Xanax Detox & Withdrawal

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Like many other drugs, Xanax (alprazolam) is a highly addictive substance. Its powerful sedative effects draw many people into abuse. Once the body has become dependent on this drug, it will experience withdrawal if it does not receive its usual dosage. Withdrawal from Xanax can result in a number of symptoms, which are best managed at a rehab facility.

Detox is a critical stage on the road to recovery. Many view this process as a turning point in their lives. While withdrawal from alprazolam and other benzodiazepines is usually an unpleasant experience, the benefit it brings is absolutely worth it. Most people experience a variety of physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms from Xanax, from insomnia and anxiety to nausea. This guide will help you prepare for the experience of detox and withdrawal to address many of your questions about Xanax withdrawal, including those related to:

  • Xanax withdrawal symptoms
  • Xanax detox
  • Alprazolam withdrawal
The experience of Xanax detoxification (Xanax detox) and withdrawal is not pleasant, though it is relatively minor as compared to the detoxification and withdrawal processes of some other popular drugs such as heroin and cocaine. One of the major differences between Xanax withdrawal and withdrawal from many major illicit substances is it’s not recommended for Xanax addicts quit the drug cold turkey, or all at once.  As Xanax is a powerful psychological drug, the effects of a cold turkey withdrawal can be quite serious and damaging to the brain. Xanax in particular has a very short half-life, meaning it enters and exits the body more quickly than other benzodiazepines. The rapid removal of the drug can be harmful to the body and brain. Cold turkey withdrawal can lead to severe reactions such as seizures. Xanax withdrawal seizures can be enormously dangerous and, in some cases, fatal.

While there are few recorded cases of death from benzodiazepine withdrawal, they do exist. You can die from Xanax withdrawal if you decide to quit the drug cold turkey. A sudden loss of chemicals will shock the brain and send it into a panic. Medical professionals recommend Xanax users, abusers and addicts taper off of the drug in order to avoid shocking the body’s system. The recommended method is to reduce one’s 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 you calculate the proper dosage reduction for your history and build.

The following are the physical Xanax withdrawal symptoms, some of which can be fatal:

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

  • Nervousness or tension
  • Confusion or depression
  • Irritability or being “on edge”
  • Paranoia and fear
  • Anxiety and panic
  • A feeling of emotional and psychological distance from other people and things
  • Sharpened senses (i.e. noises seem louder, lights seem brighter)

These experiences 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 a 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 the drug in order 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 abusing or addicted to the medication to experience adverse effects. These individuals tend to have been on the drug for longer, and also tend to be taking larger doses, leading to a greater risk of serious withdrawal symptoms.

xanax withdrawal
There are four major stages in the process of Xanax detoxification and withdrawal. These stages range in severity and duration, and each stage operates somewhat differently for everyone according to their personal chemistry and circumstances.

The Beginning — The first stage, consisting of Xanax withdrawal and detoxification and, typically begins within six to 12 hours of a person’s last dose. As the fast-acting drug begins to leave the person’s system, symptoms will begin to surface. Insomnia and anxiety are extremely common during this time. They are present, but remain fairly mild in comparison to their effect at later stages.
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. Having most likely begun using the drug on account of anxiety or a related psychological condition, the return of these feelings can be unpleasant for those undergoing detox, making it all the more important to undergo medically supervised detox. These psychological experiences worsen over time, peaking during this phase. Flu-like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are also common at this time. Usually all of these symptoms will begin to lessen on the fourth day.
The Downward Slope — Individuals are likely to continue feeling the effects of Xanax withdrawal for five to 14 days after quitting Xanax. While the symptoms will 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.
The Return — The last stage of Xanax withdrawal is a return. For some, this stage means a return to normal functioning. For others, it signals the return of the anxiety or other psychological condition that was 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. A person’s environment can also change the pace of withdrawal. Rehabilitation centers are generally the best place for people to undergo the detoxification process, as it is a safe environment free from Xanax triggers. A person’s Xanax use habits, including the strength of dose and duration of abuse, are the largest factors to determine severity of withdrawal symptoms; the more Xanax a person has been taking, and the longer they have been taking it, the more unpleasant their withdrawal experience is likely to be.

There are a variety of helpful coping methods available to those undergoing Xanax detoxification and withdrawal. Many people who have recently detoxified often return to the drug to relieve Xanax withdrawal symptoms. When withdrawal symptoms are eased, the likelihood of relapse is significantly decreased.

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. Vomiting and diarrhea can put a person in danger of dehydration. It is important to regularly consume liquids in order to avoid this, as extreme dehydration can cause fatal seizures. There are also a number of Xanax withdrawal medications that can help ease symptoms:

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

There are also a number of alternative remedies said to help with Xanax withdrawal:

  • Meditation — This method has been shown to significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, which often results from Xanax withdrawal
  • Counseling — Many people experience a wide range of emotions during this time and find it helpful to discuss their experience with a counselor
  • Exercise — This 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 — People withdrawing from Xanax are often hypersensitive to light and sound

Xanax withdrawal peaks between days one and four. These remedies are often very helpful for people during this time. It is important that any medication be taken only exactly as prescribed. Alternative remedies are recommended as a first line of defense, before moving on to these medications.

Xanax detoxification and withdrawal are important and serious steps on the road to recovery. The process itself can be quite dangerous under certain circumstances. Withdrawing safely and under medical supervision is critical to a person’s health and well-being.

The best way to detox from Xanax is to seek out and be admitted to 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 will significantly reduce the chances of serious harm. If a user does decide to undergo home detox, it is advised 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. Xanax detox symptoms can be quite unpleasant and, in some cases, harmful. Friends, family and medical professionals can make sure that a patient is well hydrated and comfortable, and that all of their vital signs read normally.

Even in a rehabilitation center, it is recommended patients taper their use. Quitting the drug cold turkey, which means stopping use altogether and all at once, is enormously 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 a Xanax user’s functioning. Xanax detox protocol, then, is tapering off of the drug under medical supervision. For those taking the detoxification process slowly and tapering off the drug at a careful pace, the process can last for more than 15 weeks. Very often those undergoing treatment at a rehabilitation or detox center will taper off the drug more quickly than this, as their symptoms can be better controlled in a medical detox environment.

The symptoms of Xanax withdrawal and of other drugs 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 detox and withdrawal at a rehabilitation center. These centers are trained and equipped to handle all emergencies and symptoms that an individual’s friends and family are not likely to be able to address. Entering into a medical rehabilitation process is not an act of luxury, but rather an investment in the future. Professional supervision significantly increases the likelihood of a person’s success in recovery, as well as their safety during the withdrawal process.

Rehabilitation centers also provide further care than family and friends are able 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 pre-addiction state. Sobriety requires a new set of skills that are much more easily acquired in the context of a rehabilitation facility. These skills are gained through individual counseling, family counseling, group therapy, support group meetings and other forms of treatment. This skill development will help people remain sober in recovery for a drug-free life.

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David Sack, M.D. “Home Detox: What’S The Worst That Could Happen?”. Psych Central.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.
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Xanax Withdrawal & Detox
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Xanax Withdrawal & Detox was last modified: February 6th, 2018 by The Recovery Village