Xanax, along with all Benzodiazepines, are highly addictive and habit forming anti-anxiety medications. Over the past few decades, we have seen massive rises in the number of prescriptions for these drugs as well as cases of people abusing them and becoming addicted. As we have mentioned in other articles, these substances are very likely to cause physical dependence and have some seriously dangerous withdrawal symptoms. In some rare instances, quitting cold turkey has been proven to be fatal. It should be mentioned that this article is not intended to promote anyone try to taper off of Xanax on his or her own, or be a guide on how to do so.
Merely, we wish to inform the reader as to why tapering down in dosages is important, the risk factors of detoxing improperly and options of further support that exist once physical sobriety from Xanax is obtained. The safest way to withdraw from any substance of abuse, Xanax especially, is under the care of a trained medical professional in a facility designed to assist this kind of treatment.
What is Tapering and why is it Necessary?
Tapering is the act of slowly reducing the amount of a particular substance someone takes into their body over a period of time, so as to reduce the uncomfortable and harmful side effects of withdrawal. Expert’s say that it usually takes at least eight weeks to successfully taper off of Xanax safely. Over those eight weeks, doctors will assess the users health to ensure normal functioning of bodily systems that would otherwise be affected if the user was to stop taking the drug cold turkey.
With Xanax and other Benzodiazepines the biggest risk factor is seizures, and they can be extremely dangerous and sometimes even deadly. Because the body of the dependent patient has been sedated for a period of time before detoxing, it goes into shock when the sedative is taken away too quickly. To remedy this, doses must be reduced in a slow fashion to avoid negative consequences. We do not wish to promote withdrawing from Xanax unless under medical supervision because it is so vital that this process is done properly for it to be successful.
Tapering is Only the First Step
Oftentimes in detox facilities, a different drug that the addict was not abusing, but that acts on the body in a similar yet less intense way will replace the one they are physically dependent to. This will ease the discomfort of the withdrawal without producing the euphoric or sedative effects the addict was seeking which could cause the addict to revert back to drug seeking behavior.
By tapering doses down, Xanax addicts greatly reduce the chances of having intense cravings during the withdrawal process and also are in much less danger of fatal withdrawal symptoms. Unfortunately for many addicts, achieving physical sobriety is only the first step of many in their journey to recovery and complete abstinence from mind-altering chemicals. Without proper care and support, a majority of people who suffer from physical dependence to substances end up going back to using the drugs they were once addicted to.
Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)
One major reason individuals relapse into addictive behavior is something called Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, or PAWS for short. This phenomenon refers to the idea that even after physical sobriety is attained and an individual is living a life free from psychoactive drugs, their mind and body are still affected for a considerable period of time. Scientists argue over just how long that period of time lasts but depending on length of drug use and individual characteristics it has been known to last for up to a year or longer in some cases. As Post Acute Withdrawal is occurring, it is suggested that addicts look to other forms of treatment after detox in order to increase their chances of long-term sobriety. These include inpatient and outpatient rehab centers, sober livings, half way homes and regular attendance at 12-step based meetings. These forms of additional treatment are sometimes necessary in order to attain a life free from Xanax and other drugs.
Often Xanax addiction is found in cohorts with addiction to other substances, and sobriety from all mind and mood altering substances is beneficial in most cases. Many people have recovered from addiction to Xanax as well as other drugs with the correct guidance and support. If you or someone you know is addicted to Xanax and would like more information on where and how to taper off safely, contact a medical professional.