08 Feb Xanax Withdrawal Timeline
What is the Withdrawal Timeline for Xanax?
Xanax is a commonly prescribed drug that is unfortunately often abused, and can be heavily addictive. For those trying to overcome Xanax addiction, the withdrawal symptoms can be severe. This guide will help through the recovery process.
How does Xanax become addictive?
Xanax is a benzodiazepine or “benzo” that is primarily used to treat anxiety, depression and panic attacks. The drug comes as a capsule or a bar, and acts quickly after it has been ingested. Xanax primarily affects cognitive functions, including memory, attention, thinking, speech and motor skills. People who abuse Xanax do so mainly for its mind-altering effects. The drug activates the pleasure centers of the brain, which gives users a sense of happiness, euphoria and calmness.
Although Xanax should not be used without a prescription, abuse of the “benzo” drug is quite prevalent, and extremely dangerous, as it is one of the most addictive prescription drugs. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) even provides information for Xanax which indicates that taking the drug can lead to benzo addiction or dependence, especially when taking high doses for longer than a month.
The active agents in Xanax act as a sedative in the brain, slowing down certain functions and muting reactions to stress. Over time, Xanax may actually influence the production of GABA (your body’s natural calming substance), so much so that your brain may stop making GABA without the presence of the drug. Your brain may then become dependent on Xanax for its calming effects. When it leaves the bloodstream, withdrawal can start as the brain struggles to regain its natural sense of order and balance.
Because Xanax is a central nervous system depressant, the effects of xanax are designed to slow down your heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. It also minimizes anxiety, stress and panic. Xanax can even help to reduce the incidence of epileptic seizures. However, when the brain gets used to Xanax slowing all of these things down on a regular basis, these functions may rebound if the drug is suddenly removed.
This will cause your blood pressure, body temperature, respiration and heart rate to go up rapidly, and seizures that can lead to coma and even death may occur.
If you are seeking help for an addiction to Xanax or any other benzodiazepine, call us today to speak with an addiction specialist about treatment options.
Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms
Because the highly addictive nature of Xanax, the withdrawal symptoms can be very dramatic and dangerous.
Xanax withdrawal symptoms can begin within hours of the last dose, and typically peak in severity within one to four days. During withdrawal, a person may experience the following symptoms:
- Blurred vision
- Muscle pain
- Numb fingers
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Loss of appetite
- Heart palpitations
- Sweating and/or fever
Panic and anxiety attacks are common among Xanax abusers attempting to fight their addiction. As a result, people dealing with Xanax withdrawal are often lethargic and may develop depression.
This grueling withdrawal process may also take a toll on personal relationships. Individuals battling withdrawal symptoms often become disconnected from their friends and family and stop going into work because of their lethargy and depression.
The “cold turkey” method of quitting the drug vs tapering off xanax is not recommended, because of the intense withdrawal symptoms. A professionally supervised detox of a person’s dosage is the safest option to manage withdrawal. Attempting withdrawal without medical assistance can be dangerous and even potentially life-threatening.
What is the Xanax Withdrawal Timeline?
Although not everyone will experience their symptoms of withdrawal in the same way, there are some general patterns that have been noted.
This means withdrawal symptoms can appear as soon as six hours after taking Xanax. The earliest symptoms will generally include anxiety and irritability. Withdrawal from Xanax is often more intense than it is with other benzos, but the symptoms usually don’t last as long, again, because it is a short-acting drug.
The early period of withdrawal generally lasts for the first one to four days. This period is known as the “rebound”. The rebound involves a recurrence of the pre-existing condition the person was originally prescribed Xanax to treat, including anxiety, panic attacks and insomnia. Shaking, muscle pain and sweating are also common. The rebound symptoms will often be more intense than the original symptoms. These effects will usually get better after a week or so, and the underlying mental health issue is best left to be dealt with after detox is complete.
After the rebound period comes acute withdrawal. This may last just a few days but can go on for up to an entire month. All of the withdrawal symptoms listed above may be present during acute withdrawal, which will typically peak around the second week. After this point, symptoms likely will start to improve, but anxiety and insomnia may persist. Any lingering symptoms should be mild.
However, some people may experience protracted withdrawal, which can include more intense psychiatric symptoms and pervasive drug cravings. Protracted withdrawal can last for several weeks, months or even years if it is not addressed by a mental health professional. Protracted withdrawal of Xanax is also known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).
Factors Affecting the Withdrawal Timeline
As with the recovery from any kind of drug dependency, there are several variables that affect how long withdrawal symptoms will last and how long the overall recovery period will take.
Some of these factors include:
- The dose of the drug the user was taking at the time they stopped using
- The user’s original reason for taking the drug (prescription use vs. recreational)
- The use of other drugs or alcohol
- Symptoms related to another disorder
- If the user stops taking Xanax completely or reduces the dose over time
- The user’s personal physiology
These factors can make withdrawal symptoms more or less complicated, both physically and emotionally.
A person who took a low dose of Xanax for a short period of time will usually experience mild rebound symptoms, lasting up to four days. This generally goes for those that were using Xanax to manage their anxiety symptoms and not for the purpose of getting high. Stopping use of the drug may result in the return of their anxiety symptoms for a short period of time.
