Xanax is a common medicine used to relieve anxiety. However, you can become addicted to the drug. And once you're addicted, abruptly stopping the drug may result in unpleasant and serious withdrawal symptoms. Medical detox can help you wean off Xanax and manage withdrawal symptoms in a better way. Learn how Xanax detox is done and what to expect during the process.
What to Expect During Xanax Detox
“Medical detox allows an individual to safely taper off from Xanax and minimize withdrawal symptoms,” Kathryn Lee, EdM, MA, MHC, a psychotherapist at Intuitive Healing Psychotherapy Practice in New York, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
According to a 2018 study published by the Journal of Addiction Medicine, Xanax withdrawal causes more complicated and unique rebound anxiety in comparison to other benzodiazepines. One study reported that, out of 126 patients treated with Xanax for panic disorder, 27% of patients experienced rebound anxiety which was more severe than before treatment, and 35% of patients had new symptoms like weakness, insomnia, dizziness, and malaise after Xanax cessation.
“Stopping ‘cold turkey’ is not safe and can lead to dangerous side effects, such as seizures, panic attacks, and cognitive impairment. Medical detox can be done at a substance use treatment center, inpatient and/or outpatient, and can take weeks to months depending on an individual’s response to the reduced levels of Xanax,” Lee adds.
If you're looking to begin Xanax detox, it's important to consult with a professional to determine your best treatment plan. "Detoxification from Xanax is customized to meet the needs of each unique individual,” Aaron Sternlicht, LMHC, CASAC, a therapist and co-founder of Family Addiction Specialist in New York, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, the taper schedule for Xanax should be personalized based on certain factors like lifestyle, personality, environmental stressors, reasons for taking Xanax, and availability of clinical and personal support. Basically, there are three approaches to tapering off Xanax:
- Carefully taper your Xanax dose over time
- Switch to a longer-acting benzodiazepine
- Add other drugs to alleviate severe withdrawal symptoms
“Some individuals may begin with a Xanax taper during which the daily dosage of the medication will slowly decrease, while other individuals may be able to stop the medication immediately while transitioning to other short-term medications to manage withdrawal symptoms,” Sternlicht says.
“As such, individuals who are planning to detox from Xanax should always consult with a medical professional. While at-home self-detox may be appropriate for some, it is often encouraged to detox under medical care during which you will be overseen by a doctor who can help treat medical conditions associated with Xanax withdrawal and who may prescribe medications such as antidepressants in the short-term to help alleviate unwanted symptoms and make sure you are more comfortable during the withdrawal process, as well as a nurse to regularly check vitals and help prevent or mitigate adverse effects that can occur during detox,” Sternlicht explains.
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