How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System?
Xanax, the brand name for alprazolam, is one of the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines.1 It is a short-to-intermediate acting benzo, which means that it has a relatively rapid onset of effects that can be beneficial when used for its intended purposes, such as for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder in adults and panic disorder, with or without agoraphobia, in adults.1,2,3
While Xanax has accepted medical uses, it can be misused and used recreationally.1 Among people aged 12 or older in 2021, 1.4% (or 3.9 million people) misused benzodiazepines, including Xanax, in the past year, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.4 Additionally, 0.8% (or 2.2 million people) had a prescription tranquilizer use disorder or sedative use disorder (the diagnosis that includes benzodiazepine addiction) in the past year.4
People who use Xanax may be concerned about whether Xanax shows up on a drug test and want to know how long does Xanax stay in your system. This article will help you understand how long Xanax stays in your body, how long Xanax takes to kick in, the metabolism and half-life of Xanax, factors that impact how long Xanax lasts, and how to get help for Xanax misuse or addiction.
How Long Does Xanax Last in Your Body?
How long Xanax stays in your system can depend on different factors, including the half-life of the drug and individual factors.3 People might think that Xanax is out of their system when they don’t feel the effects anymore, but this is not true. Even when the effects of Xanax wear off, some Xanax remains in your system and can be found in different parts of the body for varying amounts of time, so it can be detectable in certain types of Xanax drug tests.3
Different types of drug tests may be used for specific purposes, such as for health, work, or legal reasons, or as a part of monitoring in a substance misuse treatment program.3,5 Drug tests can have different levels of sensitivity and detection cut-offs, so the test used can depend on the specific purpose; for example, some tests may be used for federally-mandated workplace testing, while others may be used for clinical workplace testing, and these can have different guidelines and cut-off levels.3,5 Urine tests may be the easiest tests to use, but they have a somewhat limited window of detection for benzos compared to hair tests.5,6
Common tests include:3,5
- Urine, or urinalysis, which involves collecting and testing urine, has a short-to-intermediate window of detection compared to other methods. Alprazolam urine detection time is between 1–12.5 days.
- Blood, which provides serum levels of a substance and also provides the earliest and shortest windows of detection. If you want to know how long Xanax stays in your blood, blood tests typically have a window of detection for substance use that occurred within 2-12 hours of the test.
- Saliva is less commonly used for determining how long does Xanax stay in your system and has a very short window of detection. A Xanax saliva test may detect Xanax for 24-48 hours after last use.
- Hair tests have the longest detection time out of all the available testing methods, but they can only detect Xanax starting at around 7–10 days after you last used it. A hair follicle test for Xanax can detect Xanax use up for up to 90 days.
Certain factors can influence windows of detection and how long Xanax lasts in your body.3 For example, detection times may be longer for people who use high doses of Xanax, and can also be affected by other factors, such as the cut-off concentration of the test, your physical condition, and your body fat levels.3
Am I Addicted to Xanax?
Are you wondering if you have an issue with alprazolam misuse? Take our Xanax addiction quiz to find some answers.
How Long Does Xanax Take to Kick In?
Xanax typically takes effect within 30 minutes and lasts for about 6 hours.7 The exact duration of effects and their intensity can vary from person to person based on individual factors, such as age and weight, as well as the way it’s used and whether you also use other substances at the same time.2,8 When Xanax is taken orally, it reaches a peak plasma concentration at 1–2 hours; bioavailability of oral alprazolam (meaning the amount that can be taken up and used by your body) averages 80-100%.7
When used for legitimate medical purposes, people typically use Xanax in tablet form, but alprazolam also comes as an oral solution.7 People may misuse Xanax by swallowing tablets or crushing them up and snorting the powder.9 Effects may begin in just 2 minutes with intranasal administration because this method of use causes a more rapid effect on the brain.10,11
Once the effects of Xanax subside, it can still be in your system, because your body needs time to process and eliminate it.12 How long Xanax lasts in your system involves its metabolism and half-life.12
Metabolism & Half-Life of Xanax
When it comes to drug tests for benzodiazepines, the parent drug is typically undetectable, so tests look for its metabolites, or the substances that are formed due to the breakdown of benzos.3 How is Xanax metabolized? It is broken down in your liver into alprazolam metabolites, which refers to 2 major active metabolites in the plasma known as 4-hydroxyalprazolam and α-hydroxyalprazolam, which are then are filtered out by the kidneys and excreted in the urine.2,5 The plasma circulation levels (in your blood) of these two active metabolites are less than 4% of the parent (alprazolam).2
How long alprazolam stays in your system is affected by the half-life of Xanax and other factors.13 Half-life refers to the length of time needed for the concentration of Xanax to decrease to half of its starting dose in the body.5,12 Xanax has a short-to-intermediate half-life compared to other commonly used benzos. Alprazolam half-life is around 11.2 hours. Lorazepam (Ativan), a short-acting benzo, has a half-life of 10-20 hours, and diazepam (Valium), is a long-acting benzo, with a half-life of 20-80 hours.13
Half-life can be influenced by different factors, such as your age, your weight, your overall condition, and whether you have other physical problems like kidney or liver disease.12,13 For example, studies have shown that the half-life of Xanax is around 16.3 hours in elderly people, 21.8 hours in obese people, and 19.7 hours in people with alcoholic liver disease.2 Typically, after around 5 elimination half-lives, Xanax is almost totally eliminated from the body.13
Factors that Impact How Long Xanax Lasts
Everyone’s metabolism is different, and as mentioned above, the timeline for how long does Xanax stay in your system can vary somewhat from person to person. The window of detection is the length of time that Xanax and its metabolites can be detected in a drug test, and this can be influenced by different factors.3
Some factors that impact how long Xanax stays in your system and how fast it is metabolized include:3
- Your unique metabolism rate and excretion routes.
- Route of administration.
- Frequency of use.
- Amount of Xanax you use.
- Your health, diet, fluid intake, and pharmacogenomic profile.
- Your weight.
If you’re worried about how long Xanax stays in your system or are concerned about passing a drug test, you may need help. If you misuse Xanax and ignore the signs of a problem, things can get worse. Addiction is like other chronic diseases—left untreated, it can lead to serious consequences and severely impact your entire life.14
If you or a loved one are struggling, you should know that treatment is available. It is OK to ask for help when you need it. It’s a sign of strength to be able to admit that you have a problem, so you can get help and take back control of your life.
Rehab for Xanax addiction typically starts with an inpatient detox program to help you safely and comfortably undergo withdrawal in a supervised medical setting. This is often followed by inpatient or outpatient benzodiazepine abuse treatment.15 During rehab, people receive counseling and different forms of behavioral therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), to address the underlying issues associated with addiction and to help them make healthier choices and positive life changes.15
If you’re ready to start the path to recovery or if you have any questions about treatment, we are here to help. Please call American Addiction Centers any time of day or night at to speak to a caring admissions navigator about your treatment options.