Withdrawal symptoms are unique to each individual because Xanax addiction works on an individual basis as well. The more dependent a user’s body and brain have become to Xanax, the longer and more intense with the withdrawal period will be. A person’s dosage amount, the method of ingestion, whether or not they mixed with other drugs or alcohol, their age the first time they used Xanax, the person’s genetics and their length of time using the drug can all factor into how dependent a person will be to Xanax.
Other factors, like high levels of stress, a prior personal history or family history of addiction, other underlying mental health issues, other medical complications and even environmental factors can make a difference in how long withdrawal may last. All of these things combined or alone can also influence how many symptoms will be present for an individual.
How to Manage Xanax Withdrawal and Detox Treatment Options
Xanax withdrawal can be better and more comfortably managed, not to mention less dangerous, with the help of medical and mental health professionals who are trained in treating substance abuse and dependency.
You might not think another medication would be a viable option for someone who is trying to recover from Xanax addiction, but medications can help alleviate symptoms and taper an individual off of Xanax.
While there are no long-term medication options for people with Xanax dependency issues, there are options for non-addictive medications that help with specific symptoms of Xanax withdrawal. These include sleep aids for those dealing with insomnia, or medications for pain, stiffness or nausea.
Because quitting cold turkey can be so dangerous, even leading to life-threatening side effects such as seizures, using medications to help treat withdrawal symptoms is typically the preferred course of action during Xanax detox.
Doctors will often choose other long-acting benzodiazepines like Valium to aid in the recovery process. Under this sort of plan, your doctor will provide the medication on a tapered schedule, so each day, the person in withdrawal will get a little less of the drug. These dosage reductions will be so minimal that the person most likely won’t even notice the difference. The slow progress helps adjust the brain to life without Xanax.
Withdrawal can be safely controlled and side effects reduced with a slow and controlled detox schedule set up by a professional. By slowly lowering the amount of Xanax taken over a safe period of time, the more intense withdrawal symptoms may be largely avoided. By keeping a small amount of benzos in the bloodstream, drug cravings and withdrawal may be controlled for a period of time until the drug is slowly removed from your system completely. Adjunct medications like antidepressants, beta-blockers, or other pharmaceuticals may be effective in treating specific symptoms of Xanax withdrawal.
Most professionals agree that the best plan involves a mix of supervised medical detox and therapy. Therapy sessions will include stress management techniques and strategies to prevent relapse. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help users find the connection between their thoughts and actions, and work to make them more positive in nature.
Therapy options include personal therapy, group therapy, 12-step meetings and other forms of traditional treatment. These are thought of as the building blocks for most addiction treatment programs. Millions of addicts and drug abusers of all kinds have been able to successfully use therapy to help them address their substance abuse problems and the symptoms that come along with them, plus mending their family dynamics and the process of reaching future goals in recovery.
Enter a Professional Rehab Facility
Entering into a professional rehabilitation facility offers addicts and substance abusers the best chances for full recovery. Constant supervision is often necessary to help the patient deal with all of their withdrawal symptoms safely and effectively during the treatment program. A rehab facility can offer supervision, monitoring of symptoms and support in a safe and controlled environment.
This process might seem scary, but it’s important to remember that these facilities exist to help users rehabilitate and offer the best support available to help addicts recover.
If you were considering entering rehab because you are addicted to xanax, the process would go something like this:
Once you’ve selected a rehab facility, you will begin the intake process. During intake, a medical professional will evaluate your current physical and mental health. This may involve blood tests to see how much Xanax is still present in your system and determine what types of medications will aid in your recovery.
After your evaluation, you are ready to start the rehabilitation process. You will receive around-the-clock care throughout your detox to ensure your safety and comfort. If your symptoms change, your medical team can adjust your plan as necessary.
You might notice a change in your appetite and lose weight during Xanax withdrawal as well, so eating healthy and balanced meals during your recovery is especially important. A rehab facility will provide healthy meals and snacks. Other strategies, like connecting with fellow recovering addicts, making overall healthy choices and utilizing holistic remedies, as well as follow-up therapy treatments, can also be helpful to avoid relapse.
It’s important to note that leaving a professional treatment or detox program early is almost guaranteed to result in relapse, and relapse during the detox period can be deadly. Dealing with Xanax withdrawal and detoxing from xanax is extremely difficult, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel to long-term recovery, and the best way to avoid relapse while quitting xanax is to stay with your rehab program until your withdrawal symptoms have passed.
Lautieri, Amanda. “Xanax Withdrawals Duration, Dangers, and Treatment,” American Addiction Centers. 8 Mar. 2019. https://americanaddictioncenters.org/withdrawal-timelines-treatments/xanax
“Xanax Withdrawal.” Drugabuse.com. 8 Mar. 2019. https://drugabuse.com/xanax/withdrawal/
“Xanax Withdrawal and Detox.” Addiction Center. 8 Mar. 2019. https://www.addictioncenter.com/benzodiazepines/xanax/withdrawal-detox/