Quitting any drug cold turkey comes with some degree of discomfort but with Xanax that discomfort can turn into a very serious medical issue.
Stopping in an instant and doing it without proper supervision or guidance carries the risk of seizures, psychosis and more.
So, is quitting Xanax cold turkey dangerous?
Yes, it is.
Nonetheless, it is doable but the risk and agony are hardly worth it when detox and withdrawal under the supervision of medical professionals can mitigate all the dangers to such a great extent.
The recommended course of action for freeing yourself from the clutches of Xanax – and the entire benzodiazepine family of drugs – is to taper off the dosage slowly with the support and planning of addiction experts.
What Is Xanax?
Xanax, the brand name for alprazolam, is a benzodiazepine “used to treat anxiety disorders and panic disorder…It works by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain” according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
In other words, it’s a sedative.
Incidentally, if you click the link above, you’ll notice an extensive and lengthy warning about Alprazolam before you see any information about the drug itself.
The most important section for our purposes is this:
“Do not stop taking this medication or take fewer doses without talking to your doctor. Stopping alprazolam suddenly can worsen your condition and cause withdrawal symptoms that may last for several weeks to more than 12 months. Your doctor probably will decrease your alprazolam dose gradually”
Despite the dangers, the abundance of those suffering from anxiety and panic disorders in America has made Xanax “the most commonly prescribed psychotropic medication in the United States” as per the NIH.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that from 1996 to 2013, “the number of adults who filled a benzodiazepine prescription increased by 67%”. In 2013 alone, 48 million prescriptions were dispensed.
Why Is Xanax Addictive?
In scientific terms, “benzodiazepines [Xanax] bind to the GABA-A receptor… The major inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, when bound to the GABA-A receptor, mediates the calming or inhibitory effects of alprazolam on the human nervous system”.
In layman’s terms, Xanax slows down brain activity and helps calm you, which is why it’s known as a central nervous system depressant as well as a sedative.
Worth noting that this is also why mixing benzos like Xanax with alcohol can be catastrophic, the two depressants intensifying the effects of each other dramatically – potentially even leading to death.
Aside from the ability to live free from anxiety and panic, the addictive nature of Xanax is owed largely to the release of dopamine in the brain. You get addicted to the rush of “feel-good” chemicals – the reward – and once you build a tolerance, you naturally begin to crave more and begin taking higher doses.
Is Quitting Xanax Cold Turkey Dangerous?
This of course brings us back to the main question, is it dangerous to stop taking benzos, Xanax specifically, abruptly.
It very much is.
Withdrawal symptoms from Xanax span quite a range and can be extremely intense for some.
- Panic and anxiety
- Grand mal seizures (aka tonic-clonic seizures which are characterized by intense muscle spasms and loss of consciousness)
- Muscle aches
To say withdrawal can get uncomfortable is an understatement.
Therefore, the first step and safest step towards quitting Xanax is to do it under the care and supervision of experts who not only will develop a systematic and individualized plan for tapering your dosage (if that’s what’s best for you) but will also walk you through it and be there with you every step of the way.
Learn more about overcoming a Xanax addiction by reaching out to us at Valley Recovery Center at Agua Dulce.