Individuals diagnosed with high levels of anxiety, panic attacks, excessive stress, and worry have often been prescribed a benzodiazepine called Xanax. This medication, also known as alprazolam, works well in decreasing anxiety because it is a sedative that helps to slow down brain activity. It allows those racing thoughts to calm down so you can relax more.
Xanax has a short half-life, with intermediate-acting agents that last from 11 to 20 hours. As this fast-acting feeling of relaxation wears off, some people may double up on their dose to get the same effect. Thus, when they do this, they run the risk of forming a dependence on or addiction to the medication.
What Are Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms?
Patients need to consult with their physicians before ending their Xanax prescription because cutting off the use of cold turkey is quite dangerous. Tapering off the drug is always recommended under medical supervision. Because Xanax regulates brain activity, the brain requires time to return to the level of activity before taking the sedative.
Withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the dosage and how long the person has been taking Xanax. The list of withdrawal symptoms is long and includes both physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms include but are not limited to the following:
- The onset of anxiety and panic attacks
- Mood swings
- Intrusive memories and nightmares
- Insomnia and other sleep disturbances
- Memory loss
- Inability to concentrate
- Thoughts of suicide
- Obsessive thoughts
- Weight loss or excessive weight gain
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Stiffness and pain in the joints and muscles
- Pain, the tension in the jaw
- Numbness and tingling in the extremities or face
- Weakness in legs
- Cold and flu-like symptoms
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to sound and light
- Itching and skin rashes
- Night sweats, fevers
- Heart palpitations
What Are the Stages of Xanax Withdrawal Timeline?
The withdrawal timeline for those wishing to end their dependency/addiction to Xanax varies depending on several factors, such as:
- How often Xanax has been used
- Whether or not other drugs being used
- Whether or not a co-occurring disorder is present
- How supportive their environment is
- Mental well-being and state of mind
- Body mass
- Kidney function
Xanax Withdrawal Timeline
The first signs of withdrawal symptoms can occur as soon as six to 12 hours after the last dose. Common symptoms in this stage are faster heart rate, nausea, vomiting, restlessness, trouble sleeping, and mood swings. It’s also important to monitor for seizures during this phase.
Acute signs of withdrawal may appear and peak one to four days after the last dosage. Within these days, symptoms can become more severe and be quite uncomfortable. Here is the stage that poses the most dangerous symptoms like seizures or delirium. It may also be challenging to sleep, mood swings, shaking, or confusion may occur, and some depression could set in.
General symptoms can then last five to 14 days but should be slowly dissipating. Some emotional symptoms may be experienced during this stage, such as mood swings, confusion, and anxiety. Medical monitoring is still recommended during the stage, as there are still some psychological symptoms like confusion or depression that could pose problems.
At around four weeks, much of the withdrawal symptoms should have subsided. However, heavy users who have been on Xanax for a while will experience more intense withdrawal symptoms, and their detox may take longer. Some may have lingering psychological symptoms for up to a year or more.
Xanax and Other Drugs
Long-term Xanax use can harm the body both physically and psychologically. Over time, the body will build up a tolerance or resistance to the drug. Due to the addictive nature of Xanax, some individuals may turn to other sedatives and alcohol to help achieve the desired effect when the body achieves a tolerance level. This can lead to an increased risk of overdose.
Do Not Stop Taking Xanax Cold Turkey
If you or a loved one wants to end Xanax dependence or addiction, you must understand the seriousness of the matter. A Xanax detox can be one of the deadliest detoxifications if not performed correctly.
This is why medical detox is suggested so that physicians can monitor a patient 24/7 and assist with tapering off the medication.
Stopping cold turkey can flood the mind and body with severe withdrawal symptoms, such as palpitations, extreme confusion, suicidal thoughts, delirium, and more. If untreated, these can endanger the patient’s life.
Xanax is often used in treating anxiety and panic disorders, but with abrupt withdrawal, the individual can experience higher levels of anxiety and panic attacks. Those who are prone to relapses and addictions may find themselves falling back on the drug if they’re trying to get off the drug on their own.
What Is the Next Treatment Step?
Professionals tend to agree that the best form of Xanax detoxification can be obtained by using a combination of psychological support and a gradual tapering off the drug. The first step toward treatment is to attend a medical detox at a reputable, licensed treatment center to contend with Xanax withdrawal symptoms.
The initial detox will usually take about a week, but continued treatment is recommended at either an inpatient or outpatient treatment center. There, the patient can receive valuable treatment, such as:
- Therapy sessions (Individual and group therapy)
- Medical monitoring
- Holistic care
- Nutritional counseling
- Relapse prevention planning
- Life skills training
Start Your Journey to Recovery Today
If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to Xanax or another benzodiazepine, rest assured that you can start addiction treatment that begins with medical detox.
You can get through the withdrawal symptoms with the assistance of substance abuse professionals and medication that will help. Rest assured that sustained recovery is possible, but don’t try to do it alone. Choose a qualified detox center and begin the recovery process in a safe and secure environment.