The Xanax Detox Process
When you are suffering from an addiction, one of the most daunting aspects of seeking help is the knowledge that you will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using. Withdrawal can be uncomfortable and taxing on both your physical and mental state, which requires a unique environment to successfully get through the withdrawal stage and enter a lasting recovery.
As you embark on beginning Xanax detox, it is vital to understand what Xanax is and how it affects the body, the physical and psychological symptoms you may experience during Xanax withdrawal, the timeline of Xanax withdrawal, the various factors affecting withdrawal, and why a detox center is the safest place to experience withdrawal. With this knowledge, you will be prepared and cognizant of what you may experience during withdrawal and have the foundational knowledge necessary to choose the safest treatment option for you.
Xanax’s Effect on the Body
Xanax belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are a class of prescription medications that increase the amount of inhibitory neuron gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which lessens the over-activity in the brain and the central nervous system. Xanax is one of the most popular benzodiazepines on the market and is also sometimes known by its generic name, alprazolam.
Xanax is often used to treat panic and anxiety disorders, to aid in muscle relaxation, to serve as a sleep aid, and to lessen stress and tension. Xanax is one of the most prescribed drugs in the United States and can be addictive because it increases feelings of pleasure and relaxation by activating the pleasure centers in the brain. According to the United States, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prescribing information for Xanax, taking Xanax can lead to a dependence, particularly when taken for a month or longer in high doses.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid can function as a type of natural sedative in the brain that can calm reactions to stress and change how the body performs certain functions. The dependence on Xanax can become extremely dangerous over time as the ingestion of Xanax can begin to influence how the body is producing gamma-aminobutyric acid, and in some cases, the brain can cease to produce gamma-aminobutyric acid.
Once the brain has developed a dependency on Xanax providing gamma-aminobutyric acid, when it stops receiving Xanax, it will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms as it attempts to regulate the body in the absence of the Xanax. Xanax withdrawal can be dangerous to attempt without medical assistance, particularly with a severe addiction, as it can become life-threatening if not closely monitored.
Physical and Psychological Symptoms of Xanax Withdrawal
Because Xanax functions as a central nervous system depressant, the withdrawal symptoms that may arise when it is removed from the bloodstream can affect a number of different bodily functions. When Xanax enters the bloodstream, it begins to change the way the central nervous system reacts by minimizing anxiety, stress, and panic and by slowing down the heart rate of the body, blood pressure, and body temperature.
As the brain develops a dependency on Xanax, when it is no longer present in the bloodstream, these bodily functions may rebound accordingly, which can lead to distressing and stressful withdrawal symptoms. When the body begins to run out of the remaining Xanax in the bloodstream, heart rate, body temperature, respiration, and blood pressure may increase drastically and rapidly. In some cases, if Xanax is begin used to reduce epileptic seizures, seizures may begin to occur as the body no longer has Xanax to inhibit the seizure response.
For those suffering from a severe dependency, if undergoing withdrawal unmonitored and stopping use “cold turkey,” the withdrawal symptoms may become so intense that the body can enter a coma or begin to shut down, leading to death. Below are some of the most common physical and psychological Xanax withdrawal symptoms.
- Sweating and/or fever
- Impaired respiration
- Numbness of fingers
- Muscle aches
- Tingling in arms and legs
- Tension in the jaw and/or teeth pain
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light and sounds
- Loss of appetite
- Heart palpitations
- Alteration in sense of smell
Stopping the use of Xanax suddenly and without medical assistance, sometimes referred to as “cold turkey,” can be very dangerous. Because Xanax affects the functions of the central nervous system, it is intertwined with essential bodily functions that can present serious health risks when impaired, even temporarily. When attempting to detox from Xanax use, it is important to seek medical assistance so that important vital signs, such as respiration levels, temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure, can be monitored as the Xanax leaves the bloodstream and withdrawal begins.
The Xanax Detox Process
When beginning Xanax detox, how long withdrawal will last is a chief concern for many. The withdrawal timeline each individual experiences is based on a multitude of factors, including the severity of the addiction, what substance the addiction is to, the unique biological attributes and conditions of the individual, and whether or not the withdrawal is medically assisted.
When considering the Xanax withdrawal timeline, it is important to know that Xanax is a short-acting benzodiazepine that possesses an average half-life of eleven hours. Withdrawal symptoms will begin to appear once the drug stops being actively present in the bloodstream, which usually occurs six to twelve hours after the last dose has been ingested. The early symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal will often last from one to four days and will include the rebound symptoms mentioned above (rapidly elevating heart rate, blood pressure, respiration levels, and temperature).
