How long do benzos stay in your system?

Benzodiazepines (Benzos) can stay in your system for weeks to months after last dose. Learn more about short and long acting benzos, their half lives and detection times here.

8
minute read
Reviewed by: Dr. Dili Gonzalez, M.D. Dr. Juan Goecke, M.D.

ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Benzodiazepines 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.

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Taking Benzos

Benzodiazepines, or “Benzos”, are one of the most powerful tranquilizer sedatives prescribed by doctors. As a central nervous system depressant, benzodiazepine can be highly effective. However, benzos vary in terms of uses, active times and addictive qualities. When taken recreationally, people use these meds for sedative effect, or to enhance the effects of alcohol or opioids…but also increase addictive potential.

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 gastrointestinal tract. They should only be prescribed for short periods of time.

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Benzodiazepines are usually prescribed and taken orally, but some people use benzos without a prescription from a doctor. This is illegal and can be very dangerous. Some use intravenous injection after preparing a solution from crushed tablets. Commercially available liquid forms can also be injected, and gel forms can be rectally administered.

The list below shows some of the different generic and brand names of benzodiazepines:

  • Bromazepam: Lexotan.
  • Clonazepam: Rivotril.
  • Diazepam: Valium, Ducene, Antenex.
  • Flunitrazepam: Rohypnol, Hypnodorm.
  • Lorazepam: Ativan.
  • Nitrazepam: Mogadon, Alodorm.
  • Oxazepam: Serepax, Murelax, Alepam.
  • Temazepam: Euhypnos, Normison, Temaze.

Some slang names for benzos are rowies, serries, moggies, vals, V, normies, downers, tranks and sleepers.

Main Effects

The effects of benzodiazepines can be divided into immediate and long-term effects and may last from a few hours to a few days, depending on the dose and type of benzo you take.

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The immediate effects can include that you:

  • Become confused or dizzy.
  • Cannot judge distances or movement properly.
  • Cannot remember things from just a short time ago.
  • Feel drowsy, sleepy or tired.
  • Feel really good.
  • Feel relaxed.
  • Have blurred or double vision.
  • Have mood swings.
  • Have no energy.
  • Slur your words or stutter.

If you use benzodiazepines often for a long time, you may:

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  • Be cranky.
  • Be depressed.
  • Be hungrier and put on weight.
  • Experience fatigue or drowsiness.
  • Feel sick in the stomach.
  • Get skin rashes.
  • Have dreams that make you feel bad.
  • Have headaches.
  • Have menstrual problems if you are a woman.
  • Have no energy or interest in doing normal things.
  • Lose interest in sex, or your body will not work properly during sex.

Factors that Influence Metabolism

Not everyone reacts to benzos the same way. In fact, there are a number of factors that play into how these types of drugs effect you and how you metabolize them. For example, your current mood, past experience with benzodiazepines, and whether you use alone or with others, at home or at a party can also include outcomes.
Generally, benzodiazepine metabolism depends on:

  • How many tablets and what dose you take.
  • Route of administration.
  • Whether you use benzos on their own or with other drugs.
  • Your general health.
  • Your height and weight.

Peak Levels And Half-Life

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:

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

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.

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.

Blood, Hair, And Urine Sample Tests

Testing cutoff concentrations for benzodiazepine are at 200 ng/ml. So how long do benzos stay in the body?

Blood: Benzos can be detected in serum and plasma for 12 hours to 2 days after last dose.

Hair: Hair samples are usually not used to detect benzodiazepines. While some popular medicines like diazepam may regularly be detected via this method, false negative results and variability in performance make this test less standard.

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Urine: Benzodiazepines 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.

You can find a full list of Drug Tests approved by the FDA here. [1]

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.

Tolerance and Dependence

Anyone can develop a ‘tolerance’ to benzodiazepines. Tolerance means that you must take more of the drug to feel the same effects you used to have with smaller amounts or lower doses. This may happen very quickly with benzodiazepines.

Physical dependence occurs when you regularly take benzos for period of a few weeks or longer. In fact, most of the drugs in this class of medications should be prescribed for 6 weeks or less, due to the phenomenon of dependence. According to this 2015 article published in the Australian Prescriber [2]:

Any patient who has taken a benzodiazepine for longer than 3–4 weeks is likely to have withdrawal symptoms if the drug is ceased abruptly. The risk of inducing dependence can be reduced by issuing prescriptions limited to 1–2 weeks supply.

