Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, are a class of psychoactive drugs prescribed to treat anxiety, seizures, panic disorders, insomnia, and muscle tension. The most common types of benzos include alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), clorazepate (Tranxene), among others. These drugs are habit-forming, and their use can quickly lead to addiction. This problem is not just common in adults, but teens as well. The main focus of this article is detoxing from benzos with an emphasis on Xanax and what to expect when you start a medical detox program near you, followed by inpatient addiction treatment.
A Brief Overview of Xanax Addiction
Addiction to Xanax is prevalent in the U.S. and other parts of the world. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 30% of overdoses involving opiates also include benzodiazepines, of which Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin are the most commonly used.
Xanax (Alprazolam) is the most widely prescribed benzodiazepine in the United States.
The misuse potential of Xanax stems from its unique pharmacokinetic properties of fast absorption, short half-life, and more severe withdrawal symptoms occurring after a shorter period of use.
Patients… are more likely to abuse alprazolam
than other types of benzos.
Some studies have shown that patients with a history of chemical dependence are at a higher risk of benzodiazepine addiction. In one study, alprazolam produced more euphoria and drug-induced behavioral changes in alcoholics than in non-alcoholics. Evidence has also shown that patients with a history of benzodiazepine addiction are more likely to abuse alprazolam than other types of benzos.
Symptoms of Xanax Addiction
Like with other substances, Xanax users may not acknowledge the existence of a problem at first. Recognizing symptoms of Xanax addiction is the first step towards understanding you have a problem that can be treated at a benzodiazepine detox center.
Generally speaking, symptoms of Xanax addiction are quite similar to signs of dependence on other substances. For example, a user may:
- Use or want to use the drug regularly
- Have cravings or the urge to take Xanax and can’t focus on anything else until they take it
- Increase the dose frequently, because the current dose isn’t “working” anymore
- Have a supply on hand
- Explore options where to get Xanax without prescription
- Develop risky behaviors just to obtain the drug
- Continue to use the drug despite being aware of the associated risks
- Get annoyed when other people point out you have a problem
- Experience uncomfortable symptoms when you stop taking the drug
People tend to hide their Xanax problem from loved ones, but there are still some noticeable symptoms, including:
- Mood changes
- Money troubles
- Changes in appearance (weight loss/gain)
- Social isolation
- Decreased work performance
- Changes in sleep habits
- Nausea and/or vomiting
A Xanax detox center is the first part of the addiction treatment process. Detox includes stopping the use of the substance, after which withdrawal symptoms occur. There is further discussion of withdrawal symptoms below.
As mentioned above, Xanax has a big potential for misuse because it has a relatively short half-life and serious withdrawal symptoms. Considering the psychoactive nature of Xanax on the brain, it’s difficult and risky to go through detox alone. Studies confirm that tapering-off is a better approach for patients with Xanax addiction than other methods. In other words, slowly weaning off the drug could be safer and more effective than giving up cold turkey.
Nevertheless, a Xanax addiction treatment program for women, like Stonegate Center Hilltop (located just west of Fort Worth, Texas), or a Xanax addiction treatment program for men, like Stonegate Center Creekside, requires medical supervision.
One study showed that it took less than a week of Xanax use for mice to develop symptoms of dependence. The study demonstrates how powerful Xanax is and confirms the need for guidance and professional support are necessary through detox. Luckily, our team is experienced in dealing with Xanax abuse and is here to help!
Factors Affecting Xanax Withdrawal
The exact course of detox and Xanax withdrawal may vary from one patient to another. Every person is different, and the whole detox and withdrawal process doesn’t have to be the same for each patient. That happens because multiple factors are involved in Xanax withdrawal. These include:
- Length of addiction to Xanax
- Tolerance to the drug
- Whether dependence and use are linked with other substances
- Method of use (oral, nasal, etc.)
- Age at first use
- Biological factors such as genetics and metabolism
- Severity of addiction
Other factors that influence Xanax withdrawal include stress levels, family or prior history of addiction, and underlying health conditions.
