How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System?
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Xanax is one of the most popular treatments for anxiety, panic disorders, and panic attacks.
In fact, Xanax helps individuals who suffer from depression as well, as the medication slows down the nervous system, resulting in a feeling of relaxation.
If you are anxious or are otherwise prone to panic attacks, many doctors prescribe Xanax to help treat these conditions.
Due to the sedative nature of Xanax, many users develop a dependency on the drug. They find it hard to stop using, especially if they have been taking it for longer periods of time.
How long does Xanax remain in your system?
Whether you’re trying to prevent an overdose, or want to avoid the side effects that come alongside the popular medication, you need to know how long it remains in your system.
With a half-life of just under 12 hours, and with the medication reaching its peak levels in your blood one to two hours after use, this is the time at which you are most likely to feel the side effects of Xanax.
It does, however, take five-seven half-lives (or up to 4 days) for the drug to completely work its way out of your system. The remnants of Xanax can be felt for that time in the body.
For those who are undergoing blood work, need to do drug testing or screening, or are otherwise worried about the medication popping up on a drug test, you want to know how long it is detectable in your system.
And, the answer will depend on the type of testing that is done. In hair follicle testing, versus urine samples, or blood work, the levels of Xanax that will be found several days after use, are going to differ in each case. So, just how long can Xanax be detected in your system after use?
Different Types of Testing
There is more than one way to test for Xanax in the body. Hair samples, blood, urine, and saliva testing are the most common.
Below are some time frames for how long Xanax can be traced in the body, given the type of drug testing that is conducted on an individual.
Hair Follicle Testing
If a hair follicle test is conducted, the drug can be detected as soon as one to seven days after use. And, it can be traced in your system for a period of up to 90 days. Hair follicle tests might be administered by a court to see if individuals who are on parole are abusing drugs.
It might also be required for athletes or other professionals who engage in competition, in order to determine whether those individuals have an unfair advantage against other competitors in the field.
Depending on the reason you’re doing a hair follicle test, this is one of the most accurate tests to detect Xanax in the body.
It not only can detect out for up to 90 days, it is also going to give a clear indication as to the levels of Xanax in the body. So, it can detect how much abuse or overuse has taken place in many cases as well.
The 90-day window is from the last day of use, not the first day.
Therefore, it’s important to understand the timing, especially if you are undergoing a court-appointed hair follicle test, or medical exam, to determine if there are any drugs or prescription medications in your system.
Saliva Test Detection
A saliva test is not as accurate as a hair follicle test; it can only detect Xanax in the body for a period of up to 2.5 days after use. It doesn’t detect Xanax immediately either. As detailed above, the half-life takes up to 12 hours for the effects and traces to be noted in the body.
Therefore, this testing has to be done at a specific time, in order to detect whether or not an individual has been using Xanax or has abused it with a possible overdose.
Saliva testing is often conducted by employers. Due to the fact that it is a cheaper testing option, it is one of the methods that employers will utilize to test employees. It is a good option if an employer wants to do a random drug test, as it does not allow an employee to try to flush out the drugs from their system.
It does, however, have a very small window of time from the final use, to the 2.5-day mark, at which any traces would be found in the body of the individual that is being tested.
Another common form of drug testing that employers will administer is a blood test. In these instances, the Xanax can be detected in the body for a period of one to seven days after the final use. In many cases, a blood test will only see Xanax in the system for a period of up to 24 hours in the body.
A person who undergoes a blood test can fail it if they have recently used Xanax. For short-term testing, or if it is a randomized test that is conducted by employers, schools, or even a parole officer, a blood test is an effective and affordable option to determine if there is Xanax in the system.
Furthermore, a doctor can utilize it to determine if a patient has overdosed, or to learn of their use habits if they are running out of their prescription in a short period of time.
With urine samples, Xanax can be detected up to five to seven days, from the final use in the body.
Individuals who metabolize the Xanax slower (elderly, those with liver conditions, higher body fat levels, or individuals who are overweight), this can possibly lead to longer detection periods than this as well.
When conducting a urine sample, the reading is going to be from the final day of Xanax use. So, a urine screening which is administered up to one week after a person last used Xanax, is often a good indicator of how much they used, the time they used, and can inform the tester of several different uses or abuse patterns, as it relates to the Xanax use.
What Other Factors Affect the Results?
Okay, so you have a basic idea of how long these tests will detect Xanax after the final time you used it. But, there are other factors which might increase or decrease the longevity that it will remain in your system.
For example, some of these factors include
- Metabolizing (how quickly the body absorbs the medication)
- Age, weight, social habits
- Other drugs or medications/prescriptions a person is using
- Abuse or overdose (and to what extent an individual is overdosing)
Furthermore, genetics might also play into this. In some people, the drug might remain in their system a bit longer, or for a shorter period of time than what is normal for most others who are using Xanax. And, something as simple as what time of the day it was last used, might also affect how long it will remain in the bloodstream of the person who is being tested.
Why Testing is Done
Conducting any one of these screens or tests to see if Xanax is in a person’s body can be beneficial in numerous ways. For example, an individual who is on parole might have restrictions as to drug use.
If this is the case, a court-appointed test will inform the parole officer or the court if the person is abusing drugs or overusing Xanax.
An employer might want to do random drug tests or they might require their employees to undergo a drug test prior to hiring them for a new role. If this is the case, any one of these tests will also inform the employer how much Xanax is in the system, and when the individual last used it.
Athletes are often required to undergo random drug tests as well; this is true at the collegiate level as well as with professional sports.
Random drug tests will help determine if athletes have an unfair advantage if they are using Xanax, or if they are found to be using any other drug.
Lastly, a doctor might want to make sure their patient is not overdosing on a prescription or learn more about their usage habits of Xanax and other medications they are taking.
With any one of these tests, a doctor can learn more about how much and how frequently their patient is using Xanax, and whether or not they are overdosing on a prescription that was administered to them by their doctor.
Oftentimes, people will overdose on Xanax due to the calming effects the medication boasts. In order to determine how much is in a person’s system, or to determine when they last used Xanax, drug testing is a great way to find out about usage patterns.
These are some of the basics as it relates to drug testing, and how long the medication or prescription is actually going to remain in your system. It’s important to remember that the time frames listed are just guidelines, and aren’t precise for every individual.
Additionally, the time frames that are listed above, also refer to the last time a person used Xanax, and not when they initially ingested the prescription medication for use.
About the author:
Jon writes for ADT Healthcare and a number of other websites. Jon graduated with a degree in psychology in 1992. Jon has been in recovery for 19 years.