Xanax is a drug used to treat a wide variety of conditions including depression, anxiety, panic disorders, and anxiety disorders. Known as the most popular benzodiazepine used worldwide, the drug itself is very effective when used in the right way to treat the conditions we’ve mentioned, and for acute panic episodes, can provide relief allowing the patient to live a relatively normal life again.
The anxiolytic properties are what make the medication so effective, a medication that has been shown to reduce the levels of anxiety hormones within the body by blocking the receptors at brain-level. The GABA chemicals in the body are what brings your mood back up so what Xanax, or Alprazolam as it is otherwise known, does is enhance the effects those chemicals have on the body.
Offering a calming effect, it provides almost immediate relief for those suffering with panic and anxiety related disorders, and when used in conjunction with other therapies such as counseling, can even go as far as to eradicate the anxiety problem altogether in many patients. It might take some time but with the right combination of medication and therapies, life can almost go back to normal – how it was pre-anxiety or panic disorder.
Is Xanax Addictive?
The calming and relaxing properties of this drug make it popular for those who are not only seeking that kind of hit for themselves, but also for those who are trying to dull the withdrawal symptoms associated with other problems such as drug or alcohol dependancy. Many users report a tolerance to the drug from a very early point – with short term use and lower doses, and with long-term use, the doses are regularly required to be evaluated, often increased to achieve the same calming effects over the mental disorders.
With long term use, the patient or drug abuser will need higher doses to prove the same effect. The body gets used to the way it works and therefore needs more to do the same job. It works very much the same as with other drugs – the more you use it, the higher the dose, the more you will be dependent on it, but with Xanax, the additive properties are increased, making them more dangerous. The drug itself is a high addiction risk and should only be considered when all other routes to treat the anxiety and panic disorders have been exhausted. Not only is Xanax addictive but the withdrawal process is renowned for being difficult and long, something you will need to face at some point.
Xanax is very much a short term fix to a longer term problem and to combat the issue entirely, you’ll need to work on a program that encapsulates a number of different treatment options. The addiction itself is as much an emotional / psychological dependency as it is an actual bodily addiction.
How Long Does Xanax Stay In Your System?
The half life of Xanax is quite long when compared to other drugs that offer similar benefits on the body. It is believed that in a healthy adult, the half life is somewhere in the region between 9 and 16 hours – the time taken for 50% of the drug to be removed from the body.
Most people show a negative drug test result four days after ceasing using Xanax but there are a whole range of different factors will determine the withdrawal time, and the severity of the symptoms you have along with them.
There are many things that will change the answer to the Xanax question including the following:
How old are you? The older you are, the longer the drug will take to metabolize. What this means in the shortest terms is that the drug itself takes longer to be processed and absorbed by the body. In a younger, fitter and healthier person, the drug will be absorbed quicker and therefore the effects on the body will be felt quicker. For an older, less fit and healthy person, the drug may take longer to be absorbed and therefore the effects won’t be felt for a while.
The state of your health and your age will also be met by how much you weigh and also your height. Taller, bigger, stockier people may find that the drug takes longer to get to work and therefore stays around in the body for longer. Smaller, more petite people will experience the effects quicker, and may feel the buzz for longer, but generally the drug will be removed from the body quicker.
When you take your medication will also have an effect on how quickly Xanax gets to work on the body. If you take the drug after food, it will take longer to get to work. If you take the drug on an empty stomach, the drug will get to work quicker. Your doctor will tell you the best time to take the drug, and also whether or not you’ll need to eat beforehand.
What dosage of Xanax are you taking? This will have an effect on how long Xanax stays in your system. Generally patients suffering with anxiety will be started off on a small dose of the medication, around 0.25mg, with the dose gradually and slowly being increased only as and if / when necessary, until about 4mg.
Patients who are using more than 4mg per day will be extreme cases, and these doses are often taken by drug abusers and addicts, desperate to get a quicker, better hit.
The higher your dose, the longer it will stick around in your body. The lower your dose, the quicker you can eradicate it. You will also need to take into consideration how long you have been taking the drug. Those patients who are considered to be long term users will often find the withdrawal process longer, and at times, much more difficult.
Other Medications / Drugs
There are a large number of drugs and other medications you should not take with Xanax, and there are also drugs that will affect the length of time it takes for the drug to be expelled from the body too.
Drugs you should avoid taking with Xanax include:
It is also not advisable to take Xanax if you have any of the following conditions:
- Alcohol addiction
- Drug addiction
- Liver or renal disease
- Respiratory depression
Drugs that alter how long Xanax is metabolized and absorbed into the body include:
- Other SSRI’s such as Fluoxetine
Oral contraceptives have also been said to have an impact on the way this drug works and stays in the body, and others to avoid include:
- St. John’s Wort
Even nicotine (smoking) has an effect on how long Xanax stays in the body, and also how well it works and how fast it is absorbed too.
Tips For Getting Xanax Out Of Your System Quickly
There are frequent reports of withdrawal symptoms with ceased Xanax usage and some of the more common complaints are:
- Suicidal thoughts
- A foggy-headed feeling
- Lack of concentration
- Panic attacks
- Weight loss
- Muscle pain, aches or stiffness
- Heart palpitations
The healthier you are, the easier you will find the process of weaning yourself away from Xanax, something highly recommended. Going cold turkey is often a drastic measure and too much of a leap for many patients to bear, especially when you consider the reasons they may have been taking the medication in the first place – anxiety, panic disorders, etc.
Quitting the drug yourself, suddenly, and without medical direction or supervision could prove fatal, with seizures being one of the more serious side effects to worry about.
You will need to make sure you are getting enough exercise – 30 minutes per day. This helps to sweat the toxins out of your body quicker and when you do this, the traces of the drug and therefore the withdrawal symptoms are said to be manageable and last for a shorter length of time.
As well as ensuring you’re exercising regularly enough, you will also need to make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating a healthy and balanced diet, and also drunk enough fluids. On top of this, your doctor may suggest an alternative, less strong drug to counteract the withdrawal symptoms you’re experiencing if they are particularly bad. Drugs such as valium can help, and other benzodiazepines can also be used to make the weaning process much easier.
Xanax Withdrawal Timeline
If you have only been taking Xanax for a short period of time, and in regularly short doses, the withdrawal timelines is said tone quite short, as short as four or five days from start to finish.
For higher dosage users, or those who have been taking the drug for extended periods of time, the withdrawal timeline will be considerably longer, in some cases taking weeks and months to return to some sort of normality.
As with many other addictive drugs, withdrawal symptoms will usually start within the 2-24 hours of the final dose, will peak and be at their worst a couple of days after that, with withdrawal symptoms becoming much more manageable just a couple more days after that. These periods will be extended the higher the dose you’re on as well as the length of time you were taking it.