Symptoms of Xanax Withdrawal
Bearing in mind that multiple factors play a role in Xanax withdrawal, every patient may experience symptoms differently. Research shows that after six months of regular use, about 40% of benzo users will experience moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms. The remaining 60% of users will experience mild symptoms of withdrawal.
Generally speaking, most people who stop taking Xanax experience an increase in anxiety levels. The severity of anxiety may vary and become intense in some patients. Xanax withdrawal symptoms tend to be more complicated than other benzodiazepines.
We can divide Xanax withdrawal symptoms into physical and psychological.
Physical symptoms include:
- Racing pulse
- Muscle spasms and aches
- Blurred vision
- Tension in the jaw and/or toothaches
- Numbness in fingers
- Tingling in limbs
- Loss of appetite
Psychological symptoms are:
- Panic attacks
- Feelings of unreality
- Difficulty concentrating
Xanax Detox Timeline
Icons from The Noun Project
The half-life of Xanax is 11.5 hours, according to the FDA. About six to 12 hours after the last dose, as soon as the drug stops being active in blood plasma, withdrawal symptoms can start.
When it comes to benzo withdrawal, there is no specific course and withdrawal timeline at which symptoms occur.
The most basic representation of the Xanax detox course would be:
- 11-24 hours – the drug leaves the body, and first symptoms of withdrawal occur
- 1-4 days – rebound symptoms are in full effect, but other symptoms also start developing. Symptoms may become less severe after the fourth day.
- 7-14 days – most withdrawal symptoms subside
We can divide the process into three phases, each with its own timeline.
Immediate or Early Withdrawal
Shortly after a person stops taking benzos, early (“rebound”) symptoms occur. This is when anxiety levels increase. Some people may experience insomnia or a higher intensity of the condition for which Xanax was prescribed. To ease withdrawal symptoms, practices such as drug tapering or using other drugs may be recommended.
This phase starts when the initial symptoms of withdrawal subside, usually within a few days. Withdrawal symptoms may last 5-28 days, but in some people they may persist for a few months. A vast majority of Xanax withdrawal symptoms occur in this stage, which is why it’s considered the most difficult but all patients are under medical supervision, and doctors may recommend other drugs to manage the most complex symptoms of Xanax withdrawal.
Some lingering symptoms are also possible after the acute withdrawal phase has passed. An estimated 10-25% of patients who use benzodiazepines of extended periods experience withdrawal symptoms lasting 12 months or longer.
During this phase, post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) may occur. These include mood swings, depression, loss of sex drive, anxiety, insomnia, and poor concentration.
How Long Do Withdrawal Symptoms Last?
Keeping in mind that Xanax is a short-acting benzodiazepine, its effects occur faster but go away sooner than most benzos. Withdrawal symptoms develop as soon as the body feels deprived of the drug, usually within a few hours. But how long does Xanax withdrawal last?
In most cases, Xanax withdrawal lasts for a week or longer. In some people, it can take up to a few weeks. Always remember that everyone’s different, and people experience symptoms differently, too. The symptoms of Xanax withdrawal, PAWS, may appear for up to two years after you stop using the drug.
Medicines and Therapies Used
To manage symptoms of Xanax withdrawal, medical professionals may prescribe other remedies. There is no specific rule; this is done on a case-by-case basis as it depends on the severity of symptoms that the patients experience.
Clonazepam (Klonopin) is a common medication used in Xanax withdrawal. This is a long-acting benzodiazepine that helps minimize symptoms of short-acting drugs such as Xanax. It treats anxiety, panic attacks, and seizures. Clonazepam is usually chosen for its longer half-life, but also because it is associated with less rebound anxiety and withdrawal symptoms than other drugs.
