6 Ways to Safeguard Your Xanax Recovery

Recovery from Xanax is tricky. Starting with supervised detox and a complete recovery program is essential for success and for avoiding relapse later. Once in recovery, resisting the urge to use again depends on making lifestyle changes, adopting healthy habits, continuing with professional care, relying on friends and family, and bringing structure and purpose to daily life.

Getting sober after misusing and becoming dependent on Xanax is extremely difficult. As a benzodiazepine, Xanax triggers a terrible withdrawal that can actually be life-threatening. Getting the professional help you need and stopping use safely is a huge accomplishment.

Unfortunately, your work is not yet done. Relapse is not only possible for a substance use disorder, it’s likely. The better your residential care, the better your chances are of long-term sobriety, but you also have a responsibility to maintain successful recovery. Take a proactive and active role in your Xanax recovery to ensure you don’t fall back into the trap of drug use.

Xanax and Benzodiazepine Addiction

Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam, a member of the benzodiazepine class of drugs. It is a prescription and a controlled substance because of the potential for abuse. Doctors prescribe Xanax to manage anxiety disorders and panic attacks, and also for managing alcohol withdrawal. As a sedative, it works by reducing brain activity.

Benzodiazepines are not intended to be used for long periods of time. If you have an anxiety disorder or get panic attacks, your doctor may recommend it for temporary use and put you on an antidepressant to manage the condition for the long-term.

A major reason that you aren’t supposed to use Xanax for very long is that it is habit-forming. Misuse of benzodiazepines can lead to addiction or overdose, especially when combined with other central nervous system depressants, like opioids or alcohol.

Another big danger of benzodiazepines is withdrawal. If you become addicted to Xanax, you’ll struggle to stop using it because of the awful withdrawal symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Tremors
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Tinnitus
  • Visual disturbances
  • Neck and spine pain
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoid delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Perceptual distortions
  • Depersonalization
  • Depression
  • Seizures

Withdrawal from Xanax can begin with cessation of use in as little as three to four hours. It’s a major reason people keep using and even escalate their use. If you, or someone you know, struggles with this, it is essential to seek professional, medical help for detox and then recovery. Trying to detox from benzodiazepines alone is dangerous.

How to Protect Your Hard-Won Recovery

Stopping use of Xanax is tough, but it’s possible with the right professional support. Supported and supervised detox is just the beginning of your journey to recovery. Professional help is also necessary to prepare you to remain sober and avoid relapse.

Once you’ve done the hard work of going through detox and care, the last thing you want to do is risk your recovery. These are some things you can do, or avoid, as you safeguard your Xanax recovery now and in the future:

1. Stick With Residential Care.

Professional care in its official capacity may be over, but it never really ends. Keep engaging in the types of therapy, support groups, and activities that helped you during your residential care period to solidify and strengthen your recovery.

If your recovery facility has an outpatient program or aftercare activities, sign up. If it does not, find a therapist you like to carry on with outpatient sessions. Look for local or online support groups to join and that you can meet up with as needed.

2. Make Changes to Your Environment.

Changing your life is so important to avoiding relapse. To understand why, consider famous studies of Vietnam War veterans addicted to heroin. In the early 1970s, researchers found that a shocking number of servicemembers overseas used and became addicted to heroin.

Researchers followed and interviewed many of these veterans for years after they returned home. Much to their surprise, the researchers found that the vast majority never reused or became addicted again once they left Vietnam and came home.

This result went against what experts believed about drugs and addiction at the time, especially for a highly-addictive substance like heroin. What researchers concluded was that the environment played a huge role in drug use. In the environment of Vietnam, they used heroin. The drastically different environment of home did not trigger the urge to use heroin nearly as much.

In other words, environmental cues are powerful. The same armchair you sat in every night, relaxing after taking a dose of Xanax will cue you to use again. You may be able to resist the urge, but why put yourself in that position. If you can make some changes to your environment, you’ll make it much easier to resist relapse. The changes don’t have to be drastic. Just disrupt the environment in a few ways so it won’t trigger you.

3. Make Lifestyle Changes Too.

The more you can change for the positive, the easier you’ll find it to avoid relapsing. Make your post-addiction life different and better. Replace your unhealthy habit with productive, healthy, and fun habits.

Focus on things like a healthy diet and cooking at home, exercising or taking up a sport like training for a race, and spending time with friends doing new activities or hobbies. Spend time on self-care. Reducing stress and staying healthy makes recovery easier.

One of the most important lifestyle changes you can make is to your social circle. Avoid anyone who does not support your recovery. Avoid those people you used substances with in the past or who still use. It’s ok to cut out toxic people, even if you have known them for years.

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4. Structure Your Days, and Your Life.

A chaotic lifestyle hinders recovery. What you need now is structure and routine to get through the days until you feel stronger in your recovery. Make a calendar and schedule everything. Go to bed and get up at the same time every night and morning. Eat meals at the same time.

This may seem nitpicky, but when you have a routine, you’re less likely to get into a position that leaves you wondering what to do next. In that state of confusion or boredom is when you’re more likely to start thinking about drug use again.

5. Be Completely Honest.

After going through care, you probably recognize that you lied a lot while addicted, most importantly to yourself. It’s an unhealthy habit that only encourages poor choices. Now is the time to be totally honest with yourself and others.

This doesn’t mean you have to tell everyone everything, but it does mean you should no longer hide many of the painful truths about your past. Experts suggest that when you get to a point where you can’t be honest and you start to lie again, you’re in emotional relapse.

To be honest with yourself, it’s important to reflect. Consider keeping a journal to jot down your thoughts, how you feel throughout the day, and what’s going on when you feel an urge to relapse. This will help you identify triggers to avoid and give you a better understanding of your own impulses and internal struggles.

6. Rely on Others.

No one can do this alone. You may feel as if this is your problem to handle, but rest assured your closest loved ones care and want to help. Rely on them to be there when you’re feeling weak, to listen when you need to share, and to spend time with you as a distraction. They can provide practical support too, like a ride to a support group or an exercise buddy to hold you accountable.

Overcoming a Xanax addiction is a big deal. If you’ve gotten this far, you have done something amazing. This doesn’t mean you can totally relax, though. Continue fighting for your sobriety and recovery. Don’t assume that once sober, you’ll always be sober. This takes work, lifestyle changes, and the support of loved ones and professionals.