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Updated on September 27, 2022

Xanax Withdrawal & Detox

Xanax (Alprazolam) Withdrawal

Xanax, or “alprazolam,” is a popular anti-anxiety drug. However, over time, these drugs have become popular recreational drugs. 

After 4 to 6 weeks of regular use, you can develop a dependence on Xanax. At least one-third of people who use Xanax will experience withdrawal symptoms.

The withdrawal timeline may be affected by various factors, and intensity of withdrawal can vary based on the body’s dependence:

  • Dose
  • Method of ingestion
  • Combination with other drugs or alcohol
  • Age at first use
  • Genetics
  • Length of time using or abusing Xanax
  • Stress levels
  • History of addiction
  • Mental health issues
  • Underlying medical complications
  • Environmental factors

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Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms

Quitting a Xanax addiction can be difficult because it’s almost always accompanied by dependence.

While withdrawal symptoms can be mild and manageable, it’s rare. Most users require professional treatment to detox properly.

Withdrawal symptoms and side effects usually accompany Xanax discontinuation.

These are often severe and can include:

  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Muscle pain
  • Tremors
  • Diarrhea
  • Numb fingers
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety disorder 
  • Mental health issues
  • Panic attacks or panic disorder
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures
  • Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome

Xanax Withdrawal Timeline 

Xanax withdrawal can begin within 24 hours after the last dose. Symptoms can last from a few days to weeks.

When used for more than 6 months, 40% of people may experience moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms.7

Below is a typical timeline of Xanax withdrawal symptoms:

8 – 12 hours after the last dose

The effects of Xanax fade after 6 hours. Withdrawal effects begin kicking in shortly after. During this time, users begin feeling anxiety and irritability. These feelings often get worse. 

1 – 4 days after the last dose

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.

7 – 14 days after the last dose

Withdrawal symptoms can last 1 to 2 weeks after taking the last dose. While the worst is over by this point, anxiety and insomnia usually persist to varying degrees.

15+ days after the last dose

Any lingering symptoms are usually mild by this point. For some, protracted withdrawal symptoms may begin suddenly. Despite the initial symptoms completely going away.

Protracted withdrawal can last up to 2 years.

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Coping and Relief from Xanax Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms can be challenging but subside with time. During this time, it’s important to have access to counseling and support.

The best way to avoid Xanax withdrawal symptoms is by tapering the dose. Tapering involves taking smaller amounts of the drug over several weeks. 

Do not attempt tapering without your prescribing doctor's help. 

If you experience breakthrough withdrawal symptoms, talk to your doctor. They can stop or prolong your tapering period if needed. 

Here are some ways to reduce symptoms of breakthrough withdrawal:

  • Herbal sleep aids, such as valerian root and chamomile
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness practice
  • Exercise
  • Melatonin

Dangers and Warnings

There are some risks and warnings to consider regarding Xanax withdrawal. Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be complex. Sometimes it can be life-threatening.

Experts strongly encourage Xanax users to get professional help when detoxing. Managing withdrawal symptoms alone is dangerous. 

Even when properly managed by medical staff, withdrawal symptoms can be severe.  You should seriously consider working closely with a doctor if you have the following conditions: 

  • Panic disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • PTSD
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • History of withdrawal syndromes
  • Underlying health issues
  • Cognitive decline due to age

Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about the risks involved in withdrawal. You may be suitable for inpatient detox rather than outpatient. 

Under inpatient treatment, you’ll live in a facility and receive round-the-clock care. While more expensive, it is covered by several insurance plans.

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Xanax Addiction Treatment Options

There are several treatment options for Xanax addictions. Each treatment depends on different levels of severity. 

All treatment options require different detox levels. Several options require medications or additional treatments. 

Here are a few available Xanax treatment options: 

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Resources

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  1. Arroyo-Novoa, Carmen Mabel et al. “Opioid and Benzodiazepine Iatrogenic Withdrawal Syndrome in Patients in the Intensive Care Unit.” AACN advanced critical care, 2019. 
  2. Olfson M, King M, Schoenbaum M. “Benzodiazepine use in the United States.” JAMA Psychiatry, 2015. 
  3. Platt LM, Whitburn AI, Platt-Koch AG, Koch RL. “Nonpharmacological Alternatives to Benzodiazepine Drugs for the Treatment of Anxiety in Outpatient Populations: A Literature Review.” J Psychosoc Nurs Ment Health Serv., 2016.
  4. Reeves RR, Kamal A. “Complicated Withdrawal Phenomena During Benzodiazepine Cessation in Older Adults.” J Am Osteopath Assoc., 2019.
  5. Ait-Daoud, Nassima et al. “A Review of Alprazolam Use, Misuse, and Withdrawal.” Journal of addiction medicine, 2018. 
  6. Lader, Malcolm. “Benzodiazepine harm: how can it be reduced?.” British journal of clinical pharmacology, 2014.
  7. Tan, K. R., Rudolph, U., & Lüscher, C. “Hooked on benzodiazepines: GABAA receptor subtypes and addiction.” Trends in neurosciences, 2011.

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