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What is Xanax?

Alprazolam, sold under the brand name Xanax, treats anxiety disorders and panic disorder (sudden, unexpected attacks of extreme fear and worry about these attacks).  Alprazolam is in a class of drugs called benzodiazepines.  It works by lowering abnormal excitement in the brain.  If you are taking this drug, do not let anyone else take your medication.  

Alprazolam is a controlled substance.  Given that prescriptions may be refilled only a limited number of times.  Alprazolam may be habit-forming, and only a Xanax detox can help you be relieved in the process of starting to live normally without it.

Xanax’s clinical use has been a point of contention as most addiction specialists consider it highly addictive, given its unique psychodynamic properties, limiting its clinical usefulness.  In contrast, many primary care physicians continue to prescribe it for more extended periods than recommended.

Alprazolam is not only the most prescribed benzodiazepine, but it is the most prescribed psychotropic medication in the United States, accounting for more than 48 million prescriptions dispensed in 2013.  This persists even though many prescribers consider alprazolam to have high misuse liability.  It is shown to result in a more severe withdrawal syndrome than other benzodiazepines, even when tapered.  Benzodiazepines are implicated in approximately one-third of intentional overdoses or suicide attempts.  [1]

Xanax Detox
Xanax Detox
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Alprazolam (Xanax) Withdrawal Syndrome

Alprazolam and alprazolam-XR carry the same general risk of withdrawal as other benzodiazepines.

Specifically, alprazolam withdrawal syndrome has been involving a more complicated and, in some aspects, unique rebound anxiety compared with other benzodiazepine withdrawal syndromes.

One study reported that of 17 patients with panic disorder treated with alprazolam, 15 patients had a recurrence or an increase in their panic attacks, and 9 had significant new somatic symptoms;  such as malaise, weakness, insomnia, tachycardia, and dizziness, after alprazolam discontinuation;  despite a taper over four weeks. [2]

Another study reported that of 126 patients with panic disorder treated with alprazolam, 27% of patients had rebound anxiety that was more severe than pretreatment anxiety, and 35% of patients had new somatic symptoms after alprazolam discontinuation;  despite a taper over four weeks. [3]

Alprazolam withdrawal syndrome may also feature unique clinical symptoms compared with other benzodiazepine withdrawal syndromes. For example, there are several case reports of delirium and psychosis caused by alprazolam withdrawal.

Xanax Detox Withdrawal Timeline

Xanax is a medicinal drug used for anxiety. It specifically belongs to the class of drugs known as benzodiazepines which act on the central nervous system (CNS) to produce short-term anxiety relief.

It can either be taken orally or through injection depending on the condition being treated and how severe it is. However, even though it is a prescription drug, overdose and addiction can still be a problem.

When quitting Xanax, the first stage begins within six to 12 hours after the last dose. Symptoms during this time can range from mild irritation to intense pain accompanied by nausea and vomiting. By the second day, withdrawal symptoms will begin to intensify including nervousness, tremors, and seizures. The other stages are experienced between one to four days after the first day of withdrawal.

The third stage is characterized by intense anxiety along with sleeplessness or “rebound” effects that take place before someone uses Xanax again. This stage can last for several weeks due to high-stress levels in the body. The fourth stage can last for several months after quitting Xanax and is characterized by intense depression, fatigue, panic attacks, and nightmares.

Warnings and Danger of Misusing Xanax

Alprazolam is the most widely prescribed and misused benzodiazepine in the United States.  You can use the drug safely and effectively when administered appropriately, after thoroughly evaluating the risks and benefits of treatment.  Unfortunately, all benzodiazepines carry a risk of misuse, diversion, tolerance, and physical dependence.  Abuse and diversion are more common in patients with a personal or family history of alcohol or drug misuse.

Withdrawal symptoms associated with alprazolam discontinuation seem to be more severe than other benzodiazepines, probably due to its shorter half-life and high potency causing severe rebound anxiety.

Xanax Detox Program
Xanax Detox Program

Alprazolam is significantly more toxic than other benzodiazepines in cases of overdoses. Therefore, it should be avoided in patients at increased risk of suicide or using alcohol, opioids, or other sedating drugs.

