How Long Does Xanax Stay In Your System?

Xanax (Alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine with a high prescription rate in the United States. In this article, you will find the uses, adverse effects, how long does it stay in system, and precautions needed to take when taking this medication. You will also read about Xanax abuse including how to treat it and withdrawal effects.


  • Anxiety
  • Panic Disorder
  • Anxiety Associated with Depression
  • Premenstrual syndrome (3,9)

What are the side effects (Adverse Effects) of Xanax ?

  • The most commonly reported adverse effects are as followed (9):
  1. Drowsiness
  2. Depression
  3. Headache
  4.  Diarrhea
  5. Constipation
  6. Dry mouth
  7. Impaired coordination
  8. Increased appetite
  9. Memory impairment
  10. Fatigue
  11. Irritability
  • Somewhat less commonly reported adverse effects are as follows:
  1. Insomnia
  2. Decreased appetite
  3. Lightheadedness
  4. Dysarithria
  5. Diarrhea, nausea/vomiting, and constipation
  • Still, less commonly reported adverse effects are as follows:
  1. Weight changes
  2. Congestion
  3. Menstrual disorders
  • Rarely reported adverse effects are as follows:
  1. Tachycardia
  2. Confusion
  3. Blurred vision
  4. Hypotension
  5. Syncope
  6. Increased salivation
  7. Nervousness
  8. Tremors
  9. Talkativeness
  10. Incontinence (3)

What precautions should I take into account when taking Xanax- If you or a loved one has been prescribed Xanax be sure to read the following precautions carefully.  These precautions are serious and neglecting them could be dangerous.

Always consult your physician if you have any questions regarding the following statements.

  • Xanax is much more toxic than other benzodiazepines. (5)
  • Do not combine with other benzodiazepines because this combination has been
  • noted to cause anterograde amnesias.
  • In the case of drug or alcohol abuse, there is a high chance for dependence.
  • Certain patients have a high risk of an increase in adverse effects. These patients include but may not be limited to:
  1. Elderly patients
  2. Debilitated patients
  3. Those with respiratory depression or who are receiving respiratory depressants
  4. Fall risk patients
  • Obese patients may show prolonged effects after discontinuation of the medication. This is due to the slow release of the medication from fatty tissue.
  • If you have a history of hepatic or renal impairment use caution. This medication can cause further damage to these organs due to its absorption/metabolism and excretion which is discussed further on in this article.
  • This medication can impair your ability to drive or perform hazardous tasks. It may be a good idea to notify your boss so that they can have you take proper precautions to prevent injury.
  • Smoking can decrease the reception of Xanax in the system by 50%.
  • Patients who are depressed have expressed mania and hypomania episodes. (3)

Absorption/ Metabolism/ Excretion

  • Works in the Central Nervous System (CNS) – Xanax causes a hyperpolarization of the neuronal membrane by inhibiting the GABA receptor system.
  • Peak time is 1-3 hours for immediate-release Xanax, and 9 hours for extended release.
  • It is metabolized by liver enzymes and excreted in the urine.
  • Its half-life is 11 hours in immediate release; it is usually 13 hours for the extended-release. (3)

How long does Xanax stay in your system ?

  • Its metabolites are found in the urine or in the blood stream
  • The test could be called Toxic urine screen or toxicology screen. The urine test will show the metabolite longer than the blood test.
  • The parent drug is not what shows up in the testing. Instead, it is the metabolite, which is tested for. The metabolite is called A-hydroxy alprazolam
  • Its detection time can be up to 5 days (9)


  • Xanax addiction causes issues in the abusers thought life, mindset, and relationships. Many who have abused Xanax feel as though it is impossible to stop. But there are many help programs available to help. All that is needed is to approach a medical professional for help.
  • Statistics show a huge increase in Xanax abuse in recent years.
  • Abuse can cause many disturbing physical issues including and not limited to:
  1. Blurred or double vision
  2. Memory issues
  3. Digestive issues
  4. irritability
  5. Lack of coordination and focus
  6. Swollen hands or feet
  7. Drowsiness
  8. Tremors
  9. Slurred speech
  10. Decrease libido
  11. Lack of a “high” when taking the drug.

Recovery can be difficult and dangerous. Most people need the assistance of a medical professional to be able to wean themselves from Xanax. (1,6)

After extensive abuse the following may be noted:

  1. Thoughts of harming oneself or of suicide
  2. Depression
  3. Hostile or violent moods
  4. Hallucinations
  5. Uncontrolled muscle movements
  6. Chest pain
  7. Hyperactivity
  8. Seizures(2)
  • A study showed that inhaled Xanax would cause an increase in the abuse rate and potential harm to the patient. (4)
  • Xanax is much more toxic than other benzodiazepines. (5)

Withdrawal – Stopping ingestion of Xanax can be dangerous and should be done through a weaning process carefully controlled by a medical professional.

If weaning is not done the following withdrawal symptoms can be extreme.

  1. Hostility
  2. Insomnia
  3. Major depression
  4. Violent and aggressive behavior
  5. Amnesia
  6. Seizures
  7. Anxiety which is worse than before starting treatment.
  8. Delirium
  9. Psychosis
  10. Mania
  11. The increase in panic attacks and other symptoms noted before treatment.
  • Reports show that using another benzodiazepine to help decrease withdrawal is usually not effective. (6)

Who is usually tested?

  • If you have been prescribed this medication your doctor may be reviewing your levels to prevent overdose.(10)
  • You may be tested for Xanax if a loved one or coworker notices the following signs of Xanax abuse.
  1. Blurred or double vision
  2. Memory issues
  3. Digestive issues
  4. irritability
  5. Lack of coordination and focus
  6. Swollen hands or feet
  7. Drowsiness
  8. Tremors
  9. Slurred speech
  10. Decrease libido



Published on by under Addiction and Withdrawals.
Article was last reviewed on April 9th, 2017.

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