Xanax, also called alprazolam, is a benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety. When you use Xanax for long periods, both psychological and physical dependence can develop. Physical dependence to a benzodiazepine can develop in days to weeks, even if it's taken as prescribed, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Quitting Xanax “cold turkey” can also be dangerous, because stopping abruptly may lead to serious withdrawal symptoms. Here is what you need to know about Xanax withdrawal symptoms and what you can do to treat a Xanax addiction.
Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms
There is no specific time or dose that determines if Xanax addiction signs will be present. But in general, the risk for physical dependence can increase as the dosage and duration of use increases. Even after a few weeks, Xanax withdrawal symptoms can develop if you stop using the drug or reduce your dose. These symptoms can include the following, according to the Merck Manual:
- Troubling dreams
- Awakenings while sleeping
- Feeling tension in the morning
With more chronic use, withdrawal symptoms become more serious. "Perhaps the most dangerous Xanax withdrawal symptom is seizure,” Christian Small, MD, an Addiction Medicine specialist and President at Headlands Addiction Treatment Services, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
Mayo Clinic notes that oher serious Xanax withdrawal symptoms include:
- Auditory hallucinations
- Visual hallucinations
- Feelings of sadness or emptiness
- Loss of interest or pleasure
- Suicidal thoughts
Treatment for Xanax Addiction
Stopping Xanax on your own can be dangerous, even deadly. That’s why seeking professional help is so important. "Treatment for Xanax addiction starts with a consultation with a board-certified addiction medicine physician," Small says.
The Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA notes that benzodiazepine addiction treatment will generally include:
- A slow detox timeline that gradually weans a person off of the drug while decreasing the severity of withdrawal symptoms
- Psycholological follow-up steps like group therapy to help prevent relapse
A 2018 review article published by the Journal of Addiction Medicine also notes that alprazolam withdrawal symptoms tend to be more severe than those associated with other benzodiazepines. This could be due to the medication's high potency, which makes it more likely to cause severe rebound anxiety. The article also recommends that alprazolam withdrawal take place at a very slow pace, with an 8-week timeline being the minimum.
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