Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine medication that is used to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder. Like other benzodiazepines, Xanax is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that produces a calming or sedative effect. While this is effective in reducing anxiety, it is also the reason why some people abuse and get addicted to the medication.

In 2021, about 3.9 million people reported abusing benzodiazepines, with alprazolam being one of the most frequently abused. Regular Xanax abuse can lead to the development of physical dependence, meaning abrupt cessation of use will result in withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal from Xanax can cause severe, potentially dangerous symptoms, so it’s always best to detox under close medical supervision.

At First Step Behavioral Health, our Xanax detox program in Florida can help you detox safely and comfortably while avoiding medical complications. In this article, you will learn how long Xanax withdrawal lasts, what to expect during withdrawal, and how our detox center can help. If you or a loved one need assistance, please reach out to us today!

Understanding Xanax Withdrawal

Benzodiazepines like Xanax work primarily by enhancing the activity of a neurotransmitter in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, meaning it reduces the activity of neurons in the brain, resulting in a calming or sedating effect.

Long-term Xanax abuse can lead to something called neuroadaptation, where the brain adjusts to the drug’s presence by reducing its own production of GABA or altering the sensitivity of GABA receptors. This can result in tolerance, meaning higher doses are needed to achieve the same effect.

With continued use, the brain becomes dependent on Xanax to maintain normal functioning. Suddenly stopping or reducing the dosage of Xanax can lead to withdrawal symptoms as the brain struggles to readjust its neurotransmitter levels back to normal.

Common symptoms of Xanax withdrawal are:

  • Anxiety (sometimes called “rebound anxiety”)
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Panic attacks
  • Hyperventilation
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle pain
  • Weight loss
  • Restlessness
  • High blood pressure
  • Racing pulse
  • Sweating
  • Memory problems
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis

In heavy, long-term users, stopping Xanax cold turkey can result in potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. As a result, it’s essential to detox from Xanax while under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Medical professionals will generally taper the person’s dose to wean them off the medication gradually.

How Long Does Xanax Withdrawal Last?

The duration and severity of the Xanax withdrawal timeline can vary based on various factors, including:

  • How long the person has been using Xanax
  • What dose they have been using
  • Whether or not alcohol and/or other drugs are involved
  • Age, weight, body composition, and metabolism
  • Previous encounters with benzodiazepine withdrawal

People who have been using Xanax heavily for long periods are more prone to longer-lasting and more dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, there is research suggesting that people with liver disease as well as individuals of Asian descent may eliminate Xanax from their system at a slower rate, leading to longer withdrawal timelines.

For most people, withdrawal symptoms appear within 8-12 hours after the last dose, peak after about 48 hours, and begin improving by day five. In total, symptoms may last anywhere between 1-4 weeks.

Xanax Withdrawal Timeline

People who don’t taper off Xanax slowly may experience a week or more of uncomfortable physical and psychological symptoms.

Early Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms usually appear 8-12 hours after the last dose. Early symptoms may include anxiety, irritability, cravings, and sweating.

Acute Withdrawal

Acute withdrawal or peak withdrawal tends to happen around 48-72 hours after the last dose. People may experience confusion, memory problems, high blood pressure, hallucinations, muscle aches, nausea, and tremors.

Late Withdrawal

By day four or five, symptoms will start to subside. Withdrawal will become more tolerable, but cravings and anxiety may be especially severe.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

Post-acute withdrawal, also known as protracted withdrawal, occurs in about 10-25% of people who report long-term benzodiazepine use. Symptoms may come in waves and involve mild psychological symptoms like anxiety, depression, or cravings. This can last for up to a year but can be managed with addiction treatment and lifestyle modifications.

What Does Xanax Rebound Mean?

One side effect of Xanax withdrawal is “rebound” symptoms. A rebound effect refers to symptoms that were being treated using the medication that reappear after quitting the medication. For example, someone who got addicted to Xanax after taking it for anxiety will likely experience anxiety when they stop taking the medication.

Rebound symptoms can be especially severe in people who are experiencing withdrawal. While detoxing, individuals often feel jittery, jumpy, nervous, and on edge. They may get easily annoyed or agitated. Insomnia as well as the unpleasant physical symptoms that occur during withdrawal can further exacerbate rebound anxiety.

Detox Treatment for Xanax Dependence

Medical detox is the first step in treating Xanax addiction and is often followed by comprehensive rehab programs to address the underlying issues contributing to the addiction. Detox usually involves gradually reducing the dosage. A healthcare provider will create a personalized tapering schedule based on factors like how long and how much Xanax the person has been taking.

Sometimes, doctors might prescribe other medications to help manage withdrawal symptoms during detox. These could include longer-acting benzodiazepines like Valium or Klonopin, which are then tapered off more slowly.

Patients are closely watched by healthcare professionals during detox to manage any withdrawal symptoms that come up. Emotional support and counseling may also be provided to help patients through the psychological side of withdrawal.

Medical detox also gives individuals the opportunity to work with a counselor and make a plan for ongoing care. This might include therapy, support groups, or residential rehabilitation programs to address the reasons behind the addiction and to prevent relapse.

Start Your Recovery at our Xanax Detox Center in Florida

At First Step Behavioral Health, the goal of our supervised detox program is to help individuals with substance use disorders detox safely and comfortably. Guided by our medical experts, we customize benzodiazepine addiction treatments following comprehensive patient assessments. This tailored approach, including consideration of drug history and psychiatric evaluations, ensures the most effective detox plan.

To learn more about our detox programs or to get started with a confidential, risk-free assessment, please contact us today!

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