How Long Does Xanax Stay In Your System?

October 04 , 2022

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), Xanax is one of the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines in the United States, with over 48 million prescriptions. The U.S. government classifies Xanax as a Schedule IV controlled substance due to its addictive properties. For this reason, the medication is regarded as one of the most addictive benzodiazepines on the market. It also causes more severe symptoms of withdrawal than other benzodiazepines, even when tapered according to manufacturer guidance.
So, how long does Xanax stay in your system? Xanax remains in the body for approximately four days. However, this can vary from person to person based on personal factors. For example, if a person has health issues or is over a particular age, the body may take longer to metabolize the medicine completely.

What Is Xanax?

Alprazolam, sold under the brand name Xanax, is one of the most widely used prescription medications in the benzodiazepine class. Xanax is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that acts by boosting the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter responsible for inducing calmness and relaxation. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Xanax is approved for treating mental health disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorders with or without agoraphobia. Additionally, they are frequently used to treat insomnia and alcohol withdrawal.

Benzodiazepines, even when taken as directed, can cause physical and psychological dependence (addiction). Hence they are often only used for limited periods of time. If the user already has a substance use disorder, their vulnerability to addiction is greatly increased.

Side Effects of Xanax

Despite Xanax being an extremely effective anxiety medicine, it is not without potential adverse effects. Because Xanax and other benzos act on the central nervous system, they can cause various unpleasant symptoms. The immediate effects of Xanax may include drowsiness and impaired cognitive performance.
Common side effects may include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Confusion
  • Dry Mouth
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Manic symptoms
  • Difficulty walking
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Low blood pressure
  • Blurry vision

Signs of an allergic reaction may include:

  • Hives
  • Difficult breathing
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat

Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any signs of an allergic reaction or if the side effects worsen. In addition, taking Xanax with alcohol, opioids, or other illicit drugs can exacerbate adverse effects and increase your risk of overdose.

How Long Does It Take for Xanax to Work?

Xanax comes in rectangular, oval, and triangular pills. The strength of the tablet determines its shape. Because Xanax is a short-acting benzodiazepine, it does not have the same duration of action as other benzodiazepine medications. Peak blood concentrations are observed one to two hours after consuming the tablet. Xanax is also available in extended-release tablet form (Xanax XR). The extended-release pill takes approximately nine hours to reach its full effect and lasts longer in the body.

How Long Does Xanax Stay In System?

The average half-life of Xanax in the blood in healthy people is around 11 hours, which implies that half of the drug has been absorbed and removed by the urine in that time frame. Since it takes approximately five half-lives for 98% of a drug dose to leave the body, Xanax takes two to four days to be eliminated. The extended-release version takes around six days to leave your system. Elderly adults in good health have a slightly longer elimination half-life. The typical half-life of Xanax in senior adults is close to 16 hours. Xanax’s sedative effects will fade before the medication leaves the body entirely hence why it is often taken more than once a day.

Factors That Influence How Long Xanax Stays in the System

How long Xanax stays in the body is determined by a variety of individual factors, including:

  • Metabolic Rate – If you’re an active person, your metabolism will excrete Xanax faster than someone with a slower metabolism. Hydration habits and medical history could also influence how fast your body excretes Xanax.
  • Body Fat – People with a higher body mass index could experience a lengthened detection time due to their height and weight. Xanax is fat-soluble, which is absorbed by adipose tissue or body fat. Therefore, higher body weight can cause Xanax to stay in the bloodstream for almost twice as long as it would for someone of healthy weight.
  • Age & Health – Older individuals, typically those around 60 years old or above, are more sensitive to benzodiazepines. The elderly may have a longer detection time for Xanax because of their slower metabolism, altered blood flow, and organ function.
  • Dosage – The larger the dose, the longer the half-life. For example, if you took 20 mg of Xanax vs. 5 mg, the first would be in your system slightly longer than the second.
  • Frequency of Use – The rate at which Xanax is eliminated from the body can vary depending on how often the drug is used. It takes long-term users more time to absorb and eliminate the substance than short-term users. This is because tolerance to Xanax’s effects can develop rapidly in heavy users.
  • Liver Disease & Kidney Function – Xanax is broken down in the liver before excreting through the kidneys. As such, alcoholic liver disease will double the time Xanax stays in the bloodstream. Evidence suggests that renal disease can also decrease medication clearance in some people.
  • Poly-drug use – The body’s capacity to metabolize and excrete Xanax may be affected if you simultaneously take other substances (legal or illegal). Polydrug use can also increase your risk of an overdose.
  • Alcohol & Nicotine use – Alcohol and nicotine may slow down the process of metabolizing Xanax, causing it to remain in the system for longer.

