How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System?

Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


Xanax, the brand name for alprazolam, is detectable in your system for an extended period of time after use. How long it lasts is not the same for everyone, though.

Xanax is one of the most used medications, both with and without a prescription. It’s often prescribed for issues like anxiety, panic disorder, and insomnia. It’s known to cause dependency even when used as directed as well. This in mind, you may wonder how long it stays in your system.

 The answer depends on:

  • Dosage
  • Duration of use
  • Frequency of use
  • Age
  • Weight
  • Metabolism
  • Other factors

 More details about how long it lasts under various conditions are outlined below.

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your Body?

Xanax is an intermediate-acting benzodiazepine. That means its effects are middle of the road compared to other benzos. Alprazolam, lorazepam, and temazepam are within the same group. They’re distinct from short-acting benzos like triazolam, midazolam, and clorazepate. They’re also different from long-acting varieties. This includes medications such as clonazepam, diazepam, and flurazepam.

Despite their differences, all benzos work in the same way. They influence a chemical in the brain that is responsible for things like mood, sleep, and pain. In this case, it’s a neurotransmitter known as GABA. Benzos bind to the GABA-benzodiazepine receptor complex. In doing so, they increase the effectiveness of the chemical. In essence, they work like tranquilizers. They eliminate symptoms of conditions associated with low GABA.

When used to treat anxiety, dosing varies considerably. Tablets range from 0.25 mg through 3 mg. More often than not, people are instructed to take it three times per day. Some are told to take it only as needed, though.

Xanax takes full effect in less than two hours in some cases. It’s considered a fast-acting benzo.

As it peaks, the body and brain effects of Xanax include:

  • Unsteadiness
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Sedation

However, the body metabolizes Xanax relatively quickly. It has an average half-life of 11.2 hours, but it can be anywhere from 6.3 hours to 26.9 hours in healthy adults. That means the body will usually metabolize half the medication in a little more than 11 hours. The wide range in metabolism can make it unpredictable though. Because of this, doctors usually tell patients to monitor how the drug affects them. During this time, they’re told not to engage in any activities that require focus. For example, driving and operating heavy machinery should be avoided.

Dependence to Xanax may occur in as little as three weeks of use. As much a 44% of the population will experience withdrawal symptoms when coming off the medication despite short-term use. Roughly 40% of those on it for six months or more will have moderate to severe withdrawal. Acute withdrawal lasts anywhere from 5-28 days. Protracted withdrawal may last 12 months or more after cessation.

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Lab Tests?

Because the body breaks down alprazolam quickly, lab tests don’t usually detect the drug itself. Instead, they typically look for α-hydroxyalprazolam, its metabolite. Virtually all drug tests screen for alpha hydroxyalprazolam. This includes the most basic 10-panel tests.

That said, there are several types of lab tests. Each one can yield different results and will detect the metabolite during a distinct window.

The four most common, which will be detailed below, include:

  • Urine tests
  • Hair tests
  • Blood tests
  • Saliva tests

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your Urine?

The metabolite of Xanax can be detected in urine up to five days after the last dose. The duration is much shorter than benzos like diazepam, which may be detected for up to ten.

Urine screening is typically the preferred method when benzo use is suspected. This is because metabolites are present in it longer than other fluids. Screening is non-invasive too. However, the medication remains in hair for a longer period of time

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your Hair?

Xanax can stay in your hair for up to three months after the last dose. This is because biomarkers of the drug become entrapped in the fibers of growing hair.

However, it takes 1-7 days for it to appear in hair after a dose. For this reason, hair testing is usually reserved when long-term or previous use is suspected. Bodily fluids, especially urine, are used when current or recent use is suspected.

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your Blood?

A single dose of Xanax can stay in blood for nearly five days. However, many things can impact results. Smokers, for example, metabolize it quicker. The half-life of Xanax could be cut in half. On the other hand, grapefruit can elevate levels of the metabolite.

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your Saliva?

Xanax does not stay in saliva very long. Traces of it disappear in 2.5 days or less. Sometimes labs do saliva screening anyway when ease of use or potential tampering are concerns.

Get Help for Xanax Dependence

People may become dependent on Xanax within three weeks of use even when using it as prescribed. Because of this, doctors usually design treatment programs to help their patients come off the medication. This may include tapering and additional treatment as well as monitoring.

If the medication is stopped abruptly, acute withdrawal symptoms will often emerge. Prevalence of withdrawal differs based on how long a person has been using Xanax. However, at six months of use, all patients are expected to have some degree of withdrawal symptoms. On the lower end, symptoms include things like anxiety, sweating, and muscle spasms. Some people experience more severe issues like seizures and hallucinations too. 

If you or a loved one wants to come off Xanax, get support. Reach out to Bedrock Recovery Center for help.


Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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