Does Xanax Help With Opiate Withdrawal?

While not fatal, people experiencing opiate withdrawal often feel like it could be. The constellation of unpleasant and agonizing symptoms during opiate withdrawal can be enough to challenge the hardiest of people.

Fortunately, there are ways to make an opiate withdrawal a little easier. This article lists plenty and offers insight into whether taking Xanax is one of the ways of getting through opiate withdrawal.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax is a pharmaceutical formulation consisting of Alprazolam, a benzodiazepine. It is used most often to help reduce anxiety and panic disorders symptoms and is usually prescribed in 0.25mg, 0.5mg, 1mg, and 2mg doses.

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

Whether you take codeine or fentanyl, if you take enough for a long enough period, you will experience opioid withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit. The intensity and length of these depend on what you were taking, how long you were taking it for, and your previous history of opioid abuse.

If you have been taking a relatively mild opioid such as codeine for a short period, you might experience a few days of low mood, tiredness, and anxiety. You might have a case of the sniffles too.

However, if you have been taking a much more potent opioid such as fentanyl and have been taking it for a longer time, you will probably experience far more severe symptoms. Symptoms of severe opioid withdrawal include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Extreme insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Panic

Can Xanax Help With Opioid Withdrawal?

Unbeknown to many, Xanax can be incredibly effective at treating opioid withdrawal. It can reduce anxiety, panic, depression, insomnia, and restless leg syndrome in people going through opioid withdrawal.

You should only ever take Xanax under the care and guidance of a registered doctor or a nurse at a treatment center, though.

While Xanax can be helpful in reducing opioid withdrawal symptoms, benzodiazepine dependence is very real and can affect your life in a similar way to opioids. People who have substance abuse problems are more susceptible to becoming addicted to these substances.

Benzodiazepine Dependence

If you are completing an opiate withdrawal, Xanax can be beneficial. However, the problem lies in Xanax itself being addictive. If you take it to come off opiates without medical guidance or under a taper plan, there is a chance that you will develop a Xanax addiction and have to go through additional withdrawal symptoms and treatments.

Xanax withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Depersonalization
  • Seizures
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Depression
  • Delirium

Not only does Xanax withdrawal cause the above symptoms, but it also has a particularly long period of post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). Some people coming off Xanax report suffering from PAWS up to two years after their last dose of Xanax.

What Medicines Can I Take for Opioid Withdrawal?

If you do not have a doctor who is willing to prescribe Xanax for your opioid withdrawal, there are other medicines you can take to help you feel better. As with Xanax, these medications should only ever be taken under the watchful eye of a medical professional.

  • Melatonin. A chemical that your brain produces in response to darkness, melatonin helps you become calm and sleepy. This drug may help a little with withdrawal, but do not expect miracles as it does not pack as much of a punch as prescription medications do.
  • Methadone/Suboxone. These two drugs are the standard medication-assisted treatment options usually prescribed during withdrawal and inpatient treatment. They both bind to opioid receptors, stopping you from getting high. At the same time, they activate opioid receptors, meaning that opioid withdrawal symptoms are far less severe than they would if you were attempting to go through opioid withdrawal alone. If you take these without a prescription, you will likely have extreme difficulty coming off them.
  • Gabapentin/Pregabalin. These are primarily used for epilepsy and neuropathic pain. They work by calming the central nervous system and are tremendously effective at treating most opiate withdrawal symptoms. As with Xanax, Methadone, and Suboxone, you should not take these without medical guidance.

Things To Do To Help Reduce Opioid Withdrawal

Often, when you are in opioid withdrawal, you just want to lie down and do nothing. This is an option, but usually, there are things that you can do that will help you feel better quicker. Here are a few:

  • Cold showers. During opioid withdrawal, cold showers help get the endorphins flowing again, leaving you feeling better for 15 minutes at a time, if you can handle them.
  • Exercise. Lifting light weights, participating in a gentle yoga class, or taking a walk around the block all help get your blood pumping and your neurotransmitters firing.
  • Take a hot bath. During opiate withdrawal, a hot bath can relieve any aches and pains and can help you relax a little.
  • Express yourself. As you experience withdrawal symptoms, speak with a sympathetic friend if you are having a hard time. Choosing someone who has been through drug abuse and opioid withdrawal symptoms before and who knows what you are going through is your best option.
  • Watch a movie. There is a good chance that you will not be able to follow the plot of a movie if you are in severe opioid withdrawal. However, it can be soothing to watch a few minutes at a time and have something playing in the background. Once you start feeling a little better, you might be able to watch an entire movie.

Opioid PAWS

Opioid cessation following abuse can come with a long period of PAWS, which follows the acute withdrawal period of opioid withdrawal. PAWS is otherwise known as a protracted withdrawal, and symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Cravings
  • Insomnia

It is important to keep PAWS symptoms under control, as they can often lead to relapse. Just knowing that they exist can be a big help to some former opioid abusers, as they realize that the symptoms that they are experiencing will go away eventually.

