Handling Xanax Withdrawal

by | Apr 27, 2017 | Blog, Los Angeles Alcohol Rehab, Los Angeles Drug Rehab

How to Handle Xanax Withdrawal

Xanax is easy to get addicted to and can have serious withdrawal affects. Read on to learn how to handle Xanax withdrawal with our easy to follow guide.

Xanax has some of the most severe withdrawal symptoms of any benzodiazepine. A few of the milder symptoms include headache, blurred vision, depression, shaking, sweating, and vomiting. In rare cases, Xanax can also lead to seizures and even death. Symptoms of Xanax withdrawal tend to kick in within 6-12 hours. The worst symptoms can last for up to 14 days after quitting Xanax. However, sufferers of post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) may encounter symptoms up to two years after stopping use. So, how can you handle Xanax withdrawal? There are several steps one can take in order to avoid severe problems. Continue reading to learn about what you can do to handle Xanax withdrawal.

Avoid Going “Cold Turkey”

Many people think that they can quit a drug as fast as they started taking it. This is completely untrue, and attempting to do so comes with many side effects. When you quit Xanax abruptly, your brain thinks that it is being damaged. As a result, it becomes severely overwhelmed. Quitting cold turkey has the potential to lead to a few of the more severe symptoms of Xanax withdrawal. These symptoms can include the following:

  • seizures
  • convulsions
  • heavy mood swings
  • paranoia
  • psychosis
  • mania
  • hallucinations

Symptoms such as seizures can be potentially deadly if the person experiencing them is alone, operating a vehicle, etc. This is one of the primary reasons why attempting to detoxify alone is a poor route to take. But severe withdrawal symptoms are not the end of it. Often, a person who does a “cold turkey detox” on their own will also see a resurgence in their anxiety. This can compound the agony of the user. The fact is that most people should never quit an addiction abruptly. There are situations where it is possible to do so. However, it is generally not a good idea, especially if done without the proper medical supervision.

The Safest Method for Quitting Xanax

We have already established that a “cold turkey” detox spurs aggressive symptoms. Additionally, quitting abruptly puts you at a much higher risk of relapse and potentially dangerous effects. So, what is the best way to quit in order to avoid severe Xanax withdrawal symptoms? The ideal way to quit Xanax is by tapering, which refers to the gradual weaning off of a drug. Ideally, you want to taper in a controlled setting, under professional supervision. For those addicted to Xanax, this is usually done at an addiction treatment center. When tapering, a professional must first figure out what dose is right for you. Expect a physician to decrease your dose by approximately 25 percent roughly every two weeks. The length of the taper is completely dependent on two things: the level of damage caused by the drug and how long a person has used the drug. Medical professionals should determine the length. You will likely need at least two months in order to successfully wean off of Xanax. In some cases, however, it can take much longer than that. When going through withdrawal, hydration is vital. Make sure you keep plenty of fresh water near you. Xanax users attempting to quit should also stop using stimulants, including caffeine. These can exacerbate withdrawal symptoms. Small, high protein meals are ideal during the detoxification process. These help you mitigate nausea and keep your muscles and immune system strong.

Xanax Withdrawal As a Result of Dependence

There are more than 50 million prescriptions for Xanax written by doctors every year. Most Americans are familiar with the drug. With so many Americans using Xanax, it comes as no surprise that many are at risk for addiction. But we must differentiate between addiction and dependence. Addiction refers to the inability to stop taking a substance, often to the point of failing to meet social obligations. It involves a psychological aspect, whereas physical dependence occurs when your body adapts to a drug. This means that someone who is physically dependent is not necessarily addicted. However, physical dependence tends to accompany addiction. First-time users can even become dependent within a couple of days of heavy dosage. Here is the harsh truth: you do not need to be addicted to Xanax to experience withdrawal symptoms. Discontinuing the use of Xanax when your body is dependent on the drug can lead to many of the same symptoms.

Watch Out for Overprescription

A rarely discussed issue is overprescription. What is overprescription? It occurs when doctors increase a patient’s dosage beyond normal levels. This occurs not only because Xanax is inexpensive for many patients, but also because it is very effective. In fact, experts claim that approximately 10-20% of those who use the drug for an extended period of time will experience issues resulting from high doses. Women, in particular, are more at risk of overprescription than men. This is due to the fact that women go through mood-altering events such as childbirth and menopause. If you notice your tolerance building up fast, contact your physician. Let he or she know how you are feeling. This will allow your doctor to analyze the situation and look for alternative treatments if necessary.

Final Thoughts

Xanax withdrawal is a grueling experience. It can be very tough for family and friends of the person suffering as well. However, it is possible to avoid the bulk of the more severe symptoms by staying diligent and responsible. Remember that addicts are not the only ones who can experience withdrawal symptoms. Similar symptoms can occur with those who are only physically dependent on the drug. Never increase your dosage on your own without consulting your prescribing physician. Also, never stop taking the drug abruptly without the advice of a medical professional. For most people, tapering, under the supervision of professionals, is the safest option to quit Xanax. If you or someone you know near Los Angeles is dealing with a Xanax addiction, feel free to contact us to enroll in one of our individualized treatment programs. If you want to read more about addictions and treatment, check out our blog.

Tabytha Dyne

Tabytha Dyne

Tabytha Dyne is a professional in both the mental health and drug and alcohol recovery field. She has worked extensively in both the public and private sectors and has given many presentations on the subject of alcohol and substance abuse. She has worked for the past 10 years providing direct service education for individuals impacted by SUD and behavioral health issues.