What is a Xanax hangover?
Xanax, or alprazolam, belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. Benzos are among the most commonly abused types of drugs. That’s because most of these drugs, including Xanax, have a high risk for dependency.
When benzos like Xanax wear off, the user may experience mild symptoms of withdrawal. With Xanax, this is known as a “Xanax hangover.”
Although people who misuse or abuse the medication are more likely to experience a hangover, it can affect anyone who takes the medication.
If your doctor prescribed Xanax to help you manage an anxiety or panic disorder, you may experience hangover symptoms while your body adjusts to the medication. It may also happen if your doctor adjusts your dose.
Read on to learn more about the symptoms, including how long they last, how to find relief, and how to prevent them from coming back.
What does it feel like?
The symptoms of a Xanax hangover are similar to the symptoms of an alcohol hangover. A Xanax hangover can cause both physical and mental or emotional symptoms.
The most common physical symptoms include:
- difficulty falling asleep (insomnia)
- increased pulse
- increased blood pressure
- increased body temperature
- excessive sweating
- rapid breathing
- blurred vision
- decreased appetite
- stomach cramps
- muscle tension and tremors
- difficulty breathing
Mental or emotional symptoms include:
- memory impairment
- difficulty concentrating
- difficulty thinking clearly
- lack of motivation
- heightened senses
- increased anxiety
- thoughts of suicide
If you regularly experience symptoms like these, talk to your doctor. They may be able to adjust your dosage or prescribe a different medication.
What can you do to find relief?
Time is the only foolproof solution for a Xanax hangover. Your symptoms should subside once the drug has completely metabolized and cleared from your system.
In the meantime, you may be able to find relief if you:
- Exercise. Give yourself a natural boost of energy and endorphins by going for a walk. Don’t push yourself too hard; just get some natural movement in. As a bonus, exercise is a natural stress reducer and can help ease anxiety.
- Eat. Xanax is absorbed and metabolized through your gastrointestinal (GI) system, so pushing fiber, protein, and fat through your GI system can help your body process the drug faster.
- Sleep. If you can afford to spend extra time in bed, sleep is one of the best ways to cope with the symptoms of a Xanax hangover. You can sleep through the worst of the symptoms and wake up later, after less of the drug is circulating in your body.
How long does it last?
Immediate release formulations of Xanax have an approximate half-life of 11 hours but can vary from 6 to 27 hours for some individuals. It takes several more cycles for the drug to be eliminated from your body entirely. Your symptoms will likely fade before the medication has completely left your system.
The bulk of your symptoms should subside within 24 hours of your last dose. You may still experience minor symptoms, such as decreased appetite, for one to two days after your last dose.
Will you have a hangover every time you take it?
If you take Xanax for any reason, there’s always a chance that you’ll experience a hangover when the medication wears off.
You’re more likely to experience a Xanax hangover if:
- it’s your first time taking the medication
- you use the medication infrequently
- you’ve used the medication for a while but have recently changed your dose
- you’ve used the medication for a while but have recently missed one or more doses
If you continue to take the medicine, your body may become more accustomed to the drug, and the side effects may not be as severe.
However, long-term use or high-dose use can lead to a drug dependency. You should only take Xanax as prescribed by your doctor.
How to reduce your risk for future symptoms
If you take steps to help your body adjust to the medication, you may be able to reduce your risk of side effects. You should:
- Get adequate sleep. When you’re well rested, you’re less likely to be emotional and can think more clearly. Both of these tasks are difficult without sleep, but when you add in the effects of a Xanax hangover, they can be nearly impossible. Go to bed early the night you take Xanax, and plan to sleep later so you can sleep through some of the hangover symptoms.
- Take Xanax as prescribed. You shouldn’t take more or less than your prescribed dose without consulting your doctor. Never mix Xanax with other medicines, recreational drugs, or alcohol. The risk for negative interactions is high with this medication.
- Limit caffeine. Your first instinct may be to pour a tall cup of coffee or soda, but these caffeinated drinks can cause jitteriness and anxiety. This will work against the intended effects of the Xanax, so limit your intake of caffeine until your body has adjusted to the medication.
Talk to your doctor
If you have frequent Xanax hangovers, talk with your doctor. They may be able to adjust your dosage to help minimize side effects.
They may recommend taking smaller doses throughout the day instead of taking a larger dose all at one. They may also lower your overall dose.
You should never stop taking Xanax without your doctor’s supervision. If you need to come off the medication, your doctor will help you gradually reduce your dose. You’re more likely to experience withdrawal symptoms if you abruptly stop taking the medication.