Updated on February 6, 2024
6 min read

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System?

Key Takeaways

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System?

The half-life of Xanax ranges from 6.3 to 26.9 hours, with the average being 11 hours. It takes 11 hours for the body to metabolize and eliminate half of the dose.

It will take several half-lives to eliminate Xanax from your system completely. For most people, it usually clears the body in two to four days.

However, some drug tests can detect Xanax in different body systems:

Body SystemDays Detectable in System
Urine5 days
Blood5 days
Saliva2 to 3 days
Hair1 to 7 days
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8 Factors Influencing the Rate of Xanax Elimination

These factors can affect Xanax’s half-life:

1. Age

Older adults eliminate Xanax slower than young adults. This is because the half-life of Xanax is higher (16.3 hours) in older people compared to 11 hours in younger adults.

2. Ethnicity

According to the FDA, Xanax has a higher half-life in people of Asian descent (25 percent) than Caucasians.

3. Weight

It may be more difficult for your body to break down Xanax if you are overweight. According to the FDA, the half-life of Xanax in an overweight person may range from  9.9 to 40.4 hours, with an average of 21.8 hours.4

4. Metabolism

The time it takes for Xanax to exit the body may be shortened if the basal metabolic rate is higher. Sedentary people will eliminate Xanax slower than those who exercise regularly or have higher metabolisms.

5. Duration of Use

If you use Xanax frequently, your bloodstream will have a greater concentration of the drug, and it will take longer to remove it completely. If you have developed a tolerance to the medication, you may not experience the intense effects as when you started using it.

6. Organ Function

Metabolizing Xanax properly requires a functioning liver to break down most of the drug before it passes through the kidneys. It's also important to have optimal renal function to properly eliminate the drug from your body.

7. Dosage

If you take larger Xanax dosages than prescribed, you may accumulate more of the drug in your body. The excess may be stored in fatty tissue, making it easily detectable through blood, urine, and hair tests.

8. Combining Xanax with Other Drugs

When someone uses other drugs such as alcohol, opioids, or sedatives in addition to Xanax, the body has to do more work.7

The liver is responsible for the breakdown of several medications. The process will be prolonged if the liver attempts to metabolize more than one drug simultaneously.

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How Long Do The Effects of Xanax Last?

You should feel the effects of Xanax within half an hour because it is a fast-acting benzodiazepine. That means it easily gets into the blood after being taken orally. 

The medication will reach peak concentrations in your body after one to two hours. However, the effects do not last long, as they wear off within five hours.

Doctors typically recommend taking Xanax three times a day. People who take the drug regularly may acquire a tolerance to it, which means the effects may take longer to develop or may not be felt as strongly as before.

What is Xanax?

Xanax, the brand name for Alprazolam, is a benzodiazepine approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Benzodiazepines introduce chemicals to the central nervous system, which results in:3

  • Reduced anxiety
  • Reduced stress levels
  • Improved sleep

Xanax is commonly used to treat conditions like:1

  • Anxiety
  • Panic disorders
  • Insomnia

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Why Do People Misuse Xanax?

People often misuse Xanax due to its euphoric effects and ability to help people cope with situational anxiety without committing to treatment.

Xanax is fast-acting, so people immediately feel its euphoric effects. Some even use it with alcohol to enhance this.9 

In addition to recreational usage, some people consider Xanax a fast fix for the anxiety that comes with experiencing uncomfortable or stressful situations. The brief comfort they experience may be beneficial in a fast-paced environment where they are constantly exposed to negativity, stress, and uncertainty.

How Addictive is Xanax? 

Xanax is one of the most addictive benzodiazepines on the market. People can become dependent on it in just 3 or 4 weeks of use.

Tolerance can develop in a few days, while physical dependence can occur in a few weeks. People taking a 4 mg/day dosage for longer than 12 weeks are at higher risk of addiction.

The United States government classifies benzodiazepines, including Xanax, as Schedule IV controlled substances because of their abuse potential. This classification makes it easier for the government to assess the drug’s prescription and distribution.

No one is immune to Xanax addiction, although some populations are more prone to it. Women are believed to have greater benzo addictions than men, although this may be because women are more likely to obtain a prescription for anxiety medications.10 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Xanax use is higher among women than men.

Symptoms of Xanax Use Disorder

Physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms of Xanax misuse and addiction are often more visible.

If you think someone you care about is abusing this medication, check for the following Xanax addiction signs:

  • Buying Xanax without a prescription
  • Experiencing Xanax withdrawal symptoms when not taking the drug
  • Taking high doses of Xanax than prescribed
  • Neglecting important duties such as work, family, or school
  • Relationship issues
  • Mood swings
  • Poor memory
  • Drowsiness
  • Impaired coordination
  • Manic moods
  • Concentration problems
  • Lack of motivation
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Intense cravings for the drug
  • Slurred speech
  • Avoidance of tasks that require sustained attention
  • Financial problems due to spending money on the drug
  • Risky behaviors (such as driving) while high on Xanax
  • Difficulty quitting despite the desire to do so
  • Run-ins with the law as it pertains to Xanax misuse

If you notice the above signs, the best thing to do is seek professional help. Your doctor can perform a physical examination and recommend treatment.

Xanax Abuse vs. Addiction

People who abuse Xanax can stop taking the substance without severe side effects. However, people addicted to the drug typically experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop using.

People who abuse Xanax recreationally usually still have some control over their drug use and lives. But it can quickly turn into addiction with consistent use. People addicted to Xanax have a high chance of recovery if they're enrolled in rehab centers.

Treatment For Xanax Use Disorder

Several treatment options are available for Xanax addiction. Often, more than one approach achieves the best results.

Detox

The first step in the recovery process will be detoxification. Medical detoxification or medical detox is a process that assists patients in safely discontinuing Xanax while reducing and managing withdrawal symptoms. 

The detox process is typically performed under supervision by a qualified healthcare provider.

Therapy

During Xanax addiction recovery, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may also be recommended. This is one of the most common therapies used in benzodiazepine addiction treatment. 

CBT focuses on the root causes that can lead to substance use disorders. It includes meeting with a therapist to create a set of healthy coping skills. 

CBT helps decrease benzodiazepine usage over three months in conjunction with medical detox and tapering.

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Updated on February 6, 2024
10 sources cited
Updated on February 6, 2024
  1. Highlights of prescribing information,” U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  2. Drug Fact Sheet: Benzodiazepines” Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), 2020.
  3. An Updated Review on Pharmaceutical Properties of Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid,” April MDPI, 2019.
  4. XANAX® alprazolam tablets, USP,” U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  5. Benzodiazepine in a Urine Specimen Without Drug Metabolites,” Oxford University Press, 2015.
  6. Detection Times of Diazepam, Clonazepam, and Alprazolam in Oral Fluid Collected From Patients Admitted to Detoxification, After High and Repeated Drug Intake,” Therapeutic Drug Monitoring, 015.
  7. Alcohol and Medication Interactions,” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
  8. Understanding the Mechanism of Cytochromes P450 3A4: Recent Advances and Remaining Problems,” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 2012.
  9. Popping Xanax is more harmful than you think,” Fox News, 2015.
  10. Despite risks, benzodiazepine use highest in older people,” National Institute of Health (NIH).

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