Xanax: How It Can Impact Your Drug Test

Xanax and medications in your urine and blood drug test samples
Medications in your blood and urine samples

When we think of drug testing for pre-employment screenings or other regulatory purposes, most of us think of illicit drugs like cocaine, heroin, and even marijuana.

However, there are many prescription medications that can alter the results of your drug test or cause you to fail entirely, which can lead to devastating consequences in both your professional and personal life.

One of the most commonly prescribed medications that may give you cause for concern is alprazolam, also known by the brand name Xanax.

So, suppose you’re currently being prescribed Xanax or are considering asking your Doctor about this popular medication. In that case, there are a few important things you’ll need to keep in mind about the effects of this drug on a screening test.

What Is Xanax?

Alprazolam, or Xanax, is a benzodiazepine-type drug that is typically prescribed for short-term relief from a variety of mental health disorders.

This medication can be delivered either as a Xanax pill or Xanax bar, depending on the dosage and frequency with which you’ll be taking your prescription.

And while this Xanax has gained a significant reputation for its effectiveness, it’s also considered to be a highly addictive substance that can come with many serious side effects, which is why it’s recommended that you only use Xanax when you seriously need it.

This can help you avoid becoming dependent on the medication and prevent you from failing a future drug test due to having Xanax in your system.

What Is Xanax Used For?

Because Xanax works with the body’s central nervous system, it can provide rapid relief for a wide range of anxiety and panic-related symptoms.

With that being said, Xanax only lasts for a short period of time, even in its extended-release form. That’s why it’s essential not to overuse this medication and to strictly adhere to your doctor’s suggestions.

The most common uses for Xanax include…

Anxiety Disorders

Xanax and other generic forms of alprazolam have become a top pick for treating severe symptoms of anxiety in adults, thanks to its potent ability to calm the nervous system and alleviate debilitating physical manifestations of stress like an elevated heart rate, shallow breathing, and trembling.

Panic Attacks

Like anxiety disorders, panic attacks stem from a disruption in the body’s central nervous system, often triggered by an outside source. Since Xanax was designed to only be used in certain situations, many patients have found relief from recurring panic attacks by taking it on an “as needed” basis, along with other coping skills recommended by their doctor.


Of course, anxiety and panic disorders aren’t the only conditions that may benefit from occasional Xanax usage. Because Xanax creates a relaxed sensation in the body, it can also be used to treat severe insomnia and other sleep disturbances. However, it is not recommended to use this drug every single night, since this can lead to dependency and create an increased tolerance to the medication.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Another condition that can prevent you from getting a good night’s is restless leg syndrome, which directly relates to the nervous system and can create a “tingly” sensation in your lower limbs, making it difficult to fall asleep. That’s why Xanax has become more and more popular for treating occasional bouts of RLS, giving your body the extra boost of relaxation it needs to unwind.

Is Xanax An Opioid?

Due to its addictive nature, many people assume that Xanax is an opioid.

But in fact, this drug belongs to a completely different category of medications known as benzodiazepines, which act as a depressant on the central nervous system and produce a sedative-like effect.

However, that doesn’t make Xanax any less dangerous than other pain-relieving opioid medications. Alprazolam and other “benzos” share many of the same qualities that lead to opioid addiction, which is why it’s easy to confuse these two drug classifications.

Does Xanax Show Up On A Drug Test?

Certain medications, such as xanax, will show up in a urine drug screen test
Certain medications will show up in a urine drug screen test

The short answer is, yes.

If you’re submitting for a standard drug screening, most tests are designed to detect anywhere from 5 to 10 common types of drugs that might be of concern to employers or law enforcement officials.

Benzodiazepines are often among these drugs, along with…

  • THC (Marijuana)
  • Cocaine
  • Opioids
  • Amphetamines
  • Methamphetamine
  • PCP (Phencyclidine)

How Long Does Xanax Stay in the System?

In terms of treatment, Xanax can provide relief from your symptoms for about 31 hours, or about a day and a half. If you’re taking an extended-release form of the drug, you may experience relief for as long as 5 days.

But if you’re concerned about how long Xanax will last in the system for purposes of passing a drug test, you’ll need to look at what type of sample you’ll be providing to determine when you should stop taking your medication before testing.

Blood Test

If you’re submitting a blood sample, Xanax will be present in your system within less than an hour of taking it. For some people, traces of Xanax may only last for the first 24 hours while they’re enjoying the effects.

But in other cases, Xanax was detected in blood for up to 6 days after last being used.

Urine Test

On average, Xanax can be detected in urine for between 5 to 7 days, with the most common length of time being 4 days. Even if you attempt to detox your system, this drug will still likely be present in a urine sample for nearly a week after your last dose.

Hair Test

While not as common as blood or urine tests, hair samples are another means of drug testing that some organizations may choose to utilize. Typically, Xanax will not show up in a hair sample for at least 24 hours after being used.

And yet, hair samples can detect the presence of Xanax for as long as 90 days, or 3 months, after the last dose, which can make it extremely difficult for anyone with an alprazolam prescription to pass a drug test.

What Are The Side Effects Of Xanax?

While Xanax and its other generic forms do have some important benefits for those struggling with anxiety, panic attacks, or sleep disorders, there are several problematic side effects that you should be aware of before trying this medication for yourself.

The most common Xanax side effects include…

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Memory challenges
  • Low blood pressure
  • Stomach cramps
  • Dry mouth
  • Poor coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Decreased appetite
  • Constipation

In more extreme cases where a Xanax addiction has formed, the patient may experience withdrawal symptoms like…

  • Hyperventilating
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • Sweating
  • Phantom aches and pains
  • Hallucinations and other psychosis-like symptoms

If you experience any of these side effects, you should contact your doctor immediately to evaluate your treatment options.

Bottom Line?

Despite being a commonly prescribed medication, Xanax can pose a significant risk to anyone taking a standard drug test.

If you know that you’ll need to provide a testing sample in the near future, there are a few key steps you can ensure that your medications won’t cause you to have a negative test result…

Research Your Test Type

While many drug screenings include benzodiazepines, other types of drug testing may only require a standard 5-panel sample, which won’t detect Xanax.

You should be sure to understand the type of sample you’re providing, as well as what drugs will be screened for before you ever submit for a test.

Talk To Your Doctor

If you’re worried that your Xanax usage may negatively impact your drug test, your doctor may be able to offer you safer, less risky alternatives to help you cope with your anxiety or insomnia symptoms.

You should always talk to your doctor about any concerns that you have about your prescription medications.

Seek Help If Needed

Many Xanax users suffer in silence, not realizing how this medication may be affecting their physical and emotional well-being. If you or someone you love has developed a Xanax addiction, you don’t have to fight it alone.

Ask your doctor about local resources for combating addiction, so that you can start walking the road to recovery.

At S&G Labs, we’re dedicated to providing the most accurate drug testing information for businesses of all sizes. Learn more about how our team goes above and beyond to get you the results you need today.