When a drug has been consumed for a certain period, the body may become dependent on that drug to function at normal levels, much like how the body is dependent on food and water to survive. When the intake of that drug stops, the entire body, from the brain down to the cellular level, “crave” the drug.1
If drug dependence has been developed from consuming a substance over an extended time, then drug withdrawal may occur. Drug withdrawal is the set of symptoms that occur after medicinal or recreational drug use stops suddenly or is drastically decreased.
How you feel after ceasing drug use depends on the drugs you’ve been using. Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches, and sweating.
After you stop taking drugs, your body requires time to heal. Withdrawal symptoms can last from several days to several weeks after someone quits using. With each day, however, the body adjusts and heals itself a little bit more.
The best way to prevent severe withdrawal symptoms is to lower the drug dose slowly and over time.
Acute Xanax withdrawal symptoms can start 6-12 hours after the last dose, peak around day 2, and resolve in 4-5 days. Protracted symptoms (e.g. psychiatric symptoms and drug cravings) may last for weeks to months.16
Withdrawal from Xanax, a benzodiazepine, can include the following effects:
Withdrawal from Xanax should be performed under medical supervision.
Detox refers to the process of treating someone who is physically dependent on a drug. Detox helps control acute withdrawal symptoms. The state of physical dependence is ended is usually referred to as detoxification.17
Drug detox is necessary when there are substances in the body that the body needs to get rid of because they produce adverse effects on one’s health or life circumstances. For example, if you cannot stop using a drug, continue using a drug despite the harm it causes, or exhibit unsafe behavior as a result of using a drug, a drug detox may be in order.
For drugs with less severe withdrawal symptoms, detox may be done at home and unsupervised by a medical professional. For substances with severe and dangerous withdrawal symptoms, however, detox should be overseen by a medical professional or done in an addiction treatment facility. Detox can also be medically assisted if symptoms are severe.
What Not To Do: