Alprazolam, more commonly known by its brand name, Xanax, is a medication indicated to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Xanax is in a class of medications known as benzodiazepines. It’s considered a mild tranquilizer.
Xanax helps to calm the nerves and induces a feeling of relaxation. In high doses, however, it has the potential to be abused and can lead to dependence (addiction). For this reason, it’s classified as a federal controlled substance (C-IV).
If you’re new to taking Xanax, you may be wondering how long the effects will last in your body, factors that might influence how long Xanax stays in your system, and what to do if you decide to stop taking it.
Xanax is taken by mouth and is readily absorbed into the bloodstream. You should start feeling the effects of Xanax in under an hour. The medication reaches peak concentrations in the bloodstream in one to two hours following ingestion.
People who take Xanax will often build up a tolerance. For these people, it may take longer to feel the sedative effects of Xanax or the sedation may not feel as strong.
One way to find out how long a drug will last in the body is to measure its half-life. The half-life is the time it takes for half of the drug to be eliminated from the body.
Xanax has an average half-life of roughly 11 hours in healthy adults. In other words, it takes 11 hours for the average healthy person to eliminate half of the dose of Xanax. However, it’s important to note that everyone metabolizes medications differently, so the half-life will vary from person to person. Studies have shown that the half-life of Xanax ranges from 6.3 to 26.9 hours, depending on the person.
It takes several half-lives to fully eliminate a drug. For most people, Xanax will fully clear their body within two to four days. But you will stop “feeling” the sedative effects of Xanax before the drug has actually fully cleared your body. This is why you may be prescribed Xanax up to three times per day.