Like many drugs, Xanax (alprazolam) is a highly addictive substance. Xanax’s powerful sedative effects cause many individuals to become dependent on the drug, often faster than they realize. Once the body becomes tolerant of this drug, it can experience withdrawal symptoms if it doesn’t receive its usual dosage. Withdrawal from Xanax can result in a number of symptoms, which are often best managed at a rehab facility.

Detox is a critical stage on the road to recovery, and those who have gone through it usually view this process as a turning point in their lives. While withdrawal from alprazolam and other benzodiazepines is usually an unpleasant experience, the benefits can be life-changing. Many people experience a variety of physical and psychological Xanax withdrawal symptoms, from insomnia and anxiety to nausea and vomiting. This guide can help people prepare for the experience of detox and withdrawal, and also address common questions, including those related to:

  • Xanax withdrawal symptoms
  • Xanax detox
  • Alprazolam withdrawal

The experience of Xanax detoxification (Xanax detox) and withdrawal is usually unpleasant, but is a necessary step that paves the way for long-term healing. Xanax has a very short half-life, meaning that it enters and exits the body faster than other benzodiazepines so the rapid removal of the drug can be harmful to both the body and brain. Cold-turkey withdrawal can lead to severe reactions, such as seizures. Xanax withdrawal seizures can be, in some cases, fatal.

While there are few recorded cases of death from benzodiazepine withdrawal, they do exist. Deciding to quit the drug cold-turkey with no medical assistance can mean serious consequences, including death. A sudden loss of chemicals can shock the brain and send it into a panic. Medical professionals recommend tapering off the drug to avoid a potentially fatal shock. The recommended method is to reduce intake of the drug by particular increments. It is best to consult with a physician on this matter as they will be able to help calculate the proper dosage reduction.

Physical Xanax withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Sweating or excessive perspiration
  • Tremors or shaking (particularly in the hands)
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Sore, stiff muscles
  • Muscle spasms or twitches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea or soft stool
  • Headache
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Heart palpitations or tachycardia
  • For women: Increased menstrual bleeding, breast tenderness and menstrual cramping
In addition to physical side effects, Xanax withdrawal symptoms can be psychological as well, including:

  • Insomnia or restless sleep
  • Nervousness or tension
  • Confusion or depression
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia and fear
  • Anxiety and panic
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Heightened senses (e.g. noises seem louder, lights seem brighter)

These symptoms of detoxification and withdrawal are sometimes referred to as benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. There is a progression of symptoms, from anxiety and insomnia to flu-like experiences, to a return of the psychological experience present before treatment with Xanax. The severity of the withdrawal experience varies greatly in accordance with the amount of the drug a person was taking prior to detoxification. It is best to taper off of Xanax to avoid serious complications.

While withdrawal symptoms can occur for individuals who are taking Xanax exactly as their physician prescribed, it is much more common for people who are misusing or addicted to the medication to experience adverse effects.

xanax withdrawal
When someone is first beginning the detox process from Xanax, they may wonder, “How long does Xanax withdrawal last?” The answer depends on several factors, but there are four major stages in the Xanax withdrawal timeline. These stages range in severity and duration, and each stage operates somewhat differently for everyone according to their personal chemistry and circumstances.

Stage 1: The Beginning The first stage, consisting of Xanax withdrawal and detoxification, typically begins within 6–12 hours of a person’s last dose. As the fast-acting drug leaves the person’s system, symptoms often begin to surface. Insomnia and anxiety are common during this time.
Stage 2: The Rebound The second stage of Xanax withdrawal typically lasts between one and four days. It is characterized by the presence of anxiety and insomnia, sometimes referred to as “rebound” symptoms. The return of these symptoms can be unpleasant for those undergoing detox, making it important to undergo medically supervised detox. Flu-like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are also common at this stage. Usually all of these symptoms will begin to lessen on the fourth day.
Stage 3: The Downward Slope Individuals are likely to continue feeling the effects of Xanax withdrawal for 5–14 days after quitting Xanax. While the symptoms can peak during days one through four, they are often felt for a number of days beyond that. Anxiety and insomnia are still expected symptoms of the withdrawal process at this point.
Stage 4: The Return The last stage of Xanax withdrawal is referred to as a “return”. For some individuals, this stage means a return to normal functioning. For others, it signals the return of anxiety or other psychological conditions that were present before they began taking Xanax. This stage typically begins two weeks after a person has stopped taking the drug. Any lingering Xanax withdrawal symptoms should be minor.

There are many factors that affect the withdrawal symptoms of Xanax. A person’s unique chemistry will often make a big difference in the symptoms they experience. How much and how often a person takes Xanax are the largest factors in determining the severity of withdrawal symptoms. The more Xanax a person took, and the longer they took it for, the more unpleasant their withdrawal experience is likely to be.

A person’s environment can also change the pace of withdrawal. For this reason, rehabilitation centers are generally the best place for people to undergo the detoxification process, as it is a safe environment, free from familiar triggers.

If someone is wondering, “How long is Xanax withdrawal?” the answer depends largely on whether they are detoxing at home, cold-turkey, or in a medically assisted detox program. Regardless of the method, the initial withdrawal symptoms will typically begin within 6–12 hours of the last dose. How long these physical and mental symptoms last depends on whether there is medical support present in detox or not. In a medically assisted detox program, Xanax withdrawal symptoms may only last for five days, with some minor side effects lingering for a week or more. If someone does not seek medical assistance with Xanax withdrawal, their symptoms could last for weeks or even months.

