Xanax Detox & Withdrawal
Long-term use, though common, is not recommended for prescription Xanax due to the high risk of misuse, abuse and addiction. Tolerance to the effects of Xanax builds up relatively quickly and can produce withdrawal symptoms that are more severe than other benzodiazepines.
A medically supervised detox should be undertaken to alleviate and ease these symptoms.
What is a Xanax Detox?
Detox is an important step in your recovery journey and will include an
- Evaluation and assessment of your Xanax dependence
- Stabilization if you have been admitted as an emergency (this would generally be done in the ED)
- Ensuring you are ready to begin treatment
Xanax and other benzodiazepines should be tapered off gradually and with medical supervision to help with withdrawal symptoms.
Whilst the length of time you have been using Xanax can affect your personal withdrawal experience, common withdrawal symptoms that can be expected are:
- Rebound Anxiety (Benzodiazepines for Anxiety Disorders and OCD – Anxieties.com) – This usually occurs two to three days after a taper and is often caused by too big of a reduction of the medication at one time.
- Irregular heart rate
All these symptoms can be eased in a comfortable residential detox programme.
Quitting Xanax “cold turkey”
Going ‘Cold Turkey’ is when you choose to stop using Xanax without slowly reducing the dose. Using this method of detox is not recommended as there are high probabilities and risks for severe withdrawal symptoms.
Quitting too quickly can lead to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and the risk of relapse increases
Symptoms may include:
- a collection of symptoms including a rapid heartbeat, sweating, high blood pressure, tremor (shaking), hallucinations, and agitated behaviour.
(Withdrawal Management – Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings – NCBI Bookshelf)
How to Detox from Xanax Safely
Xanax addiction is a complex condition, but it is treatable and can involve different types of services with varying degrees of intensity. Treatment for Xanax addiction must be tailored to you as an individual to address your psychological, physical, social, and vocational needs.
If you or a loved one is struggling with Xanax use, you are not alone, and help is available.
Speak to your GP
Your GP may choose, if possible, where addiction has not yet developed, a gradual reduction of your Xanax dosage to help reduce the risk of experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
You may be asked the following CAGE questions to determine your risk of Xanax use disorder:
- Have you felt you ought to cut down on your drinking or drug use?
- Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking or drug use?
- Have you felt bad or guilty about your drinking or drug use?
- Have you ever had a drink or used drugs first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover (eye-opener)?
The CAGE questionnaire is a simple screening questionnaire to identify possible addictions to alcohol and has been adapted to include drugs (CAGE-AID)
(CAGE Questionnaire | Doctor)
An intensive assessment may be needed to tailor a treatment plan to your needs specifically.
If you are Abusing Prescription Medication
Once the extent of your misuse, abuse or addiction to Xanax has been assessed, your treatment programme can be structured around your personal needs. As previously stated, withdrawal from Xanax, in particular, may be uncomfortable, painful and severe, and there is a risk of relapse if not handled professionally.
Medically Assisted Detox
Detoxification (detox) from Xanax is a process aimed at helping you safely stop while minimizing and managing your withdrawal symptoms. Detox from Xanax is usually done detox or rehabilitation facility under medical supervision.
Your dose may be tapered off over some time until you no longer need Xanax to function, this discontinuation helps to lessen your withdrawal symptoms and is common in treatment for Xanax addiction. (Treatment of Benzodiazepine Dependence)
- Treatment for Xanax addiction can consist of clonidine for hypertension and cravings, or carbamazepine (Tegretol) for seizures.
- Buspirone (BuSpar) is an option for treating anxiety and is non-addictive.
- Baclofen, marketed as an anti-spasmodic and muscle relaxant, has been shown in recent studies to be effective with cravings in Xanax addiction.
Preventing a Relapse
Since there is a risk of rebound symptoms occuring similar to the conditions Xanax was prescribed to treat, relapse may occur. Treating those underlying causes as well as having a clear plan on how to prevent a relapse is important.
