Xanax is a central nervous system depressant of the benzodiazepine class, commonly used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. It’s very effective at calming acute anxiety and panic attacks, and it is a fast-acting drug, making it particularly popular. In fact, doctors prescribed this medication so much that people began receiving more than they needed, and it became easy for people to obtain it by lying to medical professionals about their symptoms. Recreational users report being able to easily obtain the drug from friends and family members who have extra or unused pills, or from the black market.
People take Xanax recreationally for the euphoric high that results from taking a high dose. Unfortunately, this drug and other benzodiazepines do have a potential to be addictive, and if taken regularly either for a medical condition or for recreational purposes, a tolerance tends to build that results in withdrawal symptoms if intake of the drug stops. This is why Xanax is intended only for short-term treatment of anxiety. Despite these issues, the number of prescriptions given out for this drug have been climbing by 9 percent every year since 2008.
Withdrawal symptoms from any drug tend to be unpleasant. In rare cases, withdrawal from benzodiazepines can be dangerous, causing symptoms like seizures, suicidal urges, and psychosis. Other symptoms include:
- Muscle tension
- Panic attacks
- Problems with concentration
- Memory issues
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscular pain
- Sudden weight loss
- Perceptual alterations
The most dangerous symptoms tend to occur when the individual has been taking a high dose of Xanax for a long time, and/or when intake of the drug is stopped all at once. It’s therefore important for both addicted individuals and anyone taking the medication for medical reasons to be aware of how long it takes for Xanax to leave the system.
Every drug has an elimination half-life, which is the time it takes for half of a substance to leave a person’s system. The half-life of Xanax is 9-16 hours, with an average of 12 hours. In the next 12 hours, half of what’s left of the substance will be gone. It therefore takes about four days for all of the drug to be flushed out of the average person’s body. This can, of course, vary depending on a number of factors. These include:
- Age: After a certain point, the older you are, the longer it takes to eliminate a substance from your system entirely.
- Genetics: Some people have a naturally faster metabolism than others, and this is overwhelmingly determined by one’s genes. A faster metabolism means that a drug is flushed out of the body quicker.
- Body mass: This includes height, weight, and body fat content. More body fat can slow the elimination as fat cells tend to absorb and store substances like Xanax for a period of time.
- Liver and kidney health: Drugs are processed and eliminated from the body by these organs. A healthy liver and kidneys will be more effective at this, causing a substance to be flushed from the body faster.
- Drug-taking behavior: If a person takes one pill of Xanax, this will be eliminated from the system much faster than if someone is coming off a long bingeing session involving high doses of the drug.
No matter your situation, it’s important to ensure that you only attempt to withdraw from Xanax under the supervision of a medical professional in order to avoid dangerous symptoms.