Many people tend to believe that they can quit using a drug anytime that they want to, but this often is not as simple of a process as they may think. They erroneously believe that stopping Xanax, for example, without tapering off the dose or seeking medical attention is possible. This is known as going “cold turkey.” Cold turkey describes a condition in which the person has goosebumps that look like the skin of a turkey that is kept in the refrigerator.
What Are Benzodiazepines?
You can get benzodiazepines with a prescription. They are sedatives that physicians prescribe for their patients to treat anxiety; they also relieve insomnia. Benzos increase the amount of the inhibitory transmitter known as GABA in the brain, and this chemical causes the person to become sedated. Xanax is one of the more common benzodiazepines.
Although Xanax requires a prescription, it is still a dangerous drug.
Prescription Drugs and Opioids
Prescription drugs have been approved by the Federal Drug Administration, but this does not mean that people cannot misuse these medications. As a matter of fact, 52 million people aren’t taking their prescription medications as their doctors prescribed them. In addition to that, physicians are writing an increasing number of benzodiazepine prescriptions. In 1996, 8.1 million people filled a benzodiazepine prescription, but in 2013, that number had grown to 13.5 million. That amounted to a 67% increase.
Sometimes, people add opioids to their Xanax prescriptions, and this is particularly dangerous. The fact that some people say that Xanax is more lethal than any of the other benzodiazepines makes taking Xanax even without opioids especially perilous.
It is dangerous to combine Xanax and opioids because both Xanax and opioids cause the user’s breathing to slow down as they are being sedated, and this is what leads to overdose deaths. Even so, a study showed that the number of people prescribed benzodiazepines and opioids increased from nine percent in 2001 to 17% in 2013. This segment of the population is at a higher risk of ending up in the emergency room because of a drug-related event.
Why Is It Wrong to Go Cold Turkey?
If you have been abusing Xanax, the drug has been steadily changing your brain, and that leads to dependence on the drug. Therefore, the body is becoming accustomed to having the drug in its system, and if you stop providing it suddenly, the body will rebel. As the GABA neurotransmitter suddenly stops increasing, the brain tries its best to compensate by resetting the neurotransmitter’s levels.
When people decide to go cold turkey, they must contend with several withdrawal symptoms. This is because they are dependent upon the substance. As you continue to take Xanax, you need to increase your dosage to feel the same effects that you felt the first time that you took it. When this starts to happen, you are becoming tolerant of the drug. If you fail to increase your dose or go cold turkey, you will experience withdrawal symptoms.
It only takes about five hours after you took your last dose of Xanax for the withdrawal symptoms to begin. If you were using a particularly large amount of the drug, your withdrawal symptoms may begin even earlier.
Side Effects of Withdrawal
If you are dependent upon Xanax and you stop taking it without tapering off slowly, you will experience several side effects. These include the following:
- Mood swings
The symptoms above can begin very suddenly, but they will start to fade. However, this does not relieve the pain associated with withdrawal because the symptoms will always return. The symptoms could come and go for a long time when this starts to happen.
Withdrawal from Xanax can be dangerous, and if the person is alone while this is occurring, the danger is immense. Sometimes, people die after deciding to go cold turkey. If you have been taking Xanax for a long time and at very high doses, you are the most likely to experience withdrawal symptoms.
A Xanax Addiction
An addiction to Xanax is different from a dependence. A person addicted to Xanax cannot refrain from using the drug no matter what negative consequences this action brings. In most cases, the person is also physically dependent on the drug.
Tapering Off of Xanax
The only recommended way of tapering off of Xanax is to enter a treatment center where the process will be monitored by medical professionals. At Granite Recovery Centers, we have a drug detox program where we offer medication-assisted treatment that is commonly known as MAT.
If you or your loved one have been abusing Xanax for a long period of time, the detoxification process is going to take a little time. However, if your addiction has not been going on that long, medical professionals still advise you to undergo the detoxification process in a drug treatment center. This is the best way to ensure that you make it through the withdrawal process without any major health complications.
