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How Long Do Benzodiazepines Stay in Your System?

Benzodiazepines are prescription medications that have depressant effects on the central nervous system (CNS).1 They are used to manage and treat several conditions, including anxiety, sleep, and seizure disorders, among others.1 Benzodiazepines can be short- or long-acting, which refers to the duration of the effects and the length of time it takes to eliminate the drug from the body.2

Benzodiazepines are widely prescribed in the United States. The 5 most prescribed benzodiazepines are:3

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Temazepam (Restoril)

Unfortunately, benzodiazepines can expose users to the risk of misuse and addiction.1 According to the results from the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 4.8 million people misused prescription benzodiazepines in the past year.4 The number was highest among people aged 18-25, with 1.1 million people in this age group reporting benzodiazepine misuse.4

Sometimes people have to take a drug test for health, legal, or work reasons and may wonder if benzodiazepines will show up on a drug test. This page will help you learn:

  • If benzodiazepines will show up on a drug test.
  • What benzodiazepine metabolism involves.
  • How long benzodiazepines stay in your system.
  • How to get help if you’re struggling with benzodiazepine misuse.

Detecting Benzodiazepines on Drug Tests

Drug tests may be used for a variety of reasons, including health, work, or legal purposes, or as a part of monitoring in a substance misuse treatment program. If you’re wondering how long benzodiazepines stay in your system, the period of detection can depend on the specific test. Commonly used drug tests include:5

  • Urine, or urinalysis, which involves collecting and testing urine. This offers longer windows of detection compared to some other types of drug tests.
  • Saliva, which provides levels of a substance that can be detected several hours after a person’s last use.
  • Blood, which provides serum levels of an ingested substance, and provides the earliest and shortest windows of detection. It can have a limited window of detection but can show recent use.
  • Hair, which provides the longest window of detection, lasting from 1 day to several weeks after your last use of the substance. However, it generally cannot detect use within the past 7-10 days.

How long benzodiazepines stay in your system and drug test outcomes can be impacted by different factors, such as the dose a person takes, how long they have been taking benzodiazepines, and whether the benzodiazepine is short- or long-acting.6 The use of certain drugs, such as efavirenz, oxaprozin, or sertraline, can produce a false positive result on a benzodiazepine drug test.7

Benzodiazepine Metabolism and Half-Life

Benzodiazepine half-life refers to the amount of time it takes for a concentration of a drug to decrease to half of its starting dose in your body.8 Benzodiazepines are classified in terms of their benzodiazepine half-life. A short-acting benzodiazepine will have an average elimination half-life of 1-12 hours, intermediate-acting benzodiazepines approximately 12-40 hours, and long-acting benzodiazepines anywhere from 40-250 hours.2

Short- to intermediate- half-life benzodiazepines include drugs such as:2

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Oxazepam (Serax)
  • Temazepam (Restoril)

Long half-life benzodiazepines include:2

  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • Clorazepate (Tranxene)
  • Diazepam (Valium)

Factors That Influence How Long Benzos Stay in Your System

Many factors can influence how long benzodiazepines stay in your system, including:2, 6, 7, 9

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Weight
  • Fluid intake
  • Diet
  • Dosage used
  • Time the substance was last used
  • The frequency in which the substance is used
  • The route of administration

Finding Help for Benzodiazepine Misuse or Addiction

If you are wondering about benzo metabolism and how long benzos stay in the body and are trying to pass a drug test, you may benefit from seeking professional help for substance use disorder (SUD). Benzodiazepine addiction treatment can help you work through the issues that may have led to the SUD and teach you skills you’ll need to enter a life of recovery.

Different forms of treatment can include:10, 11, 12, 13

  • Detox, which is often the first step in recovery. Detox can help patients achieve a substance-free state as comfortably and safely as possible. This is important as benzodiazepine withdrawal can produce potentially dangerous symptoms like seizures.
  • Rehab, which can include inpatient or outpatient care. This can provide patients with counseling, education, and support so that they can regain control of their life. Patients participate in therapies based on an individualized treatment plan.
  • Medication, which, during the withdrawal period and depending on the benzodiazepine you use, may involve a gradual tapering or substitution of another benzodiazepine.
  • Behavioral therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). These are commonly used to help people change attitudes and behaviors related to substance misuse.
  • Co-occurring disorder, or dual diagnosis, treatment. This can help address any mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression.
  • Aftercare, or continuing care, which is a less intensive phase of care that takes place after patients complete a more intensive treatment program.

If you are struggling with benzodiazepine misuse, it may be time to seek professional help. Addiction is treatable and can help people stop using substances and find lasting recovery. American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of evidence-based addiction treatment across the U.S. Our admissions navigators are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week when you call . You can share your story, learn about treatment options, and verify your insurance over the phone.

 

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