If you’re someone who’s heard about the drug Xanax but never really sure of what it does or why it’s dangerous, it’s important to learn more about it. Maybe your doctor has thrown around using it as a treatment, or you know someone who’s taking it, learning about how it works and what it’s used for will help you later on. Xanax is a short-acting benzodiazepine drug used to treat anxiety and panic disorders, which can be crippling.
Anxiety disorders are considered the most common mental illnesses in the United States. An estimated 40 million adults throughout the country are affected by this over the age of 18. The numbers equate to a staggering 18.1 percent of the total U.S. population. Despite it being highly treatable with medications like Xanax, only 36.9 percent of people will seek help. Unfortunately, those who do seek help and take medicines like Xanax place themselves at another risk – addiction.
The addiction experts at Yale University believe that benzodiazepines like Xanax are leading to another epidemic, similar to what we’re experiencing with opioids. Since anxiety is crippling, heart-pounding, and causes some people to lay in bed sleepless due to racing thoughts and leaves you feeling paralyzed, it’s understandable why someone reaches for a pill for relief. Unfortunately, despite their therapeutic benefits, benzodiazepines like Xanax come with inherent risks.
Xanax works by binding to receptors in our brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA to induce anxiolytic feelings to ease anxiety or panic. As you continue using Xanax, you’ll need higher doses to achieve the same effects you once felt. Individuals who have been on Xanax for a prolonged period will find it difficult to stop them due to withdrawal symptoms, including rebound anxiety, panic attacks, increased tension, and hand tremors.
Because of its effectiveness and the surging anxiety experienced by our population, it’s a recipe for disaster. Between 1996 and 2013, the number of benzodiazepine prescriptions soared by 67 percent to 135 million prescriptions per year. The quantity prescribed by doctors more than tripled in that same period.
The experts fear that a benzodiazepine crisis is looming. Among teenagers, rates of benzodiazepine addiction have overtaken opioid addiction, which is hard to fathom when you hear about the sheer volume of overdose deaths each year. Benzodiazepines have found their way into pop culture, and lyrics have normalized benzodiazepine use, and mentions of Xanax have dominated Instagram posts.
For those who become dependent or addicted to the drug, it’s vital to seek help. Xanax withdrawal is not only uncomfortable, but it’s dangerous. For that reason, medical detox is necessary to wean off Xanax safely. Below we’ll offer some tips for how to detox safely from Xanax and help you achieve the life of sobriety you desire.
How To Safely Detox From Xanax
Long-term users of Xanax will eventually become physically dependent on the drug. When they try to stop, they’ll experience rebound anxiety, psychosis, and even grand mal seizures. For this reason, people with a Xanax habit are encouraged to work with their doctor to implement a safe tapering plan. Not only will this help your comfort during this process, but you’ll avoid dangerous symptoms like seizures. The proper rate of a Xanax taper and the length of the tapering process are dependent on factors that include how long you’ve used Xanax and how much damage it’s caused.
When an individual abuses prescription drugs like Xanax, their mind and body become dependent on the medicine for balance. Many admit they use the drug to achieve a sense of normalcy, which is not a good sign. Without the medication, they’ll experience extremely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, including high blood pressure, that will not relent without adequate treatment. Xanax withdrawal can even cause fits of rage, paranoia, and depression.
Other potential threats that can occur during Xanax withdrawal include the following:
- Anxious mood
The first step in the process of safely detoxing from Xanax is to admit you have a problem. It may sound simple, but those who ignore something that is going on can’t get better. You must make a conscious effort to improve your health. When your Xanax use becomes so great you have to continue increasing the dosage or you can’t function without it, it’s time to stop.
The general recommendation for Xanax withdrawal is to taper the dosage by five to 10 percent each week. Even better, five to 10 percent every two weeks, according to the British Journal of Medical Practitioners. By doing so, it results in a lowered risk of psychotic withdrawal and seizures.
Doing this alone is challenging because the size of the pills and doses are small. It’s difficult to decrease the dosage of a small pill. Since Xanax is a short-acting drug, it means the concentration in our body will fluctuate more even if you’re tapering slowly.
Another method for Xanax tapering, which is the best option if you forego medical detox, is known as the Ashton Manual. This process is to switch from Xanax to longer-acting benzodiazepine drugs like Valium and taper from that medication instead. It works due to the longer-acting benzo remaining in our system longer. It helps the body maintain high concentrations of the drug over a longer period when the taper happens, causing withdrawal symptoms to be more manageable.
Although there has been some success with these methods, you should always seek professional medical care to avoid anything from happening. Since withdrawal is unpredictable, you’re better off being around medical professionals who can mitigate anything from happening and have the tools necessary to treat unexpected symptoms.
Xanax Withdrawal Timeline
Xanax Withdrawal Timeline
The Xanax withdrawal timeline progresses on a basic schedule, but the specifics will vary from one person to another. For that reason, providing a definitive timeline is impossible. One person can weigh more than another, be older, use Xanax in higher doses or more often, or be taking other drugs in conjunction with Xanax. For this reason, we can only provide a generic timeline.
The initial phase of Xanax withdrawal lasts anywhere from one to four days, which is when Xanax will completely disappear from your system. The first set of symptoms will occur during this time, often starting with insomnia and anxiety, dramatically progressing into other more serious symptoms. The next phase will take about two weeks. During that time, the individual will experience the peak of their symptoms before their bodies slowly adjust to life without Xanax.
Acute withdrawal symptoms occur between five and 28 days after your last dose, which is where you’ll experience the most discomfort. However, you may experience severe symptoms afterward as well, known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). This can persist for several months after cessation. Symptoms of paws include shakiness, muscle pain, mental impairment, digestive problems, insomnia, and sensory symptoms including, tingling in the extremities, ringing in the ears, and depression. Medication can help these symptoms. In rare cases, protracted symptoms will last indefinitely.
Why is Medical Detox Important?
Why is Medical Detox Important?
Your doctor can help you create an exceptional tapering plan for you, but without the guidance and assistance of medical professionals, your chances of relapse are high. Not only that, if you were to experience adverse symptoms like seizures by yourself, it can be fatal. Medical detox is important because you have access to around-the-clock medical care, medication, and people that care about you. Tapering in this environment is your safest option.
Another reason detox is the best option for you is because it holds you accountable for your actions. If you’re away from home and contacts, you won’t be able to give in if you have cravings. If you’re at home tapering and feel a moment of weakness, you’ll likely give in because the withdrawal symptoms are painful and call your dealer. This is bad for a few reasons – one, if you’ve been off Xanax for a few days, your tolerance has dropped considerably. If you take your normal dose, it could lead to a fatal overdose. In that same breath, the Xanax you purchase could be counterfeit and lace with fentanyl, which can also lead to a deadly overdose.
If you’re serious about starting over, you must get the professional help that you need.