Clinically Reviewed by Sarah Hogan, MA LPC
Sarah is a Licensed Professional Counselor with 13 years of experience in the behavioral health field as well as a certified provider of Cognitive Processing Therapy for Trauma. She has extensive experience in counseling and case management with local mental health authorities, emergency homeless shelters, leading high acuity response teams, and serving first responders/veterans.
Xanax, also known by its generic name, alprazolam, is a widely prescribed medication primarily used to treat anxiety disorders and panic attacks. While it can be effective in managing these conditions, it is essential to understand that prolonged or excessive use of Xanax can lead to dependence and addiction. Consequently, attempting to quit or reduce Xanax usage abruptly with a medical detox can result in withdrawal symptoms. The severity of these symptoms varies from person to person, leading to concerns about the potential dangers of Xanax withdrawal. In this blog post, we aim to explore the risks associated with Xanax withdrawal and debunk some of the myths surrounding it.
Understanding Xanax and Its Effects:
Before diving into the topic of withdrawal, it is crucial to grasp the fundamental aspects of Xanax and its impact on the body. Xanax belongs to a class of medications called benzodiazepines, which act on the central nervous system (CNS) to produce a calming effect. It enhances the activity of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which helps regulate brain activity and reduces anxiety.
Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms:
When an individual develops a dependence on Xanax, abruptly stopping or significantly reducing the dosage can trigger withdrawal symptoms. The severity and duration of these symptoms depend on various factors, including the duration and dosage of Xanax use, individual physiology, and any underlying health conditions. Common symptoms of Xanax withdrawal may include:
- Rebound anxiety: The sudden removal of Xanax can cause anxiety symptoms to resurface, potentially heightened due to the absence of the medication’s calming effects.
- Insomnia and sleep disturbances: Many individuals experience difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep during Xanax withdrawal. Sleep disturbances can contribute to increased irritability and fatigue.
- Mood swings: Xanax withdrawal may lead to emotional instability, irritability, and abrupt changes in mood, ranging from agitation to depression.
- Physical symptoms: Headaches, muscle aches, tremors, sweating, nausea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal distress are some of the physical symptoms that may arise during Xanax withdrawal.
- Cognitive difficulties: Xanax withdrawal can impair concentration, memory, and cognitive abilities, affecting an individual’s overall mental functioning.
Can Xanax Withdrawal Kill You?
One common misconception is that Xanax withdrawal can be fatal. It is important to clarify that Xanax withdrawal alone is not generally life-threatening. However, complications arising from severe withdrawal symptoms can pose risks to an individual’s health. For instance, severe anxiety during withdrawal may trigger panic attacks, which can lead to complications if left unaddressed.
Moreover, individuals who have been using Xanax in high doses or for an extended period may experience more intense withdrawal symptoms. In such cases, the abrupt cessation of Xanax can potentially cause seizures, a condition known as benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. While seizures can be dangerous and potentially fatal in extreme circumstances, they are relatively rare during Xanax withdrawal. The bottom line is a medical detox is always the safest way to stop using benzodiazepines and you should never attempt to detox yourself from them.
Medical Detox for Xanax
Considering the potential risks associated with Xanax withdrawal, seeking medical guidance and supervision is highly advisable when attempting to discontinue Xanax use. Healthcare professionals can develop an individualized tapering plan, gradually reducing the dosage of Xanax over time to minimize the severity of withdrawal symptoms.
Medical supervision during Xanax withdrawal also ensures proper monitoring of any potential complications and provides access to appropriate interventions, such as the administration of medications to manage severe withdrawal symptoms or prevent seizures.
Getting Help for Xanax Addiction
Overcoming Xanax addiction and successfully navigating through withdrawal requires a comprehensive approach that goes beyond medical detox for Xanax alone. Professional addiction treatment programs, such as the inpatient rehabilitation we offer here at Plum Creek Recovery Ranch, can provide the necessary support for successful recovery. Here you receive counseling, therapy, and aftercare planning, to address the underlying causes of Xanax addiction and promote long-term recovery.
Additionally, support from friends, family, and support groups can significantly contribute to a successful recovery journey. Peer support can provide a sense of belonging and understanding, while loved ones can offer encouragement and help create a stable and healthy environment conducive to recovery.
While Xanax withdrawal can be uncomfortable and challenging, it is vital to debunk the myth that it can directly cause death. However, severe withdrawal symptoms can lead to complications that may pose risks to an individual’s health. Therefore, seeking medical supervision and professional help during withdrawal is essential to ensure a safe and successful recovery.
If you or someone you know is struggling with Xanax addiction or experiencing withdrawal symptoms, do not hesitate to reach out to Plum Creek Recovery Ranch at (512) 764-1948. Remember, you don’t have to face this journey alone, and help is available to assist you in overcoming Xanax addiction and regaining control of your life.