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Xanax and Opiate Withdrawal

What is Xanax? Using Xanax for Opiate Withdrawal. Ending an Opiate Dependency. Opiate Addiction Detox Treatment

What is Xanax?

Xanax is a powerful sedative. It depresses the Central Nervous System (CNS) and slows down the brain, creating a calming effect in the person taking it. It is a brand name for alprazolam[1]. It is a prescription drug used for anxiety treatment. Xanax is also sometimes prescribed for panic attack treatment. Xanax use can lead to physical dependence and addiction, which is why it is only recommended for use for up to six weeks.

Withdrawal is one of the most common Xanax side effects. It is commonly experienced when someone reduces or stops using this prescription drug, leading to complications such as panic attacks, insomnia, and seizures. Withdrawing from Xanax under an inpatient drug rehab specializing in Xanax detox and Xanax addiction treatment reduces the risk of complications and helps the individual experience a safer, more comfortable recovery.

Some individuals who are dependent on this prescription drug never abused drugs before. They were suffering from anxiety and looking to the medical field for support and relief. They began using Xanax and felt a vast improvement in anxiety symptoms. Some then assumed more of the drug would produce an even more significant effect, so they misused Xanax in larger doses. Others just use Xanax for too long, often with a doctor’s permission. They don’t realize they’re addicted to it until it’s too late.

Many individuals who take Xanax without a prescription or recreationally describe the feeling as calming or sedating. What happens when you get caught with Xanax? Unlike some drugs, such as cocaine, that produce a “high” or euphoric feeling, Xanax users describe feeling more relaxed, quiet, and tired. These feelings may lead to falling asleep or passing out for a few hours. Mixing Xanax and Tylenol, Xanax and Oxycodone, Klonopin and Xanax, and  Xanax and alcohol is pretty standard which can lead to a coma, potential paralysis, or even overdose death.

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Using Xanax for Opiate Withdrawal

Opiates refer to natural opioids such as heroin, morphine, and codeine. Opiates are chemical compounds that are refined or extracted from natural plant matter (poppy sap and fibers). Opiate withdrawal occurs when a person dependent on opiates suddenly reduces or stops taking the drugs. Trying to quit opiate “cold turkey” is difficult and dangerous to do on your own. The intensity and length of the opiate withdrawal symptoms depend on what you were taking, how long you were taking it, and your previous history of opioid abuse.

Symptoms of severe opiate withdrawal include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Extreme insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Panic
xanax and opiate withdrawal
Opiate withdrawal can be very hard and dangerous without professional help. Treatment most often involves medicines, counseling, and support. 

Unbeknown to many, Xanax can be incredibly effective at treating opiate withdrawal. It can reduce panic, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and restless leg syndrome in people going through withdrawal.
You should only ever take Xanax under the care and guidance of a registered doctor or a nurse at a treatment center.

While Xanax can help reduce opiate withdrawal symptoms, benzodiazepine dependence is genuine and can affect your life similarly to opiates. People who have substance abuse problems are more susceptible to becoming addicted to these substances. Xanax is not typically recommended for use during opiate withdrawal unless instructed by a medical professional due to a risk of relapse and overdose.

The combination can be deadly if someone uses Xanax and then relapses on opiates. Opiates and benzodiazepines can and often lead to fatal respiratory depression because of both slow the central nervous system. Also, Xanax is highly addictive, just like opiates. If someone regularly uses Xanax to help them get through opiate withdrawal, they may replace one addiction with another.

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Ending Opiate Dependency

Opiate use includes risk, though, even when used as prescribed. Unwanted side effects like nausea, vomiting, constipation, and slowed activity levels may lead some people to end their use. Others may wish to end users due to the risk of overdose associated with opiates. Opiate dependence occurs when the body has reached the point of relying on a continuous external source of opiates to prevent withdrawal syndrome. Quitting opiates can be challenging—attempts to slow or abruptly stop use often precipitate the onset of extremely unpleasant withdrawal effects, driving the user into immediate relapse.

