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Xanax, pharmaceutically known as alprazolam, is a popular anti-anxiety drug used by millions of Americans each year. However, regular use of Xanax, which is classified as a benzodiazepine, can easily lead to physical dependence.
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In addition to the millions of people that have prescriptions for these medications, Xanax and similar benzodiazepines have become popular recreational drugs for people of all ages. Benzodiazepine dependence can develop within four to six weeks of continuous use.
At least one-third of people who use Xanax will experience withdrawal symptoms when reducing their dosage.
Addiction to Xanax is almost always accompanied by physical and psychological dependence, making it very difficult to stop using.
Withdrawal symptoms and side effects usually accompany Xanax discontinuation. These are often severe and can include:
In addition to these symptoms, benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome is a set of symptoms that appear as those who are physically addicted to benzodiazepines begin reducing their usage. It is considered a ‘syndrome’ because the symptoms occur together and are associated with the same cause.
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Although these symptoms vary from person to person, every person experiences some withdrawal level when tapering off.
Xanax withdrawal syndrome is serious. Symptoms can be mild and manageable, but this is a rare occurrence. Most users require professional treatment to successfully stop using the drug.
Detoxing from Xanax can be a long process. Due to often severe withdrawal symptoms, quitting “cold turkey” is not advised by experts. Gradually reducing dosages is the most effective way to safely reduce withdrawal symptoms while increasing the chances of successfully quitting.
Below is a typical timeline of Xanax withdrawal symptoms:
Within six hours, the effects of Xanax fade, and the effects of withdrawal begin kicking in. Users begin feeling anxiety and irritability that often gets worse as the body is deprived of the drug it has become physically dependent upon.
Note that this only applies to those with Xanax addictions. Addiction can occur within less than three weeks of continued use for both prescription and recreational users.
Withdrawal symptoms are the most intense within the first few days. Rebound anxiety and insomnia are the most common symptoms. Other symptoms such as shaking, muscle pain, and sweating may also occur. After the fourth day, patients usually begin to see symptomatic improvements.
Withdrawal symptoms can last between one and two weeks after taking the last dose. While the worst is over by this point, anxiety and insomnia usually persist to varying degrees.
Any lingering symptoms are usually mild by this point. For some, protracted withdrawal symptoms—which can last up to two years—may begin suddenly, even if the initial symptoms are completely gone.
Experts strongly encourage Xanax users to get professional help when detoxing because managing withdrawal symptoms is dangerous to do alone. Even when properly managed by medical staff, withdrawal symptoms can be severe.
Medically-assisted detox is the safest method of tapering off Xanax. Doctors are nearby in case withdrawal symptoms become life-threatening.
There are several treatment options for Xanax addictions of varying severeness. They all require different detox levels, and several options require medications or additional treatments.
Detox is the first step in any treatment. Detox programs can help Xanax users free themselves from their physical dependence on the drug while simultaneously addressing the psychological aspects of addiction.
These programs help provide supervision from experts and prescribe often needed medications, as well as offering a sense of comfort for those going through struggles of dealing with withdrawal symptoms.
Typically, those who complete medical detox are able to continue with further treatment.
Under medical supervision, symptoms of withdrawal are often managed through:
Additional treatment options for Xanax addiction may include:
Xanax addiction is serious, and it can be dangerous to try and detox without assistance. Professional help is strongly encouraged to safely ease off of Xanax or other benzodiazepines. If you are concerned for yourself or someone you know, find treatment today.
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