Xanax (brand name for Alprazolam) is classified as a benzodiazepine together with Klonopin, Valium, Serax, Ativan, etc. Among the benzodiazepines, xanax is the most difficult one to be detoxified from because of its shortest half-life. This makes xanax withdrawal symptoms to be more pronounced when compared with other drugs of the same class. Xanax and other drugs in its class are primarily prescribed for anxiety disorders that include generalized anxiety disorder and general panic disorder and phobias including agoraphobia. This class of drugs is also prescribed for temporary situational anxiety, sleep disturbances or muscle tension.
Xanax works to reduce anxiety by increasing the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain. An excited mind calms down and becomes soothed because of the increased GABA activity. It, therefore, produces a pleasant feeling. This drug is classified as Schedule 4 medication because of the probability of patients abusing the drug.
Over a period of time, the brain's response to an increased GABA activity is to lower the available amount of GABA. In order to feel the same effects, a patient will then have to take larger doses. If an user makes an effort at this point to stop taking xanax completely, he/she will experience pains associated with withdrawal.
The xanax withdrawal symptoms are very excruciating and life-threatening as well. This is because benzodiazepine withdrawal may provoke suicides or induce seizures. Often, the withdrawal symptoms include all of the symptoms that this medication is expected to treat. However, the symptoms worsen during the period of withdrawal. A person who ignores the initial signs of xanax withdrawal must be prepared to experience the development of the worst adverse reactions. Adverse reactions can be fatal for the user's health and may cause a kidney insufficiency, a heart failure and hypertension. The user must seek professional help if he/she cannot handle withdrawal symptoms by himself /herself.
Xanax works quickly and also has a shorter half-life. This means that withdrawal symptoms begin fast if a person stops using the drug. Most users will start experiencing the xanax withdrawal symptoms within 12 hours of the last dose. The withdrawal symptoms often peak within three to four days. However, lingering as well as residual withdrawal symptoms may last for many months.
Some of the xnax withdrawal symptoms are anxiety, hallucination, panic, moodiness, insomnia, convulsion, tremors, nausea, vomiting and nightmares. The withdrawal effects may also include fear, diarrhea, depression, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, restlessness, elevated systolic blood pressure, hypochondriasis, muscle spasms, impaired concentration, cramps, cold and hot flashes, muscle pain, paranoia, hallucinations, tachycardia, increased sensitivity, hypotension, hypertension, anger, sweating, confusion, fast pulse, dysphoria and blurred vision. If a person stays off xanax for a longer period of time, the withdrawal effects will be limited to extreme discomfort, difficulty sleeping and mild perception disturbances.
If xanax is abruptly stopped, pronounced withdrawal symptoms that resemble serious psychiatric conditions such as psychosis, mania or schizophrenia or life-threatening like coma, seizure, catatonia or convulsions will be experienced by the user. With xanax, the onset of such symptoms may be expected to happen within 48 hours of the last dose. Typically, these symptoms last for about two months. Once the withdrawal symptoms that are more adverse are stabilized, the symptoms that are less acute may persist for a period of one year or more following complete cessation of the drug. The duration for which xanax withdrawal symptoms persist and their severity depend on the dose as well as the time period for which the drug was administered.
Xanax is considered to be problematic because of its characteristic of diminishing returns that leads to tolerance and dependence. The neurochemistry of the user adapts to the new state produced because of the use of xanax and starts to counterbalance the same. The central nervous system may take more than a year to recalibrate even from a low-dosage use for a longer period.
Summarizing, the xanax withdrawal symptoms can be avoided by keeping in mind certain important aspects. These include using xanax pills as per the instructions provided in the labels, buying only xanax bars of high quality, never exceeding the prescribed dosage and dropping the usage gradually on a daily basis to 0.25 mg per day as at the time of beginning of the treatment. Further, xanax bars should not be consumed along with alcohol as its interaction can hasten the development of withdrawal symptoms.