The medication alprazolam, more commonly known as Xanax, treats anxiety and panic disorders. As a benzodiazepine medication, Xanax falls into a class known as benzodiazepines. The drug is a mild tranquilizer.

Drugs like this one are believed to produce desirable effects and help people regain a sense of normalcy in their lives. Despite its benefits, many hidden dangers are associated with this depressant medication, such as tolerance, addiction, and withdrawal, to name a few.

Xanax’s half-life is important to know if you want to stop taking it or if you’re subject to a drug test and want to know how long it’ll stay in your system.

Learn more about the time it takes Xanax to work and then to wear off.

How Does Xanax Work?

As an anxiety and panic disorder treatment, Xanax (alprazolam) is commonly prescribed. This medication belongs to the benzodiazepine family, which produces calming effects on the central nervous system. Xanax works by enhancing gamma-aminobutyric acid’s (GABA) effects and is classified as a central nervous system depressant.

How Long Does It Take for Xanax to Kick In?

A drug’s onset of action is the measure of how long it takes for you to start feeling its effects. It’s important to note that not all of a drug’s effects and side effects will appear at the same time. You may experience some therapeutic effects before some side effects kick in. You may also start to feel the desired effects.

The bloodstream readily absorbs Xanax when taken by mouth. It has a moderate onset of action, and Xanax should start working within an hour of taking it. As soon as the medication has been ingested, it reaches peak blood concentrations.

Xanax tolerance often develops in people who take it regularly. It may take longer for these people to experience Xanax’s sedative effects, or the feeling of sedation may be milder.

Several factors can affect how quickly Xanax will start to work, including your size and weight and whether or not you take the drug on an empty stomach.

How Long Does It Take for the Effects of Xanax to Wear Off?

The half-life of a drug can be determined by measuring how long it lasts in the body. The half-life of a drug refers to how long it takes the body to eliminate half of its concentration in your bloodstream.

A drug’s half-life is important because a short half-life indicates you’ll encounter more withdrawal symptoms, whereas a long half-life means you’ll experience fewer withdrawal symptoms. Taking something with a longer half-life might be necessary if you’re experiencing withdrawal symptoms from a short half-life drug. It may be more difficult to stop using that medication, however.

You can also use the half-life to determine when a drug reaches stable levels in your body when you start using it. The drug usually builds a steady level in your system after five times its half-life. The side effects will decrease once it is stabilized in your body.

Healthy adults have a half-life of approximately 11 hours with Xanax. To put it another way, it takes an average healthy person 11 hours to eliminate half of the dose of Xanax. The half-life of medications will vary based on the way each individual metabolizes medications. According to studies, Xanax’s half-life varies from 6.3 to 26.9 hours based on the person taking it.

It takes several half-lives for a drug to be completely eliminated from the body. It usually takes two to four days for Xanax to fully leave the body of most people. However, you will not stop feeling the sedative effects of Xanax until the drug is fully cleared from your system.

How Long Can Xanax Be Detected in Your Body?

If you are going through a drug test for employment or some other purpose, how long after your last dose will Xanax be detected? It strongly depends on the type of test you go through. Here are some general timelines to keep in mind:

  • Urine. Up to four days
  • Blood. Up to 24 hours
  • Saliva. Up to 2.5 days
  • Hair. Up to 90 days

Before taking any medical tests, it is always a good idea to include Xanax and any other medications you are taking. As a result, drug interactions, potential employers, or current employers will be less likely to lead to unfavorable outcomes.

Factors That Change How Long the Effects of Xanax Last

Several factors can affect how long it takes for Xanax to leave the body, including age and weight. However, men and women have the same average half-life. Factors that can influence the length of time it takes for Xanax’s effects to stop include:


We lose our ability to process benzodiazepines effectively as we age. Older people will take longer to clear Xanax. According to studies, healthy elderly people have an average half-life of 16.3 hours, compared to younger, healthier adults who have an average half-life of 11 hours.


When you’re obese, your body may have a harder time breaking down Xanax. The half-life of Xanax is longer in obese people. A range of 9.9 to 40.4 hours was recorded, with an average of 21.8 hours.


The time it takes for Xanax to leave the body may be decreased by a higher metabolic rate. Sedentary individuals may not be able to eliminate Xanax as rapidly as exercisers or people with faster metabolisms.

Liver function

Alcoholic liver disease makes it harder for people to break down, or metabolize, Xanax. A half-life of 19.7 hours is average for people with this liver problem when it comes to Xanax.


There are four types of alprazolam found in each tablet of Xanax: 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, or 2 mg. It takes your body longer to fully metabolize higher doses.

Your body will also experience the effects of Xanax for a longer or shorter period of time, depending on how long you’ve taken it. In the bloodstream of people who have taken Xanax regularly, the concentration of the drug is consistently higher. Although you may not feel the sedative effects for longer because you’ve developed a tolerance to Xanax, it will take longer to completely eliminate it from your body.

Other Substances That Can Affect Your Effects Timeline

The cytochrome P450 3A enzyme (CYP3A) is responsible for clearing Xanax from your body. Your body has a harder time breaking down Xanax when you take drugs that inhibit CYP3A4. In other words, Xanax will have a longer-lasting effect.

There are several medications that prolong the time it takes Xanax to leave the body, including:

  • Azole antifungal agents
  • Nefazodone (Serzone)
  • Fluvoxamine
  • Macrolide antibiotics like clarithromycin
  • Cimetidine (Tagamet)
  • Propoxyphene
  • Oral contraceptives for birth control

CYP3A, however, can be induced or sped up by certain medications. You will experience a faster breakdown of Xanax with these medications. Carbamazepine (Tegretol), a seizure medication, is an example.

Alcohol use

Synergistic effects can be observed when alcohol and Xanax are taken together. If you consume alcohol while taking Xanax, its effects will be enhanced. The process of eliminating Xanax from your body will take longer. It is also possible to overdose on Xanax while drinking alcohol.

What Is the Xanax Withdrawal Timeline?

Quitting Xanax can cause uncomfortable and even dangerous withdrawal effects. But how long after quitting will you start feeling withdrawal symptoms, and how long will they last? Xanax has a half-life of around 11 hours, making it one of the short-acting benzodiazepines available. Symptoms of withdrawal can appear anywhere from six to 12 hours after the last dose of the drug has stopped being active in your blood plasma.

After the last dose of a short-acting benzodiazepine such as Xanax, acute withdrawal symptoms typically peak a day or two after the last dose and subside within four to five days.

In rare cases, withdrawal symptoms can last for years after prolonged or post-acute withdrawals have ended. In the absence of treatment for the lasting symptoms, a relapse is likely to occur. It will be necessary for them to receive consistent therapy.

With adequate support, those who stop using Xanax can overcome post-acute withdrawal syndrome.


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