Drugs Q & A

How Long Does 3 mg of Xanax Last in Your System?

More than 40 million adults in the United States are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, making it the most common mental illness in the country. Although anxiety disorders can have many treatment options, stigma still surrounds mental health conditions, resulting in less than 40 percent of those struggling.

What Xanax is 3 mg?

Pfizer U.S. Pharmaceuticals Group 3 mg Xanax XR is a Three-sided pill with the imprint X 3mg. Xanax is an anti-anxiety medication in the benzodiazepine family. Xanax works by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it in October 1981. Benzodiazepines act on the brain and central nervous system (CNS) to produce a calming effect.

Xanax slows down the movement of brain chemicals that may have become unbalanced, resulting in a reduction in nervous tension and anxiety. Xanax works by boosting the effects of a natural chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is made in the brain.

Xanax is the number one prescribed psychiatric medication in the United States. Seventy percent of teens with a Xanax addiction get the drug from their family’s medicine cabinet.

Tolerance to Xanax develops quickly, requiring the user to take more of the drug to achieve the desired effects. Someone with a Xanax addiction may take up to 20 to 30 pills per day. If the user decides to stop taking Xanax, they may experience withdrawal effects, such as anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and tremors. The onset of withdrawal symptoms is a sign that a physical dependence has developed. The development of tolerance and withdrawal are indications of addiction.

Once a Xanax addiction has taken hold, daily responsibilities, such as school, work or family, are ignored as energy is redirected towards drug seeking behavior.

How Long Does 3 mg of Xanax Last in Your System?

The body absorbs Xanax quickly after a person takes it. Peak levels in the blood occur 1–2 hours after taking a dose. However, the person will feel the effects before levels peak. One study, which examined the effects of Xanax in 14 healthy people, found that participants felt the effects of the medication in under 1 hour, with an average onset time of 49 minutes.

Xanax has an average half-life of roughly 11 hours in healthy adults. In other words, it takes 11 hours for the average healthy person to eliminate half of the dose of Xanax. However, it’s important to note that everyone metabolizes medications differently, so the half-life will vary from person to person. Studies have shown that the half-life of Xanax ranges from 6.3 to 26.9 hours, depending on the person.

It takes several half-lives to fully eliminate a drug. For most people, Xanax will fully clear their body within two to four days. But you will stop “feeling” the sedative effects of Xanax before the drug has actually fully cleared from your body. This is why you may be prescribed Xanax up to three times per day.

What are some of the concerns of taking Xanax?

If you are taking Xanax, you should be aware of its side effects. Possible side effects include:

•          Sleepiness

•          Dizziness

•          Headache

•          Confusion

•          Muscle cramps

•          Decreased appetite

•          Weight loss or weight gain

•          Diarrhea

•          Nausea or vomiting

•          Manic symptoms

•          Difficulty walking

•          Dry mouth

•          Irregular heartbeats

•          Low blood pressure

•          Blurry vision

Some people should avoid Xanax because they may be more sensitive to its side effects or it might harm them. These groups include:

•          Pregnant women

•          Older patients

•          Children and teens

•          People who have misused alcohol or drugs

•          People with certain medical conditions such as respiratory illnesses

People who take Xanax should also be aware of the possibility of misusing or becoming dependent on it. Some people misuse Xanax because they like the way it makes them feel, which can lead to inappropriate use or overuse. When someone needs higher or more frequent doses of the medication to achieve the same effect, this is known as tolerance.

Building a tolerance to Xanax or other benzodiazepines can lead to dependence. A dependence means your body begins to rely on Xanax to function normally, and you can experience serious withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking it suddenly.


Dr. Oche Otorkpa PG Cert, MPH, PhD

Dr. Oche is a seasoned Public Health specialist who holds a post graduate certificate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an MPH, and a PhD both from Texila American University. He is a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. He authored two books: "The Unseen Terrorist," published by AuthorHouse UK, and "The Night Before I Killed Addiction."
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