When you become drug-dependent, your brain has adapted to the psychoactive chemicals found in the benzodiazepine by compensation, in this cases, “speeding up” certain processes or functions. It does this to balance out the sedative, depressant effects of the strong benzo drug in your system. When you significantly lower dosage or quit altogether, it takes time for the brain to find homeostasis again. So, withdrawal symptoms occur.

However, benzo dependence is not limited to physical dependence. ‘Psychological dependence’ on benzodiazepines is also possible. When a benzo takes up a lot of your thoughts, emotions, and activities…you might be hooked on it. People who are psychologically dependent spend a lot of time thinking about using benzodiazepines, looking for them, using them, and getting over the effects of using them. You may also find it difficult to stop using or control how much you use. This kind of dependence, also known as addiction, can lead to a variety of health, money, legal, work and relationship problems.

Not all people who ever use benzodiazepines become dependent. But it is very easy to become dependent on benzodiazepines and it can happen within four weeks.

Withdrawal

People who are dependent on benzodiazepines find it very hard to stop using them or cut down because of withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal often involves “rebound” symptoms related to the original problem. So, if you were taking the meds to control anxiety, your anxiety can be amplified. Likewise for sleeping problems.
Still, suddenly stopping using benzodiazepines can be dangerous. You should get help and withdraw gradually if you have been using benzos regularly or using high doses of them. Tapering guidelines outlined by Dr. Heather Ashton are consider the go-to medical guidance for safely coming off these strong drugs. [3]

Symptoms of benzo withdrawal can include:

  • Being confused or depressed.
  • Convulsions.
  • Disturbed sleep.
  • Feeling nervous or tense.
  • Feeling afraid or thinking other people want to hurt you.
  • Feeling distant or not connected with other people or things.
  • Flu-like symptoms.
  • Heavier menstrual bleeding and breast pain in women.
  • Pain, stiffness or muscle aches or spasms.
  • Panicking and feeling anxious.
  • Shaking.
  • Sharpened or changed senses (e.g. Noises seem louder than usual).

Signs of a Problem

There is significant concern regarding overprescribing of benzodiazepines and the resultant harms. People who are benzodiazepine dependent or at risk because of misuse should be identified and appropriately assessed to determine their risk of harm.

You may have a problem if you present any of these characteristics:

  • Amnesia.
  • Appearance of dementia.
  • Benzodiazepine overdose.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Confusion.
  • Disturbing dreams.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Hostility.
  • Instability when walking or moving.
  • Irritability.
  • Judgment alteration.
  • Lack of coordination.
  • Reduced inhibition.

Furthermore, these medicines can be addictive. Since many benzodiazepine addictions start out as prescriptions, it can be challenging to notice when a person becomes addicted. Once a person has become addicted to benzodiazepines, they may appear detached and apathetic. They may begin removing themselves from normal family and social activities and lose interest in hobbies and maintaining relationships.

The main signs of benzodiazepine addiction include:

  1. Continued use, despite harm to health, work, or relationships.
  2. Feeling that you cannot function without the medicine.
  3. Trying to quit but being unable to stop.
  4. Using benzos to get high.

Prescribing interventions, substitution, psychotherapies and pharmacotherapies all contribute to the management of benzodiazepine dependence.

Risks of Misuse

The way a person uses benzodiazepines can also cause some problems. If you take a very high dose of benzodiazepines alone or with other drugs, you can depress the respiratory system, go into a coma or die. Injecting benzodiazepines that are intended to be swallowed in tablet/capsule form can also cause severe damage to veins, leading to loss of limbs from poor circulation, organ damage or stroke. Injecting benzodiazepines with used or dirty injecting equipment makes you more likely to get infected with HIV, hepatitis B or C, get blood poisoning and skin abscesses.

NOTE HERE: To minimize possible harm, avoid injecting benzos. If you do, DO NOT SHARE fits (needles and syringes), spoons, water, filters, alcohol swabs, or tourniquets.

Benzos and Addiction

Do you have problems with Benzodiazepines? If you think that you have a problem (with any chemical or drug), you probably do. Ask yourself, why you are taking it? And you will have an answer. We understand some benzodiazepines are more addictive than others and the problems they can cause.