The use of benzodiazepines with opioids doubles the risk of respiratory depression and death.  In the rare instance that patients require both an opioid and benzodiazepine, or during the tapering phase;  patients should have a warning to the risk of death and be offered a prescription of the opioid antagonist naloxone.

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Indications of Xanax Addiction

There are some general signs of addiction, regardless of the substance used.  Common warning signs you may have an addiction include the following:

  • Using or wanting to use the drug regularly
  • There’s an urge to use that’s so intense it’s hard to focus on anything else
  • You need to use more of the drug to obtain the same “high” (tolerance)
  • Taking more and more of the drug or taking the medication for more extended periods than intended
  • You always keep a supply of the medication on hand
  • Money is spent to get the prescription, even when money is tight
  • You develop risky behaviors to get the drug, such as stealing or violence
  • Engaging in risky behaviors while under the drug’s influence, such as having unprotected sex or driving a car
  • You use the medication notwithstanding its associated difficulties, risks, and problems
  • A lot of time is spent getting the drug, using it, and recovering from its effects
  • You try and fail to quit using the drug
  • You experience symptoms of withdrawal once you discontinue using the drug

Seeking out help is a crucial first step.  If you — or your loved one — are ready to get treatment, it may be necessary to reach out to a supportive friend or family member for support.

You can also start by making a doctor’s appointment.  Your doctor can evaluate your overall health by performing a physical exam.  They can also answer any questions you have about Xanax use and, if required, refer you to a treatment center.

What to Expect from Xanax Detox

Symptoms of Xanax withdrawal are more stringent than that of other benzodiazepines.  Consequently, withdrawal can happen after taking the drug for as little as one week.

Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Body Aches
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Blurred Vision
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Hypersensitivity to Light and Sound
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability and Mood Swings
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Numbness and tingling in the hands, feet, or face
  • Tremors
  • Tense Muscles
  • Nightmares
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Suicidal Thoughts

Detoxification (detox) is a process to help you securely stop taking Xanax while reducing and managing your withdrawal symptoms.  Detox is usually in a hospital setting or rehabilitation facility under medical supervision.

In many cases, Xanax use is discontinued over time.  Instead, you may swap it for another longer-acting benzodiazepine.  In both cases, you take less and less of the drug until it’s out of your system.  This process is tapering and can take up to six weeks. In some cases, it can take longer.  Your doctor might also prescribe other medications to ease your withdrawal symptoms.

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What to Expect from Treatment

The goal of treatment is withdrawing Xanax use over the long term.  However, treatment may also approach other underlying conditions, such as anxiety or depression.

There are several treatment options available for Xanax addiction.  Often, more than one is helpful to encounter at the same time.


Xanax Detox
Research has shown that when used alongside tapering, CBT effectively reduces benzodiazepine use over three months.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most successful form of therapy for benzodiazepine addiction.  CBT addresses the learning processes underlying substance use disorders.  It entails working with a therapist to develop a set of healthy coping strategies.

Other Standard Behavioral Therapies include:

  • Self-Control Training
  • Individual Counseling
  • Marital or Family Counseling
  • Education
  • Support Groups
  • Medication

The detox period for Xanax may be longer than the detox period for other drugs because you have to taper down the drug dose slowly over time.  As a result, detox often overlaps with different sorts of treatment.

Once you’ve quit taking Xanax or other benzodiazepines, there’s no additional medication to take. 

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For anyone who suffers from addiction, just the thought of having to stop using can cause severe mental distress.  But, with the help of a medical detox center, the medical detox process is manageable.  A comprehensive team prescribing medications can alleviate your withdrawal pains while monitoring your health 24 hours.

We are assuring both your safety and comfort.

We Level Up NJ’s thorough approach to rehabilitation supports several levels of care to ensure the best possible outcome for every patient who enters our doors.  From an intensive and more supportive atmosphere for those in the early days of recovery to a comfortable residential-style living dynamic upon completion of detox, we are here to help guide you down the safe and results-based path to your sobriety.

To start reclaiming your life from addiction and undergo a Xanax detox, you may contact us, and we will guide you to recovery.

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[1] A Review of Alprazolam Use, Misuse, and Withdrawal – National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine