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Written by Amethyst Recovery
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Most addiction centers will go through the Xanax withdrawal and detox timeline with patients, so they know what to expect. The addiction recovery process can be quite long, and withdrawal symptoms can begin to kick in within 24 hours. The withdrawal symptoms are similar to the effects of Xanax. GABA levels in the central nervous system (CNS) get out of balance when the user decides to stop taking Xanax.
Knowing what to expect can help many Xanax users make it through the treatment. Otherwise, it’ll feel like there’s no end in sight. This article will look at the withdrawal timeline and symptoms to expect. It’ll also briefly go over the different types of medications used in medical detox. It’s important to remember that all American addiction centers will offer their own treatment program. The substance abuse treatment may follow a different schedule or may use a different medication.
Xanax is a brand name for the generic drug alprazolam. Alprazolam is classified as a benzodiazepine. Xanax can be prescribed to help treat anxiety and panic disorders, and it’s one of the most commonly prescribed psychiatric medications in the U.S. All benzodiazepines have a calming effect on the user and are central nervous system depressants.
Xanax works by increasing the amount of a naturally-occurring neurotransmitter called GABA in the brain. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. With Xanax, since the effects of GABA are increased, there is a calming effect on brain activity. This can lead to feelings of relaxation, drowsiness or sedation.
Xanax is typically only prescribed as a short-term medication, and it’s not intended to be a long-term treatment option. This is primarily because Xanax has an abuse and addiction potential associated with its use.
In many cases, a doctor won’t prescribe Xanax to be used for any more than two to four weeks. The longer someone takes Xanax, the higher the risk that they’ll become addicted or dependent on it. Tolerance to Xanax develops fairly quickly also, meaning that someone would need higher and higher doses to get the same effects.
Other prescription benzodiazepines include Valium, Klonopin and Ativan, and all work in a way that’s similar to Xanax.
Addiction refers to a diagnosable, chronic disorder that affects the brain, behavior and lifestyle of the person who suffers from it. When someone uses Xanax, it can trigger pleasurable feelings because of how it affects the brain and certain neurotransmitters. In turn, this can lead to a reward cycle in the brain. That reward cycle is what contributes to the development of an addiction. When someone is addicted to Xanax, they may also be dependent on it, but they don’t have to be.
Abusing Xanax is any way can increase the chances of both an addiction and a dependence forming. Signs of Xanax abuse include:
- Taking higher doses than what’s prescribed
- Taking it for longer than instructed by a medical professional
- Combining it with other substances such as alcohol
- Using it outside of how it’s intended to be used—for example, snorting it or injecting it
- Using it only for certain effects such as euphoria or relaxation
Xanax dependence is a physiological condition where a person’s central nervous system has become dependent on the effects of the substance and can no longer function in the same way without it. When someone is dependent on Xanax, if they stop using it suddenly, withdrawal symptoms are likely to occur.
Xanax withdrawal occurs because the central nervous system has been exposed to Xanax to the point that it needs it to function in a certain way. For example, since Xanax and other benzodiazepines affect GABA, when a person is dependent on a benzo their brain may struggle with natural GABA production.
Going through withdrawal from Xanax can be uncomfortable physically and mentally, and it can also be dangerous in some cases.
Factors that often affect the severity of Xanax withdrawal include:
- How long someone uses Xanax
- The dosage a person regularly used
- Whether any other substances were being used simultaneously
- Underlying mental or physical health conditions
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Signs and Symptoms of Xanax Withdrawals
Xanax is meant to be taken for only up to 4 weeks. Anyone who takes these prescription drugs for longer periods of time will develop a dependence on them. This leads to substance abuse. Those who try to stop taking Xanax after getting addicted will experience Xanax withdrawal symptoms.
Xanax withdrawal symptoms can be quite intense. In some situations, it can even be deadly. Some patients can go into a coma when withdrawing from this drug. If a person tries to quit cold turkey, the withdrawal symptoms they experience will be even more intense and life-threatening.
To get sober without putting your life in danger, you’ll need to seek help from detox centers in America. Medical detox helps to rebalance the neurochemical levels in your central nervous system. It’ll help ease the effects of this type of drug abuse and help you get clean. Some of the most common drug withdrawal symptoms to expect include:
- Sleep disturbances and insomnia
- Restlessness or irritation
- Problems with concentration and paying attention
- Problems with memory
- Muscle aches and muscle tension
Some of these withdrawal symptoms are physical. Others are psychological and will affect your mental health. Xanax detox can help you treat these symptoms, so you have a more comfortable recovery. It’s even more important to seek help if you struggle with a dual diagnosis. Co-occurring disorders are notoriously difficult to treat.
A Look at the Xanax Withdrawal Timeline
The Xanax withdrawal timeline can vary depending on the extent of a person’s use and their individual characteristics. Overall, Xanax is classified as a short-acting benzodiazepine, and it has an average half-life of around 11 hours. Within 6 to 12 hours after the last dose is used, people may start to experience the initial symptoms of withdrawal.
The earliest symptoms to occur in the Xanax withdrawal timeline can include fatigue, insomnia, and irritability. Mood swings may also occur, as can anxiety, or panic attacks.
From days one to three is when symptoms of Xanax withdrawal are most likely to peak and be most severe. During this time, symptoms can include abdominal pain and cramping, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, and dysphoria which is trouble experiencing pleasure. Anxiety may continue, and this is when severe symptoms might occur such as aggression, hallucinations, confusion and tremors or seizures.
