Xanax Detox: What to Know

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Xanax detox is a process associated with uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that can be life-threatening in a non-clinical setting.

Among the most prescribed psychotherapeutic drugs in the United States, Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine typically prescribed to treat panic disorders and anxiety disorders. Although Xanax can be highly effective short-term, benzos are Schedule IV controlled substances with the potential for tolerance, dependence, and addiction.

It is not only dangerous to abruptly stop using benzodiazepines at home, but potentially life-threatening. By engaging with a supervised medical Xanax detox, you can streamline the withdrawal process, mitigate complications, and strengthen the likelihood of recovery without relapse.

Detoxing From Xanax

Even if you have been prescribed Xanax short-term, you should always consult your prescribing physician before discontinuing use of the medication.

The optimum approach to detoxing from benzos like Xanax involves a tapered reduction in dosage. A gradual dosage reduction will streamline withdrawal and reduce the chance of Xanax withdrawal symptoms presenting.

There are three distinct phases to the Xanax withdrawal process:

  • Immediate withdrawal
  • Acute withdrawal
  • Protracted withdrawal

While most people detoxing from alprazolam will experience immediate and acute withdrawal, not everyone will experience protracted Xanax withdrawal.

Xanax detox in a clinical setting will:

  1. Address the issue of physical dependence on Xanax
  2. Purge all traces of benzos from your system
  3. Minimize complications during withdrawal
  4. Reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms
  5. Act as a bridge into ongoing inpatient or outpatient treatment

Xanax Definition

Xanax is a branded formulation of the benzodiazepine alprazolam. The medication is from the same class of drugs as Klonopin (clonazepam) and Valium (diazepam). Mainly prescribed to treat panic disorders and anxiety disorders, Xanax may also be administered for the treatment of seizure and alcohol withdrawal.

Like all benzodiazepines, Xanax inhibits activity in the brain and the CNS (central nervous system). Xanax enhances the effects of a chemical called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) that occurs in the brain, inducing a sense of relaxation and calmness.

Xanax may effectively alleviate acute symptoms such as panic attacks or rapid-onset anxiety, but this benzo also has a high potential for abuse and addiction (sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic use disorder).

Xanax Detox Process

The Xanax detox process may take place in either an inpatient or outpatient treatment center. Inpatient Xanax detoxification provides the most supportive pathway to withdrawal.

The treatment team will use a tapering schedule rather than abruptly discontinuing the medication. An incremental reduction in dosage will reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms – more on these below – and will also minimize complications. Around-the-clock medical supervision will also prevent seizures, potentially deadly if untreated.

Your treatment team may substitute an equivalent dose of Valium (diazepam) for your dose of Xanax, stepping the Valium dosage down once weekly.

Symptoms of Xanax Withdrawal

How long do Xanax withdrawals last, then?

Some people may experience mild Xanax withdrawal symptoms lasting for a few days. Others encounter chronic and protracted withdrawal that persists for months, or even years.

These are some of the most reported Xanax withdrawal symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Altered sense of smell
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Tingling in legs or arms
  • Numb fingers
  • Tremors
  • Heart palpitations
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarhhea
  • Fever
  • Insomnia
  • Weight loss
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Muscle aches
  • Hypertension
  • Cramps
  • High body temperature and blood pressure
  • Rapidly rising heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Hyperventilation
  • Grand mal seizures

The sustained use of a benzo like Xanax affects areas of the brain responsible for:

  • Mood
  • Motivation
  • Reward

If dependence and addiction develop, those areas of the brain will undergo functional and structural changes.

When you discontinue use of the medication, it takes time for the brain to accustom itself to the absence of Xanax. Psychological withdrawal symptoms may present, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Mood swings
  • Problems with focus
  • Restlessness
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations
  • Suicidal ideation

What’s the Best Way to Detox from Xanax?

The most effective way to detox from Xanax or any other benzodiazepine is by connecting with a supervised Xanax detox program at a licensed medical detox center.

This pathway to recovery provides you with medical supervision 24/7, a tapered reduction in Xanax dosage with substitute medications administered, and a springboard into ongoing treatment.

Don’t take the chance of detoxing from Xanax at home. This may involve the presentation of withdrawal symptoms so intense that you relapse, and could even trigger a fatal seizure. 

Now you know how to detox from Xanax, the right way, how can you connect with the right science-based treatment in Ohio?

Get Help with Xanax Addiction at Ohio Recovery Centers

If you have developed an addiction to Xanax, whether after legitimate medical use or through abusing this potent benzo, we can help you fight back.

While Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers doesn’t offer detox at our facility, we can help you find a Xanax detox in the area and can provide aftercare support at our IOP and PHP programs.

While detoxing from Xanax is a crucial step in the recovery process, you will require ongoing treatment to address the psychological aspect of benzo addiction. Choose from the following Ohio Recovery Centers treatment programs:

  • PHPs (partial hospitalization programs)
  • IOPs (intensive outpatient programs)
  • Dual diagnosis treatment programs (for co-occurring disorders)

When you are ready to move beyond addiction to benzos like Xanax, contact Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers online or call (877) 679-2132 for immediate assistance.

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Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
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Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

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Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

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Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

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Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

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Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

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Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

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Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

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Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn