Xanax, the brand name for the medication alprazolam, is reportedly the single most prescribed psychiatric medication in the United States. According to a 2016 study, prescriptions for benzodiazepines have more than tripled and fatal overdoses have more than quadrupled in the past 20 years. The powerful, fast-acting sedative is used to treat anxiety, sleep disorders, different kinds of phobias, and panic disorders within a short timeframe. Xanax is known on the recreational scene as “downers” bars, zannies (or xannies), and other slang names.
Xanax falls in the benzodiazepine class of drugs (called benzos for short) and can be obtained legally only through a prescription from a health care professional.
Other benzodiazepines include diazepam (Valium), clonazepam (Klonopin), and lorazepam (Ativan) among others. People can take Xanax in liquid form or as a tablet.
Like other benzos, Xanax act on the brain and central nervous system. Once the drug binds to certain areas of the brain’s gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, it slows down nerve cell activity and makes users feel calm effects within minutes after the drug is taken. Users typically feel relief within an hour after taking it and the effects can last a few hours. Common side effects include drowsiness, slower mental processing, confusion, fatigue, impaired coordination, and impaired memory.
Prolonged use can change the drug’s effectiveness over time. The longer it is used, the less sensitive the brain’s GABA receptors are to stimulation regardless of how long Xanax stays in the body. Eventually, the brain will stop producing GABA-A as it becomes dependent on the drug to produce it.
When this happens, users will notice they don’t receive the same effects from Xanax. This leads many users to consume more of the drug just to get the same results. This should not be done outside of a doctor’s advice. Excessive or recreational Xanax use can lead to a strong physical and psychological addiction that many people find difficult to break on their own.
How long it takes a drug to make its way through one’s system before being eliminated is called the half-life, or how long it takes the drug’s concentration in the body to be reduced by half in the bloodstream. For Xanax, the elimination half-life can range from 6.3 hours and 26.9 hours with the average being 11.2 hours in healthy adults, according to the U.S. Federal Drug Administration’s data sheet for the medication. This means the user’s health plays a role in how fast or slow this happens. Other factors that affect how long Xanax stays in the body are:
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Benzodiazepines fall into three categories: short-acting, intermediate-acting, and long-acting. Because of this, not all medications that fall into this class clear the body at the same rate. Xanax is a short-acting benzodiazepine, which means it can clear the body quickly when compared to other benzos. The medication can take up to four days to totally leave the body of a healthy person. However, this is only an estimate as other factors affect how fast or slow the drug moves. People who use Xanax frequently can expect the substance to remain in their systems longer than someone who uses it infrequently or occasionally.
Benzodiazepines are in widespread use both by people who have legitimate prescriptions for them and those who abuse them recreationally. With prescription drug abuse on the rise in the United States, some companies will require job candidates and current employees to take drug tests that can pick up Xanax use. This may especially be the case in workplaces that involve the operation of heavy machinery, such as driving a vehicle or operating a vehicle on a construction site or factory. There are four Xanax screening tests that are used to detect the drug’s presence in body fluids. They are the blood test, urine test, saliva test, and hair test.
Of the four methods for drug testing for Xanax use, the urine test is the most common. It’s less expensive than other Xanax screening tests and it offers accuracy and immediate results. It’s also easy to administer. A urine drug screening can detect Xanax three to seven days after use. This period could increase depending on one’s metabolism. The frequency of use determines how long it remains in the system. A saliva swab test can detect the medication for up to 2.5 days. Blood tests can detect Xanax for up to one to six days. A hair follicle test can find traces of Xanax for up to a month.
Xanax drug tests can reveal who is abusing Xanax or using it more than they should. Such information can very well mean one is battling an addiction to the drug. Signs and symptoms of Xanax addiction vary by the person, but they include:
If you or someone you know is involved in recreational Xanax abuse or can’t seem to stop misusing them, get help today. The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is treatable but not curable. Addiction treatment programs like the ones at Delphi Behavioral Health Group can be designed to fit the needs of the client. Professional drug treatment can help you or your loved one end Xanax dependence safely at an accredited treatment facility.
Many recovering Xanax users undergo a benzodiazepine medical detox, which involves slowly weaning them off the medication and other drugs as they manage withdrawal symptoms. This process is managed by licensed medical professionals. Once this is completed, the next step is to enter an addiction treatment program that can help people rebuild their lives and achieve their sobriety goals.
Treatment programs at Delphi Behavioral Health Group’s facilities provide unique therapy and counseling methods for certain addictions. Our treatment centers provide an oasis for the community, counseling, and support for our clients in recovery and their families.
Drugs.com. (n.d.) “Xanax.” Retrieved June 2018 at from https://www.drugs.com/pro/xanax.html
Kennedy, Madeline. (February 2016). “Benzodiazepine Prescriptions, Overdose Deaths on the Rise in the U.S.” Reuters. Retrieved June 2018 at from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-rxdrugs-benzodiazepine-overdos/benzodiazepine-prescriptions-overdose-deaths-on-the-rise-in-u-s-idUSKCN0VZ2TU
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (October 2016). “The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction: The Basics” Retrieved June 2018 from from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide/science-drug-abuse-addiction-basics