The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates in 2015:
In December 2018, the American Psychiatry Association released a report on benzodiazepine usage in the United States. According to the report, 12.6% of American adults had used a benzodiazepine like Xanax within the previous year. Furthermore, approximately 17% of benzodiazepine users reported that they had misused the substance. The American Psychiatry Association defines misuse as using a substance in “any way a doctor did not direct.” Examples of misuse include taking Xanax more often than prescribed, combining Xanax with other substances, and taking higher doses of Xanax than prescribed. To conceal their Xanax use, some individuals visit multiple medical professionals in the hope of securing valid prescriptions. This practice is known as doctor shopping.
When Xanax is not used according to the prescription instructions, users may develop a tolerance that forces them to take ever-increasing doses Xanax to experience the same effects they received from smaller doses. Users may also develop a dependence on Xanax, which can cause serious physical and psychological symptoms. These symptoms make it difficult to withdraw from Xanax and other benzodiazepines, resulting in a high relapse rate. In a study conducted by Morin et al., 43% of participants relapsed on benzodiazepines within a two-year period.
This guide was written to provide an overview of the Xanax rehabilitation process, as well as to offer helpful resources for individuals recovering from Xanax addiction.
The first step in Xanax addiction rehabilitation is entering a rehabilitation facility and undergoing a thorough assessment from trained professionals. Based on the results of this assessment, physicians, counselors, and other specialists work together to develop a plan to help the user withdraw from Xanax safely. During a process called medical detoxification (“detox”), treatment professionals monitor the user closely for any concerning symptoms.
Once medical detoxification is complete, the user has the opportunity to participate in individual and group therapy, which provides both professional and social support. During therapy sessions, the user can discover specific addiction triggers and learn how to manage those triggers. Treatment professionals are available through every step of this process, ensuring that the user receives plenty of encouragement and emotional support.
For more information, read our guide to the rehab process
Xanax is classified by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency as a Schedule IV substance. Although Schedule IV substances have a lower potential for abuse than Schedules I, II, and III substances, some users develop a dependence on Xanax, causing them to become addicted. The 2018 World Drug Report, published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, describes the non-medical use of benzodiazepines as “a growing problem,” with 60 countries ranking benzodiazepines among their most commonly misused substances.
Recovering from Xanax addiction can be difficult due to the calming effect produced by the substance. Some users even experience a pleasant sense of euphoria, which makes it all the more difficult to stop using Xanax. Additionally, suddenly discontinuing Xanax can cause physical discomfort as well as worrisome psychological effects, which discourages some users from reducing their Xanax usage or stopping it entirely. Recovery is especially challenging for long-term Xanax users who have developed a tolerance to the drug.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates in 2015:
According to a 2017 SAMHSA report that charts admissions to and discharges from publicly funded substance use treatment facilities, men are considerably more likely to seek treatment for tranquilizer abuse, which includes Xanax. The gender breakdown of treatment admissions for tranquilizers was 57.8% male and 42.2% female. While tranquilizer addiction occurs in all age groups, the most common age group admitted to a treatment facility for tranquilizer use was individuals aged 25 to 34, with 33 being the average age of all individuals from all age groups who are seeking rehabilitation.
|Age at the Time of Treatment Admission||Percentage of Amphetamine/Methamphetamine Treatment Admissions|
|25 – 34||36.6%|
|35 – 44||19.3%|
Xanax has a half-life ranging from 6.3 to 26.9 hours in adults who are in good health, according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Half-life refers to the amount of time it takes for the user’s body to metabolize approximately half of the substance. Due to its relatively short half-life, the initial Xanax detoxification period typically lasts for four to five days, but it takes up to a week in some users.
The full withdrawal phase usually takes several weeks, but it can take up to a full year depending on the user’s health status and how long the user has been taking Xanax. Other factors that affect the length of the withdrawal process include how much Xanax the user has been taking and whether the user has been taking Xanax in combination with other substances. A user who has been taking Xanax for several years is likely to need more time to complete the detoxification process than someone who has been using Xanax for only a few months.
|Long-Term Symptoms||Weight Loss|
Loss Of Appetite
Cravings For Xanax
Seizures can occur in users who stop using Xanax suddenly instead of going through a monitored medical detoxification process. In a study on the management of seizures caused by benzodiazepine withdrawal, Hu discovered that seizures can occur after as little as 15 days of benzodiazepine use. Therefore, it is safer for users to withdraw from Xanax under the supervision of medical professionals rather than withdrawing from the substance on their own.
In some users, Xanax can lead to disinhibition, which causes an altered mental state characterized by impulsivity. Some of these users may have suicidal thoughts while they are withdrawing from Xanax. The risk of suicidal thoughts increases when Xanax is used with alcohol, illicit drugs, and some other prescription medications.
