How Long Are Benzodiazepines Detected?
Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, are a class of drugs that have an impact on the central nervous system. They can cause sedation, muscle relaxation, anticonvulsant activity and other important actions. Often though, these medications have a potential for abuse and addiction. To detect if a person has been using them, a laboratory can use samples of urine, blood, hair or saliva. The length of time they’re detectable varies based on several factors.
How Are Benzos Detected Over the Long-Term?
Benzos are a complex and diverse group of drugs. It’s not always possible to find the parent drug by testing through urine, so it’s more common to give blood samples. For benzodiazepine detection testing that needs to look back several months, hair samples are most commonly used.
How Are Benzos Detected in the Short-Term?
Short-term testing is much more common and can show that benzos are in the body if they’ve been ingested within the last few days. In urine, benzos might show up for 10 days. In saliva, it’s common to find benzos for up to 2.5 days. In blood, there’s a 24-hour benzo detection window. These factors, however, are greatly influenced by the cut-off levels and calibration of the testing equipment being used.
How Long Do Benzos Stay in Your System?
The length of time benzos stay in your system varies based on the type of drug you took and the dosage. A long-acting benzodiazepine is going to stay in your body longer than an intermediate- or short-acting benzo. Detection times range, but they average at 10 days in urine for long-acting, five days in urine for intermediate and two days in urine for short-acting. Be aware that these are averages, so the benzos you take may stay in your system for longer or shorter time periods depending on factors such as:
- Your weight
- Your height
- Your metabolism and ability to break down the drug
- How much you have eaten or have had to drink
Why Do People Test for Benzos?
Benzodiazepines may be tested for if you’re trying to get a job. If you will be drug tested for work, make sure you’re honest about the medications you’ve been prescribed because benzos might come up when their metabolites appear on the urine, saliva or blood test.
Benzodiazepines may also be illicit in some cases. For example, if you’re buying Xanax or Valium on the streets, you don’t have a prescription and have illicit drugs in your possession. Even though these are prescription medications that people can take for real illnesses, buying them or possessing them without a prescription is against the law.
Benzos can cause many symptoms, so they may need to be tested for if a patient comes to a clinic with an overdose or if they’re stopped while driving dangerously. These depressant drugs can slow people down to the point that they forget to breathe, which is why they’re so dangerous.
Are Benzos Normally Tested For in Routine Tests?
Benzos come up on most standard urine, blood, hair and saliva tests. Not all benzos are the same, so some are more difficult to identify.
When Are Benzos Tested for During Employment?
Benzodiazepines aren’t usually on the list for basic drug tests. Why? Many people take them with a prescription, so getting a red flag would hinder the hiring process for people who are taking legitimate medications. However, if you will have a 10-panel test, benzos may be included. It is part of the normal drug screening protocol to ask about known medications, so this is an opportunity to declare medication use. If, however, you are using benzodiazepines at a much higher dosage than prescription levels, this may be apparent.
When you’re tested depends on the workplace. Some have random drug tests throughout the year. Others test you only if there has been an accident involving your workplace. Your employment booklet should tell you more about when you’ll need to take a drug test prior to employment or during employment with your company.
How Do People Test for Benzos?
Benzo Detection in Blood: How Long Are Benzos in Your Blood?
Benzodiazepines can be detected in the blood for up to 24 hours in most cases. How long benzos in blood can be detected will vary based on the action of the drug and the dosage as well as the period of time you’ve been taking them. Someone who took one short-acting pill may metabolize and eliminate the drug faster than someone who has taken it for three months at a high dosage.
Laboratories, for example, can detect Xanax in the blood for up to five days (give or take) in some instances, according to the Xanax prescribing information. The test is known as a benzodiazepine drug screening and may identify drugs such as Librium, Valium and Klonopin.
Benzo Detection in Urine: How Long Are Benzos in Urine?
In urine, benzos can be seen for up to 10 days in most instances. Benzos are metabolized in urine, and that makes it harder to see the parent drug. What can be seen are the remaining metabolites. Most common analytical methods for testing urine for benzos include the immunoassay methods, like enzyme immunoassay (EIA).
Benzo Detection by Oral Fluid (Saliva): How Long Are Benzos in Saliva?
Benzos may be found in saliva for up to 2.5 days in most people. A study from 2015 saw that the maximum time the studied benzodiazepine, Xanax, remained in saliva was 2.5 days.
Benzo Detection in Hair: How Long Are Benzos in Your Hair?
Benzos may be found in the hair for up to 90 days. Laboratories that test hair may be able to find benzos in body hair even longer because these don’t typically grow as quickly as the hairs on the head. Hair samples use around 20 to 50 strands of hair that are then put through laboratory analysis. This specific test, benzodiazepine radioimmunoassay, determines if you, or the patient, has been taking benzos within the last four weeks. Some other kinds of tests may be able to identify benzos taken much further in the past than that.
What Are Some Ways That People Try to Alter Benzo Test Results?
People sometimes try to beat benzodiazepine drug screenings. Common methods include:
- Substituting someone else’s urine or synthetic urine in place of their own
- Drinking a commercially available product to flush the benzos out of their system
- Adding an adulterant to the urine specimen after it’s collected
To adulterate the sample, the individual will have to sneak the products, whether those are chemicals to adulterate the sample or a canister of synthetic urine, into a bathroom where the sample is collected. This is almost impossible in most testing facilities because the patient cannot take anything into the restroom with them other than their clothing. They may also have to empty their pockets for the testing agent, who would then identify any items that would be used to adulterate the sample.
Though these methods of adulteration may be successful in some cases, laboratories know to look for unusual signs after the tests come through to them. Spot testing is performed to check for adulteration, which reduces the likelihood of any adulterated specimen passing through the process unchecked and unidentified.
Concerned About Results?
If your goal is to change your test results, the truth is that you may have an addiction that needs to be treated. At FHE Health, we’re here for you and can help you heal from substance abuse. Call us today to speak with one of our helpful counselors at (833) 596-3502.