Medications like Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, and Ativan are benzodiazepines that are usually prescribed for conditions like anxiety and for people with anxiety disorders. Xanax is the most popular of all of these, and it is also the most addictive, requiring either outpatient detox or a medically supervised withdrawal program in order for the user to be able to stop the medication safely.
The biggest factor in being able to quit a drug like Xanax is the terrible withdrawal symptoms that a person is likely to face, and those symptoms actually have the exact opposite effect that taking the medication has. Xanax is most commonly prescribed for people suffering with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, but once a person quits taking the medicine, the patient will start to experience even more anxiety than they had in the first place. Another thing that makes quitting worse is that in addition to their general anxiety, there will also be withdrawal anxiety, which will become evident once detox is complete, and can last for a long time into the future.
Detoxing from benzos can be very hard for many people because of the high anxiety levels they are sure to face, so it is important for there to be a good relationship between the patient and their physician.
Medications for Detox and Tapering
For many people, detoxing from a drug like Xanax, which is short acting, is made a little easier by taking a longer acting benzo such as Valium or Klonopin. Physicians will generally prescribe a dose of one of those medications that is right about the same dose of the Xanax that the patient has been taking. After that, the patient will begin to taper off the drug slowly and gradually, stepping down to lower doses over a long period of time. You will always want to taper off the drug slowly because stepping down too quickly will disrupt the tapering process, and it’s likely the person will not be able to succeed. And by jumping down too quickly you will find that you will suffer a great deal of anxiety while trying to quit.
There is one class of non-addictive medication that work on the same receptors as benzos, the GABA_A receptor, and these meds can help to manage some of your withdrawal anxiety. One benefit to these meds is that they are not addictive and will not cause the same kinds of negative effects that may be caused by taking Xanax. As you begin to taper down off the harsher benzo, other medications can be introduced to help with the withdrawal anxiety that many patients will experience.
The first step in treatment is getting a person off of the benzos, but the process does not stop there. You will also have to treat the underlying anxiety disorder that caused a person to starting taking medication in the first place. For diagnoses of Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, the first line of defense are the serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Celexa, Zoloft, or Paxil, along with the serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors such as Cymbalta and Effexor.
Somatic anxiety is another problem that many people will face, and it causes palpitations, chest tightness, and a feeling like the person wants to crawl out of their skin. This condition is usually present in addition to the psychological anxiety experienced by most patients, and one thing that helps this condition is beta blockers. This effective cardiac medication is used to slow down the person’s heart rate, and it will help to get rid of palpitations during detox, as well as calming down the nervous system.
Weekly acupuncture treatments have also been shown to be quite effective in helping with a benzo detox, especially when combined with some of the other treatment options available.
Detoxing at Home
One of the most dangerous things you can do when trying to quit a drug like Xanax is trying to detox from home. This can be for a few reasons, one of which is that you will not have access to a medical professional in case something goes wrong. Another problem is that detox centers and drug rehabs have received glamorization and dramatization lately, especially with the way that Hollywood and the media portray them, and because of this many addicts do not try to find treatment for themselves elsewhere. It really doesn’t matter if any of these portrayals hold water or not, the main issue is that many of them will go over the fact that it can often times be deadly to try and detox from drugs or alcohol by yourself at home.
The bottom line is that detox is best carried out in a medically-equipped facility. Benzo detox can be quite dangerous, and some of the side effects are panic, anxiety attacks, hostility, anger, respiratory depression, and in severe cases, suicidal thoughts and tendencies. If there is no medical professional around to help combat these symptoms safely, the result of the detox process can many times be fatal.
In most cases, if a person is trying to detox at home from things like heroin, meth, ecstasy, cocaine, or marijuana, the side effects will not be deadly. That’s not to say that they won’t have debilitating issues like diarrhea, agitation, vomiting, cramps, restlessness, chills and many other symptoms to contend with, but all of those things can be made easier when dealt with by professionals at a medical detox facility. If you or someone you love is suffering with an addiction, do not attempt detox alone. Find the treatment you need to have the best chances for long-term success.
Specialized Drug Detox Centers
Specialized detox centers provide inpatient treatment for those trying to overcome addiction, and the usual stay is up to 2 weeks. During that time, the client will receive an initial evaluation when they first arrive, and the results will be used to put together an individualized treatment plan that will dictate how the rest of their stay will go. Depending on the results of the evaluation, some people will begin treatment in only a few days, while others will need a couple of weeks to safely detox before heading on to rehab. Most medical detox facilities will work together with long-term treatment centers that a patient will transfer to once they are past the worst of their withdrawal symptoms and can do so safely.
These specialized detox centers are so successful because of the way they are used in conjunction with individual and group counseling sessions, and because they are quite effective at removing the addict from the people, places, and things that are likely to be triggers for them, and might lead to a relapse.
Medical detox is much like a specialized detox center only it has a largely medical component. It offers things like on-site doctors and nurses, 24 hour a day monitoring, and many other medical benefits. These medical detox centers help patients to step down from their drug use gradually in order to maintain medical safety, and have been effective in reducing or even eliminating severe withdrawal symptoms.
For addicts that have tried to quit and relapsed many times, these programs can male all the difference in long-term success. People that have a history of repeated relapse will often times find it harder to quit because they will have worse than normal withdrawal symptoms that will usually last for a long period of time. This is referred to as the Kindling Effect, and is a real and dangerous occurrence that makes it incredibly tough for a person to get clean and sober and to stay that way. Medical detox allows a facility to handle all these problems in a safe and relaxed way, in an environment that is non-judgmental.
Rapid detox is a specialized medical procedure in which a patient is put under general anesthesia so that they remain unconscious while their body goes through all the severe withdrawal symptoms. To do this, the patient will be put into a medically-induced coma, where they will then be given a series of medications that will help to speed up the acute withdrawal process. This is all done to prevent the addict from experiencing the worst of their symptoms, and allows them to go ahead with rehab without having to experience the pain and suffering that goes with a long period of withdrawal.
One of the problems with this method of detox is that the practice is still fairly new, and no one knows just how well it will work long-term, and before beginning this kind of treatment, any addict wishing to take steps to undergo this fast-paced detox should talk about their options with their primary doctor before searching out a detox specialist.
Before entering a rehab facility, it is crucial that an addict suffering with a benzo addiction goes through the process of detox safely, and in a controlled environment. While providing for safety, it will also keep the addict away from triggers that could cause a relapse.