Xanax Withdrawal Effects Guide
Xanax (alprazolam) belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines.1 All benzodiazepines have the potential to cause physical dependence, which is when the brain becomes so accustomed to having a steady supply of the drug that it relies on the presence of the drug to function normally.2 Symptoms of withdrawal occur as a result of the brain adjusting to not having sufficient levels of Xanax present to function as it usually does.2 3,4 Xanax withdrawal is more severe than withdrawal from other types of benzodiazepines.5
This page is intended to help you understand more about Xanax and answer some questions you may have, including:
- What are the symptoms of Xanax withdrawal?
- Is there anything that influences how severe withdrawal symptoms are?
- Are there dangerous symptoms of Xanax withdrawal?
- Are there home remedies for Xanax withdrawal?
- How long do Xanax withdrawal symptoms last?
- What can help with Xanax withdrawal?
- How long does it take to detox from Xanax?
- Where can I find out more about how to detox from Xanax?
Side Effects of Xanax Withdrawal
Xanax withdrawal occurs in two different stages. The first stage is acute withdrawal, where symptoms occur rapidly after stopping or significantly cutting back on Xanax use.2,6 Mild physical withdrawal symptoms may include insomnia, feeling lightheaded or dizzy, experiencing headaches, muscle stiffness, muscle pain, weakness, and restless leg syndrome.2,3,5,6 More severe symptoms of acute Xanax withdrawal may include nausea, vomiting, tremors, rapid heart rate, increased body temperature, muscle cramps, stomach cramps, sweating, getting extremely dizzy, and very low blood pressure that can cause fainting when standing up.2,5,6,7
The second stage is known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome, and it is estimated that up to 15% of people who go through Xanax withdrawal will also experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms.3 This is when symptoms persist at decreased intensity for a much longer period of time, typically months or years after Xanax use has stopped.2,5,6Post-acute withdrawal symptoms that impact mental health may include increased anxiety, disrupted patterns of sleep, nightmares, memory loss, depression, and increased sensitivity to sensory stimuli.2,3 Depression can contribute to suicidal thoughts and attempts.5
A number of factors influence the severity of physiological dependence on Xanax and the associated withdrawal syndrome, and it can vary between individuals as well. Someone who takes low doses of Xanax for panic attacks occasionally may not experience physiological dependence at all, while long periods of daily use and high doses have been linked to an increased likelihood of dependence and severe withdrawal symptoms.6,7 If other substances are abused in conjunction with Xanax, it can worsen withdrawal symptoms, especially if the effects are similar, such as alcohol.6 Additionally, the presence of any co-occurring medical or mental health conditions may play a role in the development and course of physiological dependence and withdrawal syndrome.
Dangerous Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms
Xanax withdrawal can be associated with some rare symptoms and complications that can be extremely dangerous.2,7 If these symptoms or complications occur, close monitoring or immediate medical attention is often required.4,5 In severe cases, withdrawal from Xanax can lead to seizures, severe depression and suicide risk, feelings of depersonalization, psychosis, and delirium, which involves hallucinations, tremors, confusion, loss of touch with reality, disorientation, and an inability to regulate involuntary body processes including pulse, blood pressure, and temperature.25,6,8
Seizures are an especially dangerous symptom of withdrawal and can occur suddenly even if a person isn’t showing any other signs of withdrawal.7,8 In some cases, seizures may be ongoing, and can lead to brain damage or death if prompt medical attention isn’t received.7 Concurrent use of alcohol, other benzodiazepines, or sleep medications, such as Ambien (zolpidem) or Sonata (zaleplon) can have similar effects, increasing the risk and severity of withdrawal seizures.6,8
Can I Quit Xanax Cold Turkey?
Attempting a Xanax detox at home may seem appealing since it doesn’t require the same financial commitment as attending a facility, and lets you stay at home and engage in all of your daily activities while you withdraw. However, before you decide to try quitting Xanax at home, you should consult with a doctor or medical professional first.
Xanax withdrawal can be extremely dangerous, with symptoms or complications that require medical attention arising quickly and without warning.2,4,7,8 Withdrawal symptoms can be distressing and involve cravings, making it difficult to adhere to a Xanax taper schedule you may be trying to follow.6 Even if you are strict about following a Xanax taper, side effects of withdrawal may still occur and make relapse more likely.5 A professional detox can assist you in tapering off Xanax while providing the medical supervision and support that can help you quit Xanax safely.
Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms Timeline
Acute Xanax withdrawal follows a typical timeline, although post-acute withdrawal is less predictable and symptoms can wax and wane over time.2,3,6 The presence, severity, and duration of withdrawal symptoms can be influenced by how often you take Xanax, how much is used each time, how long you’ve been using it regularly, whether you have any physical or mental health conditions, and if you’ve been using any other substances.2,6,8 Taking higher doses more frequently and over long periods of time can cause more severe and drawn-out withdrawal symptoms.2
Since Xanax is a long-acting benzodiazepine, withdrawal symptoms can take anywhere from 2 to 10 days to begin once Xanax use is stopped or significantly cut back.2,4,6 Symptoms gradually become more intense, peaking at around 2 weeks after stopping use, and gradually decreasing over the next 1 to 2 weeks.2,6 Post-acute withdrawal symptoms don’t follow a course that is as easily predictable and may last for months or years.3
Xanax Detox Process
Since there are some serious and life-threatening dangers associated with Xanax withdrawal, medical detox is strongly suggested to ensure your safety.8 Medical detox facilities have supportive staff available around-the-clock, offering access to medical doctors, nursing staff, and licensed counselors who can monitor your condition at all times and quickly identify and address any symptoms that arise.8
Detox can be provided in several different settings, but inpatient detox is strongly encouraged because it offers comprehensive medical care and oversight for the duration of withdrawal, with staff performing regular checks of your condition and providing medication and treatment as needed.8,9 This type of care is best for people with a history of using Xanax in high doses, for prolonged periods of time, using other substances at the same time, or have co-occurring mental or physical health issues.8 Since these issues can influence the detox process, having proper support is important during treatment. If a person has a history of seizures or has attempted to detox from Xanax in the past and experienced seizures, a hospital may be the best setting to detox since this is a good indicator that seizures are more likely to occur again.6 Outpatient detox is possible, but since seizures can start suddenly even without any other withdrawal symptoms present, this can be risky.8
Detox treatment involves 3 stages: evaluation, stabilization, and fostering entry into treatment.8 Evaluation is a thorough assessment of your current substance use, substance use history, medical and psychiatric health history, employment status, housing situation, social relationships, any medications or supplements you may be taking, legal concerns, any problems or stressors you may be facing, and toxicology testing.8 All of this is then used to highlight what your needs are, and staff will collaborate with you to create a treatment plan that addresses those needs starting in detox and continuing into additional treatment.8 Stabilization follows, where the actual process of detoxification, or clearing Xanax and any other substances of abuse from the body is accomplished.8Toward the end of the stabilization process, staff will work with you to get you ready for discharge from detox and entry into additional treatment to increase the likelihood of maintaining sobriety, and provide referrals to treatment facilities as needed.8
While there are medications that are used to ease the withdrawal symptoms for some classes of substances, like alcohol and opioids, there aren’t any specific medications that are used to manage symptoms of Xanax withdrawal.8 Instead, during detox you will be slowly weaned down using a Xanax taper, or gradually decreasing doses of a similar long-acting benzodiazepine with less potential for abuse, such as Klonopin (clonazepam) or Librium (chlordiazepoxide).5,8,9 This taper is done very slowly to limit the occurrence of withdrawal symptoms and minimize the severity of any symptoms that do appear.5 ,7,8 It can take weeks or months to fully taper off of benzodiazepines, and the process may need to be adjusted depending on your response to the regimen.4 (p7), 8 (p75)
Finding Xanax Withdrawal Treatment
American Addiction Centers is a leading provider of effective Xanax detox care in Nevada and the rest of the United States.10,11 Each of our facilities, including Desert Hope in Las Vegas, Nevada offers a full range of treatment services, starting with medical detox and continuing through inpatient and outpatient care.11,12 Our treatment plans are personalized to your specific needs and staff is caring and knowledgeable.10,11
If you need Xanax withdrawal help and want to learn more about what American Addiction Centers can do to assist you, call our confidential helpline for free at 702-800-2682. It’s available 24/7 and will connect you with someone who can answer any questions you may have.
- Drug Enforcement Administration. (2017). Drugs of abuse: A DEA resource guide.
- Lerner, A., & Klein, M. (2019). Dependence, withdrawal and rebound of CNS drugs: An update and regulatory considerations for new drugs development. Brain Communications, 1-23.
- Ashton, H. (1995). Protracted withdrawal from benzodiazepines: The post-withdrawal syndrome. Psychiatric Annals, 25(3), 174-179.
- Gupta, M., Gokarakonda, S.B., & Attia, F.N. (2020). Withdrawal syndromes. Treasure Island, FL: StatPearls Publishing.
- Ait-Daoud, N., Hamby, A.S., Sharma, S., & Blevins, D. (2018). A review of alprazolam use, misuse, and withdrawal. Journal of Addiction Medicine, 12(1), 4-10.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
- Food and Drug Administration. (2016). Xanax alprazolam tablets, USP.
- Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2006). Detoxification and substance abuse treatment. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series 45, DHHS Publication No. (SMA) 06-4131. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide (Third edition).
- American Addiction Centers. (2021). American Addiction Centers.
- American Addiction Centers. (2021). Desert Hope Las Vegas treatment center.
- American Addiction Centers. (2021). Substance abuse treatment services.
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