Though benzos can be very effective, they are also pretty dangerous in the long run due to their potential for addiction. If a person has been taking benzos for a long time and all of a sudden tries to stop, withdrawal symptoms are likely. This begs the question, when is a good time to come off of benzos, and how long do benzos stay in your system?
What Are Benzos?
Benzos are medications that typically are typically prescribed for pain and anxiety. They’re also used to treat muscle spasms, seizures, and sleeping disorders. The medication achieves this by depressing the central nervous system. Benzos are very effective when taken with the right dosage and supervision, but if they’re prescribed wrong or abused by someone it could be extremely and dangerously addictive.
Benzos come in pill form most often, and when they’re taken, they produce a relaxed feeling. They are effective in calming nerves and combating certain disorders such as anxiety. One form of benzos that works specifically for anxiety is Xanax. The problem is when people start abusing them by taking higher doses than required. Usually, in these cases, a higher dose would be snorted or injected, resulting in a quicker, more euphoric high.
The Science Behind Benzos
On the surface it’s quite simple – benzos = depressed central nervous system, but how exactly does it happen? Well, people possess a chemical commonly referred to as GABA. (gamma-aminobutyric acid). What does GABA do? GABA tranquilizes the areas of the brain that are most active. These include the following:
What Are The Effects of Benzos?
In a nutshell, benzos are responsible for increasing GABA in the brain. This results in the following effects:
- Relaxed muscles
How Are Benzos Used?
Benzos can be used in a variety of ways. The question is what a person’s purpose is for taking them. There has been a rise in those who misuse benzos like Xanax. This has led to drug tests that help detect benzos in the body. There are, however, those who use benzos safely.
Those who use benzos in a healthy way do so by taking the prescribed amount of pills for them. This medication should only be used to treat anxiety, insomnia, or seizures. Usually, those who take benzos (by order of a medical professional) do so when their conditions are having a detrimental impact on their daily lives.
In some circumstances, benzos are not the best course of action. This has much to do with a person’s brain chemistry and mental well-being. For example, somebody may lose a loved one and suffer from severe anxiety or PTSD because of benzos. What could be worse, however, is if a person is prescribed benzos and winds up becoming numb to everything and becoming more depressed than ever.
What happens when someone is experiencing insomnia due to anxiety? It is imperative that, should benzos be prescribed, the person is observed closely by a medical professional. Eventually, that person will recover with the right help. There’s only so much that can be done when a doctor has prescribed you medication though, right?
When a doctor prescribes medication that you’re not comfortable with taking, it’s imperative to ask questions. It may seem annoying, but there’s nothing more important than your well-being. After all, that’s why you came to the doctor in the first place, right? If you’re not sure whether or not benzos are right for you, ask the doctor.
Can You Develop a Dependency on Benzos?
For drugs as strong as benzos, dependency isn’t a question of if – it’s a question of when (IF, that is, they are being used irresponsibly, or someone has been misprescribed). Benzos, after a while of taking them, are less likely to have the effects that they initially had. The timeline of exactly when they quit being effective could be a matter of a few weeks.
The reason the brain becomes dependent on benzos is that it adjusts to the effects of the drug and eventually needs more to produce the right outcome. To combat this, some physicians may prescribe someone with a lower dose for an extended amount of time. In cases such as these, dependence usually isn’t an issue.
What Are the Different Kinds of Benzos?
The main difference between most benzos is the speed at which they work, the length of time the effects last, and how commonly they are used. Some benzos work much quicker and last much longer than others.
Some examples include the following:
- Diazepam – Fast onset, 30 minutes to one hour
- Clorazepate – Fast onset, 30 minutes to one hour
- Oxazepam – Slow onset
- Lorazepam – Intermediate onset, 11-20 hours
- Alprazolam – Intermediate onset, 11-20 hours
- Clorazepate – Short-acting, 3-8 hours
- Midazolam – Short-acting, 3-8 hours
- Triazolam – Short-acting, 3-8 hours
- Estazolam – Intermediate onset, 11-20 hours
- Temazepam – Intermediate onset, 11-20 hours
- Chlordiazepoxide – Long-acting, 1-3 days
- Clonazepam – Long-acting, 1-3 days
- Diazepam – Long-acting, 1-3 days
- Flurazepam – Long-acting, 1-3 days
- Quazepam – Long-acting, 1-3 days
What Conditions are Benzos Used For?
