How Long Does Xanax Last?

Xanax is a short-acting benzodiazepine. Psychiatrists may prescribe it to reduce symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder. The quick answer to “how long does Xanax last” is four hours. However that number may vary depending on your physical makeup, the dosage and how long you’ve been taking Xanax. Learn more about the effects of Xanax and how long it lasts.

When Will I Feel the Effects of Xanax?

Xanax is quick-acting. This makes it useful for treating conditions like panic attacks where symptoms come on fast. Most people begin feeling the effects of Xanax between 10 minutes to an hour after they take it. The effects of Xanax are typically strongest between one and two hours after ingestion. The effects of Xanax may include:

  • Feeling relaxed and calm
  • Slower movements
  • Tiredness
  • Slower speech

If you take Xanax to get high, the effects are a little different. People who abuse Xanax usually take it at larger than normal doses. In high doses, Xanax effects may include:

  • Euphoria
  • Feeling much less inhibited
  • Clumsiness
  • Confusion
  • Trouble remembering what happens when abusing Xanax (blackouts)

When Does Xanax Wear Off?

Xanax effects peak around one to two hours. They begin to gradually subside after reaching their peak. Usually any noticeable effects of Xanax are gone within about four hours. People prescribed Xanax for anxiety may take Xanax two or three times a day depending on their needs. There is also an extended release form of Xanax that is taken once a day. Extended release means the effects of the drug are spread out throughout the day instead of being delivered right away.

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System?

Though effects of Xanax may wear off in four hours, the medication stays in your system longer. The length a prescription drug stays in your system depends on its half-life. Half-life is the time it takes for the amount of drug in your body to decrease by 50%. The half-life of Xanax is around 11 hours. This varies depending on factors like how quickly you metabolize drugs. People can metabolize drugs at different rates. In general, it usually takes two to four days to eliminate Xanax from your system. Certain tests can detect Xanax in your system days after you’ve taken it. These may include saliva, blood, urine and hair tests. How long Xanax stays in your system depends on your individual makeup. On average, these are the time periods for detecting Xanax:

  • Saliva testing – up to 2.5 days
  • Urine testing – 5-7 days
  • Hair testing – 1-7 days
  • Blood testing – 1-6 days

Factors That Affect How Long Xanax Lasts

How long you feel the effects of Xanax and metabolize it varies because it’s based on several factors. These sometimes include:


Xanax may stay in your system for a shorter amount of time if you have high metabolism. Things that impact the way your body metabolizes Xanax may include activity level, ethnicity, muscle mass, age and size.

Xanax Dosage

How long Xanax lasts may also depend on the dose. Higher doses may take longer to metabolize. Xanax comes in .25, .5, 1 or 2 milligram tablets. Physicians typically prescribe Xanax in .25 to .5 mg tablets three times a day for anxiety disorders. People with panic disorders may take around 4 mg of Xanax a day.


It may take older adults longer to process Xanax. The half-life of Xanax in older adults is often over 16 hours. The average half-life of Xanax is 11 hours.

Drug Interactions

If you take Xanax with other drugs, it can take longer for your system to process it. Certain drugs affect the way your body rids itself of Xanax. Some drugs act on the same body processes that eliminate Xanax. This can slow down metabolization. Other drugs may speed up the process of metabolizing Xanax.

Alcohol Use

Alcohol and Xanax compete for the liver’s attention when taken together. Not only does alcohol intensify some of the effects of Xanax, it can cause your body to take longer to get rid of it. The liver metabolizes Xanax. People who have liver function problems from abusing alcohol will also have a harder time breaking down Xanax. Xanax has a high potential for abuse. The short-acting nature of Xanax may contribute to this. Sometimes people develop Xanax dependence because they want to feel the desired effects beyond what is possible from the prescribed amount. With regular Xanax abuse, the central nervous system begins to depend on Xanax to balance itself. People may also develop a tolerance to Xanax and require more as time goes by. This situation can also fuel Xanax addiction.

How Long Does Xanax Withdrawal Last?

People who abuse Xanax or take it at high doses for long periods of time are at risk for Xanax withdrawal if they quit taking it. The timeline for Xanax withdrawal is different for everyone. On average, withdrawal may begin six to eight hours after your last dose. The most difficult withdrawal symptoms usually happen around the second day as your central nervous system tries to rebalance itself. Most uncomfortable symptoms don’t last more than a week. Xanax withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Insomnia
  • Stomach issues like vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Problems concentrating
  • Confusion
  • Panic attacks
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety

It’s important to undergo Xanax detox in the hands of medical professionals. They can ease withdrawal symptoms by:

  • Tapering you off the drug slowly
  • Using medications and alternative approaches to ease withdrawal
  • Making sure you’re safe and comfortable during Xanax detox

Getting Help for Xanax Abuse

Xanax abuse is common and treatable. Xanax addiction treatment may include drug detox followed by individual and group therapy. Family therapy and alternative therapies may also be appropriate. Attending drug addiction treatment after detox helps you address the reasons why you’ve been abusing Xanax. Getting professional help from an addiction treatment center is especially important if you abuse other substances like alcohol. Substance abuse treatment teaches you healthier ways to cope with stressors and emotional pain. Addiction specialists know effective ways to treat anxiety without addictive medicines.

Scroll to Top