If you experience PAWS, it is essential to keep stress as low as possible. This might mean incorporating a yoga or meditation practice into your schedule. It can also involve holding firm boundaries so that you do not burn yourself out by giving in to other people’s demands.

Xanax in Treatment Centers

Attending a treatment center, such as our own, for opiate addiction might be your best option. Not only can we prescribe Xanax as part of medical detox, but we also ensure that withdrawal symptoms are kept to a minimum.

If we determine that Xanax is unsuitable for you, we may offer alternative medications and treatments, such as therapy. However, we can discuss this in greater detail when the time comes for you to enter treatment, as we will need to consider your history of opioid addiction and the number of opioids you are taking before recommending a treatment program.

Conclusion

Xanax is a useful drug in the treatment of opiate withdrawal, but it should only be used under medical supervision. Do not attempt to take Xanax without the guidance of a trained professional.

If you are struggling with an opioid addiction or withdrawal, please contact us today to find out how we can support you in withdrawal.

NPAC is one of the country’s leading addiction treatment and detox centers. If you want to get clean from opioid addiction, give us a call today.

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Samantha Kelly​

Director of National Business Development & Admissions Coordinator

I am a dedicated and passionate professional with extensive experience in business development Admissions and marketing. I have an incredible passion for showing others that there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel if someone truly wants it.
Being in recovery myself I understand the struggles of addiction and alcoholism. I Started this Career path in 2009. With multiple years of experience, I bring a multi-faceted approach and am always seeking new ways to make a difference in the lives of those I work with.

Kim L. Buckner

Facilitator

As a Substance Abuse Motivational Speaker, Pastor, Peer Advocate, and Facilitator. Kim helps clients avoid relapse by understanding their triggers. Those people, places and things that can cause craving, as well as internal triggers like feelings, thoughts, or emotions. Kim also clients with identifying and building healthy relationships now that they’re clean and sober.

Kim’s background includes extensive experience as a motivational speaker and work in faith-based organizations helping youth and adults alike. He says he is motivated by giving back to the community, understanding, and not judging who she comes into contact with. Kim’s favorite quote is by Dr. Raymond Johnson: “The respect given to others rebounds to the giver to deny the scared in the Other is to deny it in oneself.”

Caty Burns

Clinician

Caty graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minors in Counseling and History. Throughout her undergrad, she worked at the local CASA program, supporting volunteers advocating for children who had experienced abuse and neglect. Caty worked for seven years at a community mental health center (CMHC), partnering with children, adults, and families.

During those seven years, she taught life and coping skills as well as behavior management, provided case management and peer recovery services, and facilitated treatment teams that included the client, family, providers, and community members. I have also worked at an IOP providing group therapy services. She is currently working towards my Master of Social Work.

In her free time, Caty enjoys reading, especially historical fiction, spending time outdoors and having movie nights with her family. Disney World is her happy place, and she dreams of living among the elephants.

Madison Knowles

Mental Health Therapist

My name is Madison Knowles, I am a Mental health therapist at NPAC. I am a single-mother of two and I have a daughter who is globally delayed and has been diagnosed with autism. I have been in this industry since I was 16 years old, as I was fascinated with human behavior. I obtained my masters in applied behavioral analysis and started off working with people with disabilities. I then found my love for counseling when I worked with juveniles who had mental health and substance use issues. I then decided to go back for my mental health therapy license after that and working in a forensic treatment center. I went on to obtain my therapy credentials and since 2017, I have also been working on my PhD in forensic psychology in which I am currently working on my dissertation. I am inspired by change and how resilient people can be. My favorite inspirational quote is “Some will, Some won’t, So what, NEXT!!!” This quote has inspired me to try, try, and try again no matter how hard life gets, someone will give you a chance eventually. As a therapist at NPAC, I have been given the opportunity to work with diverse populations such as in substance use and mental health and I am known for my work with people on the schizophrenic spectrum as well as with other clients with other severe conditions including personality disorders.

Megan Carmona, LMHC

Lead Therapist

Our Lead Therapist, Megan, is a bilingual Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in working with adults who struggle with addiction, anxiety, depression, and trauma. As Lead Therapist, she provides individual, family, and group therapy sessions to our clients.  Megan says “I am very passionate about therapy, especially about supporting my clients in exploring their strengths and identity. My goal is to provide individuals with the tools that can help them achieve independence in coping with their challenges and facilitating personal development.” In her free time, Megan enjoys watching docu-series and playing video games with her family. Her dream is to own acres of land so she can care for vulnerable animals, especially old dogs, cats, and horses. 

Kristen Bensley

Primary Clinician

As Primary Clinician, Kristen works with all aspects of our clinical team, from case management to primary therapy.  She has broad experience working in the mental health field. Prior to joining our team at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic, Kristen was part of the team awarded the Evernorth Behavioral Health Center of Excellence Designation by Cigna. She says her motivation is to help people rediscover who they are and become excited about the future and all the possibilities life offers. Kristen’s favorite quote is: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Ronn Daigle, MSW

Therapist, Utilization Review Clinician

Ronn Daigle services as a Therapist and Utilization Review Clinician at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has been working in the field of substance use disorder treatment since 2011, with experience in all facility-based levels of care. Ronn earned, both an Associate of Arts in Psychology (2013) and Bachelor of Science in Human Services, with an Addiction Studies Concentration (2015) from Indian River State College. 

