brand name associated with the drug alprazolam, which is a type of benzodiazepine. This drug is designed to treat panic and anxiety disorders. Individuals who are suffering from anxiety or similar disorders have high levels of stress and worry compared to people without these disorders. When someone takes Xanax, they typically start to feel calmer and more relaxed, which is one reason why Xanax is considered to be an addictive substance.
Even if a person takes only the amount of Xanax that they were prescribed by a doctor, there is still a possibility that this person’s body will start to become dependent on the drug. The most likely scenario for someone to develop a substance use disorder with Xanax is after taking too much of the drug in question.
Whether you enter an inpatient or outpatient rehab program, most of these programs begin with medical detoxification. During detox, your body will essentially metabolize and get rid of any Xanax in your system. Detox is considered to be the first aspect of the treatment process and is necessary before individual and group therapies can take place.
Signs of Xanax Use Disorder
There are numerous signs that indicate you or a loved one is suffering from a Xanax use disorder. The main signs that someone may be dependent on Xanax include:
- Experiencing financial difficulties from buying too much of the drug
- Regularly having thoughts about taking Xanax even when it’s unnecessary
- Becoming more withdrawn from those closest to you
- Needing to take more Xanax than prescribed to effectively reduce anxiety and remain calm
- Frequently displaying anxiety, aggression, depression, and unexplained mood swings
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop using the drug
Standard Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms
Identifying when Xanax use will result in withdrawal from the drug is difficult to pinpoint since it differs for everyone. The risk of a substance use disorder tends to increase the longer you take the drug. Because of how strong Xanax is, withdrawal symptoms may occur after just a few weeks of standard use. The primary withdrawal symptoms include:
- Frightening dreams
- General restlessness
- Tension when you wake up
- Waking up often while sleeping
If the use of Xanax is chronic, it’s possible that withdrawal symptoms could be more severe. In this scenario, some additional withdrawal symptoms you might encounter include:
- Auditory or visual hallucinations
- Loss of pleasure or interest in activities
- Feelings of emptiness or sadness
- Suicidal thoughts
If you’ve taken Xanax as prescribed by your doctor, your body may still become dependent on the drug. This type of dependency might result in such withdrawal symptoms as:
- Difficulties with sleeping
- Feelings of agitation or irritation
- Tension and muscle aches
What You Should Know About Xanax Rebound Anxiety
One withdrawal symptom that is common among people who take Xanax is rebound anxiety, which essentially means that the anxiety you were experiencing before taking Xanax would return and be worse than it initially was. In most cases, rebound anxiety is experienced as an increase in the physical symptoms associated with anxiety. However, you might also go through an increase in fear and worry.
All benzodiazepines bind directly to GABA receptors in a person’s brain, which enhances the activity of the GABA neurotransmitter. This neurotransmitter slows activity within the central nervous system and brain, which is why people who suffer from anxiety typically feel calmer and more relaxed after taking Xanax.
Over time, the brain will start to tolerate the overall effects that benzodiazepines have, which is when a person’s body can become dependent on the drug. If someone is dependent when they stop taking Xanax and similar medications, the GABA receptors will have difficulty performing their standard tasks without Xanax, which is why many people who go through Xanax withdrawal experience an increase in anxiety.
In an article that was published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, researchers showed that Xanax withdrawal symptoms are usually more serious when compared to the withdrawal symptoms of other benzodiazepines. These issues could be the result of the effects of Xanax not lasting long or the high potency of the drug.
Rebound anxiety usually occurs quickly after you stop taking the drug in question. In fact, this form of anxiety could occur within 24 hours after you have stopped taking this medication. Along with detoxification, taking steps like exercising and reducing your caffeine intake can help you stave off rebound anxiety.
Withdrawal Timeline for Xanax
When you stop taking Xanax or a similar benzodiazepine, the withdrawal symptoms will usually begin in the first 24 hours after following the final dose you took. It’s possible for these symptoms to last anywhere from several days to a few weeks depending on the severity of your substance use disorder and what method you’re using to stop taking the drug.
Keep in mind that Xanax only needs to be taken for a few weeks as prescribed for dependence to develop. If this drug is taken for a period of at least six months, around 40% of all individuals go through moderate or severe withdrawal symptoms after they stop using the drug.
While Xanax withdrawal usually takes around five to 28 days to come to an end, another phase of withdrawal is possible, which could result in mild symptoms that take upwards of one year or longer to go away. This type of withdrawal is referred to as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), and it can involve symptoms such as irritability, mood swings, insomnia, and anxiety. Those who have taken Xanax for an extended period or at high doses are most likely to experience PAWS.
How to Overcome Xanax Withdrawal Safely in Columbus, OH
Like most types of drug withdrawal, there’s nothing that allows someone who has become dependent on Xanax to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Ceasing the use of the drug with the help of certain medications and a detoxification program may mitigate the severity of withdrawal symptoms.
Medications That Treat Xanax Withdrawal
There are two medications that are commonly used by treatment facilities to help clients manage their withdrawal symptoms: buspirone and flumazenil.
It’s also possible to administer benzodiazepines in a manner that involves providing smaller doses over time. This method allows the client to effectively taper off using the drug. Buspirone is a type of drug that may reduce the emotional effects associated with withdrawal, the primary of which is rebound anxiety. However, this drug may only take effect after a period of two to three weeks.
Another medication that can be used during detox is flumazenil, which is designed specifically to block benzodiazepine activity at certain receptor sites in the brain. The goal of this drug is to reduce the initial and prolonged withdrawal symptoms that occur after you stop taking Xanax. Other medications that are sometimes used to help clients safely manage their withdrawal symptoms include beta-blockers, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants.
Detoxing From Xanax
Detoxification from Xanax is necessary before moving on to the next stages of treatment. Without medical guidance, detoxification from any drug can be dangerous. Both outpatient and inpatient rehab programs can offer 24/7 medical detoxification. Rehabilitation facilities like White Light Behavioral Health can provide additional care that can’t be had outside of treatment.
Once the detoxification program has come to an end and the drug has been removed from the client’s body, this individual will then learn skills on how to lead a drug-free life by taking part in group therapy, individual therapy, family counseling, and similar types of treatment. It’s possible for the entirety of treatment to last anywhere from 30 days to more than one year depending on the client’s needs.
If you’re wondering about the feasibility of detoxing from home, doing so is possible but only for people who have a mild addiction to Xanax. It may not provide the best results. The main benefit of detoxing from home is that family and friends can provide a strong support group while the detoxification is ongoing.
Detoxing from home is not the right solution for people with a moderate to severe addiction to Xanax. The withdrawal symptoms that someone who has a substantial Xanax addiction will experience can be life-threatening and can include cardiac arrest and seizures. It’s best to detox with the support of a caring staff of medical professionals.
The amount of time that it takes to detox from Xanax largely depends on how much medical support you receive during this process. Xanax comes with a half-life of around 11 hours, which means that it should leave the body completely in around 50 hours. Detoxification programs typically use a standard taper plan to help people wean themselves off the drug. This process can take anywhere from one to four weeks. Tapering is quicker when staying in a medical detoxification facility.
If you or a loved one is currently experiencing a substance use disorder that involves Xanax, detoxification and inpatient rehab may be necessary to help you gain the skills you require to manage your symptoms and live a life without drugs. At White Light Behavioral Health in Columbus, OH, we can help you through Xanax withdrawal and provide treatment to help you gain and maintain long-term sobriety. Reach out to our team today to get the help you need.