xanax withdrawal symptoms

Important Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms All Recovering Addicts Should Know

When a loved one recovers from an addiction to Xanax, they’ll experience symptoms of withdrawal.

You might hear of Xanax addiction in the news. But without seeing the effects of the addiction and withdrawal firsthand, it’s hard to understand just how dangerous it is for addicts.

Xanax is a highly addictive medication. And unfortunately, addiction to Xanax is common for prescription drug abusers.

As a person starts to experience the effects of Xanax leaving their system, withdrawal symptoms will become obvious. Here are the Xanax withdrawal symptoms to know and how you can get (or give) help for recovery.

What Is Xanax?

You’ve probably seen commercials for Xanax. It’s a prescription medication used to treat panic disorders and anxiety.

While many people find Xanax helpful when used under the care of a doctor, others find it easily addictive. For serious prescription drug abusers, Xanax is easy to get without a prescription.

If you are prone to alcoholism or other drug abuse, avoid using Xanax.

If your doctor prescribes Xanax, use it exactly as directed. Never increase your dosage of Xanax without approval from your doctor.

And you should never take Xanax for longer than a month. Prolonged use leads to addiction of this medication.

Long-term use of the drug also weakens how well it works. This is often the reason people increase the dosage on their own. They feel it stops working as well as lower dosages, so they increase.

Before they know it, they are taking more than a recommended amount. And they can’t function without it.

How Does Xanax Work?

Xanax is a fast-acting drug. You’ll feel the calming effects of it quickly.

This is one reason why it’s a popular prescription drug for abusers. The fast-acting nature of the drug is also why it’s one of the most popular medications prescribed by doctors.

Xanax affects cognitive functions. When suffering from anxiety and depression, the brain struggles with memory, attention, and thinking.

Using Xanax to calm the brain helps patients focus and respond better to the stress that comes with anxiety.

People who abuse Xanax enjoy the effects that it has on the brain. While Xanax calms the brain’s stress, it also activates the pleasure centers.

In basic terms, Xanax subdues feelings of panic while increasing the brain’s sense of happiness and calmness.

The problem for Xanax abusers is they can no longer feel calm and happy without the use of the drug.

Symptoms of Xanax Abuse

Xanax is a Benzodiazepine (also known as “benzos”). It works to increase the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in the brain.

The effects of Xanax increase the brain’s ability to reduce reactions to stressors. When used properly, a patient is calm and able to process anxiety in a healthy way.

But when abusing Xanax, a person will show exaggerated signs of feeling relaxed. These symptoms include:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Lack of motor coordination
  • Blurred vision
  • Increasingly risky behavior

As a person falls deeper into Xanax addiction, watch for these behaviors:

  • Taking more pills than prescribed at one time
  • An inability to reduce a prescribed dosage without severe effects
  • Asking friends or family for their Xanax pills
  • Visiting more than one doctor to get extra Xanax pills
  • Buying Xanax on the street

If you take Xanax and experience these symptoms or behaviors, it’s time to get help. Or if you know someone with these symptoms, they need your help.

It’s important to treat Xanax addiction at the first signs of these symptoms. As abuse continues, the most serious effects of the drug include suicide or overdose.

In some cases, Xanax abuse leads to death due to the drug’s suppression of breathing.

Black Market Xanax Is Dangerous

Drug dealers know the popularity of Xanax as an abuser’s drug of choice. Without a prescription, Xanax is easily available on the black market.

It’s known by street names. If you hear a friend looking for Heavenly Blues, Tranx, Z Bars, or Sleepers, they’re looking for a supply of Xanax on the street.

Fake Xanax is more dangerous than abusing the prescribed drug. Black market Xanax is often laced with fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a pain medication (or opioid) that is stronger than morphine. Combining opioids and benzodiazepines (like Xanax) is extremely dangerous.

Both types of drugs act as a sedative. These drugs lower heart rate and suppress breathing.

Today, opioid overdoses are an epidemic. More than 115 people die in the U.S every day after overdosing on opioids. Combining an opioid with a drug like Xanax increases the potential for overdose.

But the black market isn’t entirely to blame for the combination of Xanax and opioids. Doctors often prescribe the two types of medication together when treating pain and anxiety disorders.

The result is an overdose death rate ten times higher than among those only receiving prescribed opioids.

Stopping Xanax Abuse

The first step to stopping Xanax abuse is to recognize the problem. Talk to a friend or consult with your doctor if you realize you’ve been abusing Xanax.

If a friend is over-medicating with Xanax, talk with them. They need to stop using the drug. But monitor anyone who is reducing or stopping the use of Xanax.

As a person begins to step away from Xanax, they’ll experience symptoms of withdrawal. Xanax stays in your system between two to four days. Within those days, the withdrawal will begin.

Depending on the extent of the abuse, withdrawal symptoms can be light or severe.

In either case, withdrawal should take place under supervision.

Detoxing From Xanax

Your recovery from Xanax addiction begins by detoxing from the drug. Once the drug leaves your system, healing begins.

In a best-case scenario, detoxing from Xanax abuse happens gradually under close supervision. The dosage is gradually reduced to minimize the severity of symptoms.

Going cold-turkey off of Xanax can be dangerous. A sudden decrease of high dosages of medication can lead to seizures and other severe reactions.

When suddenly absent of a calming drug, your brain goes into a panic. This can lead to shock.

Self-detoxification is a dangerous idea. Even if you realize you need help, never attempt to detox alone.

