How Long Does Xanax (Alprazolam) Stay in Your System?

Avoid Drug Interactions and Overdoses

Xanax 1 mg
Xanax (alprazolam) is used to treat anxiety disorders and panic attacks. It is a benzodiazepine that works by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine medication used to treat anxiety disorders and panic attacks. It works by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain. It also is sometimes prescribed for depression and conditions including premenstrual syndrome. You may want to understand how long Xanax remains in the system so you can know how to avoid side effects, interactions with other medications and substances, and accidental overdose.

How Xanax Acts in Your System

Xanax is considered an intermediate-acting benzodiazepine drug. After taking Xanax in pill form, peak levels are found in the blood 1 to 2 hours after administration. The half-life in the blood is an average 11 hours, meaning that half of the drug has been metabolized and eliminated in that time frame, and it takes 5 to 7 half-lives for 98 percent of a drug dose to clear the body. It is eliminated in the urine. To be fully eliminated from the body would take 4 days or more.

The half-life is longer for older people, obese people, those with alcoholic liver disease, and people of Asian genetics. Meanwhile, smokers have a much lower concentration of Xanax in the blood.

While you are taking Xanax, you may be drowsy and you must not drive or operate machinery if it affects you in that way. Xanax isn't appropriate during pregnancy and you should talk to your doctor if you become pregnant while taking Xanax.

Interactions with alcohol and other medications can lead to serious, life-threatening breathing problems, sedation, and coma while you are taking Xanax. You must discuss with your doctor all medications you are taking, plan to take, or plan to discontinue. Some medications of special concern are opiate medications such as codeine, hydrocodone, fentanyl, hydromorphone, meperidine, methadone, morphine, oxycodone, and tramadol. Don't take street drugs.

Xanax can be habit-forming and you may experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking it suddenly. Your doctor will prescribe an appropriate schedule when it is time for you to discontinue using it.

Avoid Xanax Overdose

Take your prescription on the schedule and dosage prescribed. Do not cut or crush extended-relief pills as that can introduce a larger dose all at once. Symptoms of Xanax overdose can include:

If you suspect that someone has taken an overdose of Xanax call 9-1-1 or the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

How Long Does Xanax Stay in the Body?

Xanax is detectable in blood, urine, and other body fluids. It will show as positive for benzodiazepines on a urine drug screen, such as done for employment, for up to 5 days after a dose. However, for populations who metabolize it slower, that time may be extended. It can be detected in saliva for up to 2.5 days. Blood levels may be done as a screening test or a quantitative test, especially in the cases of treatment for a suspected overdose. If you are taking Xanax, tell the testing laboratory so they can properly interpret the test results.

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View Article Sources
  • Alprazolam MedlinePlus NIH.
  • Benzodiazepines. Mayo Medical Laboratories.