What to Expect During Xanax Detox

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What to Expect During Xanax Detox

Detoxing from addictive substances can be uncomfortable. Click here to find out what you should expect during Xanax detox.

Xanax is one of the most addictive benzodiazepines, a class of drugs prescribed for the treatment of anxiety, muscle spasms, and seizures. Many people also abuse Xanax and other benzodiazepines without a valid prescription.

The risk of getting addicted to Xanax is high in people who abuse this medication illegally. Unfortunately, you can still become addicted if you get your Xanax from a doctor. Luckily, detox can help.

What are the signs of Xanax addiction, and what can you expect from Xanax detox? We will explore the answers to these questions and more in this guide, so read on for the essential facts to know.

Signs You Need to Detox from Xanax

Experts recommend undergoing detox when someone shows signs of addiction. Many people believe that because Xanax is legal with a valid prescription, it does not present the risk of getting addicted.

Obtaining and following your prescription can lower the risk of addiction. Unfortunately, you can still become addicted to Xanax even if you follow your doctor’s guidelines.

Criteria for Addiction

Addiction experts use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM) to figure out if someone has a substance abuse issue. The DSM sets out the following criteria for diagnosing addiction:

  1. Uncontrolled use (i.e., using a substance for longer or in larger doses than you intended)
  2. Failed attempts to quit or wanting to quit but not being able to
  3. Spending significant time using, obtaining, or getting over the effects of a substance
  4. Cravings (i.e., feeling an intense urge to use)
  5. The inability to keep up with work, school, or home responsibilities
  6. Social impairment (i.e., experiencing negative interpersonal problems and continuing to use anyway)
  7. No longer participating in activities you used to enjoy
  8. Using substances in physically unsafe environments
  9. Continued substance use despite worsening physical or mental health issues
  10. Tolerance (i.e., needing more and more of a substance to achieve the same effects)
  11. Withdrawal (i.e., experiencing adverse symptoms after quitting or cutting back substance use)

Meeting just two of these criteria is enough for a mild substance use disorder diagnosis. If you meet six or more of these criteria, it’s a sign that you have a severe addiction.

Xanax Addiction Signs

The above criteria for addiction offer more general guidelines for understanding when someone needs to detox from a substance. There are also behavioral signs unique to Xanax addiction.

For example, Xanax addiction symptoms may include:

  • Slurring speech
  • Blurry vision
  • Clumsiness or lack of coordination
  • Drowsiness
  • Driving or engaging in other risky activities, especially after abusing Xanax
  • Taking higher doses of Xanax than prescribed
  • Seeking illicit Xanax when your prescription runs out
  • Keeping secret stashes of Xanax
  • Experiencing significant interpersonal relationship issues
  • Getting in trouble with the law
  • Struggling with finances
  • Suddenly acting secretive or spending a lot of time alone
  • Being in denial about one’s Xanax abuse

Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after quitting or cutting back on Xanax use is also a sign that you may be dependent on your prescription. The good news is that substance use disorder treatment can help.

Xanax Detox Withdrawal Symptoms

Xanax withdrawals can happen to anyone, even if you’ve only taken Xanax for a short time. The risk and severity of withdrawal symptoms increase the longer you’ve used Xanax.

40% of people who have taken Xanax for six months or longer experience severe withdrawals. But even taking benzodiazepines for only a few weeks can lead to withdrawals, especially if you quit cold turkey.

Never stop taking Xanax without a doctor’s recommendation. Suddenly quitting Xanax (i.e., going ‘cold turkey’) can lead to potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Your doctor will guide you through a tapering regimen to reduce this risk.

How intense your withdrawal symptoms are depends on various factors, including how long you’ve been using Xanax and the dose. However, they may include but are not limited to the following physical and mental changes.

Physical Symptoms

Benzodiazepines like Xanax impact the body in many ways. One of them is to decrease activity in the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which helps to regulate ‘fight or flight’ and ‘rest and digest’ states.

When you stop taking Xanax, you may experience the physical effects of an overstimulated ANS. This overstimulation is responsible for many of the withdrawal symptoms of Xanax, including:

  • Inability to sleep (i.e., insomnia)
  • Hyperventilating
  • A racing heart
  • Excessive sweating (i.e., hyperhidrosis)
  • Shakiness (i.e., tremors)
  • Dizziness upon standing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • GI complaints

Insomnia can be particularly dangerous to your social life and work responsibilities. Not getting enough high-quality sleep may lead to irritability, which can cause you to lash out at your boss, coworkers, family, or friends.

Psychological Symptoms

Benzodiazepines like Xanax also affect the central nervous system (CNS). It helps to regulate a brain chemical called GABA, which is normally responsible for reducing brain activity.

Xanax causes a rush of GABA in the brain, leading to a calming effect. When you quit Xanax and remove this calming effect, you may experience the following psychological withdrawal symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Restlessness
  • Feeling unreal (i.e., depersonalization-derealization)
  • Hallucinations
  • Panic attacks

Depression can also be symptomatic of Xanax withdrawal. This symptom may occur because substances of abuse like Xanax increase levels of ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain.

When you quit using Xanax, your brain has to start producing those chemicals on its own again. And that process can take time.

Potentially Life-Threatening Symptoms

If you quit Xanax without following a doctor’s tapering guidelines, you may experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. They include delirium and tonic-clonic seizures.

Delirium is a psychological condition where someone experiences extreme changes in their thought and behavior patterns. The person may be extremely agitated, disoriented, and even aggressive.

When left untreated, delirium can increase your risk of death. That’s because this altered state of consciousness can lead to brain damage.

