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The Dangers of Quitting Xanax Cold Turkey
You want to break free, but what happens if you stop taking Xanax abruptly?
Xanax is a short-term drug that is helpful for someone going through a very stressful time in their life. They may be going through a period of loss and grief after the death of a loved one. They may be winding through a divorce or maybe a job loss. There are many life events that can bring about a state of anxiety, and Xanax can help.
There is a dark side to Xanax as well. The drug is highly addictive and prone to abuse, which can lead to dependency and even addiction. When this occurs, it can make life very difficult. However, stopping Xanax suddenly after dependence has formed can have severe outcomes.
Just as all other benzos, quitting Xanax requires a doctor’s oversight. They will create a detox schedule that involves slowly tapering the dosage downward over a two-week period. This allows the brain to gradually adjust to the reduced dose, which helps to control the withdrawal symptoms.
What is Xanax?
Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam, a short-acting drug in the benzo family. It is prescribed for people who struggle with anxiety disorder or panic attacks. Xanax is a quick-acting drug, with its effects felt within 15-30 minutes. It also has a short half-life, unlike other benzos like Valium that stay in the system much longer. Xanax is also the most widely used benzo.
Xanax affects the central nervous system, slowing down brain activity by impacting GABA levels. This causes sedating effects, such as deep relaxation and drowsiness. Effects of Xanax include:
- Coordination problems.
- Deep relaxation.
- Memory problems.
- Difficulty speaking.
Even when taking Xanax as prescribed, tolerance to the drug can increase after only a month of use. This means that the person will soon find its effects not as strong as they once were. This prompts them to begin taking higher or more frequent doses.
Signs of Xanax Addiction
Benzos, including Xanax, are not intended for long-term use. This is due to the highly addictive nature of this class of drugs. With extended use, there can be adverse long-term effects. These include cognitive impairment, fatigue, depression, mood swings, sexual problems, sleepwalking, and seizures.
Xanax addiction can happen fairly quickly. This happens as the brain pathways become altered and the brain’s reward system takes over. It records the pleasant effects of the drug and prompts ongoing use.
Signs of Xanax addiction include:
- Taking higher doses of Xanax more often.
- Buying Xanax online or off the street.
- Doctor shopping to get more refills.
- You obsess about getting the Xanax; you look forward to the next dose.
- Begin to withdraw socially.
- You try to stop or cut down on the Xanax but can’t.
- You take the drug before you have any anxiety symptoms.
- Have withdrawal symptoms when the Xanax effects wear off.
Risks of Xanax Overdose
When Xanax is abused it is often taken in higher doses and combined with other substances. Alcohol and opioids are the most common substances mixed with Xanax. Both those drugs also have sedating effects, so when taken with Xanax it can cause an overdose.
If the pills are crushed or chewed an overdose can also occur. This is because the pills are designed to be time-released into the system.
Xanax overdose symptoms include:
- Extreme drowsiness.
- Shallow breathing.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Floppy limbs.
- Loss of balance.
- Muscle weakness.
Treatment for an overdose will be based on how much Xanax was taken and if other drugs were also ingested. To purge the excess drugs from the body, the doctor may use gastric lavage to pump the stomach. A drug such as flumazenil may be given as an antidote for the Xanax. Fluids may be given via an I.V.
Why You Should Never Stop Taking Xanax Abruptly
When someone becomes dependent on Xanax they must never attempt to stop cold turkey. This is because the shock to the system can cause very severe symptoms, and even death. The brain has become used to the increased GABA levels, triggering it to attempt to reset when the Xanax is withheld.
Under a doctor’s care, the person will instead be weaned off the drug slowly. The medical detox allows their body to become stable in small steps over time. The vital signs are closely observed and treatment is offered as withdrawal symptoms emerge.
What to Expect in Xanax Detox
During detox the goal is to allow the person to complete the process with as little discomfort possible. Detox is the process of the body ridding itself of the toxins so the person can become stable and clear-minded. Once detox is complete, they will transition to the treatment portion of rehab.
Xanax detox symptoms will depend on how long the person had the Xanax habit and what their typical daily dosing was. Withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Stomach pain.
- Muscle cramps.
- Jerky movements.
- Panic attacks.
- Rapid breathing.
- Heart palpitations.
- Fast heart rate.
- High blood pressure.
Rebound symptoms are quite common during Xanax detox and withdrawal. These are the same symptoms you were trying to treat with the drug in the first place. With time, these will subside, too.
After the detox is complete, the treatment phase begins. Treatment involves multiple therapies, holistic methods, and education. During rehab, the person will learn how to better manage their stress and anxiety. They will also make a customized relapse prevention plan to help guide them in recovery.
So, now you understand what happens if you stop taking Xanax abruptly. Begin the first leg of your recovery journey with a safe, medical detox.
California Rehab Campus Provides Safe Medical Detox
California Rehab Campus is a rehab program that first seeks to help clients discover the root cause of their Xanax addiction. Using a blend of evidence-based therapies and holistic methods, our team helps you regain control over your life. Call today for more information about the program at (888) 487-1874.