Alprazolam, also more commonly known as Xanax, can cause serious side effects including withdrawal symptoms when the drug is stopped. Cold turkey withdrawal from Xanax can provoke tremors, seizures or thoughts of suicide. Xanax withdrawal is best advised under the counsel of a treating physician.
Learn more about how to withdraw from Xanax, the side effects of detox and how to seek help for addiction.
Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms
Xanax has a depressant effect on the body, but if the drug is used more than a few weeks at a time the body develops a physical dependence. As the body becomes used to the presence of the drug, it is natural to feel like the drug is needed to keep balance when, in fact, the body will restore balance without the presence of Xanax if given the opportunity. Withdrawal is the body’s way of restoring balance both physically and psychologically.
This should only be done under the supervision of a physician as the effects can have serious, negative consequences which include:
- Brain fog
- Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
- Feelings of fear or apprehension
- Increased levels of excitement and restlessness
- Heightened levels of anxiety
Individuals with addiction to Xanax who were prescribed the drug for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder or insomnia may experience rebound symptoms after quitting. Rebound effects are intensified symptoms of a pre-existing psychological disorder which may include anxiety, panic attacks and the inability to sleep. This may fade away after a week but may require specialized treatment.
Withdrawal from Xanax may be more intense than other benzos but does not last as long. This short-acting benzo produces effects sooner which are over more quickly than other benzos. Withdrawal begins as soon as the body and brain are deprived of the drug’s presence.
The following is a timeline for detox from Xanax:
- First 6-12 hours: increased anxiety and irritability
- Days 1-4: rebounding anxiety, insomnia peak while other symptoms such as sweating, muscle pain and shaking may occur
- Days 5-14: withdrawal symptoms may last two weeks after use while anxiety and insomnia will persist
- Days 15+: lingering symptoms will be mild but protracted symptoms may fluctuate up to two years
Easing Withdrawal Symptoms
A number of treatments may prepare a person to ease Xanax withdrawal symptoms including:
- Antidepressants: find a drug with a low dependency rate to support the withdrawal process
- Detox: a medically supervised detox can support easing of withdrawal symptoms over the course of a few days
- Psychotherapy: behavioral therapy can help address underlying mental conditions during withdrawal and support successful recovery
- Supplements: replenish the body with vital minerals and vitamins such as Vitamin B, Magnesium and Potassium to help with agitation and restlessness
- Tapering doses: communicate with a doctor who can monitor Xanax withdrawal and treat symptoms and adjust doses if needed
A physician should monitor any person thinking of quitting Xanax. The most important protocol for Xanax withdrawal is a slow decrease in doses of the drug on a tapering calendar to minimize the effects of symptoms. Benzodiazepines are typically reduced at a rate of 10% weekly. Each individual responds differently but should not stop taking the drug cold turkey as it might manifest in symptoms being severe or even life threatening.
Xanax is typically used to treat anxiety so it is important to not stop taking the drug cold turkey. Work with a medical professional who supports tapering of the drug slowly over time. This process best occurs over a period of eight weeks to 6 months, depending on the individual situation. Tapering also allows people to take time to figure out alternatives for treatment of anxiety symptoms. Finding a supportive physician is crucial to a healthy recovery from dependence or addiction to Xanax.
Detox and withdrawal are part of the process of addiction recovery from Xanax and other benzos. If you or a loved one need help quitting Xanax, The Villa has programs and resources available to support your journey back to health. Call us to find out how we can help you heal.