Substance Use

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System?

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medication pills in weekly container

Depression and anxiety levels are reaching all-time highs across the United States. With that comes an increase in prescriptions for drugs — primarily in the benzodiazepine family.

Xanax is one of the more popular benzodiazepine medications for anxiety and panic disorders. It works by enhancing the effects of a neurotransmitter called GABA, which promotes relaxation in your brain. However, this drug can have serious side effects that need full consideration before you start taking it. One issue is the length of time you feel the effects. Therefore, one question people often ask is, “how long does Xanax stay in my body?”

What Is Xanax?

Xanax is a common drug that also goes by the name of alprazolam. It is a sedative used to treat anxiety and panic attacks (sudden, unexpected bursts of excessive dread and worry), and it’s part of the benzodiazepine class of medications. Xanax works by enhancing the effects of a neurotransmitter called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in your brain, which impacts any anxiety and panic levels you are experiencing. Xanax helps promote feelings of calmness and relaxation without sedating you to the point where you’re entirely out of it.

This prescription drug can be very helpful for some people. However, it can also cause severe side effects. Because this drug acts as a chemical “key” or receptor blocker within your body’s central nervous system, it can become habit-forming if taken for extended periods.

How Long Does It Take for Xanax to Work?

Xanax is a fast-acting drug that can take full effect within 30 minutes of your first dose. However, on average, it takes about one to two hours for the drug to reach its peak concentration in your body.

While these are averages, the method by which you take Xanax will significantly impact how long it takes for you to feel the effects. For instance, it can take up to two hours for Xanax to reach its maximum levels if it’s taken orally and on a full stomach. If you took it on an empty stomach, you would feel the effects much sooner. In fact, Xanax on an empty stomach is known to reach maximum levels within the first hour of ingestion.

How Long Does It Take for the Effects of Xanax to Wear Off?

The effects will usually last between four to six hours, but this is highly dependent on the dosage taken. It’s also because Xanax has a half-life (the time required for 50% of the substance in question to be metabolized or eliminated by the body) that averages 11 hours.

While the elimination half-life of Xanax is around 11 hours, the actual range is from about 6 to 27 hours — sometimes higher in obese patients. This means that a healthy person’s body would eliminate half a dose of the drug in this length of time.

Many factors can help determine how long Xanax will stay active in your body. Here are some standard variables that can affect how long Xanax remains in your system:

  • The number of pills you take each day/week
  • The strength of the dosage you are on
  • Physical factors, such as your age and weight
  • How you take the drug, such as orally or crushed and snorted
  • Metabolism speed
  • Body fat content
  • The health of your liver and kidneys

If you find that you are consuming more Xanax than prescribed to try to extend the feeling from the drug, please consider the substance use services offered by Zinnia Healing

How Is Xanax Detected on Drug Tests?

You can test to see if Xanax is still in your system by using a few methods. Here are the different test types and how effective they are in determining the amount of Xanax in your body.

Urine tests

A urine test is the most common way that people check for the medication. If you have been taking Xanax regularly, it will appear in your system for up to a week after you stop taking it, whereas it may only stick around for up to four days for casual users.

Blood tests

Blood tests are very effective in determining the amount of Xanax left in your system after you have stopped taking it. However, the number one downfall to this test is that it is relatively difficult to administer and can be quite expensive.

Saliva tests

A saliva drug test is another way to determine how much Xanax may be present within your body. This type of testing method has become more common as technology advances because it’s a more straightforward process than a blood test, for example. However, like all other types of tests available today, saliva screenings aren’t always 100% accurate.

Hair follicle analysis

After the last dose, Xanax traces may appear in hair follicle analysis tests for up to a month. However, it takes considerably longer for a drug to show up in hair than in bodily fluids. If a hair sample is taken too soon after someone has ingested Xanax, the test will come back negative for the medication.

How Is Xanax Metabolized in the Body?

When you take Xanax orally, your body absorbs it quickly. Peak concentrations show in the plasma within one to two hours, and the plasma levels are proportionate to the doses given. The drug quickly metabolizes once it enters the bloodstream.

When metabolized in the liver, Xanax breaks down into a compound called “alprazolam glucuronide,” which converts to another metabolite, “alprazolam sulfate.”

Once the liver has broken it down, Xanax is then steadily excreted from the body through urine.

This means that it can take up to a week for your liver to fully metabolize the Xanax you have taken. Until your system has completely processed the medication, your blood or other bodily fluids such as saliva or sweat will show traces.

