Doctors prescribe it to countless thousands of patients every year across the US. It helps treat a wide variety of disorders ranging from sleep disruptions like insomnia, to depression, anxiety, and even panic disorders. It’s called Xanax, and it’s a member of a group of substances called benzodiazepines, which enhance GABA, increase serotonin release, and generally relax the brain.
Xanax is generally considered to be a fast-acting substance and is only approved for prescription use for specific indicated conditions. However, since it is used to treat so many disorders, it is widely available and therefore easy to obtain for the purposes of abuse. Not just among teens and young adults either, as patients that are legitimately prescribed Xanax by their doctor or medical professional can also begin to abuse it by altering dosages and “running out early” simply because they feel they need it more.
No matter what it is called, “planks”, “bars”, “xannies”, or “going to Zanzibar”, Xanax is a very potent drug, and one of the most common dosages is only a 2mg pill. This pill, when used by those who do not need it, is often taken by mouth as intended or crushed up and insufflated, or snorted. Though it is known to occur, users injecting crushed Xanax added to a solution are not common at all, and it is rare to even hear of anyone doing it.
Thanks to many pop culture ‘icons’ who reference Xanax in their music and raps, it has become an incredibly popular drug to abuse. This has also led to addiction and dependency problems being diagnosed in younger and younger individuals.
The effects of Xanax and other potent benzodiazepines are so strong, that even when taken as directed under the care of a doctor or health care professional, there are many side effects that occur. While most users will experience some of the effects to at least a small extent, there is the potential for some users to experience most or even all of the side effects.
In most situations, the severity of the side effects will be relative to the amounts or dosages of the drug that were being consumed. For users that take lower doses, the side effects will often be manageable even at their worst. For those that consumed much larger amounts or higher doses, the side effects can be incredibly severe. Since Xanax begins to work and takes effect so quickly, side effects can start to be felt within just minutes.
The most commonly reported side effects of Xanax use, even for short periods, include:
- Difficulty with urination
- Difficult regulating mood
- Difficulty thinking and concentrating
- Slurred speech
- Challenges forming full sentences
The most serious side effects that are felt are usually linked to high dosages or illegal use, as well as to those who use Xanax over a long time. These can include:
- Sedative effects that linger for days
- Irritation and agitation
- Severe seizure activity
- Anxiety or panic
- Problems with memory
What Does Xanax Withdrawal Look Like?
One of the most important neurotransmitters in your body is dopamine, and it is usually released when you are experiencing something good, like a delicious snack, getting through a tough exam, or even winning a game or race. When dopamine is released, dopamine makes your body want that feeling again.
Since your body desires to feel that feeling, rush, or high, your brain will begin to associate the actions you took with the outcome of the dopamine release. While this may seem logical, many people fail to realize this by crucial junctures and they become rapidly enraptured in their addiction.
Xanax builds a dependency by releasing dopamine into the system, while your brain becomes used to not releasing it by itself. It also alters the modulation of the dopamine, so when it is released, a larger quantity is released. Xanax also creates feelings of relaxation, removes inhibitions, and gives a light-headed feeling by elevating GABA activity.
Once the user stops taking Xanax and the most recent dose is metabolized, the first stage of withdrawal and detox will begin. The symptoms can range from mildly uncomfortable, to painful and potentially dangerous. If stopping Xanax cold turkey, the withdrawal symptoms can become very intense for some people. In cases like this, detoxing or going through Xanax withdrawal in a medically supervised environment can minimize the chances of complications and increase your comfort level during the withdrawals.
Xanax Withdrawal Timeline
While the exact timeline of Xanax withdrawal will vary from person to person, it will also depend on several other factors. Not just things like age and medical history, but the addiction history factors of the individual such as the amount used and how long the usage went on will have a large impact.
The acute withdrawal stage will generally begin a few hours after the last dose and last for up to 14 days. This is when the most severe symptoms will occur and peak in intensity. Following the peak, the symptoms will begin to fade away and should be completely gone in about a month. There will be symptoms that linger, such as depression and insomnia, much longer.
Additional symptoms that may present either during the acute stage or after, include:
- Panic attacks
- Muscle pain
- Challenges focusing or concentrating
- Heart palpitations
- Memory issues
- Stomach ache, nausea, vomiting
How to Safely Withdrawal From Xanax
If you feel like you or someone you care about may have a problem with Xanax, and might be addicted, you should be sure to reach out as soon as possible for professional and experienced medical help. It can be incredibly beneficial to detox and go through Xanax withdrawal in a safe and medically supervised environment. Once the acute stage is complete, the individual can also speak with other recovery specialists to make sure they are ready for long-term recovery success.
If you or someone you care about is struggling with an addiction to Xanax and is ready to get the help they deserve, please reach out to a premier rehab facility that can safely detox the individual and set them on a solid path of lifelong recovery today.