Xanax, the brand name for alprazolam, is a prescription benzodiazepine used to treat a number of conditions, including anxiety, general anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, seizures, insomnia, and muscle tightness.
Xanax is a central nervous system depressant that acts on the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for slowing nerve impulses throughout the body. By slowing the nerve impulses, Xanax causes an anti-anxiety effect.
Xanax has helped countless people lead a normal and fulfilling life by stifling the symptoms of a number of disorders. By promoting calmness and easing anxiety, individuals are able to live free from crippling anxiety and panic and partake in life in a way they wouldn’t be able to without the medication.
Peak Levels And Half-Life Of Xanax (Alprazolam)
Xanax is easily absorbed by the body and, depending on the health and age of the individual taking it, has a half-life of around 11 hours. This means that after 11 hours, half of the drug has left the system. In obese or elderly individuals, the half-life can be up to 26 hours.
The peak level of Xanax is around one to two hours after the drug is ingested. The peak levels of alprazolam are proportionate to the dosage taken.
How Long Does Xanax Stay In Your System?
When a person abuses Xanax and then comes off the drug, the following timeline is generally what occurs in terms of the drug leaving the system:
- After one to four days, the drug has completely left the body and withdrawal symptoms have begun.
- Between five to 28 days after the last dose was taken, acute withdrawal begins. Acute withdrawal symptoms may include loss of appetite, headaches, muscle pain, insomnia, anxiety, tremors, and more.
- Fourteen days after the last dose of Xanax was ingested, withdrawal symptoms peak, or reach the worst they will be.
- Between six months to a year after the last dose was taken, protracted withdrawal symptoms can appear. These may include tremor, pains, cognitive impairment, depression, sensory problems, and insomnia.
- One year after the last dose was taken, some protracted symptoms may still be present but most have been resolved.
Which Tests Are Used To Detect Xanax Use?
There are many different tests that can be used to detect Xanax in the body. Urine tests are typically the most common way to test for this drug, but saliva, blood, and hair tests can also be utilized to determine Xanax usage. Because individuals who have abused Xanax are typically weaned off the substance, it’s not as common to test for the drug as part of an addiction treatment program.
How Long Does Xanax Stay In Urine?
How long Xanax is detectable in urine will largely depend on how much and how often the drug is taken. Xanax is usually detectable up to four days after the last dosage was ingested, but for heavier users, it can be detectable up to a week after the last time taken.
How Long Does Xanax Stay In Saliva?
A saliva test can detect the presence of Xanax shortly after it is ingested. However, saliva tests can only identify the drug in the system for around two to three days after the last dose was taken.
How Long Does Xanax Stay In Blood?
Similar to saliva tests, a blood test can detect Xanax soon after the drug is taken, but can only detect the presence of Xanax in the system a day after the last dose was taken.
How Long Does Xanax Stay In Hair?
Xanax can be detected in the hair for up to a month after the last dose of the drug was taken. However, a positive hair test requires the drug to accumulate in the hair follicles, which can take time. This means that testing the hair for Xanax too soon after a dose is taken can result in a negative test despite the presence of the drug in the body.
Factors That Influence Drug Testing For Xanax
There are many factors that can influence how long Xanax is detectable in an individual’s body. These factors include a person’s body composition, gender, age, and how often and how much of the drug is taken. All of these things can cause Xanax to be found in a person’s body for a longer or shorter period of time.
- Body Composition (BMI)
A person’s body composition, or height, weight, and body fat, can play a role in how long it takes the body to eliminate Xanax. Because Xanax is fat soluble and can be stored in the body’s fat cells, an individual with a higher body fat percentage may have Xanax in his or her system longer than someone with less body fat.
- Dosage Amount
As with most drugs, the dosage taken of Xanax will influence how long the drug is detectable in an individual’s system. Someone who takes multiple doses a day for an extended period of time will have a higher level of the drug in his or her system for a longer period of time than someone who only takes one dose every once in a while.
- Frequency Of Use
Like with the dosage amount, how often a person uses Xanax will also play a role in how long the drug is able to be detected in the body. Those who only use the drug on an as-needed basis will have a much lower amount of Xanax in their system for a shorter amount of time than someone who uses the drug on a daily basis.
- Age And Health
Xanax is different from many other drugs in that an individual’s age can play an important role in how quickly the drug is metabolized. The older an individual is, the longer it will take him or her to clear Xanax from the body. This means that a younger person will eliminate Xanax much more quickly than an older person.
A person’s overall health, and more specifically his or her organ function, can also dictate how quickly Xanax is eliminated from the body. The liver and kidney are responsible for metabolizing and eliminating substances from the system, so organs that do not function well will take longer to rid the body of the drug. This is especially true for someone who has an alcoholic liver.
The pH level in the gastrointestinal and urinary tracts can also influence how long a drug stays in an individual’s system. The higher the pH level of these tracts, the longer it will take for the body to rid itself of Xanax, whereas a lower pH level will help break down the drug more quickly.
Effects Of Xanax Abuse On The Brain
The effects on the brain of abusing Xanax are far-reaching and don’t take long to become noticeable. Xanax can have an effect on thought, memory, muscle coordination, and emotions. When a person has used Xanax for an extended period of time, the brain can forget how to deal with these things without the drug and result in anxiety and panic.
Long-term abuse of Xanax can have other effects on the brain as well. It can result in coordination problems as well as difficulty concentrating. What’s more, abusing Xanax can damage brain cells which can cause both physical and psychological problems.
Misusing Xanax can change how the brain operates and can cause individuals to do things they wouldn’t usually do by lowering their inhibitions. It can also cause a user to experience depression or even suicidal thoughts.
Treatment For Xanax Addiction
When an individual seeks treatment for Xanax addiction, he or she will most likely begin with a medically supervised detox program. Stopping Xanax cold turkey or without medical help can be incredibly uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. A medically supervised detox program will help the patient wean off the drug slowly to alleviate as many withdrawal symptoms as possible. Medications may be given to help manage symptoms and cravings.
Once a medically assisted detox program is successfully completed, an inpatient drug and alcohol addiction treatment program will likely be recommended. Inpatient programs are an intensive form of addiction treatment where patients are monitored 24/7 and receive daily therapy and other methods of treatment.
Many inpatient rehab centers focus on one form of treatment and integrate various other therapies to provide a thorough program of recovery for those addicted to Xanax and other substances.
Therapies offered may include cognitive behavioral therapy, group and individual counseling, family therapy, and alternative treatments like yoga or acupuncture. Most treatment facilities will perform a thorough evaluation at the onset of treatment to provide an individualized plan of recovery for each patient.
To learn more about how long Xanax can stay in your system and the different factors that affect how long this drug can be detectable in the body, contact us today.
Pfizer Medical Information — XANAX® (alprazolam), CIV
Food And Drug Administration — XANAX