Xanax detox or withdrawal symptoms can begin within hours of quitting the medication and typically peak in severity within 1-4 days. Individuals may experience the following symptoms during withdrawal: panic attacks, paranoia, blurred vision, loss of appetite, tremors, seizures, muscle pain, numb fingers, headaches, anxiety, sensitivity to light/sound, insomnia, heart palpitations, sweating and diarrhea. It is recommended to taper the Xanax dosage, rather than quitting the medication all at once, as well going through a supervised medical Xanax detox. Benzodiazepines are prescription drugs that increase the inhibitory neuron, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and thereby reduce over activity in the brain and central nervous system.
Xanax (Alprazolam is its generic form) is one of the most popular of these medications. It was the 11th most prescribed medication in the United States in 2011 as reported by the CBS news.
Xanax becomes commonly abused as it activates pleasure cells in the brain. It is prescribed to treat panic and anxiety disorders, relieve stress and tension, to help with insomnia and as a muscle relaxer. It was said in a report from the Drug Abuse Warning Network that almost 10 percent of pharmaceutical related ER visits are due to the use of benzodiazepine (benzo) or alprazolam. Xanax is thought to be very addictive and use of the medication for longer than a month, can lead to dependence according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Over a period of time, Xanax begins to influence the production of GABA in the brain and eventually, the brain will reduce or stop making naturally occurring GABA without the use of Xanax. GABA is a natural sedative that slows certain brain functions and reduces reactions to stress. The brain will try and regain its natural balance of GABA once the medication leaves the body and withdrawal symptoms will begin. It can be very dangerous and possibly life threatening going through withdrawal without the help of a medical professional.
Physical and Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms
Xanax is a central nervous system depressant designed to slow down the body’s heart rate, temperature and blood pressure in order to minimize stress, anxiety and panic attacks. It may also help in reducing epileptic seizures. The brain gets used to the presence of Xanax and if it is suddenly unavailable, these functions will return. Seizures that may cause coma or even death can be caused by a rapid onset of respiration, blood pressure, body temperature and heart rate.
Physical warning signs to watch for during Xanax withdrawal include: tingling in arms and legs, numbness of fingers, nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea, muscle aches, blurred vision, headache, jaw tension and/or pain in teeth, cramps, heart palpitations, impaired respiration, tremors, sensitivity to sound and light, changes in sense of smell, insomnia, sweating or fever, hypertension and insomnia.
Going “cold turkey” can result in dangerous side effects, such as grand mal seizures, and may be fatal without medical assistance, therefore it is not advised that the use of Xanax be suddenly stopped. All vital signs need to be closely monitored during a Xanax detox. The effects of sudden withdrawal from benzodiazepine have been documented by the Journal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association.
Withdrawal Timeline for Xanax
Xanax has an average half-life of 11 hours, as reported by the FDA and is typically considered a short acting benzodiazepine. Usually about 6 to 12 hours after the last does, the drug is no longer active in the blood plasma and withdrawal symptoms begin.
Once detox begins, the patient will experience rebound symptoms that the drug was intended to suppress for about 1 to 4 days. The next stage can last a few days or up to four weeks and is known as acute withdrawal. During acute withdrawal, all symptoms may be present and will likely peak around two weeks. Once this happens, withdrawal symptoms should begin to improve. Some people may experience protracted withdrawal which can include drug cravings and psychiatric symptoms that can last weeks, months or years if not addressed by a mental health professional.
Unique Xanax Detox & Withdrawal
Detox and withdrawal from Xanax can be affected by different factors with each individual. The more intense and longer lasting the withdrawal symptoms will be as the body becomes more and more dependent on Xanax. Individuals develop stronger dependence more quickly than others depending on their age, when they first used Xanax, genetics, how much they used, the method in which they ingested it, how long they used it and whether or not it was used with alcohol or other drugs. Family history of addiction, underlying mental health issues, stress, and medical issues can also affect how long withdrawal symptoms may last and how many side effects an individual may experience. The supervision of mental health and medical professionals who are trained in these areas can help lessen the withdrawal symptoms and keep the individual safer.
Importance of Xanax Detox Centers
The best option for someone going through Xanax withdrawal is a Xanax detox center with medical and mental health professionals who are available to offer necessary support and treatment. A professional detox center like Resolutions Behavioral Health is able to offer a safe environment, monitoring and supervision. A tapering schedule set by a medical professional makes withdrawal from benzodiazepines safer and helps reduce the side effects. Sometimes a longer-acting benzodiazepine like Valium (diazepam) may be used as a substitute for Xanax during detox. Having a small amount in the bloodstream will control drug craving and withdrawal symptoms until the drug is out of the system completely. Xanax withdrawal symptoms can sometimes also be helped with the use of other medications like beta-blockers and antidepressants.
Medical professionals believe that gradual dose reductions and a combination of therapy methods are the safest way to detox from benzodiazepines. During the initial Xanax detox, stress management techniques and tools for prevention of relapse are important and can be taught during therapy sessions. Patients can come to realize the connections between thoughts and actions and help them to make more positive decisions through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Acupuncture, meditation, yoga, massage therapy and other holistic methods may also be included to help with stress and healing. Xanax may also change appetite and cause weight loss, so it is also important to follow healthy eating habits. A better diet will also help with the healing of the body.
During Xanax detox and withdrawal, Resolutions Behavioral Health will provide a supportive and comprehensive medical environment throughout all stages of detoxification to ensure a successful recovery. If you or a loved one need help, call one of our professional admissions team members today for a free and confidential assessment.