How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System?

You’ve been scheduled for a drug test and you ask yourself, how long does Xanax stay in your urine? You may be surprised to find out that Xanax (or any benzo for that matter) is only detectable in urine for a very short time.

The half-life of Xanax (and most benzos) is around 11 hours, which means the drug stays in your system for about two days. As it leaves your body, it gets filtered out by the kidneys and eventually shows up on a drug test. But how long will this take?

For testing negative:

Urine – 4 days

Blood – 1 day

Saliva – 2.5 days

Hair – Up to 90 days

There are two types of testing for recreational drugs: urine tests and hair tests. Sometimes both are administered at once, with different lengths of detection of substances.

Drugs are ” detectable” for different lengths of time in the urine, depending on how long they’re actively knocking around your system. A substance’s half-life also plays a role. So the amount of time a substance remains in your system is even more complicated than many sites will lead you to believe.

Here are some common recreational drugs and their typical detection windows:

  • Marijuana: 3-45 days
  • Cocaine: 2-4 days
  • Opiates: 24 hours or less
  • Heroin: Up to 10 days to be fully undetectable
  • Morphine, codeine, and related substances: Up to 72 hours 
  • Ecstasy: 1-3 days
  • LSD: 2-4 days
  • Phencyclidine (PCP): 7-14 days
  • Fentanyl, oxycodone, and other opioid painkillers can be detected in urine samples for nearly 4 days

Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that work by enhancing the effects of GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter. They slow down the central nervous system’s functioning, which has the effect of calming someone down. Xanax is a benzodiazepine—and unlike marijuana or cocaine, benzodiazepines are able to pass directly through the human body.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax is a benzodiazepine that’s used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. Benzos work by slowing down how quickly your brain processes certain neurotransmitters in your brain, like serotonin and GABA. They also work with dopamine and norepinephrine.

Some other names for Xanax include:

  • Xannies
  • Zanbars
  • Planks
  • Benzos
  • Upjohn
  • Blue Footballs

Benzodiazepines are not to be confused with barbiturates. These two drug types have completely different modes of action, which is why benzodiazepines cannot be substituted for barbiturates when medically needed.

What Effects Does Xanax Have on the Body?

Considering that benzodiazepines affect the central nervous system, the effects that Xanax and other benzos have on the body can be broad. If you’re taking higher doses of benzodiazepines, there’s a good chance that they will cause you to feel dazed or otherwise unable to function well. 

Since Xanax is such a potent anxiety medication, the effects of Xanax can incorporate the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Relaxation
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety Relief

So, how long does Xanax stay in your system? Well, Xanax generally stays in the system for 1-4 days after taking it for the first time, depending on several different factors. Most people feel that Xanax’s effects don’t kick in until 2-hours after taking it, although the effects of Xanax can last up to 4-8 hours.

Why Do People Abuse Xanax?

People may abuse Xanax for a variety of reasons. Some people take Xanax to get high or for recreational purposes, taking several pills at a time. In fact, Xanax is popular amongst high school students and young adults, according to several studies conducted by drug abuse experts. 

People who abuse Xanax can get addicted within two weeks. They usually either crush Xanax into a powder and snort it or mix it with water and inject it. Others might abuse the drug because they are addicted to it, believing that they need to take more of the drug in order to feel how they initially felt when taking it.

People can also become psychologically dependent on benzodiazepines like Xanax. Because benzodiazepines are so effective at treating anxiety, many who suffer from severe anxiety issues may feel that they cannot cope without their medication. When someone becomes psychologically dependent on Xanax, quitting cold turkey can produce uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

An interesting piece of information about how long Xanax stays in your urine is that benzodiazepines are one of the most commonly abused classes of drugs. Benzodiazepines were also found to be one of the more common drugs used recreationally at dance clubs or parties and other places where people combine them with other substances.

Signs of Xanax Addiction

The signs of Xanax addiction can present themselves as:

  • Increased anxiety when not taking the medication
  • Going through withdrawals (more intense than that of quitting caffeine)
  • The development of tolerance to Xanax over time
  • Inability to cut down on dosage despite knowledge of how dangerous an increase in dosage can be
  • Decreased performance at work or school

The development of a benzodiazepine use disorder is also considered an addiction. Benzodiazepines are classified as Schedule IV controlled substances in the United States. 

It’s illegal to take benzodiazepines without a prescription from a doctor for an extended period of time, and possession of benzodiazepines with intent to distribute is also illegal. 

Taking Xanax or other benzodiazepines can introduce tolerance, or even withdrawal symptoms into the picture. Since Xanax is often taken with other substances, it can also cause dangerous interactions with drugs like alcohol. For example, since Xanax and alcohol are both depressants, when used together they can slow a person’s breathing and cause that person to experience a fatal overdoes. 

Since benzodiazepines are so addictive, does this mean you would fail a drug test for them if you stop taking them? Yes and no. If you’ve been using benzodiazepines for an extended period of time or in very high doses, it’s possible to have a detectable amount of the medication in your system up to a month after stopping use. Some studies involving individuals who are going through detox and have been on high-dose benzos report more extreme numbers, such as 90 days or longer before tests return to normal results.

How Long Do Benzos Stay in Your System?

