Alprazolam Withdrawal and Detox
Alprazolam is usually prescribed as a treatment for symptoms of anxiety and in some cases, sudden panic attacks. It is a powerful benzodiazepine with sedative characteristics responsible for slowing both heart and breathing rates and lowing excitement levels in the brain – all of which are disruptive to the normal functioning of the body. While many patients are able to use the medication as prescribed without any problem, it can be easy to abuse the drug.
If you begin to take the drug without a doctor’s prescription (or taking more than prescribed), this is considered abuse. You may want relief from anxiety and panic in addition to seeking more of the euphoric feeling of the drug. Over time, you may develop physical dependence that leads to withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly lower your dosage significantly, or stop using it completely.
Psychological dependence on alprazolam can also occur alongside a physical dependence. In such situations, it’s extremely difficult to try to navigate alprazolam withdrawal alone. You’ll need help with withdrawal and detox so that you can achieve long-term recovery from a physical and mental dependence on the substance.
What Is Alprazolam Withdrawal?
When you take alprazolam in heavy doses or for a longer period than originally prescribed, you increase the likelihood of developing dependence. In addition, you also run the risk of experiencing withdrawal. This term is used to describe a set of physical and psychological symptoms that occur after you quit using certain drugs. However, each person experiences withdrawal differently. It may be fairly generic flu-like symptoms for some, while others may experience severe or painful withdrawal reactions.
Alprazolam withdrawal occurs when you abruptly stop taking the substance after you’ve already become dependent on it. This means you’re unable to feel normal or function properly without alprazolam in your system. In some cases, you may even feel physical pain and psychological disturbances, as you are no longer ingesting alprazolam. Because it has a short half-life, alprazolam has some of the most dangerous withdrawal symptoms compared to other benzodiazepines.
It leaves your body at a faster rate than other longer-acting benzodiazepines and can cause sudden and severe withdrawal symptoms. It also hijacks the reward centre of the brain more intensely than some of the other drugs in the same class. Fortunately, withdrawal can be made more bearable with professional medical help and support. Detox centres have helped countless people successfully undergo withdrawal and you can find the help you need too.
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Causes of Alprazolam Withdrawal
Alprazolam withdrawal generally occurs when you suddenly stop taking the drug (or seriously lower the amount consumed) after a period of regular and prolonged usage. Continuous use of alprazolam over a long time can make you tolerant to its effects, even when you’re only taking it in prescribed doses. Over time, alprazolam tolerance will lead you to increase the amount you’re taking, so you can experience the same feeling of euphoria you’ve become accustomed to.
At this time, normality is alprazolam in your system, as your body has adjusted to its constant presence. As a result, without the presence of alprazolam in your body – either from sudden removal or significant reduction – you may experience some discomfort. You will experience a shock to your body system as it struggles to regain normal functioning, which is manifested in the form of mild to severe withdrawal symptoms.
The causes of alprazolam withdrawal are also related to the effects of the drug on your brain. The way your brain functions is significantly altered when you use alprazolam chronically for a long time. This medicine produces its sedative effects by binding to certain aspects of the GABA receptors found in your brain. Changes in these receptors can lead to alprazolam withdrawal when you stop using the drug.
Phases of Alprazolam Withdrawal
Alprazolam withdrawal may be divided into three major phases, beginning with early withdrawal, then acute withdrawal and protracted withdrawal. Early withdrawal generally begins from a few hours to a couple of days after you stop taking alprazolam. At this stage, you may experience anxiety and insomnia, as your brain recognises the absence of the drug. In addition, the symptoms for which you were taking the drug to suppress may return. If you’re undergoing withdrawal at a medical facility, a tapering process may be used to help control the effects.
