How long does Xanax Stay in your System?

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Xanax is a celeb prescribed medication. Find out what it is and how it stays in your body system, blood and saliva in particular. Also learn about the factors that will determine the duration, the effects and how to get it out to pass a drug test.

What is Xanax and what is itused for?

Xanax is a brand name for a drug known as Alprazolam. Alprazolam is a short-acting and potent drug in the pharmacological class benzodiazepines. Xanax binds to receptors on various sites of the brain. These receptors are known as Gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA).

xanax how long does stay in your system-blood and urine

Xanax tablets

One of the most abused prescription drugs in the world includes Xanax. In the United States, it has been ranked the 12th most prescribed medication.

Benzodiazepines act on the central nervous system and is therefore indicated for a variety of conditions such as:

Anxiety disorder

It is administered to relieve anxiety as an anxiolytic before surgical operations, diagnostics, in general anxiety disorder (GAD) and social anxiety disorder. It is also indicated for panic disorders. The process it uses to relieve such disorders is at times through sedation when taken in quantities that are sedating.

Sub-therapeutic doses aid in relaxing an individual. However, since the development of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), it is no longer a first line treatment in the panic disorders that occurs with agoraphobia or not and anxiety.

Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder that makes you fear places that make you feel trapped or embarrassed and helpless.

To add to this, these indications are less and less being treated by Xanax owing to the high rates of tolerance, abuse and dependence and this is majorly a result of its long-term treatment before benefits are seen, up to 4 – 10 weeks.

Muscle relaxant

Xanax is also indicated for tensed muscles. It relaxes skeletal muscles and reduces the pain associated with the tension.

Treatment of nausea due to chemotherapy

Anti-cancer agents have a side effect of causing nauseas and vomiting. It is used in combination with other drugs in the management of the induced vomiting.

Xanax is also available for its anti-depressant action and as an anti-convulsant. This is due to its action on the GABA receptors on which anti-cnvulsants and some anti-depressants also work.

Premenstrual syndrome: this condition involves depression and panic and Xanax has been used to relieve the severity of the syndrome.

Treatment of phobias: apart from agoraphobia, Xanax is also indicated for the treatment of other types of phobias.

How long do Xanax stay in your system-Blood & Saliva?

The time Xanax stays in your system is dependent on the pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of the drug. Pharmacodynamics refers to what the drug does to the body while pharmacokinetics refers to what the body does to the drug.

These two factors are important in the understanding of function, duration of action and dosage amounts of a particular drug. The American Addiction Centers by Greenblatt, D. J., & Wright, C. E. (1993)[1] rightly indicates the clinical pharmacokinetics of alprazolam and so does the Foods and Drugs Administration (FDA).

You need to understand the elimination half-life of Xanax. It is averagely 9 -16 hours in duration. The elimination half-life of a drug is the time it takes to reduce a dose taken by a half and not necessarily the time it takes to completely eliminate the drug off the system. Therefore, a therapeutic dose of Xanax may take about 4-5 days to get eliminated from your system.

However, people are different and you could be different. Idiosyncratic reactions to drugs involves how you absorb, distribute and metabolize a drug and may also involve hypersensitivity reactions. In disease states such as impaired hepatic function, renal function and alcoholism have been shown to alter the kinetics of Xanax greatly.

Since this drug needs to be metabolized by the microsomal enzymes, the CYP3A enzyme in the liver, it greatly increases the time it spends in the system as it is not metabolized into a form that can be easily eliminated. For instance, in liver disease caused by alcoholism, the half-life is 5.8 and 65.3 hours

Age is also a factor that needs to be considered as in healthy elderly subjects, the mean half-life has been found to be 16.3 hours while it is much lower, 11.0 in healthy adult people.

Xanax is a short-acting drug but its physicochemical properties makes it stay in your system for longer. It may take several days to weeks for the drug to be completely eliminated from the system.

This may be attributed to the high binding affinity to globulin hence wider distribution and binding to tissues in the central nervous system and adipose tissue. In some people, it may take as long as a month. To add, Xanax can be found present in hair in certain tests.

How long does 1Mg, 2Mg & 5Mg of Xanax Stay

In order to gauge or mathematically approximate the time a variety of doses will stay in your blood or system, then you need to know its route of administration that will in turn determine the bioavailability of the drug.

The bioavailability of a drug refers to the fraction of the administered dose that finds its way into the blood. When a drug is administered intravenously, then it means that the bioavailability of the drug is 100% while if it administered via the oral route, then other factors come in that reduce it.

Alprazolam in Xanax has a bioavailability of 80-90%. Take for instance the medium value, 85% and use this to calculate the percentage of the drug dose that finds its way into the blood. Once you have done this, now use thee elimination half-life of the drug to determine how long it will take. For instance, if you took a 5 mg dose, it will take 16 hours to make it 2.5, another 16 hours to make it 1.25 and another to make it 0.625 and so on until it becomes a trace in the system. There is a formula that you can use to make the calculation easier: N (t) = (1/2) t/t1/2.