When it comes to tapering off of Xanax, there are several options, including:

  • At-home detox
  • Going cold-turkey
  • Detox clinic
  • Medically assisted detox

Only one of these methods provides a safe, monitored environment. To not face Xanax withdrawal symptoms alone and to detox from Xanax safely and effectively, it’s important to look for an accredited rehab center that offers a medical detox program. At rehab centers, clients can receive round-the-clock care from a clinical team to ensure each patient’s safety as they cleanse their bodies of Xanax.

Withdrawal from Xanax can be extremely uncomfortable, both physically and mentally. Depending on the rehab center, some clinicians may prescribe taper medications to soothe some of the symptoms of Xanax withdrawal. These medications will take the place of Xanax and allow a slow and safe detox, under a medical team’s guidance. There are also a number of other Xanax withdrawal medications that can help ease symptoms, including:

  • Pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin (known as brand-names Tylenol, Advil, Motrin, etc.)
  • Anti-diarrheal medication, such as Imodium
  • Anti-nausea medication, such as Dramamine

If someone is diagnosed with a co-occurring mental health disorder, they may receive a medication management plan to ease their symptoms.

There are a variety of helpful coping methods available to those undergoing Xanax detoxification and withdrawal. One of the easiest and most important things to keep an eye on during the withdrawal process is hydration. Many people become dehydrated during the detoxification and withdrawal process, often from vomiting and diarrhea. It is important to regularly consume liquids in order to stay hydrated as extreme dehydration can cause fatal seizures. There are also a number of alternative remedies to help with Xanax withdrawal:

  • Meditation: Practicing mindfulness has been shown to significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Counseling: Many people experience a wide range of emotions during this time and find it helpful to discuss their experience with a counselor.
  • Exercise: Exercising can help combat the lethargy of withdrawal as well as prompt the brain to release endorphins, easing some of the symptoms of Xanax withdrawal.
  • Dark, Quiet Spaces: Finding quiet areas can be helpful for people undergoing detox from Xanax as they are often hypersensitive to light and sound.

These remedies are often very helpful for people during Xanax withdrawal. It is important that any medication be taken exactly as prescribed. Alternative remedies are recommended as a first line of defense before moving on to medications.

Xanax detoxification and withdrawal are critical steps on the road to recovery. The process itself can be quite dangerous without proper guidance, so having medical supervision is crucial to a person’s safety during this time.

If someone decides to undergo at-home detox, it is advised that they inform their loved ones of their plans and seek help from a medical professional, such as a doctor or a nurse, to keep an eye on the process. Friends, family, and medical professionals can make sure that the person is well-hydrated and that all of their vital signs read normally.

While at-home detox is an option, it’s not recommended for individuals struggling with severe Xanax addiction. For most people, the best way to detox from Xanax is to seek out an accredited and well-reputed addiction recovery or rehabilitation center. As Xanax withdrawal can cause serious complications, having trained medical staff on hand at all times can significantly reduce the chances of serious harm.

Even in a rehabilitation center, tapered use Xanax is recommended. Quitting Xanax cold-turkey can be dangerous to a person’s health. The resulting shock to the system can trigger reactions such as seizures and flu-like symptoms that, if left unchecked and untreated, can endanger the person’s life. Xanax detox protocol tapers people off of the drug under medical supervision.

For those taking the detoxification process slowly, and tapering off of the drug at a careful pace, the process can last for several weeks. Very often people who are undergoing treatment at a rehabilitation or detox center will taper off of the drug faster, as their symptoms can be better controlled in a medical detox environment.

The complete symptoms of Xanax withdrawal are difficult to predict and there is no telling what exact combination of symptoms and reactions a person will experience. This is yet another reason why it is best to undergo Xanax detox and withdrawal at a rehabilitation center. These centers are equipped to handle all emergencies and symptoms that an individual’s friends and family are unlikely able to address. A medical rehabilitation process is not a luxury, but rather an investment in the future. Professional supervision can significantly increase the likelihood of long-term recovery, and ensure the person’s safety during the withdrawal process.

Rehabilitation centers typically provide additional care that family and friends are unable to offer. The process does not end at detoxification and withdrawal — these steps are only the beginning. It generally takes a number of weeks or months, not a few short days, for the brain to return to a normal state of well-being without drugs. Sobriety requires a new set of skills that rehabilitation facilities and therapy programs can help provide. These skills are gained through individual counseling, family counseling, group therapy, support group meetings, and other forms of treatment. This skill development can help people remain sober in recovery for a drug-free life.

If someone is addicted to Xanax and looking for a reputable Xanax detox program, there are centers across the United States that can help. These can range from small, local clinics to full-service rehab centers. The Recovery Village offers a full continuum of care programs, including medical detox, in their nationwide network of facilities. The Recovery Village centers can be found in Florida, Ohio, Colorado and Washington. If someone is looking for options closer to home or searching for a local peer support group, searching recovery resources by zip-code can be helpful as well.  

You deserve to find a happy, healthy life outside of substance use. To get started with a Xanax withdrawal and detox program at an accredited facility near you, call 352.771.2700  to reach The Recovery Village and speak to someone who can help.

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