Most people find that the symptoms of Xanax withdrawal start to get better within a week. However, some people may experience ongoing symptoms, especially if their use of Xanax was very heavy or long-term. Some of the enduring potential Xanax withdrawal symptoms might be cravings, depression and suicidal thoughts or suicidal ideation.
As mentioned above, Xanax withdrawal symptoms usually kick in within a few hours to 48 hours after the last dose. The withdrawal timeline usually follows a four-week process. Most Xanax users will experience withdrawal symptoms to some degree. Naturally, those with a longer history with the prescription medication will likely experience more intense withdrawal symptoms.
The physical withdrawal symptoms tend to subside within this four-week timeframe. The psychological symptoms, on the other hand, usually take much longer. To treat the psychological symptoms, most addiction treatment centers recommend behavioral therapy. The Xanax withdrawal timeline is as follows:
- 24 to 72 hours After the Last Dose: The withdrawal symptoms at this point tend to be at its worse. The addict is at risk for experiencing seizures. They may also experience mood swings, insomnia, nausea and heart palpitations. Xanax detox is necessary during this time to ease withdrawal symptoms.
- Week 1: Some of the more severe Xanax withdrawals will have passed. However, this is when depression starts to kick in. Addicts will also experience intense cravings. Their anxiety may also return.
- Week 2: Emotional symptoms start to heighten at this point in time. Depression and irritability are most prevalent. Patients who make it to week 2 won’t have to worry about seizures as much.
- Week 3 to 4: Physical withdrawal symptoms tend to fade at this time. Mental and emotional symptoms may still linger, which is expected with benzodiazepine withdrawals.
The drug withdrawal process takes quite a while. Xanax does quite a number on your central nervous system (CNS). Psychological benzo withdrawal symptoms may kick in at any time during the year. Those who try to quit cold turkey are more likely to experience intense withdrawal symptoms.
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Understanding Xanax Detox Treatment Programs
The detox process for Xanax can be long and arduous. Patients can’t simply quit cold turkey, as they would with a nicotine addiction. Tapering down the drug use is the safest and most effective way to detox. It will also ease withdrawal symptoms.
The taper schedule involves gradually reducing the dosage over time. When trying to detox from Xanax, patients often require around-the-clock care, as with a residential treatment program. The dosage is slowly reduced, and the medical professionals will keep an eye to see whether the patients are responding properly to the program. The substance abuse treatment can take as long as a month. Patients will generally also receive behavioral therapy, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and counseling during this time.
The drug rehab centers will have to monitor the taper schedule. If patients stop taking Xanax too quickly, their physical condition may start to worsen. This is simply the body’s response to a lack of GABA neurotransmitters. The body believes that it is either sick, injured or poisoned. Patients will taper off of Xanax at different rates. Some patients can go through the process rather quickly, while others may take up to an entire month.
For optimal efficacy, rehab centers must tailor the substance abuse treatment for each patient. Patients should never feel rushed when seeking drug addiction treatment for Xanax abuse. If they’re rushed, they may experience acute withdrawal symptoms.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be severe and can include complications ranging from psychological symptoms like depression to seizures.
There are different ways a person might detox from Xanax. One option is to do it on their own without medical guidance or supervision. This isn’t recommended, even for a short-term Xanax user who followed their prescription. Whenever you’re going to come off a drug with a dependence potential, it’s best to speak with a healthcare professional first.
Another option for someone to detox from Xanax is to do so on an outpatient basis but under the guidance of a medical professional.
For someone who is a heavy Xanax user, or who is at risk for complications, the best option may be a professional Xanax detox center.
At a detox center, patients check into the facility and receive a high level of care while they’re there. They’re monitored for physical and psychological symptoms that may occur, and if necessary medications and treatments can be provided.
Before someone can receive addiction treatment for Xanax, they have to fully detox. Many addiction treatment centers offer an onsite medical detox program. Once someone’s fully detoxed from Xanax, they then have continuity of care as they begin their addiction treatment program.
Amethyst Recovery Center can provide you with more information about Xanax detox and addiction treatment, so please reach out.
Different Types of Medications Used to Detox from Xanax
A wide variety of drugs are often used to help detox from Xanax. Many doctors recommend taking a weaker benzodiazepine to help ease the withdrawal symptoms. The two most popular options include clonazepam and clonidine. Here’s a look at the two of them:
- Clonazepam. Clonazepam is perhaps the most popular of the two. It’s extremely effective in easing withdrawal symptoms. As a result, it’s often used in Xanax detox and withdrawal treatment programs. Although effective, clonazepam is not exactly suitable for pregnant women. It carries some risk. However, some treatment consultants may recommend this drug if the benefits outweigh the risks. This medication is a Schedule IV drug. It has a low potential for abuse, and prescriptions can only be filled up to 5 times within a 6-month period.
- Clonidine. Clonidine is also an effective option. It’s not a controlled substance. Unfortunately, no one knows whether this drug carries any risk to pregnant women. There’s insufficient research.
While the two medications above are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), some drug rehab centers will also prescribe other medications to treat specific symptoms. For example, some medical professionals will prescribe sleeping pills to patients who struggle with insomnia. Treatment options will vary depending on the types of effects experienced by each patient.
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