You are not alone. 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: [1] FDA: Drugs Of Abuse Test
[2] NCBI: Management Of Benzodiazepine Misuse And Dependence
[3] New Castle University: Benzodiazepines: How They Work And How To Withdraw
FDA: Drug Safety
NIDA: Well-Known Mechanism Underlies Benzodiazepines’ Addictive Properties
NIH: Detection OF Benzodiazepines AND Z-Drugs IN Hair Using AN Uhplc-Ms/Ms Validated Method: Application TO Workplace Drug Testing
SAMHSA: FDA Regulation Of Drugs Of Abuse Tests
STATE OF NJ: Benzodiazepine Addiction Help And Treatment In New Jersey
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
Medical Reviewers
Dr. Dili Gonzalez, M.D. is a general surgeon practicing women's focused medici...
Dr. Goecke is a medical doctor and general surgeon with personal experience of...

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a licensed medical professional.

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  1. I have been taking one tablet-3mg every night since 2001. I feel very fine but if I drop taking it, I am deprived of sound sleep and the whole day I don’t feel comfort. The doctor has cut the dose half, but it doesn’t work. I have to take some other mds. like Co-diovan-40 mg, Bisopro-1.25, Agoxin-0.25(half),Lasix(half),Ecospirin-75 mg. I feel Memory Loss for some very known things. I want sound sleep and the withdrawal of Lexotanil if its long time therapy is unwanted.

    Professor M R.

    1. Hi Md. M R. Benzos can be very hard to quit. Tapering down as prescribed by your doctor is usually the best option. If that doesn’t work, and your insomnia still persist, you may need a comprehensive treatment program. That can include a stay at an inpatient facility, medically supervised detox, counselling sessions, group and individual therapy, support groups and aftercare programs. I suggest you consider this option. Good luck!

  2. Hi All,
    Base on my own experience, I am highly recommend everyone to stop taking anxiety pills. It is very hard to be off every one of the anxiety pills. No doctors understand and know how addicted those pills are. Your brain is taking a very long time to adjust without medicine. I am off Ativan for 5 wks now. I still experiencing head tingling, headache, muscle weakness, legs tremble, involuntary movement, and sick. If I had a choice, I never will take this pill. I understand some of you really need to take the medication, please take low dosage or not to take them at all. That’s all I can say. Hope everyone will get well and recover soon. God bless.

  3. I am currently, along with my doctors supervision,
    Trying to spot my use of ativan. I’ve been asked “how do I feel after taking it”, and my answer is “normal”. I can entreat socially. If I don’t take it, I feel like I’m having a heart A ttack. My hands sweat, I have ” floaties” in my vision and sometes blackout. I have, with my doctor, changed other meds to help
    to help with the above symtoms. I was taking 4 ativan a day when I changed doctors, and she stressed that we HAD to get rid of that dosage. That’s fine. I am now prescribed 2 per day and ting to bring it down to 1/2 twice a day. I am able to do this, sort of. She prescribed Klonipin 3x a day until I am completely off of ativan all together. I can only tell you that this is scaring me because the symptoms above are horrible. I want to stay home because the symptoms are embarrassing,
    and my chest fees like it’s going to explode and my heart will kill me. I know that sounds dramatic but that is 100% exactly how I feel.I have totally blacked out in front of a sales presentation. It scares the daylights out of me. I don’t know how I can manage this. Oh, and there is more, I have had 4 back surgeries and have to take Norco at a pain clinic.
    My main doctor knows I am trying to ilimimate
    Meds but the pain clinic tells me that he will stop helping me to manage the pain unless I discontinue the anxiety meds.
    So it comes down to paid attacks or just laying around because of my pain.

    Do you have any suggeztions.

    I would love to hear your suggestions

    Thank you,
    Carole.

