Xanax, also known as Alprazolam, is a type of benzodiazepine that is commonly prescribed to treat a range of disorders including anxiety, panic attacks, and certain forms of depression. It comes in pill or bar form and can only be legally obtained with a medical prescription.
Benzodiazepines are used to relax the body and act as a sedative, making them effective at managing the physical aspects of stress disorders.
Xanax is not viewed as a sole treatment option as the drug’s primary function is to mask the symptoms of anxiety, allowing patients to function in their daily lives. Instead, it is usually prescribed in combination with psychotherapy in order to treat the underlying causes of anxiety and panic disorder.
It is fast-acting and taken multiple times a day, often taking effect within one hour of ingestion and wearing off after around five hours.
As many benzodiazepines are highly addictive, patients who are prescribed Xanax should be closely monitored by a trained medical professional both during treatment and throughout the tapering-off process.
How does Xanax affect the body?
The primary function of Xanax is to work as a sedative, slowing down the body’s nervous system and reducing brain activity in certain areas that usually promote stress and anxiety.
The brain naturally produces Gamma Amino Butyric Acid (GABA), a chemical with the ability to reduce brain activity in specific zones. These areas include:
- Rational thought
- Essential functions such as breathing, blinking, and swallowing
Xanax works with this chemical and increases the effects of GABA. While other drugs often produce a euphoric and extremely pleasurable sensation, Xanax instead promotes feelings of relaxation and tiredness.
In this way, Xanax can provide relief to individuals struggling with feelings of stress, anxiety, and panic.
Is it possible to become addicted to Xanax?
Even if Xanax has been prescribed by a medical professional and is taken according to their guidance, it is still possible to develop a dependency on this prescription drug.
Benzodiazepines such as Xanax are some of the most addictive prescription drugs available, with the current number of people in the UK addicted to benzodiazepines estimated at 1.5 million. 
Xanax can only be legally obtained with a medical prescription, but due to the highly addictive nature of this drug, there has been an increase in counterfeit Xanax production over recent years. There have been over 200 deaths linked to Xanax in the UK since 2015, with the vast majority of these related to misuse and illegally obtained counterfeit versions.
Addiction to Xanax can form within a matter of weeks. Therefore, it’s vital that patients are informed of the risks before a prescription is issued as well as being closely monitored throughout the length of the treatment.
What are the symptoms of Xanax withdrawal?
As addiction to Xanax can be both physical and psychological, it stands to reason that withdrawal from this drug may result in a range of symptoms that affect both the body and the mind.
Each person will experience Xanax withdrawal differently. Some may only notice mild symptoms such as gastrointestinal problems, while others may suffer seizures or withdrawal-induced psychosis.
The length of the addiction and the amount of Xanax ingested may give a clue as to the extent of the recovery process, but in general, there is no fail-safe method of prediction. In fact, studies show that anyone taking benzodiazepines such as Xanax for over 3-4 weeks is highly likely to experience withdrawal symptoms. 
As a result, it’s recommended that Xanax withdrawal should be undertaken in a professional medical setting to allow for regular monitoring of the individual’s physical and mental health. This can include residential treatment in a specialised rehabilitation centre, or the use of outpatient facilities if the patient is unable to commit to this level of care.
Xanax is commonly prescribed to individuals struggling with anxiety disorders, so it’s important to be aware that the original symptoms of the anxiety disorder are likely to present themselves during the first stages of Xanax withdrawal as the body attempts to restabilise without the help of medication.
Physical symptoms of Xanax withdrawal include:
- Excessive perspiration
- Blurred vision
- Muscle pain
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Upset stomach
- Numb fingers
- Loss of appetite
- Heart palpitations
Psychological symptoms of Xanax withdrawal include:
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Severe depression
- Suicidal thoughts
- Restlessness and irritability
If you’re thinking about detoxing from Xanax but are worried about the potential withdrawal symptoms, it’s important to reach out to family and friends. They will be able to support you through the process of recovery and remind you that while the withdrawal symptoms may feel unpleasant, they will eventually pass.
Do not underestimate the value of a strong support network during this time. It can often mean the difference between recovery and relapse.
How to detox from Xanax safely
In order to fully recover from a Xanax addiction, it is necessary to undergo a detoxification process, during which the drug is slowly cleansed from the system until the physical dependency no longer remains. Once this stage is complete, treatment for the psychological aspect of the addiction may begin.
When attempting to detox from Xanax, it is recommended that the dosage is slowly decreased over time under the guidance of a medical professional. This extends the length of withdrawal and detoxification but also decreases the likelihood of relapse. While patients may experience symptoms over a longer period of time as their dose is slowly reduced, these symptoms will likely be less intense in severity and therefore more manageable.
It is not advised to abruptly stop taking Xanax as this can lead to life-threatening symptoms such as seizures or suicidal thoughts. If the individual is unable to access medical treatment or has chosen to detox at home, they should focus on slowly reducing their intake of Xanax while closely monitoring any potential withdrawal symptoms.
The safest and most effective form of Xanax detoxification is within a specialised rehabilitation treatment centre. Patients are under the care of experienced medical professionals with extensive training in the detoxification process, providing support and guidance throughout the initial withdrawal phase and extending into long-term recovery.
What to expect when undergoing a Xanax detox
Xanax withdrawal looks different for everyone, and each person will experience it in their own way. If an individual has been using Xanax on a regular basis for the last few years, they may experience more intense symptoms than someone who is coming to the end of a three-month period of use. However, there is no way of knowing for sure. This is why it’s recommended to undergo a Xanax detox under professional medical supervision.
As Xanax is fast-acting, symptoms of withdrawal will begin fairly soon after the last dose. Within a couple of hours, many people will begin to experience a number of physical symptoms such as nausea, headaches, and excessive perspiration.
A few days later, more intense symptoms may begin to appear. These can include gastrointestinal issues, physical pain, and in severe cases even seizures. If the individual was originally prescribed Xanax to treat an anxiety disorder, the original symptoms of the anxiety disorder are likely to begin to present themselves as the body attempts to restabilise without the help of medication.
In most cases, withdrawal symptoms begin to abate at around the two-week mark, but certain symptoms such as mental discomfort can continue for several months. It’s recommended that the patient continue to work with a medical professional even after the initial withdrawal period has passed, as the guidance and support they receive will increase the chances of long-term recovery.
Medications used for Xanax detox
The process of Xanax withdrawal can seem overwhelming to begin with, but the knowledge that there are certain medications available to help ease many of the most unpleasant side effects can be a source of comfort.
Some of these medications must be prescribed by a medical professional, while others can be purchased over-the-counter in any local pharmacy.
The medications most commonly used for Xanax detox include:
Some of the more concerning symptoms of Xanax withdrawal include severe depression and suicidal thoughts. In these situations, certain antidepressants including Prozac may be prescribed to help ease the symptoms of depression and allow the patient to get through the process of withdrawal safely.
2. Over-the-counter medications
The physical symptoms of Xanax withdrawal can be unpleasant and difficult to deal with. Thankfully, there is a range of over-the-counter medications that can treat symptoms such as headaches, gastrointestinal issues, and muscle pain with little to no adverse effects.
Some studies have found that low doses of Flumazenil, a drug often used in cases of benzodiazepine overdose, can be effective at treating both short and long-term Xanax withdrawal symptoms. 
The first step towards recovery from Xanax addiction is the most difficult. We know how intimidating it can feel to reach out for help, whether it’s for you or someone you care about.
Get in touch with the team at OK Rehab today – we can help you select a treatment programme that suits you and your lifestyle.