Xanax has seen a heavy level of abuse in recent years. Not only has it become a much more common prescription to deal with various challenges, including anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, and panic attacks, many people try to self-medicate with Xanax or choose to medicate outside a doctor’s orders.
They may, for example, consume more Xanax than prescribed to increase the effects of the medication. Understanding how long Xanax actually stays in your system can help you decide what to do next if you or a loved one has abused Xanax in the past and provide you with a better idea of your next steps.
What is Xanax, Exactly?
Xanax is a benzodiazepine drug typically used to treat anxiety and panic disorders, including Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It may also be used to treat panic attacks.
Around 30.6 million adults in America report using Xanax each year. Misuse accounts for approximately 17.2% of that usage. Xanax and other benzodiazepine products are intended to create a sense of calm and relaxation. When overused, it can create an even more intense effect.
In general, Xanax can be detected in saliva drug tests for only around 36 hours after a single use. However, Xanax can be detected in urine tests for up to 11 days, depending on the medication’s half-life and dosage. That does not necessarily mean that users will experience the impact of Xanax for that length of time, however.
Short-acting Xanax products will have noticeable effects for 2-4 hours, depending on dosage and how well the body processes it. Intermediate-acting Xanax products may have an average half-life of around 6-12 hours. While long-acting Xanax products can last anywhere from 5-30 hours. Doctors may start by prescribing short-acting Xanax products so that patients will have the chance to determine what impact the substance will have on them.
Some users may combine Xanax with alcohol to achieve a deeper “high” or a more intense effect. Unfortunately, alcohol use and taking Xanax can lead to unexpectedly severe side effects. These side effects may include a higher overall risk of addiction and emotional side effects.
Is Xanax Addictive?
Xanax is highly addictive, and tolerance to it develops quickly. As that tolerance increases, users may find themselves taking more and more of the medication. They will do this to achieve the same effect they had before. Unfortunately, they may struggle to see those same results. Quickly, they may find themselves taking much more of the medication than initially prescribed, including potentially dangerous levels of Xanax.
Symptoms of Xanax addiction may include:
- Obsessing over getting or taking Xanax
- Hiding Xanax use from loved ones
- Losing interest in formerly-enjoyed hobbies and activities or missing those activities to use or obtain Xanax
- Using Xanax despite the challenges it may cause in the user’s personal life
- Inability to stop using Xanax, even if the user wants to
As addiction continues, the addict may also engage in riskier behavior. These behaviors may include driving under the influence, caring for small children, or mixing Xanax and other substances, despite knowing the potential hazards.
Even people who start with a prescription for Xanax can abuse Xanax over time. Sometimes, they continue chasing that feeling of calm or the “high” that goes along with the product. In other cases, they may inadvertently increase Xanax usage too much. This includes stepping up the dose before being recommended by a provider.
Over time, users may look for other ways to achieve the desired effect, including snorting or injecting Xanax. As addiction rises, Xanax use may continue to consume the user, including impacting other areas of their life. Xanax abuse can interfere with work, social relationships, and family responsibilities.
Symptoms of Xanax Withdrawal
People detoxing from Xanax may show several common symptoms. Even taking a regular Xanax dose may result in a “rebound” anxiety effect. This effect typically occurs within 1-4 days of discontinuing Xanax use.
Withdrawal from heavier use can lead to several other symptoms, including:
- High levels of anxiety, including panic attacks
- Vision changes, including blurred vision
- Face and neck pain
- Stomach problems, including cramps or diarrhea
- Difficulty concentrating
The severity of the withdrawal process may depend on how long you took Xanax and how much you used regularly. Dealing with the symptoms of Xanax withdrawal alone, particularly in an unsupervised environment, can prove very difficult. Especially if you have used Xanax heavily for some time.
Working with a treatment provider can offer supervised withdrawal options or even medical treatment for withdrawal. With professional help and support, withdrawal is easier to get through.
Should I Detox from Xanax?
In general, stopping Xanax “cold turkey,” or all at once, is not recommended. Due in part to the rebound anxiety symptoms often experienced during that withdrawal period. Furthermore, stopping Xanax use on your own following heavy abuse can lead to many serious problems that may require medical supervision.
Going through detox from Xanax in a safe, supervised environment can make it easier to overcome the addiction, create healthy coping patterns, and address the concerns that may have led to Xanax abuse in the first place.
In addition, many patients benefit from working through a relapse prevention program, including working with a qualified therapist, participating in treatment groups with others who may have dealt with similar addictions, and receiving support from family members as they address the challenges that may have led to addiction.
Get Benzodiazepine Treatment at Pacific Palms
Do you need treatment for Xanax addiction? Pacific Palms can help. Our treatment programs can help you withdraw in a safer environment. An environment where you can be supervised by medical care professionals who can provide you with the support you need. Furthermore, we offer ongoing treatment that can help decrease the odds of relapse after you re-enter society.
Contact us to learn more about our benzodiazepine treatment programs and how they can benefit you as you detox from Xanax.