Opiate dependence treatment options vary based on the severity of the situation. Opiate dependence results from using opiates such as heroin, morphine or Oxycontin. Even taking these drugs under the direction and control of a doctor can lead to tolerance and physical dependence that makes quitting difficult. Opiate dependence is considered a very complex health condition that requires extensive treatment to help the user avoid opiate abusive behaviors, change their patterns of poor behavior and drug use, overcome psychological elements of the addiction and heal physically.

xanax and opiate withdrawal
Anyone going through detox for opiates should be checked for depression and other mental illnesses. Treating these disorders can reduce the risk of relapse.

Acute Opiate Withdrawal

Opiates contain opium, which is naturally derived from poppies. They fall under the category of opioids, a class of narcotic analgesics (highly potent and habit-forming painkillers). Opioids include illegal narcotics and pharmaceutical medications to treat severe and chronic pain. Many use the terms synonymously, as opiates and opioids are extremely addictive, dangerous, and potentially lethal.

Opiates refer to natural opioids such as heroin, morphine, and codeine. Opiates are chemical compounds that are refined or extracted from natural plant matter (poppy sap and fibers). Despite all of the associated negative aspects (overdose, addiction, crime, etc.), prescription opiates still have a positive intent. They are commonly prescribed for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. These drugs, along with heroin, attach to specific proteins called opioid receptors on nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord, GI tract, and other organs.

Acute opiate withdrawal symptoms are potentially life-threatening and manifest as a result of opiate dependence. Acute opiate withdrawal occurs when a person dependent on opiates suddenly reduces or stops taking the drugs. Trying to quit opiate “cold turkey” is difficult and dangerous to do on your own. For safety, it is best to seek the help of medically-assisted detox staff to overcome the acute opiate withdrawal symptoms safely and effectively.

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Acute Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

Opiate withdrawal symptoms may be classified into two phases: an initial, acute phase, and a second chronic phase with signs of protracted opiate withdrawal. The initial withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, agitation, dysphoria, insomnia, and temperature instability, are typically evaluated and quantified in the acute-care setting.

What causes opiate withdrawal symptoms? If someone is dependent on or addicted to one particular opiate or opioid drug, whether it’s illicitly obtained or medically prescribed, they may find that switching to a different opiate can help maintain their dependency or addiction. That is, substituting one opiate for another may help prevent withdrawal symptoms. Most of us have heard stories of individuals with real pain who became dependent on prescription pain-relieving narcotic drugs, then switched to illicit opioids or opiate heroin when the medically supplied narcotics ran out.

Prolonged use of these drugs changes how nerve receptors work in your brain, and these receptors become dependent upon the drug to function. If you become physically sick after stopping opiates, it may indicate that you’re physically dependent on the substance. Opiate withdrawal symptoms are the body’s physical response to the absence of the drug. Many people become dependent on opiates to avoid pain or opiate withdrawal symptoms. Unfortunately, in some instances, individuals don’t even realize that they’ve become dependent. Instead, they may mistake opiate withdrawal for flu symptoms or another condition.

Early opiate withdrawal symptoms typically begin in the first 24 hours after the user stops taking the drug, and they include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Lacrimation (eyes tearing up)
  • Runny nose
  • Excessive sweating
  • Inability to sleep
  • Yawning very often

Later symptoms, which can be more intense, begin after the first day. They include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Goosebumps on the skin
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dilated pupils and possibly blurry vision
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
xanax and opiate withdrawal
Can you take Xanax while pregnant? Benzodiazepines can potentially cause fetal harm when administered to pregnant women.

Although painful and very unpleasant, opiate withdrawal symptoms usually start to improve within 72 hours, and within a week you should notice a significant decrease in the acute symptoms of opiate withdrawal.

Infants born to mothers addicted to or have used opiates while pregnant often experience withdrawal symptoms. These may include:

  • Digestive issues
  • Poor feeding
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures

It’s essential to remember that different drugs remain in users’ systems for different lengths of time, affecting opiate withdrawal onset. The amount of time the symptoms last depends on the frequency of use and severity of the addiction and individual factors like overall health.

