Monday March 30th 2015

How long do benzos stay in your system?

How long do benzos stay in your system?

Benzos are one of the most powerful tranquilizer sedatives prescribed by doctors. As a central nervous system depressant, benzodiazepine can be highly effective.   But benzos vary in terms of uses, active times and addictive qualities.   Ativan versus Xanax.    So how long, in general, do the effects of benzodiazepine last? And when do benzos leave the body? More on benzodiazepine half life, detection times and addiction liability here.

How do you take Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines are usually taken orally, but intravenous injection is possible after preparing a solution from crushed tablets. Commercially available liquid forms can also be injected, and gel forms can be rectally administered.

What are Benzos used for?

Medically, benzodiazepines are prescribed to induce sleep, relieve anxiety, to sedate, treat muscle spasms and prevent seizures. Benzos can also be prescribed during alcohol withdrawal or used to treat anxiety related disorders of the GI tract. Recreationally, people take benzodiazepines for sedative effect or to enhance the effects of alcohol or opioids.

Peak levels and half life of Benzodiazepines

Peak levels and drug half life of benzos depend upon the particular drug prescribed, dosage, interval between doses, and route of administration. Longer half-life benzodiazepines have a more sustained effect, although some may accumulate. In general, benzos can be divided into these three categories:

1. Ultra short acting benzos – The half-life of ultra short acting benzodiazepines is less than 5 hours. These drugs are essentially non-accumulating.

2. Short acting and intermediate benzos – This class of benzodiazepines have half-life values from 5-24 hours and can be dosed more frequently. Accumulation during multiple dosage is less extensive than with the long-acting group, and diminishes as the half-life becomes shorter.

3. Long acting benzos – Long acting benzodiazepines have half-life values usually exceeding 24 hours. Drugs in this category have long acting pharmacologically active metabolites which accumulate extensively during multiple dosage.

Benzodiazepine drug testing

Benzodiazepines are now part of most routine drug screening procedures. Most standard drug screens are usually unable to distinguish between different benzodiazepines. Since a number of benzodiazepines share common pathways of metabolism it is not possible to test for the abuse of specific benzodiazepines such as diazepam or temazepam. It is also difficult for drug tests to detect ‘low’ dose benzodiazepine use.

Testing cutoff concentrations for benzodiazepine are at 200 ng/mL. So how long do benzos stay in the body?  Benzodiazepine can be detected up to 30 days in urine although chronic use (1+ years) can be detected 4–6 weeks after last dose in urine. Benzos can also be detected in serum and plasma for 12 hours to 2 days after last dose.

Benzos and addiction

Do you have a problems with Benzodiazepines? If you think that you have a problem (with any chemical or drug), you probably do.  And some benzodiazepines are more addictive than others (the addiction potential Valium, for example, depends upon WHY you are taking it).  In fact, once you are ready to face potential addiction to drugs, help is available. If you think that you are addicted to benzos, please email us or write us a comment below. We would love to hear from you and are here to help you get treatment.

Reference sources: U.S. Department of Justice Drug Testing in a Drug Court Environment: Common issues to address
Education In Palliative And End-Of-Life Care For Oncology Self-Study on Anxiety
Benzodiazepines: A Summary of Pharmacokinetic Properties

Photo credit: Divine Harvester

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9 Responses to “How long do benzos stay in your system?
3:42 pm June 26th, 2012

I would like to know if you recommend Narcotics Anonymous? I have stopped taking drugs for 3 months because of employer drug testing but staying off is very difficult. Please advise.

7:34 pm June 26th, 2012

Hello Jake. From personal experience, Narcotics Anonymous can be helpful. The 12 steps are a great way to live life. But there are other options for help for drug addiction via support groups. You can check out SMART Recovery, Rational Recovery, LifeRing, Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS), or Moderation Management. Each has their own program for drug recovery.

John H. Kohlenberg
12:32 am August 25th, 2012

I am down to taking a chip in the morning and a chip in the afternoon of lorazapam. I want off this drug. How long will it take to feel normal again, and loose that shaky feelings. The chips are probably
.0125 mg apiece. It is half of one quarter of a pill. I am very strong willed and with the lords help I am determined to get off this drug. Today is Friday, and I took the last chip about 2 p.m. Will I have releif by Monday morning. I will await your reply.

1:45 pm September 5th, 2012

Hi John. Withdrawing from benzodiazepines can quite difficult and experts suggest that you do so under medical supervision. The symptoms are similar to those experienced when withdrawing from opioids, but can be more intense and last longer. Nonetheless, benzodiazepine withdrawal depends on the amount of the medication taken, the length of time a person has been taking the medication, and the type of medication. People taking short-acting benzodiazepines experience withdrawal symptoms sooner than people taking the longer acting ones.

The withdrawal from benzodiazepines can mimic an anxiety attack. You may experience muscle twitching and seizures. Seizures related to benzodiazepine withdrawal typically last 30 seconds
to a couple of minutes.

I cannot say whether or not these withdrawal symptoms will resolve within a few days, or not. How are you doing today, for example? Do you need any more suggestions or advice?

4:47 pm September 28th, 2012

How long does Xanax stay in your urine

2:57 pm October 17th, 2012

Hi Renee. Traces of Xanax can be detected in urine for at least one (1) week after last use, and up to six (6) weeks for heavy use. More information here:

7:44 am September 2nd, 2014

I have been taking activan for six years I have only been taking one miligrsm a day. I am trying to wesn myself off of them I am taking a half tab now. I just hopes this works.

4:35 am November 18th, 2014

Hello, I’ve been taking 1 clonazepam 1mg a day for 3 months now. I haven’t take any for 2 days. How long will it take before I will be able to pass a urine test. I’m looking to better my life and I have possible job interview in the next couple of weeks. Is there anything I can do to speed the removal of this from my system. Any advise would be appreciated. Thank you.

1:30 pm November 24th, 2014

Clonazepam is a benzodiazepine. They actually can be detectable in urine for approximately 6 weeks after last dosing. Of course, this is not a rule and is dependent on many factors.

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