Withdrawal From Xanax: Side-Effects, Symptoms, & Risks Of Trying To Detox By Yourself

Xanax is a commonly used anti-anxiety medication, but it’s also a popular drug of abuse. People like the feeling Xanax can give them, whether prescribed or not, which can lead to abuse and addiction in some users. 

Like other drugs, Xanax is mostly safe when used properly, but becomes much more dangerous when used improperly, especially if you don’t have a prescription for it or start taking larger doses than recommended. 

Unfortunately, since addiction also leads to tolerance over time, people who use Xanax recreationally will likely gradually increase their use and the size of their doses. 

That combination means that Xanax addiction is dangerous and likely worsen with time. And, since Xanax users often have underlying conditions like anxiety or depression that need to be addressed, it can be complicated and more difficult to overcome addiction to Xanax, with or without medical assistance. 

That’s why it’s important to understand the withdrawal from Xanax, what it feels like, how long it lasts, and why it’s a good idea to get medical assistance to help with withdrawal. We’ll also talk about some ways to make a withdrawal a little easier since that’s often important to help prevent relapse through withdrawal. 

Ready to learn more about stopping Xanax and common withdrawal effects? 

You’re in the right place. 

Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms & Side-Effects

Knowing what you can expect from Xanax withdrawal is an important way to help prepare to stop taking the drug. If you’re prescribed Xanax and your doctor wants you to stop taking it or switch to a different drug, you might have to stop taking Xanax for a while to avoid a potentially dangerous medication interaction. 

In this case, your doctor might be able to help you anticipate and manage your withdrawal symptoms, but it’s still a good idea to be prepared for the full range of withdrawal symptoms. 

If you take Xanax recreationally, your withdrawal may be worse than someone who is taking it therapeutically, because it’s likely that less of the drug is being used to deal with your symptoms, which leaves more to cause a chemical dependence that may make withdrawal worse. 

The longer you take Xanax, either therapeutically or recreationally, the more severe your withdrawal symptoms are likely to be. Likewise, the higher the dose you take, the more severe the withdrawal symptoms you get are likely to be. 

That said, let’s talk about the common side effects of Xanax withdrawal:

  • Hyperventilation
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia
  • Muscle spasms
  • Racing heart
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Tremors 
  • Sweating
  • Panic attacks
  • Restlessness
  • Depression

Remember that these are just the common side effects of Xanax withdrawal. You may have additional side effects that aren’t listed, and your side effects may be more severe than expected. 

Some of these side effects are serious and can be dangerous. Seizures and hallucinations are both medical conditions that require immediate help. If your doctor is helping with your withdrawal you can contact them and ask what to do. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to go to the emergency room for care as soon as possible if you experience either of those symptoms. 

Xanax is also known to have rebound effects when you stop taking it. In this case, the rebound is that you’re likely to experience the anxiety symptoms you had before taking Xanax, and they may be or seem worse than they were before. 

If you had severe anxiety before taking Xanax it’s important to make sure you have support systems to help you deal with those symptoms while withdrawing from Xanax. Friends and family can help support you, helpline numbers are written down, and comforting objects, foods, and media are all good things to have nearby. 

Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms Timeline

Knowing what symptoms you’re likely to get from Xanax withdrawal is important. Still, it’s also important to understand the withdrawal timeline so you know what to expect when to expect it, and when the worst of your symptoms should pass. 

This timeline is just an estimate based on the average experience of someone going through Xanax withdrawal. Your timeline might not be the same, but it’s a good idea to assume that your timeline will be similar. 

That said, 15-44% of chronic users withdrawing from Xanax and other benzodiazepines will have a ‘protracted withdrawal’ where withdrawal symptoms persist longer than normal. Cases of protracted withdrawal may also come with more severe and longer-lasting symptoms. 

Let’s talk about a typical Xanax withdrawal timeline: 

The First 8-12 Hours

At the end of the first 8 to 12 hours after your last dose of Xanax, you will start to feel withdrawal side effects. It’s a good idea to use this time to get ready, ensure sure you’re well hydrated, and eat a satisfying and nutritious meal to help make sure your body has as many resources as possible before symptoms arrive. 

24-48 Hours After Your Last Dose

This is usually the worst part of withdrawal. When symptoms start you should expect them to get worse rapidly, until the second day, which is usually the worst. 

