Does Xanax Help With Opiate Withdrawal?

Category: ,
Author: NP Addiction Clinic
Published: March 3, 2022

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.


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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