The dangers of withdrawing from Xanax are often not known. People that do not have a prescription may get it from a family member or friend because they are going through some sort of stressful situation at home or at work. They realize the sensation of feeling happy or carefree is something they could get used to and, in many cases, this leads to the addiction and abuse of Xanax. What they don’t realize is that trying to quit Xanax without the supervision of a medical professional can be dangerous and have serious side effects if not done properly. Over 70% of teenagers that have a Xanax addiction got the substance from a family member’s medicine cabinet.
What is Xanax?
Xanax, clinically known as alprazolam, is a highly addictive prescription benzodiazepine. Xanax is a controlled substance which means you have to have a prescription from a doctor to obtain the drug. According to the Journal of Addiction Medicine, doctors write a jaw-dropping 45 million prescriptions each year alone in the United States. This makes it easy for people looking to try Xanax for the first time and unknowingly leading to a life of addiction.
Benzodiazepines, often referred to as “benzos”, are a class of psychoactive drugs that work to calm or sedate a person. They are prescribed to treat conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. These also fall into the category of CNS depressants, which reduce brain and organ functioning.
As a benzodiazepine, Xanax is in the same family as Valium, Estazolam, and Restoril. Some common “street” names associated with Xanax include bars, benzos, blue footballs, zanies, zanbars, handlebars, and Upjohn.
How Does Xanax Work?
To understand some of the dangers of withdrawing from Xanax, it is important to know how the drug actually works in a person’s body and mind.
Xanax works by stimulating the production of GABA in the brain. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter which means it slows down or weakens nerve signals being sent to the brain. It is responsible for producing the feeling of calmness and relaxation to the user.
When a person has some type of anxiety disorder, they might not be regulating GABA properly which is why a doctor or psychiatrist may prescribe Xanax. Xanax can help stimulate the production of GABA to help with feelings of anxiety and reduce anxiety symptoms.
Anxiety disorders are one of the main reasons why Xanax is prescribed to patients here in the United States. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADDA), anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the US., affecting 40 million adults each year alone.
Withdrawing from Xanax
Coming off Xanax can be difficult for some even with the help of a doctor. Quitting cold turkey, which means suddenly stopping taking Xanax after prolonged usage, is even more difficult and can be very dangerous due to the nature of Xanax withdrawals. As with most medicines, consulting your doctor before quitting is always the best option. The dangers of Xanax withdrawal can be severe and in many cases, life-threatening. When trying to come off of Xanax, you should always have a plan to wean yourself off and slowly reduce the amount you’re taking.
During the course of a person abusing Xanax, their tolerance heightens significantly. If a person suddenly quits, the brain will exhaust itself trying to compensate for the loss of GABA neurotransmitter activity. This leads to a series of very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that most people never want to experience. Unfortunately, these experiences happen all too often and for some have life-changing effects resulting in coma or death.
Some of the dangers of withdrawing from Xanax include convulsions, seizures, psychosis, paranoia, mood swings, and mania. These can all stem from quitting Xanax without taking the necessary precautions to come off of the medication safely.
When addicted to Xanax, escaping without going through the withdrawal process is highly unlikely and very difficult to do so. The dangers of Xanax withdrawal are similar to those of alcohol and barbiturates, sharing many of the same withdrawal symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms of Xanax withdrawal are as follows:
- Slowed heart rate
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscle Weakness/Pain
- Loss of balance
- Anxiety and/or panic attacks
- Poor concentration
Withdrawal symptoms can start to be noticed as soon as five hours after the last dose of Xanax was taken. For some individuals, it can happen even sooner depending on how much and how long the medication had been taken. If you are ever experiencing symptoms such as the ones listed above, it is critical that you seek medical help as soon as possible. Other significant symptoms of Xanax withdrawal include the following:
Abruptly ceasing the use of Xanax can lead to rebound anxiety. This occurs when the signs of anxiety come back, and are more severe than before. Rebound anxiety is generally felt through physical symptoms of anxiety, but can also accompany heightened fear and concern. Benzodiazepines, like Xanax, attach to gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain and amplify the effect of GABA. GABA is a neurotransmitter that decreases activity in the brain and nervous system. When feeling anxious and taking Xanax, GABA activity is boosted, resulting in calming effects such as muscle relaxation and sleepiness.
Despite this, the brain rapidly adapts to the consequences of benzodiazepines, like Xanax, leading to dependency. When someone abruptly discontinues taking these medications, it can be difficult for the GABA receptors in the brain to perform their task without the aid of Xanax, resulting in escalated anxiety.
For the majority of people, the most intense withdrawal symptoms, such as the flu-like discomforts known as benzo flu, are usually present for 1-5 days. In general, these signs of withdrawal are likely to disappear within a 14-28 day period, although more moderate post-acute withdrawal indications can last for several months. These episodes of acute withdrawal can be periodic and may not always involve a steady decrease from the peak of withdrawal symptoms. These could include headaches, body ache, perspiration, sleeplessness, weariness, feebleness, quivering, queasiness, hurling, muscle ache, and looseness of the bowels among various other flu-like manifestations.