Testing for Drugs

Drug tests can detect Xanax for a considerably longer timeframe than its elimination rate of two to four days. This is because drug tests screen for metabolites rather than the medication itself. Blood tests, urine tests, saliva swabs, and hair follicle analyses can all be performed to determine the presence of Xanax in a person’s system.

How Long Does Xanax Stay In Your Urine?
Urine testing is the most prevalent form of drug test since it is accurate, inexpensive, and noninvasive. Short-term users can detect Alprazolam in their urine up to five days after intake. However, it can detect the substance in heavy users for up to a week. The detection window may be substantially longer for elderly folks or those with a slower metabolism.

How Long Does Xanax Stay In Your Blood?
Blood tests are often reserved for use in medical crises. In cases of a suspected overdose, these tests help medical professionals assess whether a patient is currently under the effect of Xanax. Additionally, they have a relatively brief detection window. A blood test can detect Xanax for around 24 hours.

How Long Does Xanax Stay In Your Hair?
The longest detection window is for hair testing. Xanax can remain in the hair for as long as three months. This is because the biomarkers of the medication become entangled in the growing hair follicles. However, it takes two to three weeks for the drug to emerge in a hair sample following a dose. Consequently, hair testing is typically reserved for cases in which long-term or prior use is suspected. When current or recent use is suspected, bodily fluids, such as urine, are used.

How Long Does Xanax Stay In Your Saliva?
Xanax is not detectable in saliva screening for more than 2.5 days following the last dose.

Some drugs may exhibit cross-reactivity with immunoassay urine drug testing. The antidepressant Zoloft (sertraline) and the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory Daypro (oxaprozin) can provide false-positive results for benzodiazepines such as Xanax in urine drug tests.

If you have been prescribed Xanax and undergo a drug screening or any type of drug test, inform the testing facility so that they can interpret your results correctly. If you are being screened at work, you may wish to inform your employer beforehand that you are taking Xanax.

Can Xanax Be Flushed From the System?

Xanax cannot be immediately flushed from the system after ingestion. The body absorbs Xanax within two hours of taking a short-acting formulation and within five hours of taking a long-acting formulation. After this time, it has spread throughout the body’s tissues, including the brain. As such, it will take time for the liver to break down Xanax and the kidneys to flush it out.

You may experience withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking Xanax. Stopping or reducing the dose on your own can be harmful and increase your chance of seizure. Consult your doctor for a suitable tapering plan to reduce or eliminate any potential physical or psychological withdrawal symptoms from Xanax.

Xanax Addiction Treatment

Up to 44% of individuals who take benzodiazepines like Xanax daily will develop an addiction. Despite this, many individuals may be unable to resist the desire to abuse Xanax. According to theAmerican Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, have a high potential for abuse, particularly in “at-risk” populations.

What makes Xanax so addictive is that its effects are experienced almost immediately after administration but wear off within a few hours. This compels individuals to take more Xanax, even if it means exceeding the limits of their prescription. Patient’s tolerance for Xanax increases as they consume more of the drug, prompting them to take increasingly higher doses. Over time, this causes dependence on Xanax.

Recovery from Xanax addiction occurs on both the physical and psychological levels. Medical detox allows the body to adjust to the absence of Xanax, while rehabilitation allows for skill development and relapse-prevention planning. Fortunately, Xanax addiction treatment can assist recovering addicts in returning to a life of health and happiness.