Alprazolam, more commonly known by its brand name Xanax, is one of the most widely prescribed medications in the United States.
It is a member of the benzodiazepine family of drugs and functions primarily as an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) and sedative (sleep-inducing).
On its own and with prescribed use, Xanax can have many side effects. The effects of Xanax use may increase and/or worsen with misuse of the prescription drug.
One adverse effect of Xanax misuse is withdrawal, which can be life-threatening when left untreated.
Common Physical Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms
Since alprazolam can be addictive to some people, Xanax withdrawal symptoms from it can be just as difficult as overcoming any other drug addiction.
Symptoms such as tremors, dizziness, and diarrhea are likely to appear within 48 hours of last taking Xanax.
Since Xanax is a benzodiazepine, it works by slowing brain activity and increasing muscle relaxation. When you stop taking it, your muscles may begin to tense up or contract involuntarily.
That can cause headaches, back pain, and stiff joints. Tremors, fasciculation (muscle twitching), hyperreflexia (overactive reflexes), and increased muscular tension are all symptoms of withdrawal.
These symptoms occur due to benzodiazepine myorelaxant rebound symptoms.
Use of Xanax can cause weight loss, particularly when people have used or misused Xanax for a long time and stop taking the drug.
This is because Xanax can suppress your appetite and cause you to feel full, making it difficult to eat enough food.
The problem may continue even after you stop using the drug. Xanax withdrawal can produce bloating, distension and discomfort in the stomach area referred to as “benzo belly.”
This uncomfortable symptom may cause a person not to eat adequately, thereby losing weight in the long run.
Seizures can occur as early as a few days after your last dose of Xanax and can last for several weeks.
The Xanax withdrawal seizures are not harmful, but can be frightening to experience during the withdrawal process. Benzodiazepine withdrawal seizures have been reported with both long and short half-lives.
And people who have been taking these drugs for a long time and at high doses are more likely to experience severe withdrawal seizures.
Common Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms
The most common psychological symptoms of Xanax withdrawal include but are not limited to:
Many people who have been taking Xanax for an extended period of time have developed a tolerance to it, meaning that they require more and more of it to fall asleep or experience other intended effects.
As a result, many people experience rebound anxiety when they suddenly stop taking their medication. Anxiety symptoms can cause difficulty falling and staying asleep.
The body may also become accustomed to the drug, thereby causing Xanax-induced insomnia if a person does not use the drug.
Because Xanax is often prescribed to treat anxiety disorders, it is a common drug of abuse among people who battle panic attacks.
They rely on Xanax to function normally, so when they suddenly stop taking their medication they may experience intense panic attacks.
These panic disorders can be dangerous and debilitating.
Stopping Xanax can lead to increased anxiety or restlessness in many people — known as the rebound effect. Anxiety often occurs as a result of panic attacks.
The development of anxiety is two-fold, first causing feelings of panic, and second, leading to feelings of isolation and other severe withdrawal symptoms.
A person who develops anxiety after quitting Xanax may not realize that their symptoms are a direct result of sudden discontinuation.
They may begin to worry about other aspects of their life because they cannot stop thinking about their mental state when not using the medication.
The rebound effects of benzo withdrawal, such as anxiety or insomnia, typically last for two to four days after a person stops taking them.
Benzos function by boosting the actions of GABA, a neurotransmitter. This is why taking Xanax increases the likelihood of severe withdrawal psychosis.
The drug has a shorter half-life compared to other benzos, such as diazepam, creating more acute withdrawal symptoms and making it more difficult for the brain to adapt.
However, some neuroscientists believe that long-term benzodiazepine abuse results in acclimation to these drugs and that depressed neurons begin firing fast once use is discontinued.
The brains of people who use Xanax are so used to their daily dose, and people who abuse it are used to more frequent doses — so their brains do not react normally when these doses are missed.
This can lead to psychosis-like symptoms, such as mood swings and outbursts, particularly in people who are being treated with Xanax for this condition.
Most people who have been taking Xanax for an extended period of time will experience a benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome that includes cravings.
Because Xanax is highly addictive, many people develop benzodiazepine dependence and require more and more of it to stay sober.
As a result, they may experience protracted withdrawal symptoms, making their bodies crave benzos even after they have stopped using them.
How Long Will Xanax Withdrawal Syndrome Last?
Benzodiazepines like Xanax are notoriously tough to quit. Xanax withdrawal symptoms may be mild or severe, lasting anywhere from a few days to weeks to even several months or years.
The medical detox and withdrawal from Xanax timeline depend on how long a person has been taking the drug and the amount they consume.
The time it takes to totally quit using Xanax will be longer if the tapering approach is utilized.
Treatment Options For Xanax Withdrawal
Treatment for Xanax abuse requires first treating the conditions Xanax was meant to treat. Other, low-level neuro-depressants, such as gabapentin, may be used in place of Xanax.
However, addiction recovery from Xanax might be difficult if you try to do it on your own.
Cognitive therapy in inpatient and outpatient treatment programs in healthcare or addiction treatment centers may help treat acute symptoms and stop substance abuse.
Xanax detox programs can work to address the more dangerous symptoms of Xanax withdrawal and stabilize you to begin treatment.
Tapering off Xanax cold turkey, or without medical help, is not recommended, since benzodiazepine detox can be a serious condition.
Fortunately, many recovery programs offer adequate support and effective rehab programs to help you quit use of Xanax and manage withdrawal symptoms.
Find Substance Use Disorder Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center
If you or your loved one is struggling with substance use disorder, it’s important to get help from an addiction treatment facility, such as Bedrock Recovery Center, as soon as possible.
Our addiction treatment center offers a wide range of services to meet unique needs.
Contact us today for more information about our programs and how we can help you overcome physical dependence on drugs.
Bedrock Recovery Editorial Team
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This page does not provide medical advice.