How Long Does Xanax Stay in Blood, Urine, and Hair

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System?

A commonly prescribed benzodiazepine, Xanax is often used to treat anxiety and panic disorders as well as things like insomnia and muscle spasms.

There are about 44 million prescriptions< for Xanax written each year; it is the eighth, most commonly prescribed drug in the United States.  Still, like many other prescription medications today, Xanax is commonly misused and taken recreationally. Given the fact that Xanax (and all benzodiazepines) works by increasing the amount of dopamine in the brain, it’s not hard to see why this substance is so addictive.

Given the rise in misuse of benzodiazepines and other prescription drugs, many employers have begun screening for these medications in addition to illicit substances as part of the hiring process. This means that whether they have a prescription or not, Xanax users are put in a particularly tricky situation when beginning a new job.

Additionally, someone on probation can land themselves in a great deal of trouble if they’re found to have a substance in their system which violates the terms of their probation.

Different Types of Tests and The Presence of Xanax

Most everyone knows that there are three main types of drug tests they might undergo as part of a pre-employment screen: a blood test, a urine test, or a hair test. As one might imagine, these three testing methods have different implications for Xanax users.

This happens because Xanax remains detectable in these three bodily substances for different amounts of time, and although the timeline will vary slightly from person to person, it’s good to know the average amount of time that Xanax will remain in each system.

Xanax in Blood

About half of a dose of Xanax is eliminated from the bloodstream within the first day, but the other half can linger for several more. As a general rule, one should assume that Xanax can be detected for 4 to 5 days after it is taken.

Xanax in Urine

Many urine tests do not screen for Xanax or other prescription medications, but it’s becoming increasingly common in the current climate. That said, laboratories that do screen for benzodiazepines in a urine test can detect them for up to 5 days. This is the most commonly used type of drug screening for employers.

Xanax in Hair

By far the most thorough of the three screening types, a hair test can spell trouble for those who have misused Xanax up to a year prior. If the test takes hair from the head, Xanax can be detected for up to three months. If the test takes hair from the body, it can be detected for up to a year. This type of screening is generally only used for positions that require a great deal of clarity or responsibility.

Naturally, the presence of Xanax in a drug test doesn’t always mean that a person will fail, but there are specific conditions for a passing grade despite the presence of benzodiazepines.

In addition to physical cravings, someone with an addiction issue will also spend a tremendous amount of time thinking about their drug of choice. These thoughts become a compulsion and impossible to control, which leads to drug-seeking behavior that can sometimes be criminal.

Feelings of depression, sadness, anxiety, despair, and the like are often at the root of substance abuse. The substance might temporarily mask these feelings, but they return once the high wears off, creating a vicious circle of drug abuse.

Taking a substance will temporarily stop the cravings and compulsion for it, but soon the same feelings return. In time, it takes more and more of the same substance to achieve the same effect it once had.

People addicted to drugs and alcohol may feel like they have no control over their drug use. Refraining from using or stopping seems to be an impossibility for them. The substance controls them, rather than the other way around.

Someone addicted to drugs or alcohol will continue to seek them out even if their addiction has made them lose friends, family, spouses, and jobs. Drug-seeking behavior can even lead to diseases such as hepatitis and HIV/AIDS.

How A Prescription Affects A Drug Test

When a new hire takes a drug test, they’re usually sent to a third party lab who completes the test and reports the results to the employer.

These labs have something called a Medical Review Officer (MRO) on staff; it’s the job of the MRO to clear up discrepancies with prescriptions.

That means that if someone visits a lab for a pre-employment drug screening and tests positive for Xanax, the MRO will contact them directly to ask why the drug is in their system. If the person is able to provide a verifiable prescription, the MRO may choose to proceed in a few different ways.

If the MRO feels that the subject is using Xanax as prescribed and that the use of Xanax won’t interfere with their ability to perform the job for which they’re being screened, then the MRO may simply send a passing (or negative) result to the employer, eliminating any need for further explanation.

If, on the other hand, the MRO feels that the subject is using Xanax as prescribed, but that use of the drug may hinder their ability to safely carry out their job duties, they may send the employee a passing (negative) result, but with a safety concern caveat.

Lastly, if the subject cannot provide a prescription, or if the MRO has reason to believe that the subject is misusing Xanax, they will likely let the employer know that the subject tested positive; it then becomes the employer’s decision how to proceed.

Of course, if the drug screening is part of a legal proceeding rather than an attempt to gain employment, there’s a much less gray area.

If you are considering treatment for yourself or a loved one, call us today.

How Addiction Hinders Employment

As more and more employers become privy to the fact that addicts are misusing prescription medications, it will become even more difficult for users to find gainful employment. The only real solution is to seek treatment as soon as possible.

Chronic Xanax users will certainly have a hard time going 5 days without the substance, and even if they are able to abstain and pass a blood or urine screening, continued misuse of Xanax will inevitably impact their job performance negatively.

There’s no question that Xanax is a legitimate tool that can offer great relief to those suffering from mental illness; those who use their prescriptions responsibly should have little to worry about when it comes to a drug screening, especially if they won’t be working with machinery or anything of the like. Most employers have clearly laid out policies about the use of prescriptions like benzodiazepines.

On the other hand, those who misuse their prescriptions or have no prescription at all may find themselves in the precarious position of having their employment offer withdrawn. Without the ability to maintain a job, a person’s life won’t easily progress in a positive direction.

There’s no reason to gamble with your livelihood. Addiction to Xanax can be broken with the proper support, and a more fruitful lifestyle can be attained. For help breaking free from the clutches of substance abuse, contact Nexus Recovery today.

If you or a loved one are suffering from alcohol or drug addiction, we’re here to help. Contact us today and speak with one of our trusted recovery advisors.

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