Ronn additionally earned a Master of Social Work degree in 2021 and is a current Registered Clinical Social Work Intern working toward licensure (LCSW). He describes himself as detail oriented, and solution focused.

Ronn says: “There is nothing more fulfilling than working with someone who doesn’t believe in himself or herself, and being there in the moment with them when the belief begins. We work with individuals who come to us at a point and time in their respective lives where they do not believe that change for others is possible; let alone for themselves…throughout the process they eventually come to a point where they realize that change is not only possible, but achievable.”

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI

Assistant Clinical Director

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI is the Assistant Clinical Director at Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic who specializes in the treatment of LGBTQ, addiction, as well as mental health disorders ranging from depression and anxiety, to Bipolar Disorder, trauma, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and eating disorders. Erika utilizes a number of modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Mindfulness amongst others. Erika has been in practice for close to a decade and has earned her license in Mental Health Counseling, as well as being a Master’s Certified Addiction Professional. Erika has worked with many individuals including couples counseling and family therapy, and is fluent in Spanish.
 
Throughout my years of practice, one of the things I enjoy helping people find is inner peace. Whether you are in the deepest parts of depression, overrun by your anxiety, controlled by your addiction, or there are certain issues in your life that are negatively impacting your ability to function, and have a happy, healthy life, maybe now is the time to talk about it. I am a big believer in empowerment, working hard in therapy, and utilizing different techniques to help you regain that inner peace that may have been lost along the way. I want to work with you as a team because with two people, absolutely everything is possible. I want to be there as a therapist, to help build you up, support you, but also help you be honest with yourself and accountable. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, my biggest goal for you is going to be simple….for you to no longer need my services. Why? Because if you no longer need my services, it means that you have regained your peace, you have regained your strength, you have regained your confidence. It means that you now have the tools to address any issues that try to derail you, and best of all, you will have the insight to overcome and thrive. So let’s begin this journey together, and get you to the place you want to be, emotionally, mentally, psychologically, and in your sobriety.

Aurelio Ayuso, MSW, LCSW, CAP, ICADC

Clinical Director

Aurelio has worked with those that suffer from the disease of addiction in adults and juveniles alike for over 10 years, beginning in the United States Navy where he proudly served for 20 years, working with those that were succumbed by addiction due to trauma and continuing his passion for helping those in need locally in Central Florida.

He specializes in both Addictions and Trauma, he has worked first as a therapist then as the clinical supervisor to both the Juvenile and Adult Drug Court programs in Brevard County. Aurelio has been instrumental in developing substance abuse treatment programs directly tailored to help those that also suffer from complex trauma due to their addiction. He has been recognized by several organizations for his forward thinking and ability to tailor treatment to individuals in the most restrictive environments.

Mr. Ayuso received his Graduate Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker as well as Certified Addictions Professional in the State of Florida, and Internationally Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor. Aurelio specializes in the treatment of Addiction, Trauma, and Abandonment using strength based strategies deeply rooted in Solution Focused, and Mindfulness Therapies. At the Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic he passionately develops holistic curriculums that foster the belief that through addressing the mind, body, and spirit together, the Disease of Addiction can be addressed successfully.

Robert Lehmann, MHSA

Chief Operating Officer

Bob Lehmann is the Chief Operating Officer at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Services Administration with a concentration in Mental Health Administration and over twenty-five years of experience as a senior executive at addiction and mental health treatment facilities.

One of the reasons for his commitment to excellence in addiction treatment was his experience related to family members who suffered from the disease of addiction. Bob has been actively involved in community organizations throughout his career. Recently he was one of the founders of the Florida Addiction Treatment Coalition (FATC) and is its present Vice President. FATC was designed to bring together treatment executives in Florida to advocate on behalf of treatment facilities and the clients they serve adhering to a foundation of integrity and service excellence.

Jose R. Toledo, M.D.

Medical Director

A well-rounded and accomplished individual, Jose R. Toledo, M.D., is the Medical Director of Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a neurologist with 25 years of experience and has been in private practice since 1991 on the Treasure Coast of Florida. He completed his neurology training at the State University of New York and his Fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh in Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology.

He also completed 24 months of acute inpatient psychiatry at the Western Missouri Mental Health Center, University of Missouri in Kansas City. In 2008, Dr. Toledo participated in and was certified in the continuing medical education activity entitled “Buprenorphine and Office-Based Treatment of Opioid Dependence” from The Medical University of South Carolina during which began his quest to found and head Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a brain specialist with particular competence in addiction medicine and out-patient detoxification treatment and integrates the fields seamlessly. He is certified to prescribe Buprenorphine (Suboxone). He incorporates his background in neurology into the addiction field. Dr. Toledo is member/fellow of The American Medical Association, The Florida Medical Association and The American Society of Addiction Medicine