When you are being treated in our treatment center, our medical professionals will administer medications approved by the FDA that reduce the severity of the withdrawal symptoms.
Quitting Drug Use without Rehab
Some people are very much against going to a treatment center during the withdrawal process, but you must consider several things before you decide to quit cold turkey. After you successfully complete the detoxification process at a treatment center, you have the opportunity to enter into treatment for your drug dependence or addiction at Granite Recovery Centers. If you do not do this, there is a risk of returning to the drug after you manage to quit.
In addition to that, you are usually alone when you are going through detox on your own. When you are in a rehab center, you will have a ton of support that can help you remain on the road to recovery. As a matter of fact, you may have the wrong type of support when you are out on your own. If you return to the old crowd that helped you become addicted to substances in the first place, they may encourage you to go back to your drug use.
Even if you are only in contact with family and friends without substance use issues, they may be unfamiliar with the challenges you have to face and are perhaps not prepared to be your counselors. At Granite Recovery Centers, we have a staff populated with counselors, therapists, physicians, and nurses to help you complete every step of your journey.
It is possible to recover from drug addiction, but it cannot be cured. It is not enough to just stop the drug use; you must also address the brain changes that the drug use caused. These changes are what make drug addiction a chronic disease that must be treated on a long-term basis. Even with treatment, people addicted to substances will return to the drug use 40% to 60% of the time.
This does not mean that drug treatment in a drug treatment center is not worth it. It means that the person must continue with treatment or switch to another treatment that may be more effective.
At Granite Recovery Centers, we offer several types of psychotherapy for the ongoing treatment of substance use disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one type of psychotherapy that works well for substance use disorders. It is instrumental in helping people change their negative thinking; it also helps them develop positive coping skills.
Negative thinking is what leads some people to become depressed, feel stressed, resent others, and experience anxiety. All of these are triggers for substance use and relapse. Residents at Granite Recovery Centers enter into group and individual counseling that helps them remain in recovery for the long term.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is psychotherapy that was created specifically to treat alcohol use disorders, but it has been expanded to include cocaine and other substances. A substance abuse issue is considered to be a maladaptive behavior, and the learning processes that lead to this behavior are the focus of the therapy. In therapy, you will learn new skills that will help you stop the maladaptive behaviors that lead to drug use.
This therapy also addresses the problems that arise when people are living with a substance use disorder, but the focus is on helping our residents understand the positive and negative consequences of drug use. They also learn to pay attention to their own thoughts and feelings. For example, people still experience cravings when they are in recovery, and they need to be able to recognize those cravings and their triggers.
Research has demonstrated that the lessons learned in cognitive-behavioral therapy remain with people even after they finish attending counseling sessions. The medical community is also looking into how cognitive-behavioral therapy can be combined with medication to increase the effectiveness of the treatment.
Co-Occurring Mental Health Conditions
Xanax is a sedative that physicians prescribe for those experiencing panic disorders and anxiety. With this being the case, you may also need treatment for your mental health condition. Mental health disorders and substance use disorders often exist together. In fact, according to HelpGuide, 29% of people diagnosed with a mental health condition also have issues with alcohol or drugs. This is why we have the capacity to treat co-occurring disorders at Granite Recovery Centers.
It is essential that we address your anxiety disorder so that you can have the best chance of recovering from your substance use disorder. The fact is that although Xanax is a medication that relieves many people’s anxiety symptoms, it can also lead to a substance use disorder. This occurs when people fail to take their medications exactly as their physicians prescribed them.
The answer to this problem is for you or your loved one to enter into treatment at Granite Recovery Centers. Our treatment program will address both the mental health disorder and the substance use disorder so that you can return to your normal life again. If you are uncomfortable remaining at home for your treatment, you may enter into our inpatient treatment program where you can go through the detox process. You may also enter into our outpatient treatment program if you have reservations about remaining at the treatment facility.
If you are ready to leave drugs behind, contact us today at Granite Recovery Centers. Some of the people on our team had their own substance use disorders to address, so there is plenty of understanding at our recovery centers. Do not be afraid to join us in the fight against your substance use disorder.