What Determines How Long Benzodiazepines Stay In Your System?

The specific drug taken and amount consumed along with the age, weight, gender, and drug-taking habits of the user all influence the length of time a benzodiazepine stays in one’s system. Other factors include how the drug was taken, whether other drugs were used, what the ethnicity of the user is, and whether the user suffers from medical conditions such as kidney problems. However, there are some general guidelines that can be used to determine how long a benzodiazepine stays in the body.

What Are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines, or benzos, are mostly classified as class Schedule IV drugs under the Controlled Substances Act. Usually, benzodiazepines are prescribed to address anxiety disorders and sleep issues; they can also treat disorders like epilepsy that cause seizures. Benzos replaced a much more powerful and dangerous class of drugs, barbiturates, because of their reduced risk and increased success rate. As central nervous system (CNS) depressants, benzodiazepines pose a serious risk when mixed with drugs like alcohol that act similarly. Though the combination of benzodiazepines and alcohol can be dangerous, benzodiazepines are often prescribed to people suffering from the effects of alcohol withdrawal. As benzodiazepine prescriptions have increased in number, so too has the popularity of taking them recreationally. Xanax is a particularly popular drug to abuse, leading to nicknames like “Bars” because of the rectangular shape of many Xanax pills.

Benzodiazepine Effect Timespan

Different benzodiazepines spend different amounts of time in the body. In the medical field, these times are measured by a drug’s half-life. This represents the amount of time it takes your body to process and dispose of half of the drugs taken. It usually takes five half-lives to remove a drug’s active components from the body. There are three classifications of benzodiazepine half-lives: long-acting, intermediate-acting, and short-acting. These classifications help medical professionals decide which drug to prescribe for certain conditions. Long-acting benzodiazepines are known to cause a buildup of sedated feeling, which can make people feel as though they’re living in a haze if their dose is too high or they are abusing the medication. Conversely, extremely fast-acting benzodiazepines can cause issues like memory loss and confusion.



Valium, Librium, Dalmane



Xanax, Ativan, Restoril



Versed, Halcion

Benzodiazepines In Your System

The length of time benzodiazepines stay in the body depends on a variety of factors: which benzodiazepine was taken, your weight, your history of drug use, your medical history, and even the speed of your metabolism. Taking a drug more often means more evidence of its use is left behind; those who use more frequently are more apt to test positive. Someone with a quick metabolism who takes a small dose will generally test negative more quickly than someone with a slow metabolism who takes the same or larger doses.

Other factors that influence how long benzos stay in the body include:

  • The regular dose
  • How the drug was taken
  • The presence of other drugs in the body
  • Age
  • Ethnicity
  • Medical conditions
  • Gender
  • Psychiatric conditions

Detecting Benzodiazepines In The System

Many companies require incoming employees to undergo some form of drug test before starting a new job. Drug testing is also common in the legal system with cases involving parole and child custody. Professional sports and athletics organizations test athletes regularly and when an athlete falls under suspicion of using performance enhancing drugs. Athletic drug tests are often the most publicized because of the celebrity status of professional athletes.

The majority of drug tests don’t test for the drug itself. Instead, they look for the presence of 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 which drug was consumed by the metabolites left in your body.

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Types Of Drug Testing

Your body works as a cohesive system and, as it metabolizes a drug, the byproducts of metabolism are spread all over. In order to test different parts of the body, organizations implement several types of tests.

Types Of Drug Tests
Urine Testing Most common type of testing. Depending on substance, accurate for several weeks. Measures metabolites filtered through the kidneys.
Saliva Testing Accuracy is best within hours of drug consumption, but falls quickly after more than 12 hours pass. Regarded as less invasive than urine testing.
Hair Testing Can detect drug use up to three months in the past. Less used because most concerned parties are testing for contemporary drug use.
Blood Testing Less common, but very accurate test within a few days of use. Results are available directly after test is performed. Very invasive and expensive.
Perspiration Testing Least common and relatively new test. Mostly used in parole cases to monitor drug use long-term. Can take up to two weeks to complete the test.

Benzodiazepines: Detectable Timeframe By Urine Test

Please note that how long benzodiazepines stay in one’s system is dependent on a number of factors, and the timelines below may not apply in all cases.

Help Is Available

If you or a loved one is addicted to benzodiazepines, do not hesitate to contact a treatment provider for rehab-related help.