How Long Does It Take to Detox from Xanax?

If you or someone you care about are concerned about your Xanax use and want to stop, you may be wondering, Is Xanax withdrawal dangerous?” Xanax withdrawal can increase the risk of experiencing dangerous and potentially life-threatening symptoms.

This article will explain the risks of quitting Xanax cold turkey, Xanax withdrawal symptoms, detoxing from Xanax, and how to get professional help for Xanax addiction.

What Happens When You Stop Taking Xanax?

Xanax has a known misuse, dependence, and addiction risk.1 Even when taken as prescribed, a person can become dependent on Xanax.1

When you suddenly stop or cut down your Xanax dose after continuous use, you can experience withdrawal symptoms.1 Withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant, uncomfortable, and, in some cases, life-threatening.1 However, not everyone experiences withdrawal in the same way. Xanax withdrawal is impacted by a number of factors, including how long and how much you were using, whether you used other substances with Xanax, and other factors.3,4 But because of the risk of potentially dangerous effects, Xanax withdrawal is often considered to be dangerous, regardless.2

Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms

Xanax withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Symptoms can include:

  • Anxiety.5
  • Elevated heart rate.5
  • Insomnia.5
  • Transient auditory, visual, or tactile illusions or hallucinations.5
  • Pyschomotor agitation (restlessness that causes repetitive and purposeless movements).5
  • Grand mal seizures.5

In severe cases, withdrawal can also include delirium tremens (DTs) and psychosis.1

How Long Does Xanax Withdrawal Last?

If you are asking yourself how long does Xanax withdrawal last, you should know that withdrawal and its duration can be different for everyone. Generally speaking, people who are withdrawing from short-acting benzodiazepines like Xanax usually start to experience initial symptoms, such as tremors, seizures, or elevated heart rate, within hours after the last dose.2,5,6 

As withdrawal progresses, people may experience other symptoms, such as disorientation, mild hallucinations (which are often auditory, but can occasionally be visual), and sweating.6 Symptoms tend to peak in intensity on the second day and improve by the fourth or fifth day, but symptoms can also last 2-4 weeks or more.5

Is Xanax Withdrawal Dangerous?

Acute withdrawal can be dangerous and potentially life-threatening in some cases, especially if you abruptly stop using Xanax or suddenly cut down your dose.1  Severe withdrawal may be more likely for people who have chronically used high doses of Xanax.5

Seizures, which can be the first sign of withdrawal for some, can be lethal.1, 6 Severe withdrawal can result in serious symptoms, such as significant sweating, nausea and vomiting (which could cause aspiration pneumonia), delirium tremens, mania, psychosis, suicidality, and/or rapid and severe variations in blood pressure or heart rate, which could raise the risk of serious issues, such as myocardial infarction (heart attack) or cerebrovascular event (stroke).1, 6

Xanax Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

Some people can experience PAWS, or post-acute withdrawal syndrome (also known as protracted withdrawal), which is different from acute withdrawal.7 PAWS involves withdrawal symptoms that can last weeks to more than 12 months.1

PAWS symptoms are believed to occur because of persistent and adaptive changes in the central nervous system that take place due to repeated substance use.7

PAWS can be difficult to distinguish from rebound symptoms (an intensified return of previous acute withdrawal symptoms) or symptom reemergence (symptoms that occur at the same level as those experienced before Xanax use).7 PAWS symptoms typically come and go and are usually symptoms that are new (i.e., not a reemergence of acute withdrawal symptoms or rebound symptoms).7

PAWS symptoms associated with benzodiazepines can include:

  • Anxiety.
  • Cognitive impairment.
  • Depression.
  • Insomnia.
  • Formication (the feeling of insects crawling under your skin).
  • Motor symptoms, such as weakness, tremors, and muscle twitches.
  • Paresthesia (a burning or prickling sensation in your extremities).
  • Tinnitus (ringing or other noises in your ears).

Can You Stop Xanax Cold Turkey?

There can be significant medical risks associated with quitting Xanax cold turkey — or suddenly stopping or drastically cutting back Xanax. Acute withdrawal reactions, including seizures and delirium, can be life-threatening, which is why people are generally advised to taper off benzodiazepines under medical guidance. 1, 5 Your doctor will decide the best approach for your needs.

A formal medical detox program is the safest choice for people who want to stop using Xanax. This is because you’ll receive continuous medical supervision and, if appropriate for your needs, pharmacological management to help you through withdrawal.4 A medical detox program can provide supervision and support to help you stay comfortable and safe during withdrawal and can also immediately address any symptoms or complications that may occur.4,8

Medical Detox for Xanax Dependence

Medical detox at River Oaks can be the first step in the recovery process for people who want to stop using Xanax in the safest and most comfortable way possible. We offer round-the-clock attentive care and supervision from a team of doctors and nurses, support from addiction specialists, and medically supervised care to help manage withdrawal symptoms.

While detox is an important first step in the treatment process, it does not address the underlying issues associated with addiction. After detox, people may transition to different levels of addiction treatment, such as an inpatient rehab near Tampa, a partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient program, or a standard outpatient program depending on their needs, to continue their recovery. Before you enter one of our addiction treatment programs, you’ll receive a thorough evaluation to determine the most appropriate placement for your needs.

Our inpatient rehab, where you’ll live onsite for the duration of treatment, offers an individualized program and a complete continuum of care with different types of addiction treatment, including evidence-based approaches, psychoeducation, and peer support. Our partial hospitalization programs and intensive outpatient programs offer rehab programming during the day, evening, or weekends for people who can live at home and travel to our rehab on a fixed schedule.

If you or a loved one are struggling, please contact our admissions navigators at any time, day or night, to learn more about how to start treatment at River Oaks, paying for rehab with insurance, and other ways to pay for rehab.

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