According to some reports, carbamazepine (Tegretol) can also help manage Xanax withdrawal symptoms effectively. Carbamazepine is an anticonvulsant with a longer half-life. That means this is not a short-acting drug, which explains why it can serve for this purpose. Additionally, carbamazepine can enhance catecholamine function and thereby improve symptoms such as anxiety, sleep disturbance, and mood swings, all of which are common in Xanax withdrawal.
Another drug that may aid Xanax withdrawal is clonidine (Catapres), which treats high blood pressure and affects the part of the brain that controls impulsivity and attention. Keep in mind, however, that some studies didn’t find clonidine effective in managing Xanax withdrawal.
Other drugs that may help through Xanax withdrawal include:
Besides medications, therapy sessions also play a role in inpatient rehab for Xanax addiction. Patients take part in therapy sessions, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Besides individual counseling sessions, patients also participate in family therapies, group therapies, couple therapies, among others.
The main goal of therapies in benzodiazepine addiction treatment is to help patients adopt healthier coping mechanisms in order to overcome their addiction and manage stress and other negative situations in a healthier manner. During therapy sessions, patients also get educated about relapse prevention.
Risks of Xanax Detox and Addiction Treatment
Benzodiazepine detox, especially from Xanax, is the crucial step toward recovery, but it’s also challenging. Unlike other substances, Xanax is difficult to quit cold turkey, which is why drug tapering or a weaning off period is often recommended. Detox is not something a patient should do by themselves at home. Medical supervision is necessary for the safest completion of detox.
Xanax detox under supervision allows a patient to receive other medications to manage symptoms more effectively, if necessary. It also prevents complications and severe symptoms that may arise.
During medical detox for benzos, a patient may notice a change in appearance and appetite. For that reason, addiction specialists from the treatment facility educate patients about the importance of healthy nutrition.
Since Xanax is a tricky drug with serious withdrawal symptoms, inexperienced patients may not be able to handle the detox well on their own. This is especially the case if a user was taking Xanax to manage a condition like anxiety and find themselves experiencing increased levels of anxiety.
Are You Struggling With Benzodiazepine Abuse or Xanax Addiction?
Benzodiazepines are widely used, especially Xanax, but they tend to be addictive. Xanax is a complicated drug that requires medical assistance in order to recover more effectively. For most people, long-term residential treatment centers are most beneficial to treat Xanax addiction and begin recovery.
If you’re looking for a long-term solution, I encourage you to click through our website to learn more about our inpatient rehab center, which is adept in handling benzodiazepine addiction and Xanax withdrawal symptoms – all while offering an evidence-based recovery solution.
Our 125+ acre ranch is located just west of Fort Worth, Texas, in Azle and provides a tranquil place for you to begin your journey in sobriety. Our center offers a faith-based and gender-separate approach, which means we incorporate your spiritual journey into the medical and clinical treatment plan. Moreover, we incorporate our faith-based approach into our 12-Step program for more long-lasting results.
So, give our Admissions Director a call at (817) 993-9733 or email us today at email@example.com. We are in-network with Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS), Cigna, Aetna, Ambetter, HealthChoice of Oklahoma, and PHCS Multiplan. Most of our clients utilize their substance abuse / mental health benefits provided by their health insurance plan in order to make the cost of inpatient rehab a lot more affordable. Please note, we are not accepting Medicaid or Medicare at this time. However, we are more than willing to refer you to one of our affiliates.
For a 100% confidential and transparent quote, fill out our insurance verification form now (CLICK HERE TO VERIFY YOUR INSURANCE), and we’ll have all the financial information you need to make your important decision. We look forward to having you join our recovery community!
anxiety by Marco Fleseri from the Noun Project
confidence by sachin modgekar from the Noun Project
tremor by Gan Khoon Lay from the Noun Project
John Eckelbarger is a Business Development Representative for Stonegate Center. With a BSA in Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin, he has an interest in the neurobiology of addiction as well as the pharmacology of drugs. He hopes to bolster Stonegate Center’s status at the forefront of addiction medicine through bold, innovative content creation. He is currently pursuing his MBA in Finance from Texas Christian University.