If you’ve ever taken Xanax or someone you know takes the prescription drug, you may wonder where is Xanax metabolized? Before going into the specifics of where Xanax is metabolized, the following is a brief overview of the drug.

Where Is Xanax Metabolized?
Xanax is part of a class of medicines called benzodiazepines. These drugs are intended for the treatment of anxiety primarily, as well as panic disorders, and in some cases insomnia, and treatment for withdrawal from alcohol. A doctor must prescribe benzos including Xanax, but the number of prescriptions being written continues to increase exponentially, making these drugs relatively easy for people to get.

When someone takes Xanax, there is a change in their brain function is a result, because these substances cross the blood-brain barrier and impact GABA, which is a neurotransmitter that controls communication between neurons in the central nervous system. If you experience anxiety or panic, there is likely a lot of activity firing between neurons, and Xanax calms this and creates a sedative impact while reducing symptoms of clinically-defined anxiety.

Something that’s pertinent to the question of where is Xanax metabolized is a concept called fat solubility. Xanax and all other benzos are fat-soluble to some extent. What this means is that when someone has fats in their body called lipids, Xanax and other benzos are broken down in their presence and ultimately stored in these fat cells. While Xanax may have a relatively short period of elimination, it can vary because of the fat solubility factor.

For example, if you are a bigger person with a high percentage of body fat and you take Xanax regularly, you are likely to have some of the drug stored in your fat cells, and it could show up on a drug test such as a urinalysis for an extended period of time.

The fat solubility of Xanax is one of the many reasons physicians will usually prescribe only small, limited doses. If you take smaller doses, it’s less likely to accumulate in your fat cells.

There is something that can happen when Xanax accumulates in fat called over-sedation. This can lead to symptoms like confusion and speech problems because of the buildup of the drug in their body. It can lead to an overdose as well as symptoms like shallow breathing and low blood pressure.

The above scenario involving fat solubility isn’t likely to impact someone who’s taken Xanax for the first time or is an infrequent user.

In this case, the typical half-life of Xanax is anywhere from 9 to 16 hours, with an average of 12. This means that within this time period, a person would likely have metabolized and eliminated 50% of the amount of Xanax they took. If the half-life of Xanax were 12 hours, it would take around four days for all of the drug to have been eliminated from the system of the user. Some will have faster elimination times, and some slower.

There are individual factors that determine how long, specifically, it would take someone to completely metabolize a dose of Xanax, and some of these primary individual indicators include liver and kidney function. Some individuals are rapid metabolizers, while others are classified as poor metabolizers, and Xanax is metabolized in the liver. The liver enzyme CYP3A4 is primarily responsible for metabolizing it.

For people who have problems with liver functionality, it can take longer to eliminate Xanax fully. If you have liver disease Xanax is likely to stay in your system longer than someone with completely normal liver function.

There isn’t full evidence as to whether kidney function plays a role in the elimination of Xanax, but there is some belief in the medical community that impaired renal function could also slow down the clearance of Xanax from the system of the user.

Other factors that could potentially impact how quickly Xanax is metabolized include a person’s basal metabolic rate, their urinary pH, or their body mass and height.

If you take other drugs that impact the function of certain liver enzymes, you may also see a slower rate of elimination if you were to take Xanax.

Some of the drugs that have been shown to reduce clearance time for Xanax include Ritonavir, SSIRs, and Cimetidine. If you take these and other drugs with a similar impact, it could lead to too much Xanax accumulating in your body, which could be a serious issue. There has even been some research showing oral contraceptives may play a role in how quickly the body can process and metabolize Xanax.

These are some of the reasons it’s so important to take Xanax only under the supervision of a physician, and exactly as instructed.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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