Xanax is the brand name for Alprazolam, which along with Valium, Klonopin, Ativan, and Serax, among other drugs, falls under a classification known as benzodiazepines. Xanax is the most difficult of the benzodiazepines to detoxify from because they have the shortest half-life. This makes the withdrawal symptoms from Xanax more pronounced than other drugs in its class.
Xanax and its counterparts are prescribed primarily for the treatment of anxiety disorders such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder(GAD) , General Panic Disorder (GPD) and miscellaneous phobias, such as agoraphobia. They are occasionally prescribed for sleep disturbances, temporary situational anxiety, or muscle tension.
Xanax is arguably the hardest pharmaceutical to on the market to detox from. The withdrawal symptoms of Xanax are not only excruciating, but can be life-threatening as benzodiazepine withdrawal can induce seizures or provoke suicides. They usually include all of the symptoms that the medication is prescribed to treat; however, these symptoms will be greatly exacerbated during the withdrawal period.
Additionally, the withdrawal effects of Xanax typically include fear, depression, nausea, diarrhea, trembling, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, elevated systolic blood pressure, restlessness, hypochondriasis, impaired concentration, nightmares, muscle spasms, cramps or fasciculations, hot and cold flashes, paranoia, muscle pain, hallucinations, increased sensitivity, tachycardia, hypertension, hypotension, anger, confusion, sweating, fast pulse, blurred vision, and dysphoria. During a protracted titration off of Xanax, the withdrawal effects of Xanax are typically limited to extreme discomfort, mild perception disturbances and difficulty sleeping.
Pronounced withdrawal symptoms, such as those that mimic serious psychiatric conditions, schizophrenia, psychosis or mania for example, or are life threatening, like seizure, coma, convulsions, or catatonia, are only induced during an abrupt cessation of use or an overly-drastic dose reduction. The onset of these symptoms with a short-acting benzodiazepine, such as Xanax, can be expected within 48 hours and will typically last for approximately 2 months. After stabilization of the more adverse withdrawal symptoms, the less acute symptoms may persist for a year or more after complete cessation. The duration of Xanax withdrawal and severity of the acute and post-acute withdrawal symptoms are dependent on the dose and time-span it was administered.
Downsides of Xanax
Xanax is problematic mainly because of the diminishing returns that are characteristic of drugs that cause tolerance and dependence. Within as little as a week, the human neurochemistry adapts to the artificial state produced by Xanax and begins to counterbalance it. This manifests in feeling the same after taking the Xanax as the user did before he or she began. At this point, refraining from Xanax will cause a rebound effect worse than the preexisting condition.
As tolerance increases, patients can begin to experience mild withdrawal symptoms even in between doses. The neurological effects of Xanax also cause cognitive and emotional impairments resulting in Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS), which is a milder combination of the acute withdrawal symptoms mentioned above. It can take over a year for the central nervous system to recalibrate, even from the long-term use of a low dose.
The likelihood of maintained abstinence from Xanax goes up significantly when the titration off is relatively slow and when the drug used is one of the longer-acting benzodiazepines, such as chlordiazepoxide (Librium) or diazepam (Valium). The steps of reduction should be approximately 10% of the dose every 2 weeks to a month, although it can be done sometimes as quick as 10% everyday.