How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System?

Xanax (alprazolam) is a medication used to treat anxiety and certain mental health conditions. Xanax belongs to a class of sedative drugs called benzodiazepines. Depending on the part of the body being examined (urine, blood, hair), Xanax can stay in the system for up to 90 days. 

Benzodiazepines like Xanax increase the activity of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain, and this GABA receptor activation inhibits nerve signals and chemicals in the brain that trigger anxiety or panic. Xanax also creates a feeling of relaxation and releases chemicals in the brain that cause a pleasurable sensation called a high.

The high that Xanax creates can make it addictive, and the relaxation that accompanies Xanax use can make working or driving dangerous while Xanax is still in the bloodstream. Because of the addictive nature of Xanax, employers or law enforcement officers may test for Xanax, and those who take Xanax often wonder how long Xanax will affect them and how long it will be detectable.

What Is the Half-Life of Xanax?

The half-life of a drug is how long it typically takes the body to metabolize half of the drug that is present in the bloodstream. It takes several half-lives to eliminate a drug from the body. After three or four half-lives, the remaining amount of drug will likely have no effect and be undetectable. Xanax’s half-life is about 11 hours for immediate-release formulations and 13 hours for extended-release formulas. The typical half-life of Xanax can change based on the individual, and several factors can lengthen the half-life, including age, overall health, weight and other drugs taken. The half-life may be twice as long for those who are overweight.

Lengths of Time in the Body

Because Xanax is a controlled substance and can have legal or employment implications, many people who use Xanax wonder how long it will remain detectable. The length of time that Xanax can be detected depends on the method of testing used.


Urine drug sampling is the most common method of testing for drugs, and most urine drug screens will detect if Xanax has been used. Xanax will appear as positive in a urine test for up to ten days. Many urine drug tests do not test for Xanax specifically but test generally for benzodiazepines, the class of drugs that Xanax belongs to.


Blood tests will typically only detect drugs for a short time after they have been used and are more commonly used by law enforcement officers immediately after an event where drug testing may be needed, such as after a car accident. Blood tests can typically detect Xanax for up to 24 hours.


Saliva testing is more uncommon than urine testing, but some companies or institutions may continue to test saliva. Xanax will be detectable for up to two and a half days after the last dose of Xanax.


Hair testing for drug use is quite uncommon but may be done in some circumstances where the timeframe for using other methods is no longer an option. Hair testing will indicate if Xanax has been used within the last 90 days.

Factors That Affect Absorption & Durations

Several factors can affect how long Xanax takes to be metabolized by the body and how long it will be present. These factors may influence how long the effects of Xanax last and how long Xanax can be detected during drug tests.

Body Fat

Xanax is fat-soluble, meaning that it is absorbed by adipose tissue, or body fat. This means that those who are overweight will absorb Xanax into their adipose tissues and it will then be slowly released into their bloodstream. Higher body weight can make Xanax remain in the bloodstream for almost twice as long as it would for someone who is a normal weight.


Dehydration can make Xanax more concentrated and can decrease how quickly the kidneys can process Xanax and the molecules that Xanax is broken down into. Decreased hydration makes Xanax last longer in the body and may make it more detectable.


Xanax is processed in the liver where it is broken down into smaller and smaller molecules called metabolites until it can be expelled through the kidneys. Metabolism can be influenced by health, and health disorders affecting the kidneys or liver will lengthen the amount of time that Xanax remains in the body.


As we age, metabolism changes, and kidney function, especially, can be impacted. Decreasing nutrition can also reduce the amount of protein in the blood that can bind to Xanax and keep it from being active; this can increase the duration of Xanax presence.

If you or a loved one are using more Xanax than has been prescribed by a doctor or are using Xanax without a prescription, then you should seek professional help. The Recovery Village Palmer Lake has a strong record of helping those with addiction to achieve complete and lasting recovery. Reach out to one of our understanding team members to learn how you can start on your path to recovery today!

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Griffin, III, Charles E.; et al. “Benzodiazepine Pharmacology and Central Nervous System–Mediated Effects.” The Oschner Journal, 2013. Accessed October 27, 2019.

Kampfrath, Thomas; et al. “Benzodiazepine in a Urine Specimen Without Drug Metabolites.” Lab Med, 2015. Accessed October 27, 2019.

Whirl-Carrillo, M.; et al. “Benzodiazepine Pathway, Pharmacokinetics.” Clinical pharmacology and therapeutics, 2012. Accessed October 27, 2019.