How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System? 

As one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States, Xanax is well known for it’s calming, relaxing effects. Unfortunately, it’s highly addictive and can do considerable damage to the brain. Not surprisingly, detox from Xanax can be difficult, especially if you’re coming off a moderate to severe drug abuse habit. Many factors can influence how long it takes Xanax to leave your system and that’s only half the battle. Not relapsing along the way is the other half of the battle.

What Is Xanax and How Does It Work?

Xanax belongs to a class of prescription drugs known as benzodiazepines. People who experience anxiety, insomnia, panic attacks, and seizures may be prescribed Xanax as a treatment. Benzodiazepines work as central nervous system (CNS) depressants, slowing down the chemical activities and processes that make up the CNS, such as nerve signal transmissions, respiration, and movement.

When used as a short-term treatment and taken as prescribed, Xanax does a good job of calming your nerves and helping you feel relaxed. In fact, Xanax will produce these same effects regardless of whether you’re suffering from anxiety or insomnia. This accounts for why it’s so easy to start abusing this drug.

Xanax works by stimulating GABA chemical secretions in the brain and CNS. GABA, one of several brain neurotransmitter chemicals, slows nerve signal impulses, which accounts for the drug’s ability to relieve feelings of anxiety. Its effects only last for about four hours so it must be taken several times a day to provide continuous relief.

As with most every CNS depressant drug, the body develops an ongoing tolerance to Xanax’s effects. This means, if you use it on a long-term basis, you’ll have to keep increasing the dosage amount to keep experiencing the effects of the drug. Considering the important role GABA plays in regulating nerve impulses, Xanax withdrawal can be severe when stopping drug use altogether. For this reason, it’s best to taper down your dosage amounts over time when you detox from Xanax and not go cold turkey.

How Long Does It Take Xanax to Leave Your System?

In a healthy body, Xanax has an average half-life of 11 hours, which means it takes 11 hours for half of the amount taken to leave your system. Overall, it takes about four days for Xanax to leave your system after taking your last dose. If you’re using it more frequently than prescribed or abusing Xanax, it may take even less time.

Over the course of drug use, Xanax’s effects on the brain and central nervous system cause changes that affect how these systems work as a whole. In cases where physical dependence has developed, stopping Xanax will leave these systems in a state of chemical imbalance. This means even after the drug has left your system, your body will still be in a state of Xanax withdrawal, which can be extremely uncomfortable. It’s at this time where the risk of relapse runs high.

How Long Xanax Stays in Your System

Your overall health has a big impact on how long Xanax stays in your system. Factors that affect the process include:

  • How fast your body metabolizes the drug
  • Your age
  • Your body’s fat content
  • The health of your liver and kidneys

The half-life for Xanax in people affected by obesity can take over 21 hours, which is 10 hours longer than someone of average weight. This, in turn, means it can take a week to a week and a half for the drug to completely leave your system. In cases where liver or kidney function is compromised, half-life duration can vary depending on the degree of damage to the organs.

Other things that affect how long it takes Xanax to leave your system include:

  • How often you take the drug
  • How large a dose you normally take
  • How long you’ve used the drug

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The Xanax Withdrawal Timeline

Detox from Xanax happens in stages with withdrawal symptoms tapering off from severe to mild as the drug exits your system. Withdrawal intensity reflects the degree of chemical balance in the brain and CNS as the body works to restore equilibrium. Someone who’s abusing Xanax can also experience withdrawal symptoms between doses, which is a key sign of physical dependence.

Four stages make up the Xanax withdrawal timeline though the overall process may vary for each person:

  • Stage 1 – Withdrawal typically develops within six to 12 hours after your last dose. Symptoms commonly experienced include anxiety and insomnia, which are most severe during this stage.
  • Stage 2 – Beginning anywhere from one to four days after your last dose, ongoing insomnia and rebound symptoms most characterize this stage. Rebound symptoms closely resemble those experienced before starting Xanax, such as feelings of anxiety, problems sleeping, and panic. The only difference is these symptoms tend to be more severe than those experienced before starting the drug. This stage also brings on a range of flu-like symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, sweating, and diarrhea.
  • Stage 3 – Ongoing, though less intense, feelings of anxiety and intermittent panic persist through this stage, which can last for up to 14 days.
  • Stage 4 – Most symptoms experienced at this point are mild; however, for individuals coming off of a chronic Xanax abuse problem, rebound symptoms may return in full force. Chronic users can expect to go through some form of withdrawal from several months to a year.

When to Consider Xanax Detox Treatment

If you’re coming off a moderate or chronic Xanax abuse problem, the intensity of withdrawal effects experienced can be dangerous. Heart palpitations, seizures, trembling, panic attacks, hallucinations, and psychosis are just a few of the symptoms that might develop. This experience is not only excruciating but also makes relapse all the more possible.

Xanax detox programs can put you on a medical detox regimen where medications are used to reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. Detox programs also provide round-the-clock monitoring, supervision, and counseling. While moderate and chronic users are strongly encouraged to consider detox treatment, Xanax withdrawal can be difficult for anyone who’s become physically dependent on the drug.

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Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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