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How Long Does Xanax (Alprazolam) Stay in Your System?

Written by Jonathan Strum

& Medically Reviewed by Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD

Medically Reviewed

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This article was reviewed by a medical professional to guarantee the delivery of accurate and up-to- date information. View our research policy.

Last Updated - 6/17/2022

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Alprazolam, the generic form of Xanax and Xanax XR, is a prescription benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety disorder and panic disorder. While the effects of Xanax typically last for a few hours, the amount of time the drug stays in the body can be much longer. There are also a number of factors that can affect how long Xanax remains in the system.

How Does Xanax Work?

As a benzodiazepine, Xanax works by enhancing the brain’s level of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is the brain’s main inhibitory neurotransmitter, and it works by calming and slowing your brain’s activity. Because Xanax increases GABA levels and slows brain activity, it can be helpful for treating anxiety and panic.

How Is Xanax Metabolized in the Body?

Xanax metabolism is carried out mostly by the liver. Specifically, the liver enzyme CYP3A4 breaks down the drug and converts it into two other products: 4-hydroxyalprazolam and alpha-hydroxyalprazolam. These products are both less potent than Xanax itself. Your body then eliminates all three substances in the urine.

Because the liver does the main work of breaking down Xanax, people who have liver problems or an addiction to alcohol may metabolize Xanax more slowly.

How Long Does Xanax Take To Kick In?

Xanax can kick in quickly, reaching peak levels in your bloodstream within one to two hours. Long-acting Xanax XR takes much longer — around 10 hours — to reach a peak in your bloodstream.

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How Long Does Xanax Last?

The effects of Xanax typically last around eight hours, and the medication is generally dosed three times daily. It is known as a short-acting benzodiazepine. Extended-release formulations can last close to a full 24 hours and are dosed once daily. However, people with liver problems may notice that the effects of Xanax last longer, as the medication does not break down as quickly.

Xanax Half-Life

The half-life of a drug is how long it takes your body to remove half a dose from your system, and the half-life of Xanax is 11 hours. It takes the body about five half-lives to completely remove a drug, so the body removes Xanax in 55 hours (about 2.5 days).

Extended-release formulations like Xanax XR are designed to prolong the half-life and make it stay in the body for longer. The half-life of Xanax XR can be almost 16 hours. This may not seem like much longer than immediate-release Xanax, but Xanax XR is designed to even out the peaks and troughs associated with Xanax use. The extended-release version will not make someone as tired and reduces the chances of a “crash” at the end of the dose.

How Long Does Alprazolam Stay in Your System?

Traces of alprazolam can remain in your system for much longer than you feel the effects of the drug. The drug can show up in your urine, blood, hair and even saliva. In addition, false positives for benzodiazepines like Xanax are possible. Drugs that are known to cause false positives for benzodiazepines include:

  • Daypro (oxaprozin)
  • Zoloft (sertraline)

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your Urine?

Xanax and its breakdown products stay in the urine for up to four days.

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your Blood?

Xanax and its breakdown products are detectable in the blood for up to 27 hours. Note that a blood test for benzodiazepines is very uncommon.

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your Saliva?

Xanax stays in the saliva for three days. Oral fluid (saliva) tests are not common for Xanax and must be ordered specifically.

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your Hair?

Xanax can be detected in a 1.5-inch sample of hair for about 90 days after it was last used.

Factors Affecting How Long Xanax Stays in Your System

Xanax stays in the body for different amounts of time depending on several patient-specific factors, including:

  • Age: Older adults tend to metabolize Xanax more slowly.
  • Health: People with liver issues can expect Xanax to be detectable for longer periods because Xanax is processed in the liver.
  • CYP3A4 function: Some individuals may have a more active form of the liver enzyme CYP3A4. A person with a high CYP3A4 activity level will eliminate Xanax more quickly than someone with a lower CYP3A4 activity level.
  • Body mass: If you have a high amount of body fat and take Xanax on a regular basis, you will likely store some Xanax in your fat cells, meaning it may stay in your system longer.
  • Presence of other drugs: Xanax has a high potential for drug interactions, and some interactions may increase how long it stays in the body. Drugs that have been shown to increase the time Xanax stays in your system include ritonavir, cimetidine and certain antidepressants.

Xanax Abuse and Addiction

As a Schedule IV controlled substance, Xanax carries a risk for abuse, addiction and dependence. Some signs that a person may struggle with Xanax abuse include:

  • Taking more Xanax than intended or taking it for a longer period than intended
  • Unsuccessfully trying to quit or cut back on Xanax
  • Spending a lot of time trying to obtain Xanax
  • Having cravings for Xanax
  • Having problems keeping up with responsibilities at home, work or school because of Xanax
  • Giving up or reducing other activities due to Xanax
  • Using Xanax even when it’s physically dangerous to do so, like when driving a car
  • Staying on Xanax even though you are aware it is causing problems for you
  • Needing increasing amounts of Xanax to achieve the same effects as before

Xanax Addiction Treatment

The first step to overcoming a Xanax addiction is knowing when to ask for help. At The Recovery Village Ridgefield, we offer a variety of Xanax recovery programs tailored to your needs. Our medically supervised inpatient detox program can help you safely quit Xanax, while our inpatient and outpatient rehab services can help you avoid Xanax use throughout the future.

Tucked in the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest, our nationally accredited facility offers a peaceful and relaxing environment that helps support the healing process. If you or someone you know is struggling to stop using Xanax, The Recovery Village Ridgefield is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about Xanax addiction treatment programs that can work well for your needs.


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