If your symptoms worsen past the second day that may be your first sign of protracted withdrawal. 

Days 2-5 

Xanax withdrawal doesn’t start to get better immediately, and you can expect relatively severe symptoms to last until the 4th or 5th day, almost as severe as they were on the second day. 

By the end of the 5th day, you should start feeling a little better, but not 100%. 

The Second Week

By the second week after your last dose, your symptoms should improve significantly better, and you should feel almost or entirely back to normal. 

Protracted Withdrawal

Protracted withdrawal always needs to be managed by medical professionals, and you may need to start taking other medications to help deal with some of the worst symptoms. 

Protracted withdrawal has been reported to last up to a full year after the last dose, with acute symptoms coming and going throughout the withdrawal period. 

With proper medical intervention and good coping mechanisms, people dealing with protracted withdrawal may be able to regain a relatively normal quality of life, but not in all cases. 

Why You Shouldn’t Try To Withdrawal From Xanax Alone

There are many reasons you should get medical help when you’re trying to withdraw from Xanax, but it’s equally important to have someone around while dealing with withdrawal symptoms, even if you aren’t getting help from a doctor. 

That’s important because some symptoms, like seizures, require emergency medical attention, but you might not be able to get help for yourself. Having someone around means that there is someone who can call for help and keep you safe if you get some of the more severe symptoms of Xanax withdrawal. 

Having someone around to help you can also make it easier to stay hydrated and ensure you get at least a small amount of food when your symptoms are milder. 

It’s also a good idea because having someone to talk to and interact with can be grounding, help make anxiety symptoms easier to manage, and make severe psychological symptoms like hallucinations less likely. 

Medical assistance can be even safer and more effective since you can access to more direct help managing symptoms. Medical care professionals can also help manage the worst of your symptoms to make your withdrawal less uncomfortable. 

Medical professionals are also the best prepared to recognize and deal with protracted withdrawal symptoms. They’ll be able to explain what’s happening, and what they’re doing to make it more manageable. 

How To Mitigate The Withdrawal Symptoms When Detoxing From Xanax

you can do many things to help mitigate the symptoms of Xanax detoxing. Of course, none of these methods are perfect, but they can help make a big difference in your symptoms. 

Prepping what you need in advance is one of the best options. If you have plenty of food and beverages available before withdrawal you’re more likely to stay hydrated and get plenty of nutrition while detoxing, which can make your symptoms less severe, or at least less harmful. 

You should also have comfortable clothing, blankets, and other comfort objects available to help counteract the worst of the discomfort and anxiety of detox. 

Make sure you have a lot of sources of electrolytes while you’re detoxing. Drinking plain water can make detox worse if you aren’t eating enough, but drinks like juice, Gatorade, and other electrolyte drinks can help make sure your body has what it needs when you need it. 

Chamomile tea can help calm anxiety and make sleeping easier if you’re dealing with insomnia. 

Exercise or seeking out therapy can also help make Xanax withdrawal easier and give you the coping skills you need to deal with the symptoms. 

Or, if you think you need additional support and help, you might want to consider a residential treatment center that can handle your symptoms, while also providing hydration and nutrition support, therapy, and other support systems to make it easier to detox successfully and build a life without Xanax addiction. 

If you’re committed to overcoming Xanax addiction and think a treatment center is a right place for you, Please contact a premier facility that can help. 

 

Sources: 

 

  1. John P, Cunha. XANAX. Rxlist.com. Published March 11, 2021. Accessed September 1, 2022. https://www.rxlist.com/xanax-drug.htm
  2. Corinne O’Keefe Osborn. How Long Does Xanax Withdrawal Last?. Verywellmind.com. Published January 02, 2022. Accessed September 1, 2022. https://www.verywellmind.com/xanax-withdrawal-4685921
  3. Elizabeth Hartney. The Comedown, Crash, or Rebound Effect of Drugs. Verywellmind.com. Published March 20, 2020. Accessed September 1, 2022. https://www.verywellmind.com/comedown-crash-rebound-effect-after-drugs-4171269
  4. Hood S.D., Norman A., Hince D.A., Melichar J.K.,Hulse, G.K. Benzodiazepine dependence and its treatment with low dose flumazenil. bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com. Published November 5, 2012. Accessed September 1, 2022. https://bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bcp.12023

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