Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline, Causes and Treatment
- Causes, Signs and Symptoms of Withdrawal from Xanax
- Symptoms of Withdrawal
- Severity of Withdrawal Symptoms
- Treatment for Withdrawal
- Inpatient and Outpatient Programs
- Help Someone Through Withdrawal
What is Xanax? Are There Withdrawals from Xanax Use?Xanax, a benzodiazepine, is commonly classified as a sedative-hypnotic.
As a group, sedative-hypnotics are also known as 'tranquilizers' and more popularly as 'sleeping pills'
Xanax is one of the most commonly prescribed medicines with certain agencies ranking it as the most commonly prescribed psychotropic medicine in the United States over the years.
Xanax abuse constitutes what is commonly known as 'prescription drug abuse.' In the United States, the individuals with prescription drug abuse outnumber the individuals who abuse:
Causes, Signs and Symptoms of Withdrawal from Xanax
These symptoms can develop after rapid discontinuation of 'prescribed' doses of Xanax as well. Regular and prolonged use of Xanax makes one tolerant to its effects.
As a result, the bodily systems and the mind adapt to Xanax and get used to function in its presence. In the absence of Xanax, the body and the mind experience discomfort and respond in the form of the withdrawal symptoms.
Symptoms of Withdrawal
The emergence of anxiety is one of the early and common symptoms of Xanax withdrawal. The anxiety observed during Xanax withdrawal can be due to the re-emergence of the pre-existing anxiety for which Xanax was used in the first place.
Also, anxiety is commonly observed during Xanax withdrawal even among those who did not have a pre-existing anxiety condition.
- Repetitive worrisome thoughts.
- Poor concentration.
There is a disturbance of sleep in the form of:
- Altered sleep–wake cycle.
- Daytime drowsiness.
Other bodily symptoms of Xanax withdrawal are:
- Increased heart rate.
- Elevated blood pressure.
- Muscle tension.
- Motor restlessness.
- Sudden and abrupt twitching in muscles.
- Body ache.
- Increased sweating.
- Blurry vision.
- Flu-like symptoms.
- Excessive sweating.
- Inability to maintain the gait and balance.
Also, one can experience ringing sounds in the ears, depersonalization, illusions and even hallucinations.
Severity of Withdrawal Symptoms
The severity of the Xanax withdrawal tends to vary across individuals.
Individuals who use Xanax at the same rate can experience withdrawal differently. This is because withdrawal severity depends on a host of factors, such as:
- Consumption: Larger dose over longer times is likely to lead to more intense withdrawals.
- Use of another psychoactive substance.
- Health: Poor general health conditions and presence of co-occurring physical and psychiatric disorders tend to worsen the intensity of withdrawals.
- Psychological factors.
Major withdrawal symptoms include:
- Grand mal seizures.
- Malignant hyperthermia (hyperpyrexia).
Treatment for Withdrawal
The pharmacological management of Xanax withdrawal is centered on a gradual reduction in the amount of Xanax over successive days.
An alternative approach recommends shifting to an equivalent dose of longer acting benzodiazepine like diazepam (Valium) followed by a gradual reduction in its dose.
Additionally, adjunctive medicines can be used (if indicated) such as:
- β-adrenergic receptor antagonists.
These medicines should be coupled with general nursing care and support.
Non-pharmacological approaches like cognitive restructuring and cognitive behavioral strategies can foster a sense of control over withdrawals and help manage anxiety. It also helps in the identification of negative responses to Xanax withdrawal such as increased alcohol consumption.
Treatment of Xanax withdrawal should be seen an essential initial step in the overall management plan.
Treatment of Xanax withdrawal should be seen an essential initial step in the overall management plan. It should be integrated seamlessly into the long-term phase of management.
Long term strategies include using better alternatives to manage primary symptoms of anxiety and insomnia by using recommended pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions.
This is important in order to minimize the risk of relapse to Xanax use. Effective management of dependence on other substances, if any, shall also play an important role in preventing recurrence of the problem.
Inpatient and Outpatient Programs
Treatment of Xanax withdrawal can be sought from inpatient as well as outpatient treatment settings.
The presence of co-occurring medical disorders or underlying psychiatric conditions warrant closer medical supervision and such individuals are preferably managed in inpatient settings.
Help Someone Through Withdrawal
Going through Xanax withdrawal can be challenging. It requires a strong desire and motivation to discontinue Xanax following a period of regular use.
Such individuals should be offered encouragement and support. You can extend help to tide over the waves of craving for Xanax by distracting them from such thoughts and sharing their feelings.