We receive many questions about how long medications, especially benzodiazepines, remain in your system and whether they are detected in a drug screening. Benzodiazepines are anti-anxiety medications and include Xanax, Klonopin, Valium and Ativan, which are often taken to help reduce symptoms of anxiety, especially in those suffering from panic attacks. Many times our readers and members are worried about upcoming employment screening and how results will impact their being offered a job position.
It is impossible for anyone to say with any exactness how long a medication will remain in your system. There are a number of factors, including your dosage, how often you take the medication, how long you have been taking medication, your metabolism and even what you eat or drink. It is also impossible for us to know what type of drug screening is being requested, as not all screening look for this type of medication. I can give you some guidelines and information to help you understand the process a little better.
What Drugs Show Up on Screenings?
The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration requires that companies with employees who use a commercial class drivers license must have a drug screening policy in place. They are required to have the basic screening completed which tests for five specific substances:
- Cannabinoids (marijuana/hash)
- Cocaine (cocaine, crack, benzolecognine)
- Amphetamines (amphetamines, methamphetamines, speed)
- Opiates (heroin, codeine, opium, morphine)
- Phencyclidine (PCP)
Benzodiazepines are not on the list for the basic drug test but would be included if an employer chose to order the expanded drug screening which includes the above five drugs plus any number of the following (companies choose which they want screened for):
- Barbiturates (Phenobarbital, Secobarbitol, Butalbital)
- Hydrocodone (Lortab, Vicodin)
- Methaqualone (Quaaludes)
- Benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, Librium, Serax, Rohypnol)
- Propoxyphene (Darvon compounds)
- Ethanol (Alcohol)
- MDMA (Ecstasy)
- Tryptamines (Psilocybin, AMT, DMT, DPT, 5-MeO-DiPT)
- Phenethylamines (Mescaline, MDMA, MDA, MDE, 2C-B, 2C-T-7)
- Inhalents (Toluene, Xylene, Benzene)
Although drug screening can be done through blood samples, saliva, sweat, urine or hair, most employers choose either urine or blood tests. Some are now using hair samples because hair testing will show drugs used within the last 90 days. It is not known how long benzodiazepines can be detected in blood tests, but for urine tests there it can be detected for approximately 40 days, depending on the different factors as explained in an earlier paragraph.
Laws Concerning Drug Screening
Although specific laws regarding employment screening may differ based on where you live, there are some similarities. In order for an employer to request an employment screening, they should have a written policy explaining their system for testing and stating they require job applicants to be drug-free. They should provide written notice that includes: