Xanax detox involves the presentation of intensely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking Xanax, a drug from the benzodiazepine class.
One of the most prescribed psychotherapeutic medications, Xanax is typically used for the short-term treatment of anxiety disorders and panic disorders. Regrettably, all benzos have a strong potential for abuse, with tolerance quickly building, and addiction often following.
If you have been prescribed Xanax, abruptly discontinuing use is not only dangerous, but possibly deadly. Your doctor is unlikely to prescribe Xanax for more than one month, and you should only ever use this medication as prescribed. Instead, consider detoxing from Xanax at a licensed medical detox center.
Xanax Detox and Withdrawal Symptoms
Some people experience only mild benzo withdrawal symptoms lasting for a matter of days. Others suffer chronic Xanax withdrawal that can endure for months, or possibly years.
If you stop taking a medication like Xanax, you can expect any or all of the following withdrawal symptoms to present:
- Heart palpitations
- Numb fingers
- Tingling in legs or arms
- Altered sense of smell
- Loss of appetite
- Tense jaw
- Muscle aches
- Muscle spasms
- Blurred vision
- Weight loss
- Painful teeth
- Rapidly rising heart rate
- Raised temperature or blood pressure
- Grand mal seizures
Xanax impacts the areas of your brain that govern reward, mood, and motivation. In the case of Xanax dependence and Xanax addiction, these areas of the brain undergo structural and functional changes.
If you stop using Xanax, it takes the brain some time to become accustomed to the absence of benzodiazepines. As the brain struggles to recalibrate, you could encounter a battery of adverse withdrawal symptoms, including:
- Mood swings
- Panic attacks
- Problems concentrating
- Feelings of unreality
- Suicidal ideation
In some rare instances, Xanax withdrawal only fully develops after two years, a syndrome known as PAWS (post-acute withdrawal syndrome). Delayed withdrawal symptoms manifest anywhere from 18 months to 2 years after detoxing from Xanax. Symptoms then become less frequent and less severe.
The most common symptoms of PAWS for Xanax include:
- Persistent anxiety
- Ongoing insomnia
- Aches and pains
- Problems performing complex tasks
- Impaired concentration and focus
- Sexual dysfunction
How to Detox from Xanax
Always speak with your healthcare provider before you stop using Xanax, even when you have been using the medication short-term and as directed.
Tapered withdrawal, with dosage gradually and incrementally reduced, delivers the following benefits:
- Streamlines Xanax withdrawal and renders withdrawal safe
- Minimizes the likelihood of experiencing Xanax withdrawal symptoms
Xanax withdrawal unfolds over three distinct phases:
- Immediate Xanax withdrawal
- Acute Xanax withdrawal
- Protracted Xanax withdrawal
Most people withdrawing from benzos like Xanax will go through the first two phases of withdrawal, although not everyone experiences protracted withdrawal.
1) Immediate Xanax withdrawal
The initial effects of Xanax withdrawal are commonly referred to as rebound symptoms. For example, your doctor may have prescribed Xanax to treat anxiety disorder, and during Xanax withdrawal you experience symptoms of acute anxiety.
These early withdrawal symptoms kick in within just a few hours of the last dose of Xanax. Xanax is a short-acting benzodiazepine with a short, 4-hour half-life, triggering this rapid onset of Xanax withdrawal symptoms when the medication is removed from the equation.
Drug tapering and drug substitution are the most commonly employed methods for reducing the intensity of early and aggressive rebound symptoms of Xanax withdrawal.
2) Acute Xanax withdrawal
With the initial phase of Xanax withdrawal complete, acute withdrawal symptoms may linger for days, weeks or months. Many variables impact the duration of Xanax withdrawal.
This is the most demanding phase of benzodiazepine withdrawal. As such, you should ensure you are closely medically monitored to minimize danger as well as relapse.
3) Protracted Xanax withdrawal
Many people find that symptoms dissipate upon the completion of acute Xanax withdrawal.
Research indicates that up to one in four people experience Xanax withdrawal persisting for a year or more.
Common protracted Xanax withdrawal symptoms include:
- Pronounced mood swings
- Problems with focus
- Reduced sex drive
Post-acute benzo withdrawal symptoms are distressing and disruptive due to their combined physical and psychological nature. While medication can help alleviate some physical symptoms, the psychological component of benzo addiction is trickier to unpack.
How Long Does it Take to Detox from Xanax?
Many factors influence the intensity and the timeline of Xanax withdrawal, including:
- Duration of Xanax use
- Dosage of Xanax
- Any misuse of prescriptions
- Using Xanax without a prescription
- Using a third-party Xanax prescription
- Alcohol abuse
- Substance abuse
- Underpinning physical health conditions
- Any other mental health conditions
Here is a rough timeline that represents the standard Xanax withdrawal experience.
6 to 12 hours after last dose of Xanax
As a short-acting benzo with a short half-life, the effects of Xanax wear off quickly, often triggering withdrawal symptoms within 6 hours of the last dose.
You can expect to experience an initial anxiety and irritability that becomes more intense throughout Xanax withdrawal.
Xanax withdrawal: days 1 to 4
Expect to encounter the most intense symptoms of Xanax withdrawal in the first four days of detox.
Insomnia frequently presents, and anxiety symptoms often rebound. Physical symptoms like muscle pain, sweating, and shaking are commonplace.
Most Xanax withdrawal symptoms subside after just four days.
Xanax withdrawal: days 7 to 14
With the most acute phase of Xanax withdrawal complete, any lingering symptoms should become less intense and then disappear completely.
Xanax withdrawal: day 15 onward
For anyone still experiencing Xanax withdrawal symptoms after two weeks, these symptoms should be both mild and easily manageable.
How Long Does Xanax Withdrawal Last?
Xanax withdrawal varies in duration but is usually a lengthy process due to the tapering of dosage and/or the substitution of medications.
Ensure you engage with Xanax withdrawal under close medical supervision, and do not attempt to rush the process or to detox at home alone.
A slow and supervised tapered withdrawal should mitigate most of the more unpleasant benzo withdrawal symptoms.
How Long Does Xanax Withdrawal Insomnia Last?
Insomnia is one of the most commonly reported side effects among those withdrawing from Xanax.
As a central nervous system depressant, Xanax often causes drowsiness. When you first stop using the medication, the opposite effect often occurs.
Improving your sleep patterns through implementing sensible sleep hygiene may take time beyond withdrawal, but as you engage with treatment addressing the psychological component of Xanax addiction, you’ll learn to improve both the quantity and quality of your sleep without relying on benzodiazepines.
Xanax Detox at California Detox
Whether you need a tapered reduction in your Xanax dosage leading to a benzo-free life, or you require a drug substitution program leading to a maintenance dosage, we can help you here at California Detox in Orange County.
Like all of our mental health treatment programs and addiction treatment programs, counseling and psychotherapy like CBT are applied to help you overcome the psychological component of Xanax addiction.
During treatment for Xanax dependence or addiction, you may find some of the original symptoms benzos were used to treat recur. If this rebound effect takes place, your treatment team can prescribe other medications (buspirone or flumazenil).
Once you have scheduled an appointment with the doctor overseeing your Xanax treatment, reach out to the team here at California Detox. Rather than risking home detox and endangering your chances of seamless recovery without relapse, engage with our supervised medical detox before transitioning into an inpatient or outpatient treatment program.
Our personalized programs harnessing medication-assisted treatment and psychotherapy will help you to better negotiate Xanax withdrawal while building a firm foundation for a life without Xanax or other benzos.
Speak with your prescribing physician first and then reach out to admissions at 949.390.5377.