How long Xanax stays in the body, or rather, how briefly it does, is a primary reason the drug is so addictive. Xanax is a member of the benzodiazepine class of pharmaceutical drugs chiefly given for sedation and to combat anxiety or panic. It takes effect quickly and its effects wear off quickly compared to many other drugs.

Benzodiazepines, or ‘benzos’, are well known in the medical community to carry a high risk for abuse and addiction. In fact, these drugs are highly controlled, available legally only by prescription and their use should be closely monitored medically to reduce their harm. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists them in the second highest category of dangerous drugs due to their risk of physical and psychological addiction. In those lists, they are second in concern only to addictive illegal drugs which have no medical use such as heroin.

 As a quick overview: 

  • Half  life is around 12 hours
  • Oftentimes out of your system within 4 days
  • Urine detection for up to 5-7 days
  • Saliva detection for up to 2.5 days

The Half-Life of Xanax and Detection in the Body

The half-life of a drug is a measurement used in pharmacology to determine how quickly a drug leaves the body. Xanax (generic name alprazolam) is a quick acting drug with effects that typically peak within an hour. After that peak, its effects begin to decrease. Unlike when using other less addictive medications that stay in the system and work from an accumulated effect, one quickly feels the diminishing effects of Xanax (Xanax bars) as the drug ‘rinses’ out of the body. This leads to great vulnerability for overuse because discomfort comes rather quickly with the decreasing amount in the system. It is generally thought that it takes from 9-16 hours for half a Xanax dose to be processed out of the body. This means the drug can linger up to twice that long after a dose, but remember: the desired effects of the drug do not last that long.

How long Xanax stays in your system can be indicated by saliva, blood and urine lab tests, and Xanax can be detected long after the effects of a dose are no longer felt. Also, there are individual differences that determine how long Xanax can be found in such tests.  For example, Xanax is a fat-soluble drug and those who are obese may retain the drug longer in fat cells. Also, the frequency and amount of Xanax taken can affect how long the drug is detectable in tests.

Additionally, one’s overall health impacts how quickly Xanax is eliminated from the body. People with organ damage, for instance, will process it out more slowly than someone who is in good health. Xanax has been non-detectable for many after one week in testing, but some have tested positive up to a month after using it. Because the hair shows traces of it longer than saliva, blood or urine, hair follicle tests can detect use up to months after a drug in this class was used. Hair follicle tests are typically considered reliable in detecting use for up to 90 days.

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The Psychological Effects of How Long Xanax Stays in the Body

Particularly people who misuse Xanax are vulnerable to what is known as a psychological dependence, or psychological addiction, to the drug. Since Xanax is sedating, easing anxiety or feelings of panic, many with anxiety and panic problems turn to Xanax as a primary life coping strategy. It is common to feel that life is too difficult without the drug. It is also common for people in this situation to not develop healthier coping skills to deal with anxiety or panic while drug-free.

That the effects of Xanax wear only last for several hours, leaves one with a psychological reliance upon it and no other coping strategies often eager to re-dose. That the effects begin to diminish within about 2 hours after dosing, also encourages dosing again. Additionally, since Xanax works so quickly, when discomfort is felt, one knows that taking a dose will soon relieve distress. All of these factors make Xanax a particularly high-risk drug.

If You or a Loved One Needs Help

A Xanax Use Disorder (Xanax abuse or Xanax addiction) is a medical condition that is treatable, and recovery is possible with the right help. Xanax and all other similar drugs in the benzodiazepine class, require a medically supervised detox for safety. An ill-handled benzo detox can cause a serious health crisis and even be life-threatened.

After detox, treatment that addresses the dynamics of addiction and focuses on preventing further use is critical. Within such treatment, learning healthier life coping strategies is key. Working with treatment professionals who have the right training is essential.

If you or a loved one needs help to overcome a Xanax addiction, give us a call today. We provide free consultations in which we identify your specific treatment needs and clarify your insurance coverage. From there we will make recommendations for treatment programs that can best meet your needs.

Want more information about how Chapters Capistrano can help? Feel free to call 949-276-2886 and one of our addiction specialists will help get the information and help you need.

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