  4. Addicted to alprax from 2 weeks but now I can’t sleep for more than 4 hours and does gym helps me to get out the drug through sweating .I m daily going to gym

  5. From last one year im consuming 4-5 mg of alprozolam every day and i feel good but feel very drowsy and tired whole day and really i waana stop this , so kindly help me

  6. I had been on Klonipin fir anout 8 yrs, ended up suicidal and miserable.mived to UK and with docs help andsuggestion, was weaned off it with a tapering of diazrpam, was slso on Lunesta and Lexapro..all stopped..been about 3 ir 4 wks, no desire to backslide, but truly muserable with neck stiffness and rubbery legs, barely functioning in the mornings, on propranalol for anxiety and trazodone for insomnia, which i have akways had..any suggestions? my whole life is on hold, living with my 86 yr old dad, who is great and finally understanding, but not of my suicidal ideas..any help here?

  7. I used benzos still not and ivedals for years .
    I am clean for a month .I took a blood test with my docter and it shows there in still benzos in my bloodstream.
    The counting is 25
    When will the result show negative .

    Thank you

    1. Hi Irma. In comparison with other drugs, benzos stay longer in the system. Sometimes, they may be detected up to 6 weeks after the last dose. Also, there are many factors such as body mass, dosage, person’s general health, frequency of use, etc. that affect drug tests results. I suggest that you download our free e-book ‘The Definitive Guide To Drug Testing’ to learn more, here: http://addictionblog.org/ebooks/the-definitive-guide-to-drug-testing/

  8. Ive been on oxazepam for over 4 years at 6 a day, they are 30mg tabs so 180mg a day and the same with codeine Im terrified to try and get off the benzos because my daughter has been on the longer at higher oses and our doc cut her down to half the dose shes used to and shes having 3 suezures a day. Im old to takeout 1 pill a month to taper down but so scared after watching whats happening with my daughter and I want to get off them. We live in Tasmania Australia so the detox place isn’t that good and the doctors dont really care or support us. Any suggestions please and does everyone experience seizures coming off them

  9. Ive been off clonxapem for 3years and still have severe double vision..starting to freak me out!!! Have you heard of this with vision that takes so long?been to so many eye doctors and nothing..please has anyone had this..I also have eye pain ear and dizzy.
    .thx

  10. Hello I was taking benzos for about 20yrs now clean after a slow withdrawal its been 2 mths but I feel life would be better with something for my anxiety

  11. I was prescribed Ativan (Lorazapam) for Sciatic nerve Problems (I had a restless left leg due to Sciatica). It worked well but I became very fatigued all the time. More naps meant more Sciatica attacks so I took more Lorazapam to help this.
    I stopped all Lorazapam (Ativan) doses and have to sleep in a chair (very difficult).. It’s 3:25am now.
    I stopped all use yesterday (all day until and continual) due to my doctor telling me nothing was wrong (many tests were taken) and I was probably taking too much Ativan. Was referred to a pain management doctor (still waiting on him). We’ll see what happens.

  12. I spent $30,000.00 to go to a private recovery center to get off Clonazepam 3 mg per day they used Valium to do the taper I spent 2 months there I am home a month now and still on 2.5 mg x 3 daily I feel horrible lost weight have no energy no appetite my Doctor wants to see me in 2 weeks and reduced it to 2 x daily I am scared and feel horrible I am afraid I will never be well again I am 57 years old and I have been on those horrible things since 2006 for bad anxiety. I have no where to turn I live in Edmonton Alberta Canada I would like to find a support group people that understand me please help

  13. I have been taking Clonazepam for six years and I am on day five of not taking them. I don’t feel well. I refuse to take them anymore.

  14. I have been taking xanax, klonopins for 30 years, I have tried taking myself off these drugs. After one year for the first time I’m off them it has been 6 days. I feel it is still so difficult to go out, and try communicating I wonder if this will go away?? I know I was chemically dependant, after a really bad reaction in 1991 to other drugs that I mixed, and ingested I overdosed the only thing that got me feeling better after months of not being able to leave my own home was prescribed benzo’s the drug blocks the panic part of the brain.

  15. I only take 1-2 mgs a couple of days every once in awhile, how long can benzos stay in your urine? I have court drug testing today my last dose was Sunday today is thursday?

  16. Last week l was taken lorazapam and temazapam l have felt really umwell for last few days also been taking flueoxtine for last two weeks have not felt this bad before is this the reason just want to feel well again please help as so desperate thankyou Paula

  17. I took one sun and Monday 2mg…about a week ago …
    Just cuz I hurt my knee and the pain was working my nerves …I have to take a drug test Monday or Tuesday and I am not sure if it’s gona show I took a drug test last Wednesday and it showed up.