Acute withdrawal may begin after a few days of alprazolam cessation and may last from two weeks to several months. This is usually the main phase, as it constitutes the bulk of withdrawal. The symptoms you may experience during this phase include: nausea and/or vomiting, panic, anxiety, muscle spasms or tension, insomnia, hallucinations, blurred vision, short-term memory impairment, seizures, trouble concentrating, mood swings, drug cravings, clouded thinking, weight loss as a result of reduced appetite, twitching and diarrhoea.
The protracted withdrawal phase is uncommon and can last several months or years after quitting alprazolam. You may experience prolonged depression, anxiety, insomnia and mood swings, tingling in your limbs and cognitive deficits that may be difficult to manage. In addition, such symptoms may randomly appear without warning.
Alprazolam Withdrawal Symptoms: What to Expect
There is a range of symptoms that may occur during alprazolam withdrawal. Because alprazolam use can result in a psychological dependence (to the feelings it produces), you can experience some psychological symptoms as well. However, your reactions to the withdrawal process – including both the mental and physical signs you might experience – can be difficult to predict.
One of the initial symptoms of alprazolam dependence and addiction is the appearance of physical symptoms when you stop using the drug. These withdrawal symptoms include sweating, nausea and dry retching, heart palpitations and headaches.
Other symptoms you can expect include anxiety, sleep problems, irritability, muscle stiffness and pain, hand tremors, heart palpitations, panic attacks, unintentional weight loss, changes in perception, and difficulty concentrating. In severe cases of alprazolam withdrawal, you may also experience psychotic reactions and/or seizures.
Timeline of Alprazolam Withdrawal
Usually, alprazolam withdrawal begins a few hours after your last dose. This timeline of alprazolam withdrawal follows a four-week process, but you may experience withdrawal for a longer period, depending on your level of alprazolam abuse and dependence.
From 24 to 72 hours
The first three days involve the most severe symptoms of withdrawal and you could be at a higher risk of seizures during this period. This is, therefore, the most crucial time for you to be medically monitored, as you might experience increased heart rate, nausea and vomiting.
Withdrawal at this stage is still quite difficult, even though the most severe symptoms of the first few days are over. Your heart may continue to beat fast and you may still be experiencing trouble sleeping. Depressive symptoms may occur and you may encounter serious cravings for alprazolam.
Depression may continue, in addition to irritability and mood swings. Your emotional symptoms can be expected to continue at this stage. Fortunately, the possibility of seizures and other severe reactions will have passed by this stage.
Weeks 3 to 4
Insomnia will ease at this stage, although you may continue to experience some problems with sleep for a while. In addition, physical symptoms will start to taper off, but headaches and sensitivity might remain. Some of your mental and emotional symptoms may continue, in addition to the original anxiety for which you began treatment. From time to time throughout your life, you may experience various symptoms in different forms.
What is Alprazolam Detoxification?
Alprazolam detoxification (or detox) refers to the process of ridding your body of the substance. This process may occur at detox centres, inpatient or residential facilities, and outpatient detox programmes. You can find treatment for physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms, provided by qualified healthcare providers at such centres, in addition to 24/7 medical monitoring and support to help you avoid major complications.
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The common method of alprazolam detoxification is through tapering, which involves gradually reducing your dosage. Your doctor may also help you reduce or eliminate symptoms by using longer-acting benzodiazepines like diazepam (Valium) or clonazepam (Klonopin), before slowly weaning you off those as well. Also, if you choose to undergo alprazolam detoxification on an outpatient basis, slower-acting substitute drugs or the taper method can also be used and you’ll be able to go about your regular activities during treatment.
Careful monitoring by healthcare professionals whilst tapering off alprazolam during detox is essential. This is to ensure more severe alprazolam withdrawal symptoms (relating to rapid dose reduction) are not triggered in the process. In addition, alprazolam detox may take a longer period of time for older patients, as a result of its elimination half-life.
Alprazolam Detox Process
The detox process is aimed at increasing your safety and comfort when withdrawing from alprazolam. The safest form of detoxification is a prolonged taper, whereby the drug is steadily administered in lowered amounts over a period of time. Depending on your level of use and if you’ve passed through withdrawal before, you may first be switched to a longer-acting benzo, before starting to be tapered off.