After the first few days of initial withdrawal, individuals will often experience what is known as acute withdrawal. Acute withdrawal can last anywhere from a few days to a month depending on the individual and the severity of their addiction. During acute withdrawal, an individual may experience any number of the withdrawal symptoms listed above, or all of them at once. Typically, the presence of the withdrawal symptoms during acute withdrawal will reach its precipice around two weeks and then will begin to steadily decline.
After this peak is reached, individuals will begin to see an improvement in the presence of withdrawal symptoms. Some individuals may also experience protracted withdrawal. Protracted withdrawal symptoms can last from several weeks to several months, even up to years in some cases, if there is not intervention by a licensed mental health professional. Protracted withdrawal can include psychiatric symptoms and drug cravings. If experiencing protracted withdrawal symptoms that are not easing, it is important to seek professional help to prevent relapse.
The Factors Affecting Xanax Withdrawal
It is vital to keep in mind that withdrawal is an inherently unique process it is governed by a variety of different factors. One of the most significant factors to consider is the severity of the dependency. As mentioned above, the brain becomes reliant on the presence of Xanax to provide gamma-aminobutyric acid to the central nervous system, which creates a reliance in the body over time that can lead to the body lessening its natural production of gamma-aminobutyric acid or ceasing production altogether.
The more dependent the body and the brain are on the Xanax, the more intense and longer the withdrawal process will likely be. In addition to this factor, there are a number of other important factors to consider. The dosage amount that was being taken and the method of ingestion are also important variables to analyze to gauge how severe the withdrawal may be.
It is also important to consider whether or not Xanax was being taken at the same time as any other drugs or alcohol as the mixture may affect the withdrawal as well. The length of time using or abusing Xanax and the age at which it was first used are important to take into consideration as these will contribute to how severe the dependency is. There are also a number of biological factors to consider, such as genetics, family history of addiction, underlying medical conditions or complications, stress levels, mental health issues, and various environmental factors.
An analysis of all of these factors will help form a more complete and cohesive picture of how long the withdrawal will likely last, the side effects that will arise during withdrawal and severity of the symptoms of the withdrawal. It is important to seek the help of licensed medical and mental health professionals that are trained in how to safely treat substance abuse and dependency to aid in safely detoxing from Xanax use. These medical and mental health professionals will take into consideration all of the various factors listed above in order to devise the best possible detox and treatment plan moving forward.
Seeking Help with Xanax Withdrawal
With addiction of any type, it can sometimes feel embarrassing or shameful to be unable to quit using on your own. You may want to hide your addiction or attempt to stop using without outside intervention of any kind. However, when suffering from a Xanax addiction, or an addiction or any kind, it can be dangerous to attempt to stop using the substance on your own. Many refer to this type of quitting as “cold turkey,” which means that you will not use any other substance to gradually step down your dose until your body can safely detox and instead will just stop all use of the substance.
However, quitting any type of substance “cold turkey” can be extremely dangerous depending upon the substance itself, the severity of the addiction, and the preexisting health and mental health conditions of the individual. Xanax, in particular, is very dangerous to attempt this type of detoxing with as it interacts directly with important bodily functions governed by the central nervous system, which can pose immediate health risks. Within a treatment center under supervised detox, these dangers and risks can be mitigated, vitals can be tracked throughout withdrawal, and your health can be closely monitored to make sure no lasting damage occurs.
Undergoing detox in the safety of a treatment center will offer the supervision, support, and monitoring that you need within an environment that is controlled and safe. If at any point during your detox you need immediate medical or mental health assistance, licensed professionals will wait on the sidelines to help you as soon as the need arises.
One of the most important reasons to undergo detox and withdrawal in the safety of a treatment center of that the withdrawal can be closely monitored and controlled so that the intensity and symptoms are lessened. When detoxing on your own and stopping substance use “cold turkey,” withdrawal symptoms can be extremely intense and unpleasant, which pushes many individuals to use to make the symptoms stop.
However, in a treatment center, these symptoms can be controlled and you can be slowly tapered off of the substance. With a Xanax addiction, it is often best to slowly lessen the amount of Xanax being taken so that these more intense withdrawal symptoms can be largely avoided while still weaning your body off of its dependency. In some cases, treatment centers may advise that patients switch from taking Xanax to a longer-acting benzodiazepine during the withdrawal process to continue slowly stepping the body’s reliance on the substance down.
If there is a small amount of the benzodiazepine kept in the bloodstream during the detox process, the withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings can be minimized until the drugs are completely absent from the system. Treatment centers may also use other medications during detox to help mitigate the symptoms of withdrawal, such as antidepressants, beta-blockers, or other pharmaceuticals.
The safest way to get help with Xanax withdrawal is to work with a treatment center during detox and subsequent treatment to make sure that the withdrawal process is safe. At Luminance Recovery, a rehab in Orange County, we utilize a variety of therapy methods when helping people undergo Xanax withdrawal. Call us today for more information on our treatment programs.
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