Therefore, it will take 85.15 hours to eliminate 1mg, 101.15 hours to eliminate 2 mg and 122.30 hours to eliminate 5 mg of Xanax. It may take longer due to tissue-binding ability making it weeks.

Other factors that determine the stay

Factors that determine how long Xanax stays in your system include:

Drug interactions

since a number of drugs get metabolized by the liver and some by CYP3A. This enzyme is induced by Xanax which metabolized it. Therefore, when there are drugs that inhibit it or induce it, then there will be altered levels of Xanax in the blood.

Enzyme inhibitors reduce the half-life while the otherwise occurs with inhibitors. Drugs that are inducers include the antifungals ketoconazole, itraconazole and erythromycin. Drugs that induce the enzyme and reduce the half-life includes carbamazepine.

Individual factors

As mentioned earlier, individuals are different in the way they metabolize benzos such as Xanax. There are many individual factors including:

Age – age comes with morbidity such as liver and renal failure. These are responsible for the elimination of Xanax. Other age –related factors includes the slow distribution of Xanax to other parts of the body and reduced albumin production by the liver. Therefore, in the elderly, Xanax is bound to stay longer.

Polymorphisms – genetic differences in the coding of enzymes that metabolize Xanax makes people metabolize the drug differently. There are slow and rapid metabolizers of the drug and this is seen in some races or ethnicities.

Morbidity – if you have a medical condition that stands in the way the drug is metabolized, then the drug will be in your system for longer. Such condition include those that affect such organs as the liver and the kidneys. Morbidity also includes circulatory problem and other cardiovascular conditions.

Body fat – the reason Xanax takes longer than the projected duration of time is due to the tissue binding affinity of the drug to adipose tissue. Adipose tissue is high in obese people and therefore, longer time in the system.


Body fat influences xanax stay in system

The number of times you use the drug

 Xanax is really addictive. It also makes you highly tolerant to some earlier effective doses. However, the drug keeps on accumulating in your system and detoxing would take months. Therefore, the more you take the drug the longer it will take to totally remove if off your system.

How long does Xanax take to kick in & how long do the Effects last

How long a drug takes to kick in is the onset time and how long the effects last is the duration of action. The onset time of Xanax is 2 hours when taken orally.

This is due to the need for absorption from the site of administration into circulation given that there are other factors that are affecting its absorption too. Among the factors that affect this and therefore delay affect the action of Xanax includes:


absorption through the stomach or gastric wall is reduced when the drug is taken with food. Therefore may pharmacists prefer administering this drug after meals. There are other factors that could hamper the onset rate.

Such includes factors to do with the drug dosage form such as the disintegration rate of the tablet. Otherwise, absorption is expected to take place swiftly and present the drug in circulation within 2 hours averagely.

When the drug is in circulation, it could undergo a first-pass metabolism in the liver to two of its major metabolites: 4-hydroxyalprazolam and α­ hydroxyalprazolam. They are active metabolites but have been shown to have 4% less therapeutic activity and hence may take longer for desired therapeutic events to prevail.

When in the blood, the drug binds strongly to albumin (80%) before being released into tissues to bind the appropriate receptors. If the albumin is not sufficient, then distribution will not be sufficient to elicit the therapeutic effects in time that has been postulated by kinetics.

Duration of action

Considering factors that affect the binding affinity and metabolism, duration of Xanax could be altered. The duration could be longer if the drug binds to albumin but circulatory factors do not allow its distribution.

The unbinding of the drug occurs when there is a concentration gradient between the blood and the tissues and as this material has stated before, the tissue binding ability of Xanax is high. Therefore, duration of action is appreciably longer.

Other issues that occur are those associated with interaction with drugs, individual factors such as age, body fat, morbidity and polymorphisms. It has been stated earlier that faster metabolism of a drug into its metabolites may form active forms but the process is largely inactivating to the drug.

Xanax is expected to have a duration of 5 hours if it is formulated as a regular-release and 11 hours if it is an extended release (ER) form.

How to take Xanax out fast to pass your drug test

Normally, Benzodiazepines such as Xanax are abused and at times an individual may be required to detoxify.

An antidote is prescribed to counter the effects of the drug known as flumazenil marketed as Romazicon. It is however highly avoided due to the withdrawal effects and seizures it poses. That alone, you flumazenil wouldn’t work for you if you want to flush your system of Xanax.

Reason being, flumazenil only antagonizes the effects and not the quantity in the system. In fact, it would be much higher in the system since it binds to the receptors hence preventing binding of Xanax and increasing plasma concentrations (The American Psychiatric Association and the National Institute of Clinical Excellence).

Here’s what you should do: drink lots of water to stimulate urinary excretion and give it time.


[1] Greenblatt, D. J., & Wright, C. E. (1993) American addiction centers, Clinical pharmacokinetics of alprazolam. Clinical pharmacokinetics24(6), 453-471.


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