Xanax Withdrawal Timeline, Symptoms, and Treatment
Xanax is the brand name for a benzodiazepine medication called alprazolam. Alprazolam (Xanax) is commonly prescribed to treat anxiety and seizure disorders. While Xanax is highly efficient in treating these conditions, it is also known to be extremely habit-forming and addictive. Studies have found that Xanax is the most dangerous and toxic benzodiazepine, with 22% of alprazolam overdoses being admitted to the intensive care unit.
When you become addicted to alprazolam, your body becomes accustomed to the presence of the substance. Your brain begins to consider Xanax as a chemical that is necessary to function properly, causing you to experience symptoms of withdrawal if you abruptly stop taking the drug.
The withdrawal symptoms associated with can range from uncomfortable to life-threatening, making it extremely important for you to receive medical care from a drug and alcohol detox center.
What are the Symptoms of Xanax Withdrawal?
If you are addicted to Xanax, abruptly stopping it can be extremely dangerous. Xanax withdrawal symptoms range from general discomfort and anxiety to life-threatening complications like psychosis and seizures.
The may include:
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Muscle spasms
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive sweating
- General discomfort
- Hypersensitivity to light, sound, and touch
- Psychosis (hallucinations, delusions, and delirium)
The Xanax Withdrawal Timeline
The Xanax withdrawal timeline varies from person to person depending on a variety of factors. Some of these factors include how long you were using Xanax, how high of a dosage you took each time and your overall physical health. While the timeline is different for everyone, there is a general outline of how long Xanax withdrawal lasts and when you can expect to experience certain symptoms.
The first symptoms of withdrawal will begin anywhere from 6 to 12 hours after your last dose. These symptoms during this stage will be mild, however, the cravings may be intense and difficult to deal with. Early signs of withdrawal usually include mild discomfort, headaches, cravings for Xanax, insomnia, and anxiety.
At around 24-72 hours, withdrawal symptoms will begin to peak. In other words, this is when the severe symptoms of withdrawal begin to take place. You are more likely to experience seizures and psychosis during this stage of withdrawal, so it’s essential that you are under the supervision of a medical detox center or licensed physician.
After 1 to 2 weeks, the symptoms of withdrawal will begin to decline in severity. If you are still experiencing symptoms, likely, they are only mildly uncomfortable.
It is important to note that if you were taking Xanax for an anxiety disorder, you may experience rebound symptoms. This means that the symptoms of anxiety that the medication was originally treating will return. If your anxiety symptoms persist, you may require a non-narcotic anxiety medication.
After 2 weeks, the only symptoms you may continue experiencing are psychological or emotional. It is common to continue to deal with gastrointestinal distress after two weeks, which can be managed with medication. Cravings will continue to occur but can be successfully prevented with proper coping mechanisms and medication.
How is Xanax Withdrawal Treated?
Symptoms of withdrawal can become severe and life-threatening depending on your previous relationship with the substance, so you should always detox from Xanax under medical supervision.
Most drug and alcohol detox centers will prescribe you a long-acting benzodiazepine, such as Valium (diazepam), and slowly reduce your dose over a period of days or weeks. This method is known as tapering. Tapering involves gradually reducing the amount of a substance that you are addicted to in order to prevent cravings and eliminate the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms.
There are three methods of :
- Long-acting benzodiazepine substitute taper – the doctor prescribes 10 to 20 mg of diazepam (Valium) and gradually reduces your dosage over 7-10 days. This is the most popular method used in benzodiazepine detox centers.
- Alternative long-acting benzo substitute taper – the doctor prescribes a long-acting benzodiazepine and makes the dosage equivalent to 50% of how much Xanax you were taking, gradually reducing the amount over 7-10 days.
- Alprazolam taper – the doctor continues giving you Xanax, but monitors you and lowers your dosage by 10% every 2-4 weeks depending on withdrawal severity. This method is usually used in people tapering off of Xanax under the supervision of their prescribing doctor, not people seeking addiction treatment.
Throughout the detox process, you will be provided with 24/7 health monitoring and psychological support to ensure that you are comfortable and safe. You may also have the option to attend group counseling sessions and individual therapy if you are responding well to the detoxification process.
Once your body is completely rid of substances and your withdrawal symptoms have subsided, you will move on to inpatient or residential treatment to recover from the causes and effects of your addiction.
Finding Help for Xanax Addiction and Withdrawal
If you or a loved one are addicted to Xanax, it’s time to seek professional help. Attempting to quit using the drug on your own can result in the development of life-threatening withdrawal symptoms and prevent you from being able to successfully maintain sobriety.
Carolina Center for Recovery can help you detox safely, keep your symptoms under control, and begin your recovery. Our individually tailored program will help you build a foundation of sobriety that allows you to maintain recovery for years to come.
Don’t wait any longer for the help you deserve. Call now to get started.
Medically Reviewed: October 13, 2022
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.