How Common Is Xanax Addiction?

While Xanax is a common medication to use for anxiety and panic disorders, it is also one of the most commonly abused medications available. This is because Xanax can easily lead to dependency. If you find yourself taking more than what your doctor prescribes, or you seek ways to take it to get a “high,” you may be becoming addicted to the medication.

Xanax acts as an addicting drug by increasing dopamine levels in the brain; dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure.

What Are Some Signs and Symptoms That You May Be Addicted to Xanax?

If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be addicted to Xanax, here are some things you can look out for:

  • Slower thought process
  • Drowsiness or sedation
  • Excessive yawning when not tired
  • Lack of concern for things that usually bother you (work, school)
  • Repeatedly taking more Xanax than prescribed by a doctor to get the same “high” feeling. This is dangerous because it can lead to overdose and even death if taken too frequently.
  • Increasing tolerance means you will need higher doses of Xanax over time to feel the desired effects. If this occurs, talk with your doctor about alternative treatment options like therapy sessions or other medications. 

There is nothing to be ashamed about if you think you may be addicted to Xanax. However, you must seek help to get the proper treatment and regain your well-being.

What Are the Side Effects of Taking Xanax?

Xanax is a commonly prescribed medication for people nationwide. This makes understanding the side effects of Xanax even more essential. Some of the most common side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Sleep problems (insomnia)
  • Memory problems
  • Poor balance or coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Increased sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Blurred vision
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Swelling in your hands or feet

While the list is extensive, your symptoms should be mild or negligible if you talk regularly to your doctor and follow the prescribed amount. However, if symptoms are present and getting worse, reach out to your physician or seek professional assistance.

What Are the Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms?

Xanax addiction symptoms can be more severe than those of other benzodiazepines. If you stop taking the medication abruptly, you can get mild withdrawal symptoms even after taking it for as little as a week. When prescribed appropriately, Xanax is relatively safe.

Here is a list of common symptoms associated with Xanax withdrawal:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Excessive sweating and rapid heartbeat
  • Insomnia or nightmares
  • Aches and pains
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Hypersensitivity to light and sound
  • Nausea
  • Numbness and tingling in the hands, feet, or face
  • Tremors
  • Tense muscles

While withdrawal can be challenging for people recovering from addiction, remember that the symptoms are only temporary. Sticking with your treatment plan will help you transition successfully through this difficult time and on to a healthy recovery.

What Are the Treatments for Xanax Addiction?

Many treatment options are available for handling Xanax addiction. The primary options are therapy and various medications.

Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of therapy that helps people recognize and change the negative thoughts they may be having about themselves. CBT can help those with Xanax addiction feel better equipped to handle stressful situations, improve their self-esteem, and become more active in their recovery process.

Family therapy is a treatment option where family members attend sessions together and in individual counseling to learn how best to support each other during this challenging time.

Medications

There’s no need to take any additional medicine once you’ve stopped taking Xanax or other benzodiazepines. However, a medical professional may prescribe other anxiety, depression, and sleep-related drugs as a result of the detoxification process.

Where Can You Go for Treatment?

While there are many options for how you can seek treatment for Xanax addiction, the following are some of the more common options:

Outpatient care

Outpatient care is where you receive care at a clinic or treatment center during regular business hours. These types of programs typically last anywhere from 30 to 90 days and include group therapy sessions and individual treatments like one-on-one counseling with your doctor. Depending upon your situation, this may be an appropriate option for getting clean. It will allow you to continue working full time and take care of responsibilities at home without too much interruption.

Inpatient treatment centers

In these centers, patients are monitored closely and can receive around-the-clock care. This is a good option for those who have been abusing Xanax for an extended period or those with other underlying mental health concerns that need medical support. These programs also allow loved ones into the fold, which helps ensure accountability while letting you focus on yourself during the recovery process. At Zinnia Healing, we provide industry-leading solutions with some of the most welcoming and understanding experts available.

Conclusion

Xanax is a commonly prescribed drug for people who suffer from anxiety and other mental health issues. While it can be a lifesaving medication, it can also cause many people to use the drug in an abusive manner, leading to addiction. Xanax rehab is possible when you are ready to make that change.

If you or someone close to you needs help to overcome Xanax addiction, Zinnia Healing will help you Heal for Good. Take the first step toward a healthier, happier, and more fulfilling future by contacting us today!