This allows a stabilisation phase by creating a more consistent level of benzodiazepine in your body, from which you can easily taper. Also, this can allow your symptoms to be managed easier. In some cases, you could be switched to Phenobarbital (a long-acting barbiturate) before beginning a taper routine. This means after you’ve achieved a therapeutic symptom-relieving dose, the drug will then be systematically reduced, according to the way in which your withdrawal symptoms begin to occur. More space between dose reductions can lead to a less uncomfortable detox, even though the process might be longer as a result.
During alprazolam withdrawal and detox, symptoms may fluctuate in an unpredictable manner, making the process all the more frustrating and difficult to negotiate. Choosing a medically supervised detox will ensure your symptoms are closely monitored and the treatments you need are administered at the right time.
Undergoing detox from alprazolam at home via the ‘cold turkey’ method may seem like a convenient option, but it comes with some serious risks attached. Without medical attention, benzodiazepine withdrawal can be deadly, and there is also a higher risk of relapse. Home detox from alprazolam can result in mental health problems such as rebound anxiety, depression or irritability, which can make you harbour thoughts of self-harm or even suicide.
In addition, the withdrawal symptoms you can experience during detox can include unpleasant and severe ones such as seizures, tremors, blurred visions, nausea and vomiting, muscle cramps and heart palpitations. You may be incapable of managing these symptoms on your own. A treatment programme involves trained staff who can help you manage any mental and physical health symptoms that could occur and ensure your detox is as safe as possible.
The fact is that alprazolam treatment programmes are very effective. They can provide the kind of care that you cannot find with home detox. They not only help you cope with withdrawal but also provide guidance throughout the process of detox and sometimes into treatment for your addiction and aftercare during recovery.
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Why Detoxification at Home can be Harmful
As a treatment, detoxification means that many of your withdrawal symptoms can be addressed or prevented by using the necessary medications and alternative care. It also means that your overall experience of withdrawal is safer, faster and more convenient. Undergoing professional detox also gives you access to coordinated physical and mental assistance. There are different psychosocial factors which play a role in the different stages of the withdrawal process, which the right treatment will target.
Therefore, if you attempt detox at home, you’re missing out on the comprehensive support that is crucial for recovery. In addition, you place yourself at a higher chance of relapsing, because you’re more likely to face long-term struggles to maintain your sobriety. Quitting and getting clean from alprazolam will end up taking more effort and pain than necessary, in addition to time and money.
In other words, detoxing from alprazolam is much more involved, potentially risky, and should not be carried out on your own at home. There’s also the risk of death from severe symptoms like seizures. If you want to end alprazolam dependence, consider a licensed detox facility, where you can be properly monitored round-the-clock. You can then follow up detox with comprehensive treatment and therapy to find support for long-term recovery.
Medically Supervised Alprazolam Withdrawal Detox
Medical detox for alprazolam withdrawal generally occurs in three stages; the first is the intake and evaluation stage, where your physical and mental health state will be assessed to reveal clues about your history of drug usage. Other evaluations may also be carried out to highlight potential dual diagnosis with mental health disorders or other substance abuse disorders, as well as brain trauma, learning disabilities or behavioural disorders. You can, therefore, expect to undergo a physical exam, an interview, and might be required to submit samples of urine and blood.
Monitoring and support is the second stage of medically supervised alprazolam withdrawal detox. During this stage, professional medical staff will closely monitor your symptoms and help ease any discomfort. Certain prescription medications (including anticonvulsants and antidepressants) and over-the-counter remedies may be utilised to take care of your symptoms.
