Xanax Side Effects, Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline, Xanax Detox & Treatment Options
What is Xanax?
Xanax, a brand name for alprazolam, is a potent benzodiazepine (benzos) that is only recommended for use for up to six weeks. According to National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) , Xanax is the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine. It is a prescription drug used to treat anxiety disorders and anxiety caused by depression. Xanax is also prescribed to treat panic disorders with or without a fear of places and situations that might cause helplessness, panic, or embarrassment (agoraphobia).
However, Xanax users are at high risk for experiencing Xanax side effects and addiction when taking the drug:
- Using high doses
- Taking the drug for or a long period of time
- Mixing it with other drugs
It is risky and unsafe to buy Xanax outside the United States or on the internet. The distribution and sale of prescription medicines outside the U.S. do not comply with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) safe-use regulations . In addition, these medicines may contain dangerous ingredients. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Xanax is a Schedule IV controlled substance. Therefore, it is prohibited to possess Xanax without a prescription .
Taking Xanax can lead to physical dependence and addiction. In addition, withdrawal is one of the most common Xanax side effects. It is experienced when someone reduces or stops using this prescription drug, which can lead to complications such as panic attacks, insomnia, and seizures. Withdrawing from Xanax under a rehab facility specializing in Xanax detox reduces the risk for complications and helps the client experience a safer, more comfortable recovery.
Overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines (including Xanax bars) increased from 0.58 per 100,000 adults in 1996 to 3.07 in 2010. Moreover, data shows that 11,537 overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines occurred in 2017. This is according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) .
Understanding Xanax Side Effects, Abuse, and Addiction
Some individuals who are dependent on Xanax never abused any kind of drugs before. They were people struggling with anxiety and looking to the medical field for relief and support. They started taking Xanax and felt a huge improvement in symptoms. Some of them thought that using more Xanax would provide an even greater result, so they misused it in larger doses. Others just use it for too long, and often with a doctor’s permission. They don’t realize they’re addicted to it until it’s too late.
Some people may attempt to reduce their dose resulting in withdrawal symptoms that copy their initial anxiety. They assume they cannot cope without the drug and keep using or abusing it. Sometimes the anxiety symptoms that resurface are caused by substance-induced symptoms that would otherwise dissipate if the drug abuse stopped.
The calming and often addictive effects of Xanax are produced by suppressing the inhibitory receptors in the brain and central nervous system (CNS) to reduce the abnormal activity in the brain that leads to anxiety symptoms.
Some people combine Xanax with other downer substances like alcohol or opiates in order to increase pleasurable feelings. This can dangerously lead to negative health consequences such as coma, respiratory arrest, and death. Other people use Xanax to control unwanted side effects of stimulant abuse. This combination of uppers and downers can lead to heart complications such as myocardial infarction.
Common Xanax Side Effects: Abuse and Addiction
The Xanax side effects on abuse and addiction know no bounds. Every part of a person’s life can be affected by addiction to this prescription drug. Family and personal relationships grow strained, work productivity decreases, and the person may start to feel trapped in a vicious cycle of abuse and addiction. Adverse Xanax side effects including health consequences may become clear, but the person feels trapped in a cycle of obsessing about Xanax – using more, getting more, and recovering from Xanax side effects.
With prolonged usage, people may become dependent on Xanax. This can mean that they rely on the drug both psychologically and physically. In Xanax, many users have found a pleasant escape from everyday stressors and must relearn how to have a productive, enjoyable life without taking this drug. Sober living skills often take time to develop as the person addicted to the prescription drug may feel life without Xanax is unbearable. Many users, in fact, take Xanax to feel normal and function in everyday life, as they may have come to believe that they cannot function without it. These individuals will require drug rehab before embarking on a new, sober life.
The Xanax side effects of long-term Xanax abuse and addiction will differ from person to person, but one thing is for sure: addiction to Xanax leaves virtually no area of a person’s life unharmed. Some of the most common Xanax side effects due to misuse and abuse include:
- Crumbling interpersonal relationships
- Social isolation
- Short-term memory impairment
- Blurred or double vision
- Lack of muscle coordination
- Decreased libido
- Financial ruin
- Preoccupation with obtaining, using, and recovering from Xanax
- Job loss
- Legal problems
- Increased respiratory infections
- Chest pain
- Suicidal thoughts
How Long Does Xanax Stay the Body?
The emergence of illegal abuse of Xanax has created tests to detect the drug in an individual’s bodily fluids. On average, Xanax has an elimination half-life of about 11 hours (though the range is from about 6-27 hours—sometimes higher in obese patients). This means that it takes a healthy person’s body this amount of time to get rid of half of a dose of the drug.
There are a number of factors that can alter the rate that Xanax leaves the body. These include:
- Height and weight
- Metabolism speed
- Body fat content
- Amount of the drug taken
- Health of the liver and/or kidneys
- How long the drug has been used
The tests used to detect Xanax in a person’s system are blood tests, saliva swabs, urine tests, and hair follicle analysis. Urine tests are the most commonly used, but the length of time this drug stays in this bodily fluid depends mostly on how heavy abuse of the Xanax has been. For occasional users, a urine test will usually not work past four days, but in heavy users, it can detect Xanax for up to a week.