Formerly known as grand mal seizures, tonic-clonic seizures feature loss of consciousness (the tonic phase) followed by violent muscle spasms (the clinic phase).

In some cases, a tonic-clonic seizure may last longer than five minutes. At this point, permanent brain damage or even death may result.

Rebound Symptoms

Rebound symptoms happen when someone stops taking Xanax, and the condition they started using the medication for in the first place returns. For example, if you got on Xanax to treat your anxiety symptoms, you may experience anxiety symptoms during withdrawal.

Other symptoms doctors may prescribe Xanax for are muscle spasms and seizures, as well as anxiety caused by depression. Stopping prescription Xanax used for these purposes may cause symptoms of these conditions to return.

Rebound symptoms are also a cause of concern for your interpersonal relationships. Xanax rebound anxiety may have you feeling nervous, jumpy, and short-tempered until you make it through the stages of Xanax withdrawals.

The Stages of Xanax Withdrawals

Xanax withdrawals occur in three stages, which may last a week or longer. They may appear as soon as 8 to 12 hours after your last dose, but the exact timeline depends on your age, weight, metabolism, and other factors.

Below, we will explain what to expect from the early, acute, and post-acute stages of withdrawing from Xanax.

Early Xanax Withdrawals

Xanax withdrawals will begin within the first 24 hours after your last dose. For most people, these early symptoms peak on day two of detox and begin to subside by day five.

The early withdrawal phase typically features rebound symptoms, such as the following:

  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Panic attacks

The risk of tonic-clonic seizures is at its highest during the early withdrawal stage. However, it is also possible for this potentially life-threatening symptom to occur in the later stages of Xanax withdrawals.

Acute Xanax Withdrawals

The acute withdrawal phase will begin once your early withdrawal symptoms begin to subside on day five. These symptoms will peak on the fifth or sixth day of detox and may last for up to one month.

Acute Xanax withdrawal symptoms include the rebound symptoms we listed above, as well as the following:

  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Memory issues
  • Aggression
  • High blood pressure
  • Aches and pains
  • Nausea
  • Tremors

Most people will start to feel better after one week of detox. However, many symptoms will persist for up to a month. And some people will go on to experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome.

Post-Acute Xanax Withdrawal Syndrome

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is prevalent in about 10% to 25% of people who use benzodiazepines like Xanax. Also known as protracted withdrawals, these symptoms may last up to a year.

Protracted withdrawals are more common in long-term Xanax users. These symptoms may fluctuate in intensity over the year following detox and may include rebound symptoms (i.e., anxiety and depression), as well as:

  • Cravings
  • Insomnia
  • Suicidal ideation

Unfortunately, some Xanax withdrawal symptoms may persist for six months or longer. For example, researchers have found that memory and other cognitive issues may become permanent after long-term benzodiazepine use.

Why Do Xanax Withdrawals Happen?

Xanax withdrawals happen because of the effect this drug has on the brain and body. You can think of its effects as ‘pushing down’ on the central and autonomic nervous systems.

As Xanax pushes these systems down, the brain and body attempt to maintain homeostasis. You can think of their attempt to maintain homeostasis as ‘pushing up’ against Xanax’s effects.

When you suddenly take Xanax away, there’s nothing pushing down on the central and autonomic nervous systems. It takes the brain and body time to create a new level of homeostasis, during which withdrawals take place.

How to Detox from Xanax

Experts do not recommend detoxing from Xanax without a medical professional’s supervision. People with mild Xanax use disorders may be able to detox at home, but they should still seek support from an addiction specialist.

It is critical to seek help from a rehab center near you if you have a severe Xanax addiction. Some withdrawal symptoms may be life-threatening, and others so uncomfortable that you might relapse before completing detox.

Here’s what to expect when you seek help from an addiction treatment center near you.

Find a Detox Center Near You

People with moderate to severe Xanax addictions typically require medically supervised detox. A healthcare professional will be available 24/7 to ensure you are as safe and comfortable as possible.

Detox begins with a tapering schedule to gradually lower your Xanax dose. Tapering not only keeps you safe from potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms but may also reduce the severity of your symptoms.

If you want to reduce the risk of severe withdrawals even further, consider enrolling in a program offering medically assisted detox. Medically assisted detox involves taking small doses of a less addictive benzodiazepine (i.e., diazepam) to ease symptoms.

Lifestyle changes like meditation, exercise, and a healthy diet can also help ease Xanax withdrawal symptoms during detox.

Many people do not realize that you don’t have to attend a residential inpatient program to get these services. Once you complete detox, you can find and enroll in a treatment program that suits your unique symptoms and lifestyle.

Undergo Treatment for Xanax Use Disorder

Getting clean from Xanax is only the first step. To continue your journey toward a Xanax-free life, you must seek substance abuse treatment.

Substance abuse treatment programs provide individual, group, and family counseling. You can also undergo dual diagnosis treatment if you suffer from a co-occurring anxiety disorder.

You may think that a residential rehab is your only option. But if you need a more flexible and affordable solution, an intensive outpatient program (IOP) may be right for you.

IOPs allow you to live at home, work or go to school, and uphold family obligations, all while receiving the treatment you need to overcome addiction.

Xanax Rehab Programs in Montville, NJ

If you or a loved one shows signs of Xanax addiction, it may be time to seek help. The first step is to undergo detox withdrawal symptoms before enrolling in a treatment program that can help you stay clean for life. 

Are you searching for a Xanax detox and addiction recovery program in New Jersey? New Life Recovery has offered personalized, comprehensive substance use disorder services in upper Morris County for over 30 years.

Our new Montville, New Jersey location is open and ready to accept Medicaid and most private insurances. Contact us to verify your insurance and start getting sober today!