The effects of Xanax last hours, not minutes like other pills do. After taking a pill, it stays active throughout the body’s system for hours before wearing off. Therefore, if you take too much, there’s no quick fix or antidote that will immediately stop it from hurting you since your kidneys won’t just metabolize right away. 

The time it takes depends on many variables, such as:

Your metabolism – If you’re a person who’s active, chances are your metabolism will excrete Xanax faster than someone with a slower metabolism. Hydration habits and medical history could also play a role in how fast your body excretes Xanax.

Your age – Younger people tend to metabolize faster than older ones. This is because their bodies are still growing and changing into adults. Older people, typically those around 60 years old or above, are more sensitive to benzodiazepines.

The dosage of the drug – The higher the dose you take, the longer its half-life tends to be; for instance, if you took 20mg of Xanax versus 5 mg, the first would remain in your system slightly longer than the second.

The frequency you use it – This is more applicable to marijuana. If you smoke 3 joints a day, at least one of them will contain some amount of THC (the main active compound in cannabis) whereas if you drink about 4 beers each night but never smoke weed before then, at most one beer will contain alcohol.

Hair and Urine Drug Tests

One of the most commonly used tests for drug use is urinalysis. While you can test someone’s hair or fingernails to see how frequently they’ve been using drugs though, this isn’t really practical with urine because it can be too difficult to get an accurate reading.

Urine testing is one of the most common methods of on-site drug testing by employers. There are several different things that will show up on a urine screen – not only substances like cannabis and cocaine, but also certain medications like benzodiazepines. By, how long does Xanax stay in your urine? Well, around the standard amount of time that it stays in your system.

Does Xanax Stay in Different Parts of the Body?

Xanax can stay present in different parts of the body for different amounts of time. So, how long does Xanax stay in your system? Usually, Xanax can last in your system anywhere from 12 hours to a couple of days if you’ve taken a heavy dose. It’s important to note, however, that bodybuilders will sometimes take doses higher than what is recommended by doctors.

The biggest problem that comes with the long-lasting effects of benzodiazepines like Xanax is that it can stay in your body for days after you’ve taken a pill, which means there’s no way to know how much of the drug stays behind and continues to support physical dependency. One test found that benzos can stay in your system for over 5 days, but this doesn’t mean all-powerful drugs will take exactly half as long.

Xanax Addiction Treatment

Benzodiazepine addiction treatments can include that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or pharmacological intervention. CBT sessions are often held over the phone, which is less expensive than in-person sessions. 

The main purpose of this type of treatment is to control cravings and addictive behavior by teaching individuals with substance addictions how to be mindful of their actions. That way people that suffer from addiction are better at understanding what causes their triggers for drug use.


Detoxification is the process of cleansing the body of addictive substances. Addiction recovery is a delicate but thorough process. Drug and alcohol detoxication can provide you with a fighting chance. 

Trained medical staff will go through your history to determine if medications can help you. Detox will typically last 7-10 days, however, this all depends on the severity of your case. It’s not recommended to quit benzos cold turkey.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment could be the flexible option you desire for addiction recovery. Certain forms of outpatient treatment can even provide a similar level of care to residential treatment. 

The average length of time a patient spends in outpatient treatment is 30 days. Outpatient treatment programs offer psychotherapy in the form of individual and group therapy. A patient can expect to receive quality care through sessions that range from 3-4 days a week, for 4-6 hours per session. 

Outpatient treatment programs are generally more affordable than residential treatment. The discreet approach of outpatient treatment enables the person to receive care and come back home for dinner. 

Some recovering individuals don’t need to commit to residential treatment. A key benefit of outpatient treatment is the practical nature of using your new skills and strategies in the real world.


Individual therapy is the gateway to understanding the underlying causes of your condition. Individual therapy is carried out through a mental health professional such as a counselor or social worker. The session typically lasts up to 50 minutes to an hour. Individual therapy enables the patient to address his or her experiences for reflection and to set goals for themselves. 

Individual therapy would be suited for people who aren’t as comfortable sharing in front of others. Group therapy can be beneficial for those seeking additional support. Sharing with others in a safe and open environment can be liberating. 

Chances are these individuals have not been able to voice their concerns and experiences. The mirrored effect with others can introduce a sense of closeness. Group therapy is usually moderated by a counselor. 

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Dual diagnosis treatment is a valuable tool in addiction recovery. An alarming percentage of recovering individuals have a co-occurring disorder. A co-occurring disorder is a combination of a mental health and substance use disorder. 

If a person suffers from a mental illness, that person might encourage him or herself to use substances to self-medicate. On the other hand, people with substance use disorders tend to develop mental illnesses due to the chemical changes that the substances cause in their brains. 

In both scenarios, the two disorders start to affect the intensity of one another. That’s why it’s incredibly necessary to treat both disorders simultaneously.

Owl’s Nest Recovery Awaits You

Xanax abuse can introduce complications to the quality of your life. Prescription medications are consistent resources for managing a wide range of health issues. Benzodiazepines might be considered safe, but a person should consider the potential consequences of abusing them. 

Owl’s Nest Recovery is here to help you on your course of healing. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction to Xanax or some other medication, contact us today. We are here to help you. 


The Owls Nest


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