At the final stage, you’ll be ready to continue in rehab for further treatment. The main goal of alprazolam withdrawal detox is to stay clean and avoid relapse. If your doctor assesses that you’ve developed alprazolam addiction, they will refer you for further treatment and monitoring. Treatment options at this stage will include 30, 60 or 90-day rehab programmes (or longer if necessary), inpatient or outpatient treatment centres, in addition to the use of appropriate and effective therapies.
Medications Used During Alprazolam Detox
The medications administered during detox depend on your level of addiction and the drug you’ve become addicted to. This is because certain medications only treat the specific withdrawal symptoms from particular drugs. Some of these medications include pain relief medicines, anti-nausea medicines, anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants, medicines that reduce cravings, drugs to help regulate sleep patterns and medicines that lower or counteract the effects of the drug being abused.
The most effective medications used in alprazolam detox are also benzodiazepines. However, because of the high likelihood of continued abuse, this method of detox treatment should be closely monitored by qualified professionals with experience in benzodiazepine withdrawal. In addition, the most common medications used in the process include Trazodone (or other sedating antidepressants), Clonidine or propranolol (antihypertensives), and Carbamazepine and valproate (anticonvulsants).
Carbamazepine is a benzodiazepine medication that effectively reduces withdrawal symptoms and provides better abstinence outcomes – even after detox is complete. Non-benzo antidepressants can also be used to slightly alleviate symptoms of severe depression when they occur. After treatment begins, your doctor can also recommend therapy as a supplement for such medications.
Treatment for Withdrawal
Treatment for withdrawal should be considered an essential first step in your overall management plan and can be integrated seamlessly into a long-term strategy to help you recover from substance abuse. Generally, it’s based on a slow reduction in the amount of the drug consumed over a period of time. An alternative approach involves switching to the same dosage on a longer-acting benzodiazepine such as diazepam and following up with lower doses.
If necessary, your doctor may administer adjunctive medicines such as Gabapentin, Divalproex, β-adrenergic receptor antagonists or Carbamazepine. Using these medications should be accompanied by proper nursing care and support. Additionally, non-pharmacological treatments such as cognitive behavioural strategies and cognitive restructuring can help you manage your anxiety and give you a sense of control over withdrawal. It also helps to avoid turning to abuse other addictive substances, like alcohol.
Long-term treatment methods include managing the initial symptoms of anxiety and insomnia with the use of recommended pharmacological and non-pharmacological remedies. This is essential in order to minimise your risk of relapsing.
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Withdrawing from Alprazolam: Treatment Methods and Options
If you’ve previously experienced severe withdrawal symptoms such as seizures, psychosis or delirium, you may want to consider hospital alprazolam addiction treatment. This option is also highly recommended if you’ve developed a dependence on the medication. The goal of this treatment method is to evaluate your condition and assist you with detox. Evaluation is carried out through a series of tests to highlight the presence of any additional drugs in your system. Detox is undertaken to restore your cognitive ability and rid your body of harmful drugs. After screening and detox, you will be counselled with regards the risk of relapse and the related consequences.
Specialised counselling can also be applied to identify internal and external barriers to abstinence, and provide you with the skills you need to cope. During hospital treatment, you’re well protected from physical harm as a result of self-destructive behaviours. Another option to be considered is detoxification, where you’ll have to choose between inpatient and outpatient options. The latter is a highly effective method in many instances because you can continue your regular daily routine, even whilst undergoing treatment. However, you have to meet the requirements for an outpatient alprazolam addiction treatment programme by agreeing to live without using any substance that features mind-altering characteristics for the period of detox. You’ll also need a reliable and sober friend or family member to watch you to monitor any severe withdrawal symptoms that could occur.
They must be supportive and help you to stick to the prescribed drugs. Detoxification can take from three to ten days to complete. If you’re unable to meet the requirements, inpatient detox treatment is another effective method. Inpatient withdrawal treatment restricts your access to any substances, apart from those your doctors have prescribed. This option ensures your safety through close supervision and monitoring.
