Josh Chandler | April 14, 2021

Don’t Go Cold Turkey: The Dangers of Xanax Withdrawal

It can be dangerous to stop taking Xanax without medical supervision. Find out about Xanax withdrawal and how our Los Angeles Xanax rehab program can help you quit safely.

Xanax is one of the most widely prescribed medications for anxiety and panic disorders. Along with other similar drugs, this benzodiazepine claims millions of lives every year. The number of overdose deaths from Xanax, Ativan, Valium, and other medications has increased four times between 2002 and 2015.

It’s estimated that more than one-third of U.S. deaths are due to prescription drug overdoses.

Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, are overprescribed to adults and teenagers worldwide. These meds carry serious side effects and become even harmful when combined with alcohol.

What most people don’t realize is that Xanax can be addictive. They often start with small doses and gradually increase the amount as their bodies adapt to the drug.

Xanax withdrawal is anything but easy. No matter how much you want to quit the drug, you may not be able to do so. Muscle pain, tremors, blurred vision, numbness, and other side effects can be mind-wrecking.

What Is Xanax Used for?

In 2013, more than 48 million Xanax prescriptions were filed in the U.S. alone, and this number has increased ever since. Millions of people take this drug to relieve anxiety and function normally in their everyday life.

Xanax, which is the brand name for alprazolam, is the most commonly used psychotropic drug in America. Other popular choices include Zoloft, Celexa, Ativan, Lexapro, and Cymbalta.

Alprazolam, however, exhibits the most severe withdrawal symptoms and carries the highest risk of misuse.

This medication relieves anxiety by increasing GABA production in the brain. GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) is a chemical that occurs naturally in the human body. It’s also available in supplement form.

Elevated GABA levels have been linked to a better mood and less anxiety. This chemical calms the nervous system and reduces the feelings of fear.

Without a doubt, Xanax works. Its effectiveness in the treatment of mood disorders is backed up by science. The problem is that it has a short half-life, so its effects are temporary.

Additionally, your brain can quickly adapt to the drug, forcing you to increase the dose. This may lead to addiction and affect your health in the long run.

For many people, especially teenagers, taking Xanax seems like a harmless way to induce euphoric feelings and keep anxiety at bay.

Surprisingly, medical professionals encourage this behavior.

Each year, over 130,000 children and toddlers in the U.S. are prescribed addictive anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax and Diazepam. Approximately 10 to 15 percent of users experience withdrawal symptoms that last five to 28 days.

Not everyone takes Xanax to relieve anxiety. Many people use it drug solely for its euphoric effects. This further affects their ability to quit the drug.

Why Is Xanax Withdrawal So Difficult?

About 30 to 40 percent of those who take benzodiazepines for longer than a month experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit cold turkey. Nausea, irritability, drowsiness, and severe anxiety are just a few to mention.

Xanax withdrawal symptoms vary from one individual to another. They tend to be more severe in those who took the drug in large doses or for long periods of time. These typically include:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Mood swings
  • Paranoid thoughts
  • Muscle pain and stiffness
  • Distorted sense of smell and touch
  • Distorted vision and hearing
  • Metallic taste in the mouth
  • Weight loss
  • Poor appetite
  • Shakiness and tremor
  • Difficulty remembering things
  • Panic attacks
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Increased sweating

Some people may experience these symptoms for two weeks or less. Others can struggle with Xanax withdrawal for years. In general, it takes six to eight weeks to regain your energy and feel normal again.

There are more than 40 withdrawal side effects associated with Xanax and other benzos. The symptoms often come and go when you least expect it. You may feel well one day and experience a panic attack the next day.

The moment you quit the drug, you’re likely to see an increase in the symptoms that you were initially trying to treat.

If you suffered from anxiety, your condition will get worse. Any panic attacks you may experience will be more severe than ever before.

Quitting cold turkey is not recommended. It not only increases the chances of relapse, but it can also be dangerous. It’s not uncommon for those who suddenly stop taking the drug to feel depressed and experience suicidal thoughts.

Xanax withdrawal symptoms can be just as severe as those of alcohol and barbiturate withdrawal. For this reason, it’s advisable to get professional help.

How to Wean off Xanax

Many times, Xanax withdrawal takes weeks or even months.

You may experience heart palpitations, extreme anxiety, severe depression, and other symptoms can make cessation difficult. It’s not unusual for those who try to quit the drug to lose their jobs or their families because they can’t keep up.

Going cold turkey can lead to withdrawal seizures. Therefore, it’s much safer to detox slowly under medical supervision.

Health experts recommend lowering the dosage by five to 10 percent every week.

Another option is to replace Xanax with Valium, Ativan, and other longer-acting benzos. These drugs are slowly metabolized and therefore, require a lower dose.

However, doing these things on your own can be dangerous. If you’re ready to quit Xanax, search for a detox program in your area.

Muse, for example, offers professional support in LA.

Our team of experts will assess your condition and develop a custom detox plan that suits your individual needs. We will make sure that everything goes smoothly and help you cope with any symptoms you may experience along the way.

Don’t Let Addiction Take over Your Life

Breaking the cycle of addiction is never easy. Whether we’re talking about illicit drugs, prescription meds, or alcohol, withdrawal can be painful and even dangerous.

Don’t let addiction take over your life! It’s in your power to quit drugs and prevent relapse. We are here to help.

If you’re struggling with Xanax withdrawal, check out our drug detox programs.

At Muse, we use an integrated treatment approach that emphasizes mental and physical well-being. Our knowledgeable staff can help you get your life back on track and feel like yourself again.

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Josh Chandler
Josh Chandler
After growing up in Chicago and North Carolina, Josh chose to get help with substance use disorder and mental health in California because of the state's reputation for top-tier treatment. There, he found the treatment he needed to achieve more than five years of recovery. He's been in the drug and alcohol addiction rehab industry for four years and now serves as the Director of Admissions for Resurgence Behavioral Health. Josh remains passionate about the field because he understands that one phone call can alter the course of a person's life.

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