Once your initial treatment (generally a 28-day inpatient programme) has been completed, the need for ongoing support for you and your family is available to facilitate your journey back to living your life free of Xanax.
This is where a Secondary Addiction Care Service can assist you with:
- Reintegration back into your daily life
- Relapse prevention
- Reestablishing a support network within your community and family
- Continuation of therapy
- Rebuilding your daily life skills
Antidepressants are also used for the treatment of anxiety disorders, as they carry less risk of addiction.
- SSRIs (Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) – Generalised anxiety disorders, panic disorders, social phobia, PTSD & OCD
- TCAs (tricyclic antidepressants) – Generalised anxiety disorders, panic disorders, social phobia, PTSD & OCD
- ACVs (anticonvulsants) – Generalised anxiety disorders, panic disorders, & PTSD
- ANs (atypical neuroleptics) – Acute anxiety, PTSD & OCD
Treating the Underlying Causes of Prescription Xanax Dependency
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is a widely used therapy for anxiety disorders, it is effective as a treatment for panic disorder, social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and phobias.
Your chances of beating a medication addiction are better with long-term maintenance therapy that includes medications along with some form of counselling or behavioural therapy. This is known as medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
Choosing a residential treatment centre is a safe place to start your recovery, starting with a medically assisted and supervised detox, you will have 24/7 care and assistance to help ease the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms you may experience.
If you wish to carry on your rehabilitation treatment, you will have a seamless integration into your rehabilitation programme that has been developed holistically around you as a whole, to help change the habits you have formed into new more beneficial, and healthier ones for once you have left rehab.
During residential treatment, you will have access to a therapist daily or weekly. The therapist will help you look at the nature of your addiction and assess whether pre-existing mental health conditions (Dual Diagnosis), hereditary factors, or trauma are contributing to your dependence.
The NHS (The NHS website – NHS) only offers outpatient care for the treatment of addiction and there can be waiting lists before you may start treatment in your area (Find Drug addiction services), so if you require urgent admission, contact us and we will help you find the right private treatment centre for your needs.
The NHS is also unable to prescribe Xanax and you would need to visit your private GP for tapering doses, your detox will not be as closely monitored as you can expect from private rehab centres and the medical assistance may not be as focused as you need.
Tapering your Xanax doses can take weeks or months, depending on your response and the dose taken. You can help ease your withdrawal by doing a few simple things yourself:
Take Time Off Work
As you detox and during the initial period of recovery, you will feel moody, irritable and not yourself. Having time away from work will help you focus on your recovery.
Remove any leftover Xanax
You may need support from a loved one to do this, but you need to dispose of any leftover tablets, bottles and packaging that may be in your home or environment.
Stay Away from Weekend Benders
This includes staying away from ‘friends’ that supported and influenced your usage.
Find hobbies and healthy outlets to fill your time and get healthy levels of dopamine flowing.
Healthy sleeping habits may need to be learned now that there is no medication to cause drowsiness. But getting those 8 hours every night is very beneficial as your brain and body do the most healing during sleep.
Talk to Friends & Family
Open communication with your family and loved ones will reassure them that you are taking your recovery seriously, also ask loved ones, that if they take Xanax or other Benzodiazepines themselves, to keep the temptation to a minimum.
Eat Healthy & Exercise
A lot of time eating and living a healthier lifestyle takes a back seat to addiction, start feeding your body with foods that help it heal.
Remind Yourself Daily the Reasons You’re Quitting
Recovery is a daily commitment, keep a diary of what you are experiencing, why you chose to quit and how you want your sober life to be.
Rehabilitation is only the first phase of your recovery and healing from addiction, having long-term involvement in therapy and with support groups such as:
- Narcotics Anonymous (UKNA | Narcotics Anonymous in the UK) or call them on 0300 999 1212)
- Involve your family in your therapy, and give them options to join support groups that are dedicated to helping families, friends and loved ones of addicts: