Getting Good Sleep During Xanax Withdrawal
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Each year, millions of prescriptions are provided to people struggling with various mental and physical health conditions. Because a medical provider prescribes Xanax, many do not understand the hidden risks, dangers of long-term Xanax use and Xanax withdrawal symptoms.
What is Xanax?
Xanax Drug Class
Xanax, or alprazolam, is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance. Generally, a Schedule IV substance has a lower risk of abuse, but there is still a risk of dependency with long-term use. Xanax is a benzodiazepine similar to other drugs in the same category, including Valium, Ativan, Klonopin, etc. Benzodiazepines or Benzos work within the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) to produce sensations of relaxation and calm.
What Is Xanax Used For?
Xanax is available by prescription only from your medical provider. It is used to relieve symptoms from various mental health conditions such as anxiety and as a pain reliever for those who struggle with muscle spasms or chronic pain.
When used as directed, Xanax and other benzodiazepine drugs are safe and effective in helping reduce the intensity and severity of chronic conditions. However, Xanax is highly addictive, and when misused by the intended user or used in a way other than as prescribed, Xanax addiction can quickly develop.
Street Names for Xanax
Xanax comes in several shapes and colors based on Xanax dosages. The pills may be orange, blue, white, or yellow and circular, rectangular, or oval-shaped.1 The varying shapes and colors have led to several street names. Commonly used slang or street names for Xanax are benzos, Xannies, Bars (blue Xanax bars), Blue Footballs, Ladders, Sticks, or downers.2
The term “benzos” is widely used street slang often applied to not only Xanax but other drugs within the same schedule and drug class. Although these drugs are available only from your medical provider, it does not necessarily mean using them comes without risk. Benzodiazepines like Xanax are highly addictive, and the potential for Xanax abuse, Xanax overdose, and death are high.3
Is Xanax Addictive?
Xanax continues to be the most frequently prescribed psychiatric drug in the United States. Each year, approximately 44 million prescriptions4 are written for Xanax, making it the eighth-most prescribed medication in America. That factor, coupled with drug-seeking behaviors such as doctor shopping, means there is an ample amount of the drug in circulation, leading to frequent problems with Xanax abuse and Xanax addiction.
Why People Abuse Xanax
For over 40 years, Xanax has been the “go-to” drug used by mental health and medical providers to treat several mental health conditions. Unfortunately, this fact has led to widespread abuse and, as some may argue, opened the door to the current prescription drug crisis.
People may abuse Xanax for various reasons. Some receive a prescription from their provider and, upon developing a tolerance for it, cannot stop using. Others crave the relaxing, calming high that Xanax is known to produce, and they look to other methods of obtaining Xanax.
How Xanax Addiction Forms
Xanax, like other benzodiazepines, is generally intended for short-term use. When used consistently, it is not uncommon to develop a tolerance, requiring you to take higher and more frequent doses to achieve the same effects as before. Increasing your Xanax dosage and continuing to take the drug with frequency leads to tolerance and dependence, which results in Xanax withdrawal symptoms when you stop using.
Signs and Symptoms of Xanax Addiction
The signs and symptoms of Xanax addiction are like those of other benzodiazepines. Addiction to Xanax will produce a variety of physical and psychological effects.
The most common physical effects include:
Xanax addiction also impacts your behavior and cognitive abilities. When someone uses Xanax too often or takes too high of a dose, it can lead to:
New or worsening mental health problems
Loss of interest in hobbies
Ignoring daily responsibilities
Difficulties with memory
Stealing (to get pills)
New or worsening legal and relationship problems
Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms
Using Xanax as prescribed and for a short course of treatment generally does not result in life-threatening side effects. However, the detox and Xanax withdrawal process can lead to potential medical emergencies. It is highly recommended that those looking to detox from Xanax do in an environment where medically supervised detox is available, like Arrow Passage Recovery.
Xanax withdrawal symptoms are the range of physical and psychological symptoms you experience when you stop taking the drug. Withdrawal symptoms generally begin within twenty-four hours after your last dose. In most cases, they will last a few days to several weeks, depending on the severity of your addiction and how long you have been taking Xanax.
The symptoms that occur immediately after you stop taking Xanax, also known as acute symptoms, may include:
Changes to bowel movements
Nausea or vomiting
Common psychological symptoms may include:
Difficulties with sleep (insomnia)
Isolation or withdrawal
How long does Xanax stay in your system?
Symptoms of Xanax withdrawal happen along with a standard progression. The Xanax withdrawal timeline will be slightly different for each person as the duration and severity of symptoms will vary based on your unique situation. Xanax withdrawal can last for weeks or several months.
Your progress from the beginning to the end of the Xanax withdrawal timeline will be unique to you. Due to the unpleasant nature of some withdrawal symptoms, Xanax addiction can be challenging to overcome. The half-life of Xanax is approximately 11 hours. Still, it can take up to 50 hours for your body to remove the drug from your system.6 Compared to other benzodiazepines, Xanax has one of the shortest half-lives meaning Xanax withdrawal symptoms often set in more quickly when compared to similar drugs of the same class.
How long Xanax stays in your system depends on how it is detected and other factors such as your ability to process (metabolize) the drug. In the blood and urine, Xanax can be detected within hours of use and for up to 5 days after your last dose. In the saliva, detection is immediate and possible for up to 2.5 days. Xanax can be detected in the hair for up to 90 days after your last use.6
How to Help Ease Withdrawal Insomnia During Recovery
Difficulties with sleep are common during Xanax withdrawal. Xanax insomnia is a common symptom during the early stages of detox. At a skilled addiction treatment center like Arrow Passage Recovery, our team of medical professionals can help you manage Xanax insomnia and other sleep-related challenges so you are better able to rest and overcome addiction.
Here at Arrow Passage Recovery, trained professionals, including doctors, nurses, and other treatment providers, are available to ensure you can detox safely from Xanax. Depending on your unique detox and treatment needs, they will continue to monitor your vitals throughout the detox process and, in some cases, provide medications for symptom management. Known as medically assisted treatment or medically assisted withdrawal, this specialized form of detox helps to reduce the severity of your symptoms so you can focus on healing.
Once you have successfully detoxed, you can transition directly into our therapeutic program designed to help you achieve and maintain lasting sobriety. Your individualized treatment program calls upon evidence-based therapy tools to help enhance and improve stress management and relapse prevention tools. The most effective therapy models include cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT and various others used to help those seeking sobriety examine and reevaluate the thoughts and actions that further addictive behaviors.
Why Is Good Sleep Key to Recovery?
Xanax can produce feelings of drowsiness. When you first stop taking it, the opposite often occurs. As sleep issues and insomnia set in, it puts you more at risk for additional medical and mental health challenges. Sleep is a vital part of the addiction recovery process. If you struggle with a mental illness in addition to your addiction, it becomes even more challenging to get the essential rest you need to recover as many people turn to sleep-inducing substances to help shut out mental health symptoms that plague them at night.
Lack of sleep increases your chance for relapse and worsens your mental and physical health. Fortunately, with the proper treatment, it is possible to avoid the struggles of Xanax insomnia and improve your sleep patterns. To learn more about how Arrow Passage Recovery can help you defeat Xanax addiction, contact us today. Our skilled and compassionate treatment team is here to answer your questions and help you get started down the path to sobriety and long-term freedom from Xanax addiction.