For instance, heroin is typically eliminated from the system faster, and opiate withdrawal symptoms will start within 12 hours of last use. On the other hand, if a person is on methadone, it may take a day and a half for opiate withdrawal symptoms to begin.

Some specialists point out that opiate addiction recovery requires at least six months of total abstinence, during which the individual may still experience symptoms of opiate withdrawal. This is sometimes referred to as “protracted abstinence.” 

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Acute Opiate Withdrawal Timeline

The symptoms of opiate withdrawal-induced RLS dissipate with the other symptoms of withdrawal. The physical symptoms of withdrawal only last up to a week, while the psychological symptoms, such as anxiety and irritability can last for months. RLS’s symptoms appear both physical and psychological and can last for several weeks, or the duration of the psychological symptoms of opiate withdrawal.

Acute Opiate Withdrawal TreatmentXanax and Opiate Withdrawal

Because opiate withdrawal RLS tends to dissipate within days or weeks, your doctor may be reluctant to prescribe the serious medications typically recommended for RLS, such as dopamine agonist Parkinson’s medications.

However, some medications commonly prescribed to treat other opiate withdrawal symptoms can also help reduce the severity of RLS.

Ask your doctor about:

  • Clonidine: Some people find that clonidine reduces RLS severity. Clonidine is a hypertension medication that’s very commonly prescribed to reduce anxiety, agitation, muscle aches, sweating, runny nose, and cramping of opiate withdrawal.
  • Benzodiazepines: Benzos, like clonazepam or valium, can help you fall and stay asleep and are a recommended (though not first-line) treatment for RLS. These medications can also reduce the anxiety and agitation of opiate withdrawal. Because of the high dependence risk, taking benzodiazepines for more than five days or so is not advisable when treating opiate withdrawal.
  • Baclofen: This drug is sometimes recommended as a temporary treatment for opiate withdrawal-induced RLS. It may relieve the severity, though not the frequency of symptoms. (Note – the RLS foundation does not recommend baclofen due to insufficient evidence of efficacy and concerns over side effects.)

Opiate Addiction Detox Treatment

Opiate addiction is a chronic disease and should be treated like other chronic diseases. Like those, it should constantly be monitored and managed. Opiate addiction treatment is different for each individual. The main purpose of opioid addiction treatment is to help the person stop using the drug. Opiate addiction treatment can also help the person avoid using it again.

The body does go through specific symptom stages known as the opioid withdrawal timeline. The opioid withdrawal timeline varies from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the type of opioid used, how long it was used, and any other substances that may have been used in conjunction with opioids. Medically managed withdrawal opioid detox ensures the individual remains safe and stays as comfortable as possible.

Detox Treatment

The first step in treatment is medical detox. It will help you navigate the complicated withdrawal process but doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior contributing to heroin abuse. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete detox.

Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of withdrawals.


Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of depression, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves changing both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression. 
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.” 
  • Person-Centered Therapy – is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Substance abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis programs treat both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. This strategy treats both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.

Medication-Assisted Treatments

Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

Now that we learned about Xanax and opiate withdrawal, hopefully, this will give you an idea of what drugs you’re dealing with. If you or your loved one is suffering from Opioid withdrawal symptoms and addictions and at some point experienced opioid overdose symptoms, help is just a phone call away. Professional opioid addiction treatment is necessary for fast and effective recovery. Contact us today at We Level Up treatment facility. We provide utmost care with doctors and medical staff available 24/7 for life-changing and lasting recovery. We offer an enhanced opportunity to return to a fulfilling and productive life.

xanax and opiate withdrawal
Treatment and rehabilitation from opiate withdrawal do not happen successfully overnight, but it is one of many steps towards permanent recovery.

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[1] NCBI –
[2] CDC –
[3] Xanax Dosages – We Level Up NJ

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