Benzodiazepines are primarily prescribed to help those managing anxiety, sleep disorders, and seizures. Occasionally they might be used to help treat alcohol withdrawal as well. Over 43% of New Mexico adults reported symptoms of anxiety within the past year. Benzodiazepines, otherwise known as benzos, are sometimes used outside medical advice. Many times they’re taken in combination with other substances. As with any substance, this can lead to overdose. So how long do benzodiazepines stay in your system? What exactly happens when you take them?
Here at Shadow Mountain Recovery, we understand that there are many reasons behind substance use. It’s not just black and white. We understand the importance of education and open-mindedness when it comes to discussing substances, their side effects, and recovery. Today, we’re going to be talking further about benzodiazepines, how long they stay in your system, how they can impact you while they’re there, and benzodiazepines side effects.
How Long Do Benzodiazepines Stay in the System for Drug Tests?
Not everyone knows medication types by their generic name, but you’ve probably heard of things like Valium, Ativan, or Xanax. These are all types of benzodiazepines. These different forms can have their own half-lives, which is a measurement used to classify how long it takes a substance to go through your system, by half. These are just a few of the factors that can impact how long benzos are in your system and how they’ll be detected if you take a drug test.
There are two primary reasons you might be asked to take a drug test. If you’re showing signs of an overdose, you might take a test to help determine the source of your systems. Another common reason is drug screening, whether from an employer or as part of a recovery program.
Detection Time of Benzodiazepines in Urine Test
Urine tests are one of the most common forms of drug screening due to their ease. While a urine test can inform someone if you’ve taken a substance, they can not determine how much or when the substance was last taken. Benzodiazepine results for urine testing can vary by type and half-life. Diazepam, for example, can be found up to a few weeks after you last took a dose. Other benzos, like alprazolam or triazolam, usually can’t be detected on an average urine test.
Urine tests measure the amount of benzo’s metabolite within your urine. Since each type of benzo or things like dosage, age, history of use, and many other things can impact how long it takes for you to metabolize the substance, your exact time window for a positive result will vary.
Detection Time of Benzodiazepines in Blood Tests
A blood test can be used to screen for multiple substances at a time if needed. Blood tests can reliably give results within the last 24 hours of consumption. They’re not as commonly used as screenings for drugs due to their invasiveness and low window of accuracy. They do tend to be harder to tamper with, unlike urine tests.
Blood tests result in either a positive or negative, either the substance is in your system, or it isn’t. Blood tests can also measure the amount of a substance in your blood at the moment of the test.
If a blood test is called for to test for a potential overdose, you might also receive a glucose test to check your blood sugar. While overdose alone will rarely cause heart or lung function problems, if symptoms pop up, your doctor might screen for other causes for central nervous system problems to cover all the bases.
Detection Time of Benzodiazepines in Hair Tests
Our hair holds more information about our bodies than some may think. Hair tests are often used in drug screenings due to their long window in which positive results can occur. Usually, for benzodiazepines, the average window for positive results is 4-6 months after your last usage.
Factors That Affect How Long Benzodiazepines Stay In Your System
As we touched on earlier, the exact time frame in which benzos stay within your system can be impacted by many things. No singular body and life experience are the same as someone else’s, so most time frames given are a generally average estimate. Some of the many things that can impact substances in your system include age, metabolism, diet, history of substance use, and other substances that are in your system during consumption.
Now let’s talk about some of those in a bit more detail.
Weight and Height
Your weight and height can be big contributors to how a substance goes through your system. Your weight can correlate with your metabolism and how quickly it acts. If you have a faster metabolism, a substance is likely to go through your system faster. Height can also impact how you metabolize a substance but in a slightly different sense. While the amount isn’t drastically different, your blood doesn’t have to travel as far if you’re short versus if you’re taller.
Age and Health
The older we get, the slower our metabolism becomes. As we get older, substances like benzos will take longer to go through your system. Physical health can also have an impact on how long benzos are in your system in a variety of ways. Those who have liver disease tend to have benzos within their bodies for longer. In addition, your health can impact what other prescriptions you might be taking. Substances interact with each other within the body and this can change how long benzos stay in your system overall.
Benzos come in many name brands and dosages. Despite this, there are only three primary types of benzodiazepines: long-acting, intermediate-acting, and short-acting. These terms refer directly to the half-life of the specific benzos.
Long-acting benzos have the longest half-life. The longer the half-life, the longer it takes your body to process the substance. Long-acting forms generally help those with anxiety. Some of the brands you might be familiar with that are long-acting include Valium or Ducene. The half-life of some long-acting benzodiazepines can be as long as 5 days.
Intermediate-acting benzos like nitrazepam are primarily used to help those with insomnia, though they can also be used for those with seizure disorders. Their half-life can last up to 38 hours. Some of the more common name brands are Alodrom and Mogadon.
Short-acting benzos start working and leave the body the fastest. This means the body has less time to adjust to them leaving your body, creating a higher chance of benzo withdrawal symptoms. Alprazolam is one of many types of short-acting benzos, though it’s more commonly known by its brand name, Xanax. Short-acting benzos can have a half-life as low as 5 hours.
Getting Treatment For Benzodiazepines Addiction
Benzodiazepines can come with their own concerns, from withdrawals to the risk of overdose. Moving away from substance use isn’t always the easiest step to take, even when it’s something you desire. That’s where Shadow Mountain Recovery can help. Our expert team of licensed medical professionals know how to help you reach your recovery goals.
If you or a loved one is looking to start the journey of healing and recovery, or if you have any questions about our benzodiazepines treatment processes at all, give us a call today at 800-203-8249. We’re here. We want to help.
FAQs How Long Do Benzodiazepines Stay in Your System
The most common test is a urine test, but other tests include blood tests or hair tests.