Drug treatment for withdrawal
Effective Alprazolam withdrawal treatment requires the use of drugs to deal with the medical complications that can occur, in addition to severe withdrawal symptoms associated with drug withdrawal and detox. As a result of advances in scientific research, doctors can now combine treatment methods when treating addiction. Therefore, detoxification is undertaken out alongside drug treatment or pharmacotherapy.
This usually consists of reduction or substitution of drugs whilst under close supervision. If you’re being treated by substituting drugs, this may be carried out through the use of a longer-acting substance that is also cross-tolerant, such as diazepam or phenobarbital. This method of withdrawal treatment and addiction recovery effectively reduces or eliminates your withdrawal symptoms.
The drug administered at this stage is provided in doses that are gradually reduced over a period of time. The reduction is dependent on your initial dosage. This type of treatment for alprazolam withdrawal helps to prevent the occurrence of symptoms such as body tremors, vomiting and fever, whilst preventing seizures and lowering your chances of becoming dependent on a new drug.
Guided Alprazolam therapy
Alprazolam is a benzodiazepine drug used in the treatment of anxiety and panic disorders. This medication can be highly addictive, which is why they are mainly prescribed for short-term use. Guided alprazolam therapy is essential, as it can help you prevent building a tolerance and eventually becoming physically dependent. Physical dependence occurs when you take increasingly higher doses to achieve the same effect or to function normally.
Using alprazolam under the supervision of healthcare providers can also help you avoid some of the more severe effects of alprazolam abuse, especially if you encounter some risk factors for alprazolam withdrawal. Such risk factors include prolonged dependence on alprazolam or other benzodiazepines and suffering from underlying mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression, which makes it more difficult to successfully undergo withdrawal.
In addition, you need guided alprazolam therapy if you’ve been engaged in multi-substance abuse. This is because withdrawal is likely to be severe for you when you abuse alcohol and other addictive drugs whilst taking alprazolam. This type of drug abuse can lead to overdose and even death, which is of course what guided alprazolam therapy aims to avoid.
Live a Sober Life Again
Addiction makes you suffer a range of effects from prolonged substance abuse. It’s easy to lose your job, home and family as a result of developing an addiction to drugs. You can live a sober life again by not going through the withdrawal process alone. Admit that you need help and that your addiction to alprazolam cannot be overcome on your own. In addition, take a closer look at the harm drug abuse has created around you. When you’re able to admit that you need help, you can begin the journey to recovery.
A medically supervised withdrawal and detox is the best approach to breaking free from your alprazolam abuse habit. After a successful detox, you can then begin therapy to understand the underlying causes of your addiction. This understanding can help you break the cycle of addiction.
Relapse is quite common at one point or another during addiction recovery, and should not be interpreted as a failure of your treatment. However, your main goal should be to prevent it from occurring in the first place. It’s possible to prevent relapse by employing the following methods:
- Be consistent with medications, especially if you’re suffering from a dual diagnosis. A number of psychological conditions (including anxiety disorders and depression) may contribute to a strong urge to use drugs. Even when you feel fine and your symptoms seem to have disappeared, it could be a mistake to consider yourself ‘cured’ and discard your medication.
- If the option is available, consider moving into a sober living home. This type of accommodation is an efficient method of reducing your chances of relapsing. Sober living homes are private residences, mainly occupied by those in recovery. Living with others who can relate to you with regards the importance of maintaining sobriety can help you overcome temptation or triggers.
- Stay away from people and places that may make you nostalgic for your old drug habits. These include dance clubs, bars, raves, homes of friends abusing drugs, and so on. Even if you have a strong emotional connection to such friends and areas, it’s crucial to avoid them at all costs. If you feel you need to make new friends, consider joining a local book club or even a support group like Narcotics Anonymous, where drug use would not be tolerated.
