Benzodiazepines in Your Body
Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos,
are a class of drugs that are frequently prescribed
for mental health conditions.
Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, are a class of drugs that are frequently prescribed for mental health conditions such as anxiety disorders and sleep problems. They also treat disorders such as epilepsy and seizures.
These substances work by slowing down the central nervous system, helping the person feel more relaxed. For this role, benzos replaced barbiturates—an even more powerful and dangerous class of drugs.
However, even these prescription medications can be deadly when abused. In fact, most benzodiazepines are classified as Schedule IV drugs, meaning they are regulated by the government because of their high risk of abuse. It is easy for individuals to get addicted and develop dependence towards this type of drug, even when taking it as prescribed.
As central nervous system depressants, benzodiazepines pose a serious risk when mixed with substances like alcohol or opioids. Together, these drugs can slow down the person’s breathing and heart rate to the point where it stops completely. This is why benzodiazepine overdose is very dangerous.
Different benzodiazepines spend different amounts of time within the body.
Factors that Affect how the Body Processes Benzodiazepines
The length of time benzodiazepines stay within a person’s system depends on a number of factors. A person’s drug habits, for example, may slow down the processing of these drugs. The amount they consume, how often they take it, and whether or not it follows their doctor’s prescription will dictate how the body responds to the benzodiazepine.
Physical factors such as age, weight, gender, medical history, history of drug abuse, and speed of metabolism also influence the speed in which the body processes the drugs. Their existing medical conditions such as kidney problems will have an effect on this as well.
All of these factors show that everyone processes benzodiazepines in different ways. The rate at which the drug moves through the system has a lot to do with the individual’s overall health and drug habits. While everyone is different, there are still some general guidelines that can be used to determine how long a benzodiazepine stays in the body.
For example, the type of benzodiazepine taken can determine how long the body will process it once the drug enters the system. There are long-acting, intermediate-acting, and short-acting benzodiazepines. In the medical field these times are dictated by the drug’s half-life. This represents the amount of time it takes for the body to process and dispose of half of the drugs taken.
It usually takes five half-lives to remove a drug’s active components from the body. Classifications like long-acting, intermediate-acting, and short-acting help medical professionals decide which drug to prescribe for certain conditions. Long-acting benzodiazepines stay in the body for a longer period of time, meaning they are great for patients who need continuous relief. However, they may also cause a buildup of sedative feeling, which makes people feel as though they are living in a ‘haze’.
Conversely, fast acting benzodiazepines can cause issues like memory loss and confusion. Examples of long-acting benzodiazepines are Valium, Librium, and Dalmane. Intermediate-acting benzodiazepines are Xanax, Ativan, and Restoril, while short-acting ones are Versed and Halcion.
Detecting Benzodiazepine Use
Benzodiazepines can stay in a person’s system for days or even months. This can prove to be problematic for when a person needs to undergo drug tests. Drug testing is common in the legal system as well as when looking for a job.
Saliva testing is most accurate when done within hours of drug consumption, but falls quickly after more than 12 hours pass. Blood testing is less common, but it is very accurate within a few days of use. Results are available directly after the test is performed.
One fairly new type of drug test is perspiration testing, but it is mostly used in parole cases to monitor long term drug use.
Hair testing can detect the use of benzodiazepines for up to three months, but this type of test is not commonly done. This is because most employers are only concerned about contemporary drug use.
Out of all the tests available for benzodiazepines, urine testing is by far the most common. It is accurate for several weeks, depending on the substance. Valium can be detected from 10 to 30 days after last use. Xanax, Ativan, and Klonopin can be detected within 5 days of last use. Ambien is only detectable within a day. Halcion is only detectable in urine within 7 to 15 hours after last intake.
If someone in the family is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, it is important to seek help. A combination of medical detox and behavioral therapy can go a long way in the fight against substance abuse. But because every individual is affected by addiction differently, a comprehensive program tailored to their specific needs is necessary. Look for a nearby addiction treatment facility today and find out how drug treatment programs work.
Rehab is Your Best Chance
Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.