Benzodiazepines are a class of medications used for five main therapeutic actions. With 23 different medications in its class, benzodiazapines vary in usage including anxiety relief, sleep promotion, muscle relaxants, anti-convulsants and sedation for minor surgeries. Though in most cases these drugs are helpful, they also carry a severe risk for dependency and addiction. When trying to detox from these medications, it is important to remember that each type can stay for a varying length of time in the body.
Method of Elimination
Benzodiazepines are eliminated from the body through the liver. Once the liver has broken down the drug, it sends the remaining waste into the urine for it to be excreted from the body. The amount of time it takes to go from the liver out through the urine depends on the the type and dosageof benzodiazepine being used.
Medical professionals measure the time it takes for medications to be metabolized using the term "half-life." The half-life of a medication is the number of hours it takes for the concentration of the benzodiazepine in the blood to fall to half the dose taken. This number can vary from only two hours (such as with Triazolam) to over 200 hours (such as with Ketazolam). The two most common types of benzodiazepines are Alprazolam (Xanax) and Diazepam (Valium). Xanax takes approximately six to 12 hours to reach its half-life, whereas Valium ranges from 20 to 100 hours.
Duration of Effects
One of the factors that influences the use of benzodiazepine is the length of time the effects of the drug last in relation to the amount of time the drug stays in the body. In medical usage, benzodiazepines wear off within hours, long before they reach half-life in many cases. For those who are struggling with addiction, the effects can wear off even sooner because of the tolerance developed for the medication, causing withdrawal symptoms within an hour of taking the drug.