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Will Xyrem show up on a drug test?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Pope, BPharm. Last updated on Aug 28, 2023.

Official answer


Yes, Xyrem may show up on a drug test if the test is screening for GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate), also known as the date-rape drug because Xyrem is the sodium salt of GHB. Xyrem may turn a test for GHB positive if the test is conducted within 7 or 8 days of taking Xyrem. However, most drug tests used by employers do not screen for GHB. They mainly look for other drugs that are commonly misused such as amphetamines, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, opioids, cocaine, and marijuana.

If you have been prescribed Xyrem, and are taking it as your doctor recommends, AND you are scheduled to have a workplace drug test, then bring your prescription or a doctor’s note with you when you are having a drug test done.

In general, Xyrem can be difficult to detect on drug tests because it only lasts in the body for a short period and many medical professionals don’t think to test for it because other substances that the person may have consumed such as alcohol, may be more obvious.

When Xyrem is used for medicinal purposes, such as narcolepsy, it is classified as a Schedule III controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. However, even if you obtain Xyrem for medicinal use, but then misuse it or offer it to anybody else to use, then it is considered a Schedule I controlled substance and illicit use is subject to Schedule I penalties which are severe.

The effects of Xyrem are typically felt within 10 to 15 minutes of ingestion and sedation and other effects can last for up to seven hours. The exact length of time Xyrem lasts in the body varies because individual factors such as age, weight, body composition, diet, alcohol intake, and metabolism, can all slightly affect this number. The dosage amount and frequency of use will also make an impact.

About 95% of this Xyrem is metabolized by the liver, and it has a half-life of about 30-60 minutes. This takes on average, 1.83-5.5 hours, depending on the dose, to completely eliminate the drug from the body. Since the half-life of Xyrem is so short, it can be difficult to detect it in the body using drug tests that test for GHB or its metabolites. GHB can be detected in the body through:

  • Saliva tests: Most detectable within 10 minutes of ingestion, although it can remain detectable for six hours after the drug is consumed. Some new drug tests test for the presence of GHB metabolites that remain in saliva for longer
  • Urine tests: Most detectable up to 4 hours after ingestion but can remain detectable for up to 12 hours. Stored urine tests can spontaneously produce GHB after six months due to small amounts of this chemical’s natural presence in the human body
  • Blood tests: Can detect GHB up to 72 hours (3 days ) after the drug has been ingested. Concentrations peak around 30 minutes after ingestion, but metabolites remain circulating for much longer
  • Hair: There is no reliable hair test to detect GHB.

Xyrem has a high potential for abuse because it can cause changes in the activity of the brain and can also cause changes in your breathing, even at regular dosages or if you are taking other interacting medicines. Fatal side effects, such as breathing problems, seizures, loss of consciousness, or death can occur if you misuse this medicine, take it with alcohol, or take it with other drugs that cause drowsiness or slow your breathing.

Related questions

  • How Long Does GHB Stay in Your System? July 26, 2021.
  • How Long Does GHB Stay in Your System? Aug 27, 2019. American Addiction Centers. Oxford Treatment Center.

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