Xanax Withdrawal Fatigue
Fatigue is a common symptom of benzodiazepine withdrawal and it can emerge quickly, even within a few hours or days after someone stops taking the medication. Since benzodiazepines are routinely prescribed to address insomnia, fatigue can come back in much the same way that anxiety can. Insomnia and anxiety are usually most intense between 1 and 4 days after the drug is discontinued, but then these symptoms should slowly begin to dissipate. Generally, acute withdrawal symptoms last for two to four weeks.
Factors That Affect Xanax Withdrawal
Various aspects can influence the seriousness and length of time of Xanax withdrawal, including the following:
Dose and Duration
The amount and length of usage of Xanax can be a factor in the severity of withdrawal symptoms and the duration of withdrawal. Those who have been consuming higher doses for a more extended period are more likely to struggle with more serious withdrawal issues.
A person’s individual traits might possibly make them more vulnerable to the effects of going without, including their age, existing medical conditions, and general physical wellbeing.
Method of Administration
People who have been consuming Xanax orally may find that the process of withdrawal from the drug is a more gradual one compared to those who have been injecting through a vein.
Individuals suffering from concomitant medical and/or psychological issues may have a more intense reaction to the process of detoxing.
It is imperative to be aware that going off of Xanax can be risky and potentially fatal. It is absolutely necessary to get medical assistance and support when ceasing to take this drug.
Dangers of Xanax Withdrawal
Stopping the use of benzodiazepines such as Xanax can be life-threatening. Severe withdrawal effects can result in death either through an intense seizure obstructing breathing for extended time, or due to psychological effects like paranoia, hallucinations, and depression, which could lead to life-endangering or self-harming activities and even suicide. Research indicates that older individuals are more vulnerable to the dangerous outcomes of long-term usage of benzos and withdrawal, and the danger is further increased if they combine benzodiazepines with alcohol or other drugs.
The degree of distress caused by Xanax withdrawal can vary in accordance with the seriousness and duration of an individual’s addiction. Detoxification from Xanax is a challenging experience for the mind and body. Symptoms of withdrawal can start as soon as six hours after the last dose, and become more intense at approximately two days. But in many cases, the signs of withdrawal should dissipate just before the seven day mark.
Treatment for Xanax Addiction
Overcoming addiction to drugs is never an easy task. Fortunately, there is extensive research into addiction and great resources for people who want to take control of their addiction and stay sober.
Recovery for drug addiction including Xanax has two phases. The first stage is the physical stage. This entails a medical detox program which on average lasts about 1-2 weeks depending on the individual. This allows the user to wean off the drug in a safe environment with medical staff by their side. Medications are usually given to the patient to help with the withdrawal process in a safe and effective manner.
This stage is always the more difficult of the two due to the withdrawal symptoms being extremely uncomfortable. Although medication and trained medical staff can help mitigate some of the withdrawal symptoms, it is still not an easy process.
The second stage is more of the mental part of the journey. The dangers of withdrawing from Xanax also include a mental health aspect. This includes finding the right treatment center and recovery program for each individual. Treatment centers such as Knoxville Recovery are great in helping each individual deal with understanding addiction and accessing the underlying reasons the drugs were abused in the first place.
Learning ways to help cope with the disease of addiction and relapse-prevention planning are among the many services these treatment programs have to offer. Counseling and therapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(CBT) play a huge part in helping individuals identify how thought processes and behavioral patterns lead to Xanax abuse and drug addiction. These inpatient treatment programs on average last anywhere from 30 days upwards of a year, depending on the person and the type of treatment plan needed.
Medications Used to Treat Symptoms of Xanax Withdrawal
Various drugs can be employed to manage the adverse effects of ceasing the intake of Xanax. Examples of such medications include:
Although it seems counterintuitive to treat benzo withdrawals with another benzo, this can help alleviate uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Drugs like diazepam (Valium) and lorazepam (Ativan), which are classified as benzodiazepines, can be employed to help control signs of withdrawal like anxiety, sleeplessness, or convulsions.
Treatment with drugs such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) can be beneficial in addressing withdrawal symptoms, including depression and anxiety.
Drugs like propranolol (Inderal) or metoprolol (Lopressor), referred to as beta blockers, can be employed to alleviate physical symptoms of discontinuation such as shaking and an accelerated heartbeat.
Anticonvulsants, including carbamazepine (Tegretol) and valproate (Depakote), are employed to control convulsions that may take place during the detox process.
It is critical to be aware that the utilization of these medications must be monitored by a medical professional, as they might provoke unwanted effects and may not be appropriate for every person. The optimal treatment plan will be contingent on the individual’s unique situation and requirements.
Xanax Detox in Knoxville, Tennessee
Knoxville Recovery Center provides a detox clinic and tailored treatment plans to those suffering from substance abuse. The Center provides therapies from Master’s degree therapists in both individual and collective sessions. This is to help those impacted by addiction to become functioning members of society again and start on the road to overall well-being.
There is no need to suffer from Xanax addiction any longer. Knoxville Recovery Center offers a wide range of programs and services to give the necessary treatment and teach people to have a positive outlook on life. Do not delay any further. Get in touch with our professionals today to begin the recovery process. You are not in this alone.