How long will Xanax show up on drug tests?
Medical professionals can test for the presence of Xanax in different methods. The process may determine how long a test can detect Xanax. These include:
Blood tests can vary how long laboratories can detect Xanax in your blood. Most individuals have about half the dose of Xanax in their blood within a day. However, it can take several days longer for the body to completely eradicate Xanax, according to the Xanax prescribing information. Even if someone doesn’t feel the anxiety-relieving effects anymore, a laboratory test may be able to detect Xanax in the blood for up to four to five days.
Laboratories can detect Xanax in hair for up to three months. Because body hair doesn’t usually grow as fast, a laboratory may test a positive result for up to 12 months after taking Xanax. However, this test is very expensive.
Individuals using saliva samples found the maximum time Xanax stayed detectable in a person’s oral fluid was two and a half days.
Not all drug tests can identify benzodiazepines or Xanax specifically. However, some urine drug screens can detect Xanax for up to five days.
These timeframes can change based on how quickly the body breaks down Xanax and the sensitivity of the laboratory test.
Xanax Side Effects and Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal symptoms from Xanax can be both physically and psychologically severe and sometimes life-threatening in case of seizures. Therefore, a person that is physically dependent on this drug may need professional help in order to safely manage the Xanax withdrawal symptoms.
Xanax withdrawal symptoms can take within hours of the last intake, and they can peak in severity within one to four days.
During withdrawal, people can experience:
- Blurred vision
- Muscle pain
- Numb fingers
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Loss of appetite
- Heart palpitations
The greatest risks of Xanax side effects due to withdrawal come from the possibility of:
- Falls from poor coordination, especially in older adults
Another concern is that the anxiety symptoms the Xanax is designed to treat could return in increased intensity and duration when the medication is stopped.
Xanax Withdrawal Timeline
6 – 12 hours
The effects of Xanax wear off within 6 hours, and the effects of withdrawal start to take over. The person starts to experience anxiety and irritability that often gets worse throughout the withdrawal period.
Days 1 – 4
The symptoms of withdrawal are most severe within the first days. Rebound anxiety and insomnia are at their peak. Other symptoms, such as shaking, muscle pain, and sweating, are also common. After the fourth day, patients will begin to see an improvement in their symptoms.
Days 7 – 14
Withdrawal symptoms can continue for up to two weeks after stopping use. At this point, the worst is over. Also, symptoms of withdrawal tend to be less critical. Anxiety and insomnia may still persist.
Any remaining symptoms should be mild. For some, protracted withdrawal symptoms may begin suddenly, even if the initial symptoms are completely gone. Moreover, protracted withdrawal symptoms tend to shift and can last up to two years.
Dangers of Quitting Xanax Cold Turkey
Many people think they can stop using a drug just as easily as they began taking it. This is seldom the case when benzodiazepines like Xanax are concerned. Few people who misuse benzodiazepines are aware of how dangerous they can be, even when taken as prescribed.
A cold-turkey Xanax withdrawal can produce uncomfortable, and sometimes dangerous, Xanax side effects, including:
- Sleep disturbances
- Anxiety and/or panic attacks
- Inability to concentrate
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle pain and stiffness
Serious Xanax side effects due to withdrawal include:
- Return to Xanax use
Xanax Side Effects: Abuse and Addiction Treatment
Medically-Assisted Xanax Detox
If someone misusing Xanax decides to undergo at-home detox, they should inform their friends or family and seek help from a medical professional to keep an eye on the process. Family, friends, and medical professionals can provide crucial support to ensure medical detox continues as planned. While at-home detox is an option, people living with severe Xanax side effects due to abuse and addiction should seek professional treatment. Xanax withdrawal can cause serious complications.
Benefits of Medically-Assisted Xanax Detox
There are many benefits of attending a professional prescription drug detox center, such as:
- Drug abuse treatment planning
- Peer support
- Medical care and monitoring
- Safe and drug-free environment
- Medications to mitigate withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings
- Mental health care
- Lower risk of relapse
Medically-assisted prescription drug detox treatment can limit the distress of detox while ensuring safety. Medically assisted facilitates the removal of unwanted drugs and substances from the body and is an important step to initiate recovery.
Inpatient treatment is recommended if someone has severe addiction and is at risk for dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Inpatient treatment offers 24-hour care as you will live in the detox center during treatment to maintain a safe, consistent environment with available medical intervention.
Find the Right Treatment Plan To Fight Xanax Side Effects
Detox can begin the road to recovery, but it is only one aspect of the levels of care. For the best results, clients should eventually transition into a Xanax addiction treatment program to learn relapse prevention skills and promote long-term sobriety.
We Level Up NJ offers a full level of care programs, including medically-assisted Xanax detox. Here at We Level Up Treatment Facility, we provide proper care with our round-the-clock physicians available to help you cope and be successful with your recovery. So, reclaim your life, call us to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions. Call us today, and we will help you understand the Xanax side effects and what leads to its misuse and addiction.
 NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5846112/
 FDA – https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2011/018276s044,021434s006lbl.pdf
 DEA – https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/benzodiazepines
 CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr137-508.pdf