Xanax works fast and has a relatively short half-life. This means that after quitting Xanax withdrawal symptoms begin quickly. Most people will start to feel symptoms within 12 hours, and symptoms will peak within 3 or 4 days. Residual and lingering symptoms of withdrawal can last for months.
Some symptoms of a Xanax withdrawal include:
The best way to break an addiction to Xanax is through a medically monitored period of tapering down the dosage. This can take many months, but is safer and far less unpleasant than a “cold turkey” detox.
The pace at which the dosage is reduced will depend on the length of the dependency, with longer dependencies requiring a slower reduction. One suggestion is to reduce the dosage by 0.25mg each every two weeks, but individual recommendations must come from a doctor familiar with your case and your medical history.
The advantage of a very long and slow tapering down is that it allows your brain time to adjust to the decreasing dosages of medication, and to begin producing more GABA to compensate. The symptoms of withdrawal are caused by this GABA insufficiency, so allowing the brain to “keep up” with the tapering, alleviates the severity of the symptoms.
If one has developed an addiction one should seek treatment immediately. Either a detoxification facility or addiction treatment center is recommended for treating Xanax addiction. Going “cold turkey” by oneself can be painful, potentially dangerous and often ends with the user relapsing due to the cravings and severity of the Xanax withdrawal symptoms. In a treatment facility a patient can be monitored closely to prevent relapse and prescribed non-addictive medications to help alleviate Xanax withdrawal symptoms and/or consequences.
Although a detox may be necessary to treat the withdrawal symptoms, it is not enough to keep the individual from returning to drug abuse. From residential treatment centers to transitional living houses, there are a multitude of options for the addict who wishes to recover from addiction. Long-term treatment is the safest route for those who wish to achieve long term sobriety.