    1. Hello Jessica. Well, each drug has different effect on different person, so the time of the drug in somebody’s system varies. All depends of the frequency of drug use, dosage, time, metabolism, etc. Usually, benzos can be detected up to 30 days in urine.

  18. OK I hurt my knee went to ER got medication for Oxycontin and I took one 3 days ago , how long does it stay in my urine?
    And I took one ativan as well for anxiety and I want to no how long it stays in my system …How long does it takes to come out my body ??

    1. Hello Jassica. Oxycontin can be detected in urine for 1-3 days, while Ativan doesn’t clear the body as quickly as oxycontin. In fact, Ativan can be found in urine up to 6 weeks. But, all of this depends on many things like the dosage, duration of intake, metabolism, etc.

  19. Want to know how long itll take valium & serepax to leave systems completely as require a serum & ? Urine test for work. Would go on occasional bender taking from 4-30. Ta.

  20. I would like to know after the last time I take a benzo Xanax or Clonopin will be detectable in my bloodstream what’s the longest day you can be detected can send me a give me some kind of appropriate answer

    1. Hi Steven. Xanax and Klonopin (Clonazepam) usually stay in the blood for several days, but exactly how long they stays in the blood can vary. Depending on frequency and length of use, you might want to wait for 3 days before drug testing (for an infrequent user) up to 4-6 weeks for a chronic user.

  21. Hi I have been on clonzepam for 12 years. I have stopped taking it for 5 days now. I am having a really hard time, but am determined to get off this medication. How long will I have side effects? Thank you.

    1. Hi Betty. Did you consult with a doctor before stopping use? Stopping cold turkey is not recommended with benzodiazepines, especially if they’ve been taken for a long period of time. Instead, you should have reduced doses gradually and slowly over the period of several months before finally quitting use completely. You can expect to feel the unwanted effects for a longer period of time, as your brain takes a long time to recover and return to homeostasis. I suggest you check out the Ashton Manual that is the “Bible” of most benzo users who want to get off of their medication. I also suggest you read an interview we did with Dr. Jennifer Leigh who has recovered from clonazepam use herself.

  22. I was taking up to 50mg a day which just stopped on Monday and Jesus I am suffering. Due to how much ot what I was taking my memory is shot. I think I’m about the 5fh day and physically but I think due to cocaine as well. About three months I was daily 50mg and before about 20mg for at least six months. I heard the second withdrawal can be worse and I just feel no better and the Dr won’t give me anything but advice. How long can I feel poorly for it was about a week last time but wasn’t as bad for as long.

  23. My husband just failed a drug test for Benzodiazepines and got out of the hospital last Sunday and the drug test person said it gets out of your system in one day. Can I use the information on this website to show the cps workers that he is wrong. My husband doesn’t do pills and I think that’s messed up that we might loss our kid because of the information he gave about it being out of your system in one day

  24. I have taken xan for about 2yrs because of panic attacks. I am now on probation and the jugde does not want meon it. So i havet taken any in about a month and a half. I am really having a problem however. I keep having panic attacks and feel like im going to die. My question is.. Is there anything that can help with these and not get in trouble ?

  25. Please help me ive been taking 2 to 4 mg of klonapin daily for the past three years. Now i am unable toget them. Can u help me as im very very sick. Please help. Deborah Mandley

  26. I am detoxing off of klonapin how long will it take. Im very sick. Also can you tell me if it is short or ling acting? Is there anyway i can flush it out of my system quicker?

  27. My sister weaned of Temazepam 2-3 weeks ago, but she is doing horribly. The drug really affected her mind. She cannot form complete sentences, usually, and when she does, they don’t make sense. She doesn’t understand the simplest things explained to her. She asks the same questions over and over. She is having hallucinations and body jerks. She was taking it for sleep, but the doctor left her on it for over 6 years. How long will she continue to be this way? Is this “dementia” permanent?

    1. Hi Kim. The brain is a self healing organ and tends to return to homeostasis. Now, her whole organism is trying to adjust to functioning without the drug. So, it will take time before she starts feeling better. I suggest she sees a doctor to help establish a more accurate diagnosis and adequate treatment if needed. Unfortunately, some side-effects may have a long-term impact on patients after being used for such a long time.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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?

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

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