How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System?

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Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine commonly prescribed for the treatment of anxiety and panic disorders. It works by slowing down the central nervous system and inducing feelings of calm and relaxation. Xanax users or misusers need to understand how long the drug can remain in their system to avoid possible complications and interactions with other medications. On average, it takes approximately 2.5 to 4 days for Xanax to be completely cleared from the body. However, traces of the drug can be found in certain tests for a longer period of time, particularly in hair and urine samples.

Even when used as directed, extended use of Xanax has the potential to become habit-forming, and misuse increases the risk of both dependence and addiction. If you or a loved one are struggling with the use of Xanax, other drugs, or alcohol, Guardian Recovery can help. Using evidence-based strategies and personalized treatment plans, our comprehensive inpatient and outpatient programs aim to address the underlying causes of addiction and promote long-lasting recovery.

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Metabolization of Xanax in the Body

Xanax is primarily metabolized in the liver through a process called hepatic metabolism. The primary enzyme responsible for the metabolism of Xanax is cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4). This enzyme breaks down Xanax into its metabolites, including alpha-hydroxy alprazolam and 4-hydroxy alprazolam. These metabolites are then further metabolized through other pathways, and eventually converted into inactive compounds that can be expelled from the body.

The liver’s breakdown of Xanax can be affected by several factors, including variations in enzyme activity, simultaneous use of other substances that may interact with CYP3A4, and overall liver health. Some individuals may metabolize the drug slower or more rapidly than average. This can affect the duration of action and Xanax’s elimination from the body.

How Long Do the Effects of Xanax Use Last?

Xanax is a short-acting benzodiazepine, meaning that its effects onset relatively quickly but are also brief compared to those of long-acting benzodiazepines. Effects are usually noticeable within 30 to 60 minutes after ingestion, peak within 1 to 2 hours, and last for 4-6 hours. (1) During this time, individuals may experience a sense of calm, relaxation, reduced anxiety, and sedation. Xanax can also have other effects, such as muscle relaxation and mild amnesia. After this time, the effects start to subside, and the individual may experience a return of anxiety or other symptoms.

Of note, individuals who take Xanax often develop tolerance, meaning that they need increasing amounts of the drug to feel its effects. For these people, it may also take longer to feel Xanax’s sedative effects.

What Is Xanax’s Half-Life in Your System?

Xanax has a relatively short half-life of about 11 hours. Half-life refers to the amount of time it takes for a substance to decrease by half or remain active in the body. For example, if a medication has a half-life of 4 hours, it means that it takes approximately 4 hours for the concentration of the drug in the body to decrease by 50%. After 8 hours, or two half-lives, only 25% of the initial dose will remain, and so on. The half-life of a substance can vary depending on several factors, including the specific substance, dosage, and individual metabolism.

How Long Does Xanax Remain in Your Body?

One dose of Xanax can remain in the body anywhere from 31 hours to 134.5 hours (5.6 days), depending on various factors. (2)

Factors That Influence Xanax’s Duration in Your System Include:

  • Average dosage.
  • Duration and frequency of use.
  • Individual metabolism.
  • Age.
  • Weight.
  • Race.
  • Liver function.
  • Overall health.

Medications That Can Increase Xanax’s Duration in the Body Include:

  • Azole antifungal agents, including ketoconazole and itraconazole.
  • Nefazodone (Serzone), an antidepressant.
  • Fluvoxamine, used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
  • Macrolide antibiotics, such as erythromycin and clarithromycin.
  • Cimetidine (Tagamet), for heartburn.
  • Propoxyphene, an opioid pain medication.
  • Oral contraceptives.

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How Long Does Xanax Stay in Saliva?

Xanax can be found in saliva tests for about 2.5 days after the last dose. (3) Saliva drug tests are relatively simple and non-invasive to implement. The test administrator instructs the testee to place a small swab or sponge between the lower cheek and gum or under the tongue and roll it around to collect the saliva. The swab is left in the mouth for a brief period to allow it to become saturated. It is then removed from the person’s mouth, placed into a collection container, and sent for laboratory processing.

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Blood?

Xanax can typically be detected in blood tests for approximately 1–6 days after the last dose. Blood is typically collected by a nurse or phlebotomist in a medical setting using a hypodermic needle. The healthcare professional will select a vein and insert the needle to draw the blood into a collection tube. The sample is then sent to a lab to be processed.

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Hair?

Xanax can potentially be detected in hair tests for up to 90 days or more. (4) Although hair samples are not commonly used in routine drug screening, when they are collected, a small amount of hair is cut close to the scalp and from multiple locations. The hair will be collected, placed into a plastic tamper-proof bag, and sent for processing.

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Urine?

Although most benzodiazepines can be identified in standard urine screens, Xanax, along with a few others, may not be found on common tests. (5) Many benzodiazepine tests can find whether the medicine is present, but they can’t give the amount. When detectable, however, Xanax may show up in urine tests for up to 4–7 days after the last dose. When collected, the individual is asked to urinate into a container and secure a lid. It is then labeled, and the sample is sent to a lab for testing.

Xanax in Breastmilk

Xanax can transfer into breast milk and cause drowsiness, sedation, feeding difficulties, and weight loss in a nursing infant. For these reasons, its use while breastfeeding is generally not recommended. Breastfeeding mothers who need treatment with Xanax or other anti-anxiety medications should consult with a healthcare provider to explore alternative medications or approaches that are appropriate during breastfeeding. In some instances, it may be recommended that the mother temporarily discontinue breastfeeding or pumping for a period of time after taking Xanax to minimize the infant’s exposure to the medication.

Can You Fail a Drug Screening Test for Xanax Use?

Yes, depending on the drugs for which the screen is testing, Xanax, or more specifically, alprazolam, can be identified for at least a few days. If you have a legitimate prescription for Xanax, you are encouraged to inform the testing facility in advance and provide documentation, such as a valid prescription, to avoid any unneeded issues or concerns.

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Contact Guardian Recovery for Help with Substance Use

If you or a loved one are concerned about passing a drug test due to the use of Xanax or other substances, contact Guardian Recovery today. Our team of experienced addiction professionals provides a supportive and compassionate atmosphere for individuals seeking to overcome addiction and take back control of their lives.

We offer a range of innovative treatment options customized to meet each individual’s unique needs and goals, including detox, individual therapy, medication-assisted treatment, and more. Helping our clients achieve long-term recovery and maintain a healthy, fulfilling life in sobriety is our highest priority. Reach out to us and speak to a


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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