What are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepine belongs to a class of psychoactive drugs that are widely prescribed in the USA, specifically used for treating older patients. Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, are classified as Class Schedule IV drugs under the Controlled Substances Act. They are usually prescribed to treat anxiety and sleep disorders as well as treating epilepsy that results in seizures. Benzos possess a higher success rate and are considered much safer compared to a more powerful and dangerous class of drugs named Barbiturates.
Benzos are a type of central nervous system depressants that make way for serious complications when combined with other drugs that react similarly. Despite this, benzos are increasingly prescribed for individuals battling alcohol withdrawal.
Benzo prescriptions have doubled throughout the past decade, due to its recreational and experimental use by individuals. Xanax is specifically popular amongst abusers and comes with nicknames such as “bars” due to the unique, rectangular shape of the pills.
The human brain is comprised of many neurotransmitters that are responsible for communicating messages back and forth through brain cells to produce tranquilizing or excitatory effects. When an individual is situated in an overly anxious scenario, the brain starts to overreact, resulting in the natural tranquilizing transmitters in the brain to communicate and get the brain down to a calmer state. Benzodiazepine reacts in the same manner, releasing a tranquilizing chemical in the brain that works along with the brain’s natural tranquilizing effects to keep the brain calmer and more composed.
Benzodiazepine has also shown to bring in side effects such as:
- Impaired coordination
- Vision problems
- Dazed state
Long-term use of benzodiazepine will eventually result in physical dependency, which can take root even after using it for as little as one month or even when consumed as prescribed. Abruptly quitting drug usage can make way for severe withdrawal symptoms that may seem daunting for those who wish to stop the consumption of the drug. Medical intervention is highly recommended for those who wish to stop.
Timespan of Benzodiazepines Effects
Different benzodiazepines remain for different lengths in our bodies. Medically, these durations are measured by the drug’s half-life, which is the length of time required for the concentration of the drug to decrease to half of its potency or starting dose. In essence, it generally takes around five half-lives to discard a drug’s active components from a body. Benzodiazepines’ half-lives are classified into three categories, such as long-acting, intermediate-acting, and short-acting.
These drug classifications greatly assist doctors in identifying which drug to prescribe for which specific condition. Long-acting benzodiazepines are widely known to develop sedative feelings in users, leaving them with a feeling of calm. This type of drug can leave the user in a state of haze if abused. On the other hand, short-acting or fast-acting benzodiazepine abuse can result in memory losses or disorientation.
What Determines How Long Benzodiazepines Stay in Your System?
Here are a few factors that experts use to help determine how long benzodiazepines stay in your body:
- The type of drug consumed
- The amount ingested
- Age, weight, gender, and ethnicity of the individual
- Duration of consumption
- Method of consumption
- Polydrug use
- Underlying medical conditions
- Psychiatric conditions
Benzodiazepines in Your System
In addition to the factors mentioned above, the metabolism speed of a person’s body also plays a key role in determining the half-life of benzodiazepines. When you increase the doses of the drug over time, the drug starts to leave behind more evidence, making it easier to identify its presence in the body. An individual with a quick metabolism who takes in small doses of the drug will test negative sooner than an individual who has a slower metabolism and who takes the drug in larger doses.
Detecting Benzodiazepine Use
There are many situations that require an individual to undergo drug tests. Here are few such examples:
- Most companies require new employees to undergo drug tests before starting their job.
- Legal systems require either party involved in a parole or child custody case to undergo drug tests.
- Professional sports and athletics organizations implement drug tests on athletes regularly when suspicion arises with regards to enhanced performance.
The majority of these tests do not specifically look for the drug itself. On the contrary, they look for metabolites, which is the scientific term for substances that are left over after your body metabolizes the drug. These particles stick around for longer than the actual drug and help professionals in determining what drug was ingested and when it was taken.
Benzodiazepines: Detectable Timeframe by Urine Test
- Valium – 10 – 30 days
- Xanax – 5 days
- Klonopin – 5 days
- Ativan – 5 days
- Halcion – 7 – 15 hours
- Ambient – 1 day
(Timeframe may vary depending on a number of factors and thus, should not be taken as a firm guideline).