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Tips to Handle Cravings
Cravings are a normal, strong desire that make you want to return to using your substance of abuse in order to satisfy them. If you give in and indulge your cravings, you can be said to have relapsed. It is essential to remember that no matter how powerful the urge is, you can handle it. Anxiety, stress and anger are the most common emotional triggers for cravings. To handle cravings, you’ll need to learn effective meditation and relaxation techniques. Being mindful can help you focus on what lies ahead, instead of on how drugs used to affect you.
You can also handle your cravings by learning the art of healthy distraction, using it to avoid your triggers or to redirect your attention. Some examples of healthy distraction include changing the environment you’re in, talking to people who are in support of your journey and engaging in good, clean fun. The idea behind changing your environment is to eliminate possible temptations from familiar sights, sounds and smells. Therefore, you might go for a walk, a drive or a bike ride. Healthy distraction redirects your attention from one or more neutral friends.
Additionally, being physically active can help you manage cravings. Physical activity causes your body to release some natural chemicals, which helps to reduce stress and anxiety, combat depression and improve your general mood. Being active doesn’t have to mean running a marathon; you can achieve great results by simply taking a brisk walk around your neighbourhood, doing some gardening tasks or performing other outdoor projects.
Find a treatment centre
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when first attempting to choose from a large number of treatment centres available, especially when you’re unsure about the resources you need to complete the detox process. There are different ways to go about finding a treatment centre. You can start at your doctor’s office, where they will provide you with a referral to an addiction expert. You can also locate local treatment centres and services through different organisations, including the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Alprazolam withdrawal and detox can be uncomfortable, and in some cases dangerous. Therefore, enrolling at a treatment centre for addiction is the safest way to quit.
How long does Alprazolam Withdrawal Last?
There are different factors that determine the length and severity of alprazolam withdrawal, including your age, metabolism, level of tolerance, and frequency and length of usage. While your withdrawal symptoms may be quite intense, this period may last only a couple of weeks.
Are There any Home Remedies for Getting Clean Safely?
There are a number of home remedies you can employ to get clean safely; nervine herbs like passion flower can help you relax and get some sleep; Chamomile may help with nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps; In addition, bacopa may also help you deal with memory loss.
How Long Does it Take to Detox from Alprazolam?
The detox timeline for alprazolam will vary from one user to the next, especially as there are different factors influencing how long it takes. However, alprazolam can stay in your system for an average of two to four days. It can also be excreted in urine within a week.
Can You Die From Alprazolam Withdrawal?
It is possible to die from alprazolam withdrawal if you attempt to quit ‘cold turkey’ on your own. The result is usually a sudden loss of chemicals which shock the brain and send it into a panic.
What Is Alprazolam Withdrawal?
If you’re addicted to alprazolam and attempt to stop taking it, you’ll likely experience withdrawal. Alprazolam withdrawal is characterised by an increase in tension and anxiety, irritability, hand tremors, sweating and difficulty concentrating.
Is Alprazolam Withdrawal Dangerous?
Alprazolam withdrawal features some of the most dangerous withdrawal symptoms. In addition, because it leaves the body at a faster rate than longer-acting benzodiazepines, your withdrawal symptoms may be even more sudden and severe.
Can I Find Help?
Alprazolam withdrawal and detox can be life-threatening in severe cases, so it’s best to choose a trusted medical provider to help you throughout the process.
Are there ways to prevent or reduce withdrawal symptoms?
Medical detox provides the most effective way to prevent or scale down withdrawal symptoms. With medication, care and support, they can help you reduce side effects, prevent serious complications and lessen your cravings for the drug.
Is Detox from Alprazolam dangerous?
The rapid removal of alprazolam from your body can cause harmful physical and mental effects. In addition, detoxing ‘cold turkey’ can result in adverse reactions such as seizures, which are dangerous (and in some cases, deadly).
Can Medications Help?
Medications which can be used in the treatment of certain alprazolam withdrawal symptoms usually come in the form of antidepressants. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may be administered if you suffer from depression whilst going through alprazolam withdrawal.
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