What is Xanax withdrawal?

Xanax withdrawal is a set of symptoms you experience when you cut back on Xanax dosage or quit taking Xanax totally. More here on what Xanax withdrawal is like and what helps relieve Xanax withdrawal symptoms here.

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Are you planning to go through Xanax Withdrawal?

Here, we review what happens in the body when you withdraw from Xanax and why. Plus, how Xanax withdrawal feels and what can help ease symptoms. Your questions about withdrawing from Xanax are welcomed at the end.

What is Xanax withdrawal?

Once you have abruptly stopped using Xanax, the body will experience a period of withdrawal. Withdrawal happens because the brain is trying to reach homeostasis and compensate for the depressant effect Xanax has on the brain. Because Xanax slows brain activity, once you stop taking Xanax, the brain rebounds sometimes resulting in seizures. This feeling of the body speeding up is uncomfortable and people who try to avoid it by taking more Xanax can develop an additional psychological dependence on Xanax.

What is Xanax withdrawal syndrome?

The grouping of symptoms that occur when you stop taking Xanax is called “Xanax withdrawal syndrome.” But why does Xanax withdrawal syndrome happen?  Xanax (alprazolam) is a drug in the benzodiazepine class of medicines. It is prescribed to treat anxiety, panic disorders, and sometimes depression. Some people experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking benzodiazepines abruptly instead of tapering off, and anxiety can return once you stop taking Xanax.

Xanax withdrawal syndrome occurs because Xanax has a depressant effect on the nervous system and calms physical symptoms of anxiety. After a while on Xanax (more than 3-4 weeks of regular dosing), your body will develop as dependence on alprazolam. Because of this, the body starts to crave Xanax in order to regulate levels of alprazolam in the system. When a body developing tolerance to Xanax or starts to show physical dependence on Xanax symptoms and does not get regular doses of Xanax, symptoms of withdrawal from the body system occur.

What is withdrawal from Xanax like?

Withdrawing from Xanax can be really uncomfortable as the body is no longer relaxed and craves movement. Basically, the body goes from a state of sedation into over activity. There can be several symptoms that might occur after ceasing to use Xanax. The more common symptoms of Xanax withdrawal can include:

  • feelings of apprehension and fearfulness
  • a harder time going to sleep or staying asleep (insomnia)
  • increased feelings of excitement and restlessness
  • increased levels of anxiety

A withdrawal reaction may occur if Xanax is stopped abruptly. A withdrawal reaction may be mistaken for a return of the anxiety because many of the symptoms are similar. Sometimes the body will react violently with tremors and sometimes seizures. This is why it is not advised that you stop taking Xanax cold turkey as the symptoms can be severe and life threatening, especially if you’re abusing Xanax. More severe symptoms that occur while withdrawing from Xanax have included:

  • anxiety
  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • increased blood pressure
  • loss of appetite
  • panic attacks
  • seizures
  • severe skin rash
  • shakiness

What does Xanax withdrawal feel like?

Xanax withdrawal can feel like life has sped up. Increased anxiety and insomnia will probably occur, as well as tremors and increased confusion and mood swings. There are also increased feelings of depression as a result of Xanax withdrawal which makes weaning off the drug harder. Onset of these symptoms starts about four to five days after you stop taking Xanax. The withdrawal symptoms which result from stopping Xanax can last up from days to weeks after you stop taking Xanax.

What helps Xanax withdrawal?

It is essential that you talk with the doctor before discontinuing a benzodiazepine like Xanax. After a person has taken benzodiazepines for an extended period, the dosage is gradually reduced before it is stopped completely. This is why it is important that you are monitored by a physician during Xanax withdrawal – so that a medical professional can slowly decrease Xanax doses and taper alprazolam medication to minimize the effects of withdrawal symptoms.

Three possible treatments for Xanax withdrawal include: tapering, medications, and home remedies.

1. Home remedies for Xanax withdrawal – Home remedies to help deal with symptoms of withdrawal during Xanax detox aim to treat specific symptoms. For symptoms of restlessness, some people recommend supplements of Potassium and Zinc. For symptoms of insomnia, some people use valerian or melatonin supplements to help them sleep after they have tapered Xanax dosage.

2. Medications – Sometimes doctors will prescribe antidepressants to help with depressive episodes that occur during Xanax withdrawal but there should be care in how these methods are used. Otherwise, alternative medications for the treatment of anxiety can be offered, including non-benzodiazepine medicines such as Buspiron or beta blockers to help ease symptoms. Psychotherapy is also an alternative non-pharmaceutical treatment for underlying anxiety and depression issues.

3. Tapering – The best way to detox from Xanax is to use a tapering method. It can take several weeks to wean a person off of Xanax. During this process, a psychological need for the drug might emerge. For this reason, it is important to talk to someone and make sure you have supports available to you. It is helpful while in the detox phase you have a place that is quiet and darker as to help with sensitivity to light and sound.

In general, the recommended procedure for tapering off Xanax is to first reduce Xanax intake in three day increments. The rate of reduction should decease slowly about 0.5mg every three days to allocate for withdrawal symptoms. Some people may need to be on a slower reduction in order to compensate for withdrawal symptoms.

Questions about Xanax withdrawal

Do you still have questions about Xanax Withdrawal? Please share your questions and experiences with Xanax in the comments section below. And we’ll try to respond to your Xanax questions personally ASAP.

Reference Sources: The Partnership for a Drug-Free America: Getting High on Prescription and Over-the-Counter Drugs Is Dangerous
New York State Office of Mental Health: Booklet about Prescription Medications
Pub Med Health: Alprazolam
Drug Enforcement Administration: Benzodiazepines
National Library of Medicine: Alprazolam use and dependence. A retrospective analysis of 30 cases of withdrawal.
Daily Med: Alprazolam tablets
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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