Xanax–as common as it is to hear the name thrown around in discussion–is not its own drug or medication, but a brand name for the drug alprazolam. Alprazolam is a prescription medication that belongs to a group of drugs known as benzodiazepines.

Benzodiazepines like xanax are considered Schedule IV drugs for their lower potential risk for addiction and dependence compared to other drugs like heroin.

Xanax Withdrawal and Detox

Even though the potential risk to abuse xanax is lower than some other types of powerful drugs, benzodiazepines are still likely to inspire dependence and addiction, especially when used incorrectly. Addiction is a dangerous, chronic disease of the brain and as such, withdrawal and detox from xanax can be just as dangerous.

Xanax withdrawal can be extremely dangerous, and should never be undergone alone or at home. A xanax detox should in fact be performed in a medical setting, to ensure the greatest safety measures for the client, and the ability to have medical attention within seconds if something goes wrong. Xanax withdrawal occurs when someone who is dependent on the drug stops using it suddenly, or does not get another dose of the medication into their system quickly enough.

Xanax has a very short half-life, meaning that the drug pases through the metabolic systems of the body quickly. As a result, xanax withdrawal symptoms can onset quickly, occurring as early as 24 hours after the last dose or use of the drug. Luckily xanax detox–the first step in recovering from xanax misuse–can be undergone in a medical facility with professional attendants, following the normal rules and criteria for medical detox.

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Can You Withdraw From Xanax?

Xanax goes by a lot of names, alprazolam, benzodiazepine, etc. As such many people get confused about what they find on the internet, they’ll find an exact answer to one question and not another, and the search for answers soon becomes overwhelming and frustrating. As a result of all of these drug names and search frustrations, people begin to wonder “can you withdraw from xanax?”

Yes. You can experience xanax withdrawal. Even after only using xanax for a couple of weeks, if you or your loved one becomes dependent on the drug, you can begin to experience xanax withdrawal symptoms as early as 24 hours after your last use of the medication. Even though the abuse potential for xanax is lower than a drug like heroin, misuse, and thus withdrawal, are still very possible and occur quite commonly. The side effects of stopping xanax use include:

  • Sleep disturbances (nightmares)
  • Sweating
  • Hand tremors
  • Irritability
  • Panic attacks
  • Nausea
  • Dry wretching
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Weakness
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Seizures
  • Perception changes
  • Mood swings
  • Palpitations
  • Weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Muscle cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Hyperventilation
  • Depression
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations

Diagnosing Xanax Withdrawal

So, how can you tell if your symptoms are xanax withdrawal or some other kind of illness? First off, there are some symptoms clients experience that are more common of xanax. Symptoms can vary widely, and typically have a few different levels of severity–mild, medium, and severe. Any typically these symptoms will come and go in different stages of the withdrawal period, over a set amount of weeks or more. But just because a client is experiencing some xanax withdrawal symptoms, does not mean they will experience them all.

Xanax withdrawal symptoms can be very uncomfortable to experience. They involve physical, mental, and emotional effects and can take a long period of time to work through–typically anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months. You cannot self-diagnose xanax withdrawal syndrome, but luckily your doctor can help.

In order to diagnose you with xanax dependence and withdrawal by using DSM-5 criteria and guidelines. From there, they will likely conduct a screening that could potentially involve asking you questions about your symptoms, and running tests on blood and urine samples. Once they have collected enough data, your doctor can both diagnose you with xanax withdrawal and begin working on a plan to detox you off the drug safely.

Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms

Xanax withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant to experience, and hard to nail down when trying to find a medical diagnosis, but it isn’t impossible to make it through the process. The effects of stopping xanax can be intense, onsetting around 24 hours after the last use of the drug or medication, and can last for several weeks. The effects of stopping xanax use can also vary widely, but not every client will experience every single symptom. The most common symptoms of detoxing from xanax include:

  • Sleep disturbances (nightmares)
  • Sweating
  • Hand tremors
  • Irritability
  • Panic attacks
  • Nausea
  • Dry wretching
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Weakness
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Seizures
  • Perception changes
  • Mood swings
  • Palpitations
  • Weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Muscle cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Hyperventilation
  • Depression
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations

Acute Withdrawal

Acute xanax withdrawal, which can also be referred to as acute benzo withdrawal or acute withdrawal, can be defined as the beginning phase of the withdrawal process. Generally acute xanax withdrawal symptoms will last anywhere from 5 to 28 days, with symptoms beginning to surface as early as 24 hours after the last use of the drug, depending on the dosage of the drug used, for how long it was taken, and whether or not it was a long or short acting version of the medication–as well as some other outside factors that depend on the user individually.

