Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline, and Treatment
Xanax® can be one of the most difficult and dangerous drugs to detox from. The dangers of Xanax withdrawal are not just difficult but can be life threatening without proper medical supervision. Although Xanax can be useful when used per doctor’s prescription, many people abuse it, become addicted, and end up going through painful Xanax withdrawals.
What is Xanax?
Xanax is the trade name of alprazolam, a prescription medication belonging to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are a type of tranquilizer that act on the GABA receptors. The GABA receptors are the main inhibitors of the body’s central nervous system.
By inhibiting the central nervous system, benzodiazepines like Xanax produce calming and relaxing effects. Xanax is often prescribed to treat anxiety and panic disorders, and sometimes the anxiety associated with major depressive disorder. A short-acting benzodiazepine, Xanax can substantially reduce anxiety in patients, but carries with it a huge risk of dependence.
Abuse and Addiction
Benzodiazepine abuse is a serious problem, and Xanax is one of the most commonly abused drug of its class. It is often abused for its anxiolytic properties, producing a sense of ease and comfort. When taken in doses higher than prescribed, Xanax carries significant risk of psychological and physical dependence.
One of the dangers of Xanax abuse is its use with other drugs. Known as polysubstance abuse, the combination of Xanax with another drug can be fatal. It is often abused with other depressants like opioids and alcohol, and sometimes combined with stimulants. Individuals abuse alprazolam with other drugs in order to enhance effects or combat negative side effects of other drugs.
Even when taken exactly as prescribed, individuals can build dependency fairly quickly. Research suggests that Xanax dependence can build after just a couple of weeks of regular use. This is faster than most other prescription medications, and points toward the severity of using or abusing alprazolam for extended periods.
Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms
The drug withdrawal from Xanax depend on the individual and the way the benzodiazepines are used. Symptoms may vary in severity depending on how much Xanax is being used/abused, how often the medication is being taken, and for how long the person has been taking benzodiazepines.
Because it acts on the central nervous system and the GABA receptors, withdrawal from Xanax is one of the worst drug withdrawals somebody can go through. In fact, withdrawal from benzodiazepines can actually be fatal if not medically-managed. Symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Craving for drugs
- Severe anxiety and panic
- Shaking and trembling
- Nausea and vomiting
- Memory loss and difficulty concentrating
- Muscle soreness and headaches
- Difficulty sleeping
Detox and Treatment
Because Xanax withdrawal can cause seizures, the risk is very high. Unlike most other drugs (other than alcohol), detox from benzodiazepines can actually kill you. For this reason, it’s imperative that you reach out for help. At a medically-managed detox, doctors will prescribe medications to help you get the benzos out of your system.
With medical care and quality psychological care, you have the best chance at recovery. Detoxing at home from Xanax is incredibly dangerous. Even if you are taking Xanax as prescribed by a doctor, you absolutely must consult a medical professional before going cold-turkey.
After detox, it’s helpful to find addiction treatment in orderto learn how to live clean and sober. You may benefit from a gender-specific program, a residential program, a facility that works with co-occurring disorders, or a sober living. Although addiction leaves us feeling incredibly lonely, remember that you are not alone! Reach out for help and build yourself a new life in recovery.