Benzos are most often used interchangeably, but there are some that are used more frequently for certain disorders. Some examples include the following:
- Alprazolam – Anxiety disorders
- Chlordiazepoxide – Anxiety disorders, alcohol withdrawal
- Clorazepate – Anxiety disorders, seizure disorders
- Clobazam – Seizure disorders
- Diazepam – Anxiety disorders, seizure disorders, anesthesia, muscle relaxation
- Lorazepam – Anxiety disorders, seizure disorders, anesthesia
- Midazolam – Anxiety disorders, anesthesia
- Clonazepam – Seizure disorders
- Estazolam – Sleep disorders
- Flurazepam – Sleep disorders
- Quazepam – Sleep disorders
- Temazepam – Sleep disorders
- Triazolam – Sleep disorders
How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System?
It’s been determined that Xanax has an elimination half-life (the amount of time it takes a healthy person to get rid of half the dose of a drug) of over ten hours. This, however, should not be confused with the range of its elimination half-life, which is somewhere between six and 27 hours.
The amount of weight that someone tacks on will also influence how long Xanax’s elimination half-life is as well. Weight, however, isn’t the only factor in how long the effects of Xanax will last.
Some other factors include the following:
- Body fat
- Body mass index
- Liver health
- Kidney health
- The potency of a drug
- Amount of a particular drug
- How often does someone use a drug
How Can You Tell If You Have Xanax in Your System?
When it comes to Xanax, drug tests can be done in a variety of ways to determine whether or not someone has been abusing the drug. Some of thee tests include the following:
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Saliva swabs
- Hair follicle tests
The most common methods to test whether or not someone has been using benzos are urine-based tests. It is worth mentioning, however, that Xanax stays in the body for as long and heavily as the drug has been abused. For those who use benzos prescriptively, the substance won’t show up in a urine test for any time past 4 days; in those who abuse the drug heavily, it can last up to a week.
How Long Does Xanax Stay in Saliva and Blood?
When it comes to saliva and blood tests, the results come back much quicker than a urine test. These tests can indicate whether or not Xanax has been taken soon after the act has been done. However, these tests only work 60 hours after the last dose. When it comes to blood tests, they’re only effective for a day.
What About Hair Follicle Tests?
Hair follicle tests can indicate whether or not Xanax has been used for as long as a month after the last dose. This is because traces of Xanax can show in hair follicles. There is one caveat, however; hair takes longer to show the presence of Xanax than any bodily fluid would. This would prove frustrating if the test was taken too soon because then any trace of the drug would not yet show up.
Will I Be Tested for Xanax in Recovery?
When someone is addicted to benzos and is in recovery, it’s not necessary for that person to be tested. This is because he or she is already being treated for addiction.
Being weaned off of the substance is better for an individual than quitting cold turkey. This type of treatment is achieved through the miracle of modern medicine (and is referred to as medically assisted treatment).
Do I Need to Take a Drug Test?
When it comes to being tested for a potential job, or even a job you’re already at, it is likely that they will drug test you. This is especially true in occupations that require the operation of heavy machinery (construction workers, military, audio technicians, etc.). Some other jobs like being a valet or chauffeur may require drug testing as well due to the fact that drugs like Xanax sedate individuals. In a job where cars are essential, it could be extremely dangerous to be on Xanax.
Because of this, it is imperative that if a person is using Xanax for a medical condition that he or she consult a doctor to switch the medication as soon as possible. It may be difficult to find an option better suited for someone’s particular circumstance; there are, however, plenty of medications available that provide an alternative.
If You Are Struggling With Benzo Addiction, Reach Out Today
Struggling with a substance use disorder is difficult to deal with; especially if you’re coming off of benzos. You don’t have to do it alone. At Casco Bay, we have a team of certified professionals ready to meet your individual needs. If you or a loved one are interested in finding out more or pursuing treatment, contact us today.