Alpazolam, better known as Xanax is a drug categorized as a benzodiazepine. Due to the high abuse rates in the USA, tests have been created to detect the drug in body fluids and tissue. On average, for a healthy person, Xanax elimination half-life is 9 to 16 hours. For most people it can take up to 4 days after ingestion to have no traces of the drug in their body. This duration is very relative and there are 4 key factors that determine the rate at which Xanax leaves the body. They are;
The amount of time a person’s body takes to metabolize and clear the Xanax from the body is influenced by a number of factors such as age, body mass, genetics liver and food intake. Elderly people are not able to excrete the drug as fast because of the altered blood flow and the deterioration of internal functions as a result of aging. Therefore the older you are the longer it takes to clear Xanax from the body. For individuals with impaired kidney or liver functions they retain the drug for a longer period. Body size also influences the rate at which the body excretes Xanax. The larger the individual the smaller the amount of drug in proportion to their body size hence it is easier to clear.
Ingesting other drugs
Taking other drugs whether prescription or illicit can alter the ability of the body to metabolize Xanax. These drugs can either be inhibitors or inducers of the enzymatic function of the CYP3A4 which is in the liver. Inhibitor drugs inhibit this enzymatic function and prolong the excretion of the drug. Such drugs include Cimetidine and Ketoconazole. Inducers such as Nafcilin on the other hand enhance the CYP3A4 ability to break down the Xanax hence increases the average clearance rates from 0.9ml/min/kg up to 2.13ml/min/kg.
Xanax dosage is between 0.25mg to 4 mg. doctors prescribe minimum effective dosage to their anxiety patients. Individuals taking smaller dosage will metabolize and excrete the drug from their system faster than those that take a dosage higher than 4mg.
Frequency of use
Since the effects of Xanax clear rapidly, users tend to use more of the drug and build tolerance. Frequent users or long-term users build up tolerance rapidly and also accumulate the drug to a greater extent in their bodies hence taking them longer to metabolize and excrete the drug as compared to infrequent users.
According to research 16 million Americans aged 12 and above use the drug for recreational purposes at least once. These statistics indicate that it is the most addictive and among the most abused legal drugs.
Doctors prescribe Xanax to treat anxiety, seizures, muscle spasms and sleep disorders. It does this by depressing the central nervous system. Xanax is very effective at calming the nerves if taken at standard doses. Xanax usually modulates the neurotransmission of Gama Amino Butyric Acid (GABA) specifically at GABA-A receptors. It can however be very addictive if taken in high doses or if it is crushed and snorted since it creates a euphoria high.
Xanax is a fast acting benzo and the effects set in almost immediately after ingestion and peek 1 to 2 hours after ingestion.
The Effects of Xanax
The effects however wear off quickly and the user needs to take more to continue feeling the effects. After 2 or 3 weeks the user starts experiencing physical dependence and tolerance sets in.
Xanax is currently the 9th most abused drug in the USA and the 5Th most prescribed drug. The annual number of emergency room visits due to Xanax abuse in 2015 was 125,000.
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