Lann and Molina reported on a case of sudden death that occurred when a user suddenly switched from one benzodiazepine to another. The user developed a fever, high blood pressure, bizarre behavior, and seizure activity. Approximately 15 hours after being admitted to the hospital, the user died unexpectedly. Her death was attributed to the fact that she switched to a different substance without tapering the dose of the first one.
In some cases, medications are used to ease the physical discomfort and psychological symptoms that can occur during Xanax detoxification. Long-acting benzodiazepines, which have a longer half-life than Xanax, may be prescribed to help the user avoid withdrawal symptoms. Some users take antidepressants to help them with the depression that may develop during the withdrawal process. For users experiencing seizures, barbiturates may be used to control seizure activity.
For more information about withdrawal, read our guide on Xanax Addiction.
Depending upon the length of time an individual has misused Xanax and the current dosage, a variety of treatment options exist. The focus is usually two-fold, helping users decrease their need for the substance on both a physical and a psychological basis. The use of supportive medications, counseling, and a caring atmosphere, in either an inpatient or outpatient setting, can lead to the user achieving success in withdrawing from the substance.
Within either an inpatient or outpatient setting, treatments such as detoxification services, behavioral therapies, and medication-assisted treatments are offered for varying lengths of time.
Inpatient treatment involves living full-time (including overnight) at a treatment facility for a set period. Outpatient treatment involves scheduled appointments at a facility in which you are free to come and go. Within each category, there are several distinctions.
|Setting||Type of Treatment||Description||Duration||Time Commitment|
|Inpatient||Short-Term Residential||Intensive treatment, sometimes in a hospital setting. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify.||14-30 days||Hours Per Day: 24|
Days Per Week: 7
|Long-Term Residential||Intensive treatment in a non-hospital setting, most often a therapeutic community with other patients. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify.||3-12 months||Hours Per Day: 24|
Days Per Week: 7
|Partial Hospitalization||Intensive treatment in a hospital setting. Patients do not stay overnight. Considered inpatient due to the hospital setting. Extensive services are provided and require a near full-time commitment every week. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify.||14-30 days||Hours Per Day: 6-8|
Days Per Week: 5
|Outpatient||Intensive Day Treatment||Extensive services of an inpatient program but patients return home each day following treatment. After completion, patients often transition to less intensive counseling. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify.||3-4 months||Hours Per Day: 2-4|
Days Per Week: 3
|Counseling||Both individual counseling and group counseling focus on short-term behavioral goals to develop coping strategies. Therapies offered are moderate. Medication-assisted treatment is not available.||As long as desired||Hours Per Day: 1-2|
Days Per Week: 1-3
|Support Groups||Self-help groups center on maintaining abstinence after another form of treatment. Typically meet one day a week for 1-2 hours.||As long as desired||Hours Per Day: 1-2|
Days Per Week: 1-3
Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse
Behavioral therapy for substance addiction seeks to identify and manage addictive behaviors that lead to use and prevent relapse. Behavioral therapy is based on the concept that all behavior is learned, and thus, unhealthy behavior can be changed through learning coping skills and increasing awareness of negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to substance abuse.
Carbamazepine and phenobarbital have been used to help manage Xanax withdrawal symptoms, including seizures. Tapering the Xanax dosage is also a widely used strategy and should be done under the care of a substance use rehabilitation professional.
|Type of Therapy||Definition|
|Cognitive Behavioral Therapy|
|Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps users develop the coping skills they need to stop misusing Xanax and other substances.|
In a CBT session, the user explores the thoughts and feelings that have contributed to his or her misuse of Xanax. The user also sets goals and develops good habits to replace the behaviors that initially contributed to his or her substance abuse.
|12-Step Facilitation Therapy|
|12-Step Facilitation Therapy is a community-based option that gives the user access to the social support needed to stop using Xanax.|
During 12-step meetings, users learn how to identify their triggers and live their lives without relying on Xanax and other substances. Users also develop coping skills to help them avoid relapse in the future.
Individuals struggling with Xanax addiction should thoroughly inspect a prospective rehabilitation center before enrolling to ensure success. Check into the types of services offered, including alternative therapies and the existence and scope of support groups.
View the professional staff directory, researching the background of psychiatrists, physicians, and support assistants. A combination strategy of tapering doses, supportive medication, and behavioral therapy is often used for Xanax addiction. Look for a facility that can provide all three of these approaches. Lastly, look into the possibility of inpatient treatment, and find out if there are gender-specific programs, family therapy, or animal assistance services.
Our directory of rehab programs includes a comprehensive list of available treatment centers and programs as provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In the directory, you will find tools to filter the programs by setting, price, and location.