Xanax Withdrawal: Quitting Xanax Cold Turkey Can Be Life-Threatening

June 28, 2021

Xanax is a commonly prescribed medication that treats stress, anxiety, and panic disorders. However, this drug is for short-term use only and not a cure for these symptoms. 

When a person starts to use Xanax frequently, their body may become dependent on the drug and cause serious health complications down the line. Xanax addiction or dependence is dangerous if not treated correctly, as abruptly stopping its intake can be life-threatening.


What Does Xanax Do?

Xanax is the #1 prescribed psychiatric drug in the U.S. and is commonly used to manage anxiety disorders, excessive stress, and panic disorders. Specifically, Xanax is the brand name of alprazolam, which is a type of drug called benzodiazepine. 

These drugs act on the nervous system to calm nerves. For example, it stops excitement in the brain by increasing the action of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. 

This reaction causes the body to relax and may cause a state of euphoria. Although this drug is good for treating anxiety and panic disorders, it’s meant to be used on a per-user basis and not as a cure to the problem. 

xanax addiction

The euphoria from the drug is short-lived and can cause a lot more problems down the line once taken frequently. This is because the body may adapt to depend on the drug or become addicted to it. The difference being dependence means that one needs to take more of the drug to have the same effect while addiction is using the drug regardless of its harmful effects.

Xanax has unpleasant side effects and can cause dizziness, impaired coordination, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, slurred speech, and even shaking.

Xanax can also cause psychological problems, such as lack of focus, confusion, impaired memory, lack of inhibition, and mood swings. It’s for these reasons that medical professionals discourage driving while under the effects of Xanax.


Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms

It is very easy to develop an addiction to Xanax. After taking it for just a few weeks, dependence can set in, as the user may feel the need for the drug to function properly. In these cases, withdrawal symptoms will inevitably follow.

The symptoms that can come with Xanax withdrawal can vary. They can become serious in the worst cases. Within one week of stopping, people can experience numerous physical and psychological effects:

  • Body pains and headaches
  • Irritability, unusual moods
  • Anxiety, panic, paranoia
  • Impaired or hypersensitive senses
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Chills, tremors, spasms, tingling sensations, numbness
  • Shortness of breath, hyperventilation, fatigue
  • Depression
  • Difficulties with concentration
  • Changes in demeanor towards others
  • Sudden mood swings

If you’ve been using Xanax for over a week consistently, it’s crucial to avoid abruptly stopping intake as it can cause severe problems such as:

  • Seizures
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hallucinations
  • Extreme paranoia
  • Death


How to Manage Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms

Even when used normally and within prescriptions, doctors do not let patients stop Xanax abruptly. Instead, they wean them off, steadily decreasing dosage as time passes. This is because Xanax can cause “rebound” symptoms.

what does xanax do

When managing Xanax withdrawal symptoms, it’s best first to consult your doctor to find out the proper course of action. In some cases, some doctors may advise replacing Xanax with another benzodiazepine for a longer-term or prescribe another drug to help in weaning off Xanax. 

Second, it’s good to be aware that the symptoms of Xanax withdrawal can appear as soon as 8 hours after the last dose. Being mindful of this time window can help you prepare yourself psychologically and fight off urges to retake the drug.


How A Supportive Community Can Help You Recover

Withdrawal symptoms tend to be at their peak two days without any intake. Many people improve a few days significantly after, but some peoples’ symptoms do the last long-term. 

A prolonged duration of withdrawal symptoms is termed protracted withdrawal, a severe period of months during which symptoms (primarily psychological) can come and go. The longest protracted withdrawal experiences for Xanax may last for up to a year. 

If you need to focus on longer-term rehabilitation, particularly in managing the psychological symptoms that may last longer, you may want to consider cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This general therapy focuses on changing mindsets from negative to positive. For addiction, it helps patients unlearn their dependence as the therapist and patient are partners in creating coping and adherence strategies that are good and healthy. 

helping loved ones with xanax addiction

Finding the right people to help you with your struggle is paramount to a successful recovery. If you feel burdened or uncertain about your progress, you may want to try general counseling with your loved ones and learn more about your problem. Health education positively affects treatment adherence rates and lessens the risk of relapse. 

Establishing support groups with friends, family, and people with similar problems can do wonders for your recovery. Remember, the psychosocial aspects of rehabilitation heavily affect recovery. 

By surrounding yourself with loving and caring individuals, your support group can collectively reinforce positive feelings and improve your general mood. A happier and stable person is very much unlikely to turn to drugs to keep themselves content.


Recovering in Full

Many people that struggle with addiction to Xanax can become rehabilitated within a few months to a year. However, everyone recovers at their own pace. Remember that recovery is not a race, and people will wait for you to get through your problem.

Always remember that it’s crucial to quit Xanax properly and not on a whim. The consequences of untreated withdrawal symptoms may be grave. So even if you illegally obtained your Xanax, it’s still best to consult a doctor to quit the right way. 

If ever you feel uncertain, visit a primary care facility or your local community health center, and any doctor will be able to help. This is also important if you have any other conditions, whether physical or psychological, as any problem can stem from multiple ones. 

A successful recovery is often the result of a combination of things: the right combination of treatments, the individual’s determination, supportive family and friends, and the like. Also, many people that make it through the withdrawal of Xanax have gone on to become fully rehabilitated.


We’re Here For You, All the Way

As with most problems, having someone you can rely on to support you can help immensely. Thankfully, that support is just a call away. Here at Buena Vista Recovery Center, we want to help you in your journey to a better you.

Our team of caring professional healthcare workers has created personalized programs that focus on medical detox, substance abuse rehabilitation, and addiction treatment. With the right help, your recovery will become your success story.

If you’re looking for addiction treatment centers in Arizona, call us at (623) 232-3008 to learn more.

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