During this phase it is common for most of the acute xanax withdrawal symptoms to occur, and while this phase is in progress your doctor will pay the closest attention to your condition, and make proper adjustments and recommendations for your treatment. Typically the acute phase of withdrawal is viewed to be the most important, and most difficult stage of the withdrawal process, where many relapses tend to occur before clients can really stick to their recovery programs. Typically acute xanax withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Muscle cramps
  • Muscle twitching
  • Insomnia
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Panic attacks
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trouble thinking
  • Drug cravings
  • Blurred vision
  • Diarrhea

Protracted Withdrawal

Even though most withdrawal symptoms subside after the acute withdrawal period ends, not all signs and symptoms fade away so easily. The term protracted withdrawal is used in reference to substance specific signs and symptoms of withdrawal that’s presence persists beyond the acute withdrawal phase. Nearly 10% to 25% or clients who abused or misused benzodiazepines like xanax are likely to experience protracted withdrawal effects. Typically protracted withdrawal syndrome stimulates the following types of symptoms in benzodiazepine cases:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Fatigue
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Substance cravings
  • Muscle aches or pains
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Negative emotional states
  • Mood swings
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Agitated depression
  • Schizophrenic episodes
  • Panic attacks
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Drug cravings
  • Difficulty thinking
  • Difficulty concentrating

Of course, these are not the only types of signs or symptoms for protracted withdrawal clients can experience, and not all symptoms are the same for all substances used that could result in protracted withdrawal. Xanax symptoms typically are very similar to most other symptoms associated with protracted withdrawal syndrome, with minor differences occurring due to the drug’s own nature. Protracted withdrawal symptoms typically mirror acute withdrawal symptoms, and tend to appear as counter signs against what the drug was originally intended to treat.

Not every client will experience protracted withdrawal. Some clients may experience minor symptoms after the acute withdrawal phase ends, some may experience no symptoms at all. For those that do experience protracted withdrawal, the symptoms can wax and wane in severity and intensity over a few weeks, or even months, but the symptoms can eventually wear off with continued abstinence from drug use. Protracted withdrawal syndrome is extremely difficult to diagnose in a client who has used benzodiazepines like xanax, as the symptoms may mirror other types of symptom occurrences like rebound or reemergence symptoms.

Physical Symptoms of Withdrawal

Anyone who is dependent on, or addicted to drugs will have to undergo physical symptoms of withdrawal from xanax when quitting / stopping use. Addiction can be a painful and frustrating process, filled with uncomfortable symptoms that can lead to life-threatening situations. On the other hand, the physical symptoms of xanax withdrawal are also very uncomfortable, frustrating, and can lead individuals to relapse before getting a firm grip on sticking to this first stage of recovery.

But, undergoing withdrawal is often rather short lived in comparison to addiction, there are medications to help ease the discomfort of withdrawal, and plenty of support in established recovery settings. Of course, it is never recommended that an individual attempts to undergo withdrawal on their own, as although withdrawal is typically not life-threatening itself, it can lead to much more complicated and dangerous situations, that could be life-threatening if an individual does not have the proper care. Typically, the physical symptoms of xanax withdrawal include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Muscle cramps
  • Muscle pain
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Hand tremors
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Substance cravings
  • Reduced sex drive

Psychological Symptoms of Withdrawal

Xanax, or alprazolam, is a drug typically used to help relieve severe anxiety and panic disorders. The drug works by reducing hyperactivity in the brain, and helping it to remain calm so that the individual can think through situations and circumstances more rationally. When someone becomes addicted to xanax, they are becoming dependent on the feelings of relaxed ease and relief that the drug onsets. But when an individual begins the withdrawal process this drug induced feeling of well-being dissipates, and symptoms that counteract the drug’s effects begin. As a result, the psychological symptoms of xanax withdrawal include:

  • Panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Sleep disturbances (nightmares)
  • Seizures
  • Mood swings
  • Heightened irritability
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty thinking
  • Short-term memory issues
  • Schizophrenic episodes
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) episodes
  • Negative emotional states
  • Irritability
  • Perception changes

Xanax Withdrawal Timeline

The xanax withdrawal timeline begins the moment an individual who has been misusing the drug stops using suddenly, and does not use again. The withdrawal from xanax timeline begins as early as 24 hours after the individual’s last dose. But, how long does xanax withdrawal last after the initial onset? The xanax withdrawal timeline begins 24 hours after an individual’s last dose, and can last anywhere from a few days or weeks to a few months. Withdrawal symptoms may vary in type and severity, but typically come in waves. A typical xanax withdrawal timeline will look something like this:

  • Withdrawal onset: Begins 24 hours after last use of xanax.
  • Acute of early withdrawal symptoms occur: 24 hours after last use, lasting anywhere from 5 to 28 days.
  • Intermediate withdrawal: Occurs around day 5 and tapers symptoms off to around day 28.
  • Protracted withdrawal: Is very rare in its occurrence, but when it does happen it can make varying withdrawal symptoms of varying intensities last anywhere from 6 to 12 months after an individual’s last use.

It is important to note that although many xanax