Consider in-patient detox treatment.

Treatment centers are best equipped to handle prescription drug withdrawal. At a qualified facility, detoxification takes place under the care of doctors and psychologists in a safe environment.

Symptoms of Xanax Withdrawal

There’s no easy way to say it: Xanax withdrawal is typically unpleasant.

When you miss your next regular dose of the medication, your body begins to react.

Xanax has a short lifespan in your system. Withdrawal systems can begin soon after you would normally take more of the drug.

Early Stages

Some people experience withdrawal symptoms as soon as six hours after their last dose. These symptoms can be minor changes in behavior or in how you feel.

You might feel general symptoms including:

  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety

As symptoms progress, you’ll begin to experience more commonly seen symptoms of withdrawal. These symptoms include some or all of the following:

  • Sore and stiff muscles
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Twitches and muscle spasms
  • Tremors or shaking (particularly the hands)
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Teeth pain

If you are slowly reducing the amount of Xanax in your system, these symptoms are more easily managed. Find a safe and quiet place to rest. Have a friend or loved one close by.

Drink plenty of fluids. But avoid any additional medications to counteract the symptoms.

Don’t replace Xanax with other medications or alcohol. It’s important not to replace one addiction with another.

Severe Symptoms

If your withdrawal symptoms for Xanax are more severe than you can handle at home, find a treatment center right away. If you choose to go cold-turkey, you’re more likely to experience severe symptoms.

A doctor should supervise severe withdrawal symptoms or a sudden detox.

In the worst cases of withdrawal, you’ll also experience the symptoms above and more extreme symptoms. These can include:

  • Weight loss or gain
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • A racing heart or heart palpitations

Women in withdrawal might also experience breast tenderness, heavy menstrual bleeding, and menstrual cramping.

Acute Symptoms

Those in the severest form of Xanax withdrawal might also be detoxing from a combination drug. If they used black market Xanax, they could also suffer from withdrawal from an opioid.

Some of the most acute prescription drug withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Dysphoria (trouble feeling pleasure)
  • Depersonalization (or a detachment from self)
  • Hostility or aggression
  • Hallucinations and perceptual changes
  • Extreme sensory sensitivity (to light, touch, or sound)
  • Paranoia
  • Short-term memory loss

It’s critical for a doctor or detox team to supervise a person experiencing hallucinations, paranoia, or depersonalization. A person experiencing any of these symptoms can be a danger to themselves or others.

With depersonalization, you’ll feel disconnected from yourself. You’ll feel like an outside observer–like you’re watching your thoughts or body.

You might also feel like you have no control over what you say or how you move. It’s similar to feeling like you’re a robot under someone else’s control. Feeling like you’re not in control of your speech or movement.

Depersonalization also comes with physical or emotional numbness. You might feel like your memories are not your own.

These are dangerous symptoms. Combined with paranoia and increasing anxiety, it’s a volatile withdrawal situation that requires supervision.

Withdrawal Is Painful

We warned you that withdrawal is not a pleasant experience. Experiencing it yourself is physically painful.

It’s also an exhausting and emotionally draining experience.

Watching a loved one go through withdrawal is also a horrible experience as well. It’s helpless to watch them suffer as their body fights to make sense of itself.

Withdrawal can last several days to more than a week. And there’s no shortcut through the experience.

It’s a messy, ugly process. Your body must expel the drugs and recover to a new state of existence without drug dependence.

When you’ve made it to the other side of your detox, you won’t want to experience withdrawal again.

But while it’s a messy process, withdrawal also leads to beauty and restoration.

After you’ve detoxed from your Xanax addiction, you’ll begin recovery with a clearer mind. You’re no longer bound to the hold of Xanax. You’re now free to live a life without the substance that once controlled your life.

Avoiding Relapse

The best way to avoid another experience with withdrawal is to stop any future addiction before it starts.

Recovering from addiction is an ongoing process. It’s a way of life.

Benzo addiction treatment is especially difficult.

These drugs are some of the most addictive prescription drugs available. And because they have such a calming effect, it’s easy to combine Xanax with alcohol for a compounded mellow experience.

But with the right help, you can live a life free of drugs like Xanax. Choosing detox and withdrawal over drug dependency is always the best choice you can make.

When you’re ready for treatment, it’s important to find the best treatment facility to work through your recovery.

Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms Are a Temporary Step to Healing

Xanax withdrawal symptoms are hard, painful, and scary. But they are temporary.

Don’t let the fear of withdrawal symptoms keep you from deciding to stop your dependency on this dangerous prescription drug.

A life of Xanax addiction and the potential for serious consequences is far scarier than withdrawal. We can manage what you’ll suffer through with supervised detoxification.

Addiction Treatment Services helps you to find the best treatment facility for you. The choices can be overwhelming when finding the right place to recover for yourself or a loved one.

We work within the addiction treatment community. Our team helps you understand the treatment process and options. And we find the best resources for you, your insurance, and your specific situation.

It’s hard to know how and when to choose to leave your addiction behind. And it can be hard to know how to step in and help a loved one.

Contact us today. Let us help you find the help you need for yourself or a loved one.

Article Reviewed by Dr. Keerthy Sunder, MD, DFAPA

Dr. Keerthy Sunder, MD, DFAPADr. Keerthy Sunder, MD is an accomplished and internationally recognized expert in the field of addiction. He has earned diplomates from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, the American Board of Addiction Medicine, and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.