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  • Benzodiazepines are some of the most commonly prescribed medications in the U.S. As central nervous system depressants, they treat panic attacks, seizures, and anxiety. They work by enhancing the effects of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter in the brain. 

    They’re also easily abused and are considered a schedule IV controlled substance by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

    If you’re worried about failing a drug screen from benzodiazepine use, learn more about when these drugs finally leave your system.

    What Tests Are Used To Detect Benzodiazepines?

    There are quite a few tests out there used to detect whether there are benzodiazepines in your system. The most common tests include:

    Urine Tests

    • most common type of testing
    • accurate for several weeks after last use
    • measures metabolites filtered through the kidneys

    Saliva Tests

    • accuracy is best within hours of drug consumption
    • detection rate falls quickly after more than 12 hours
    • less invasive than urine testing

    Hair Tests

    • checks the hair follicle
    • can detect drug use up to three months after use
    • less used because most people are testing for current drug use

    Blood Tests

    • less common
    • very accurate test within a few days of use
    • results available directly after the test is taken
    • can be quite expensive

    How Long Benzos Stay In Your System

    How long a benzodiazepine stays in your system depends on the type of benzodiazepine taken, the half-life of the specific drug, and the dose taken. But there are some averages for each brand name that can give you a general timetable for how long it will take to leave your system.

    • Xanax, Ativan, Restoril, Librium, and Klonopin: can be detectable in the system for five days.
    • Halcion: can be detectable in the system for up to two days.
    • Valium: can be detectable in a person’s system for 10 or more days after using it.

    How Long Can Benzodiazepines Be Detected In A Urine Test?

    The length of time benzos stay in the urine depends on the factors, but there are some average ranges we can look at to give an approximate amount of time. 

    Depending on the drug, benzos can stay in your urine anywhere from hours to weeks

    Here are some of the most popular benzodiazepines and how long they can be detected using a urine test:

    • Valium (diazepam): 10-30 days
    • Xanax (alprazolam): 5 days
    • Klonopin (clonazepam): 5 days
    • Ativan ( lorazepam): 5 days
    • Halcion ( triazolam): 7-15 hours

    Other Drug Tests

    The majority of drug tests don’t literally test for the drug itself. They look for what scientists call metabolites, which are the leftovers created when your body metabolizes the drug. 

    These molecules stick around for much longer than the actual drug and drug tests can determine what drug was consumed by the metabolites left in your body.

    Factors That Affect Benzodiazepine Detection Times

    The length of time benzodiazepines stay in your system depends on a number of different factors, including:

    • type of benzodiazepine taken
    • whether you took a long-acting, intermediate-acting, or short-acting benzo
    • weight: drugs are usually metabolized faster in heavier people but that’s not always the case
    • history of drug use
    • metabolism
    • drug’s half-life
    • how the drug was taken: injection, tablet
    • age: older people tend to metabolize drugs slower than younger ones
    • body hydration: those urinating more will eliminate the drug from their system quicker
    • gender
    • ethnicity
    • organ function/liver function
    • type of detection test used: urine, blood, saliva, hair

    Benzodiazepine Half Life

    Different benzos have different durations and different half-lives even though the drugs do similar things. Some may leave the body relatively quickly while others may stay in the body for a longer period of time.

    Long-acting benzodiazepines like Librium and Valium may stay in your system for days while intermediate-acting benzodiazepines like Xanax and Ativan, or short-acting benzodiazepines like Halcion, will leave the body more quickly. 

    And that doesn’t even get into the metabolites produced by the drug being broken down in your body. Those can be detected with drug testing longer than the drug itself, which could influence your results on a drug screen. 

    Treating Benzodiazepine Addiction

    If yourself or a loved one suffers from benzodiazepine addiction, help is available. Treatment programs may include detox, inpatient care, therapy, counseling, and more. To discover the treatment option that’s right for you, please contact us today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) - Benzodiazepines
    National Institute of Drug Abuse - Benzodiazepines and Opioids
    National Library of Medicine - Benzodiazepine Pharmacology and Central Nervous System–Mediated Effects

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on February 20, 2023
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