Xanax is the brand name for the drug with the generic name of alprazolam. Alprazolam is a short-acting tranquilizer drug in the benzodiazepine family. This drug family is quite large, with such members as diazepam, lorazepam, temazepam, clorazepam, flurazepam and triazolam. You will notice the -pam and -lam ending of these chemical names, which is typical of most, although not all, benzodiazepines. Xanax is used mainly for panic attack disorder and anxiety. While it certainly has legitimate medical uses, Xanax is also widely abused and available for purchase on the black market. Its addictive potential is rated somewhat below that of opioids, but its withdrawal syndrome is something that opioid withdrawal generally is not, which is dangerous. This article will discuss the following question: What does it feel like to detox from Xanax?
The First Benzodiazepine
The first true benzodiazepine, Librium or chlordiazepoxide, was developed sometime in the mid-1950s. Before that time, the only drugs useful for anxiety and insomnia were the barbiturates and the opioids. Neither were targeted drugs for anxiety, but they did produce sedation and a calming effect, at least for some people, especially if a painful condition were also present. However, neither was really suitable as a treatment just for anxiety.
When Librium, the invention of chemist Leo Sternbach, was introduced to the American market in 1960, the drug was hailed as a miracle. It was not then known just how addictive this class of drugs could be. Dr. Sternbach, working with the pharma giant Hoffman-LaRoche, developed diazepam, another benzodiazepine, which was released in 1963. Sold under the brand name Valium, it was the number-one prescribed drug in the United States from 1969 to 1982. It even had its own song, “Mother’s Little Helper” by the Rolling Stones.
Xanax was introduced in 1981 as a treatment for both anxiety and panic disorder. In fact, it’s the only benzodiazepine approved for panic disorder. Many people who take the drug recreationally may not be too impressed with it because it typically causes marked drowsiness, but others like the calm sedation. It may make it easier to deal with life’s problems or make them seem to be far away. Xanax can also be used to potentiate other drugs, such as opioids. Combining these drugs can be very, very dangerous because they’re both depressants capable of increasing the dangerous side effects of both drugs simultaneously. The combination can be lethal, particularly if alcohol is involved. Xanax and the other benzodiazepines are far less likely to cause death by overdose when taken alone, but this can occur.
Withdrawal from Xanax
Xanax, all the other benzodiazepines, alcohol, barbiturates and certain other hypnotic drugs are all very dangerous to withdraw from on your own. All work in roughly similar ways in the brain, and all can produce grand mal seizures. These seizures can cause you to fall and fatally injure yourself. They can also cause you to inhale stomach contents into your lungs, which can easily be fatal. This inhalation can occur during a grand mal seizure or if you vomit while unconscious from the seizure. Xanax withdrawal isn’t just about feeling crummy from withdrawal symptoms. It can kill and should never be done without medical supervision. Some withdrawal symptoms include:
- Drug cravings
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sweating and increased heart rate
- Muscle pain
These withdrawal symptoms are pretty bad but are manageable during a medical detox. These symptoms occur because the brain has become dependent on the continuous presence of the drug and has forgotten how to function without it. The treatment for withdrawal symptoms includes giving slowly decreasing doses of a benzodiazepine, often diazepam because it’s long-acting, over time to allow the brain time to adjust. Your starting dose will depend on the dose you were taking before you began detox. Not everyone who needs detox is necessarily addicted, but those who are will also need drug rehab recovery treatment after they complete the detox process.
Benzodiazepines will produce a withdrawal reaction in anyone who takes them daily for any length of time exceeding a month or two. Anyone and everyone taking Xanax or any other benzodiazepine should seek medical advice before stopping the drug.
For More Information
If you’re afraid of Xanax withdrawal, just call us at 833-610-1174 anytime. Our trained counselors will reassure you, give you hope and help you find a safe drug detox in your area.