Xanax is the trade name for alprazolam, a potent, short-acting benzodiazepine that was released in 1982 by Upjohn. As a benzodiazepine it works by binding to the gamma Amino-butyric acid receptors in the brain in order to produce anxiolytic, sedative, muscle relaxant, anticonvulsant and amnestic effects. Recreational users take Xanax for a euphoric effect or mix Xanax with other drugs to increase the high. Xanax is also used to reduce the come-down off illegal stimulants. Xanax is prescribed medically however for uses such as to help with anxiety disorders, panic disorders and to alleviate nausea from chemotherapy.
Xanax is only prescribed for up to 8 weeks in the US and 4 weeks in the United Kingdom. This is because Xanax is highly addictive on both a physiological and psychological level; Xanax treatment is possible in a variety of methods. Regular abuse of Xanax will cause the user to develop a tolerance to the drug and they will begin to use more and more to feel the same effects previously. A dependence developed from this can cause benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome.
Symptoms of Xanax withdrawal include:
- Sensitivity to light and sounds
- Obsessive negative thoughts
- Mood swings
- Suicidal ideations
- Joint pain
- Headaches and general flu symptoms
- Heart palpitations
Xanax is different to other benzodiazepines in the way that it is significantly harder to self-detox or slowly reduce dosage leading to abstinence. Once a physiological dependence has developed it is strongly recommended to seek medical care and support for quitting.
The safest way to quit Xanax is to taper off dosage slowly under the care of medical attention. This method depends on how long and strong the dependence has built. If the dependence is not newly-developed then tapering off can take months. The benefit of this method is that as you lower dosage your brain adjusts to the decreasing dosages and slowly increases production of GABA to compensate. The lack of GABA in the brain is what causes the withdrawal symptoms. Thereby using this method significantly decreases the withdrawal symptoms which are felt by going ‘cold turkey’.
A method that is much safer and quicker is to go through a detoxification program or drug rehab. It is possible to safely detox off Xanax with medical attention at hand. With a quick detox, withdrawal symptoms might be felt even despite the prescriptions of symptom controlling medications. Quick detox is very tough to do and acute effects last around a week with other symptoms lasting for up to several months. On no account should someone attempt to do a quick detox by oneself with no medical attention as there is potential risk of fatal seizures within the first week of detox.
Support groups are available for one trying to quit Xanax. Narcotics Anonymous is a fellowship of people who all have the common desire of quitting drugs. Narcotics Anonymous and other meetings are useful for building a network of people who can help and advise one another in their struggles.