Benzodiazepines can be detected in blood and urine as much as six weeks after a large dose has been taken. More research needs to be done on detecting clonazolam specifically.
Clonazolam is a designer benzodiazepine (benzo) and a potent sedative. It is poorly studied and poorly regulated. It is also readily available on grey and black market websites.
Clonazolam and benzodiazepines are sometimes used as date rape drugs due to their sedative effects. It’s important to be able to detect the drug in victims of rape.
Victims of date rape can pose a difficult challenge when it comes to proving they were drugged via toxicology. The dosage administered may have been high, but it was also likely to be brief. If someone believes they have been drugged, they should try and get a sample of their urine as soon as possible. The sooner it is collected, the more likely it is that it will be possible to detect a dose of a sedative.
If you believe you have been raped, contact RAINN or a similar organization as soon as possible. RAINN’s help hotline is 1-800-656-4673.
Employers and other organizations that wish to detect clonazolam abuse will usually have a much larger window to identify it. Intentional use tends to be relatively consistent, long term, and taken at moderate to high doses.
Depending on the dose, MedlinePlus states that benzodiazepines can show up on a toxicology screening up to six weeks after initial use, with a more realistic estimate putting the upper end at about one month. Generally, benzodiazepines will be detected via a process called a urine drug screen (UDS).
Blood screenings are often avoided, as they are much more invasive. There is no evidence they are notably better for detecting benzodiazepines. Some benzodiazepines such as Ativan, are more likely to detect benzos in urine longer than in blood.
Anyone taking a drug test of any kind, but notably for benzodiazepines, should report any medications (prescribed, legally purchased, or illicitly obtained) to the professionals administering the drug test. Additionally, those professionals should familiarize themselves with any drugs that may cause false positives with such testing.
Benzodiazepines generally stay in the hair for a relatively long time (up to three months). Again, claims about clonazolam specifically are difficult to make since further study is needed.
While benzodiazepines can reliably stay in hair for a relatively long time, administering a hair test is, by its nature, relatively invasive.
UDS tests are by far the most common method of detection compared to blood or hair tests.
Many elements specific to an individual benzodiazepine derivative are not yet entirely clear, including with clonazolam.
For example, although MedlinePlus states that benzodiazepines can show up on a toxicology screening up to six weeks after use with a high enough dose, this is not the entire story. Dr. Cassie L. Boggs notes in her article “Benzodiazepines: Laboratory Detection Challenges” that benzodiazepine detection parameters vary fairly heavily drug to the drug.
It is important to note that when a toxicologist sets the parameters for a given test, they have to try and account for how difficult a given drug tends to be to detect. However, different benzodiazepines can be more or less readily detected. Setting a test to catch one form may also yield a false positive for another.
Careful testing is very important, and it is difficult to fully and carefully test without more data and research.
As such, it is not yet clear how long clonazolam stays in the system, both via blood or urine. While some have posited various claims, there appears to be no currently academically accepted answer.
Toxicology is a complex science, where a balance must be struck between correctly identifying the presence of a drug and avoiding false positives. The current lack of quality research does a disservice to those who may have been date raped by someone using clonazolam or similar drugs and to those who investigate such matters.
When it comes to intentional users, such detection will prove less difficult. Consistent use will likely lead to being detected. However, there was at least a multi-year period where undetected false positives were possible via sertraline.More research needs to be done on clonazolam specifically to avoid false positives. At that point, users can more accurately know how long the drug can be detected on various forms of drug tests.
Benzodiazepines: Laboratory Detection Challenges. NewsPath. Retrieved February 2019 from from http://webapps.cap.org/apps/docs/newspath/1112/benzodiazepines.pdf
(January 2017). Toxicology Screen. MedlinePlus. Retrieved February 2019 from from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003578.htm
(October 2016). Clonazolam. Scientific Working Group for the Analysis of Seized Drugs (SWGDRUG). Retrieved February 2019 from from http://www.swgdrug.org/Monographs/Clonazolam.pdf
About the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline. Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). Retrieved February 2019 from from https://www.rainn.org/about-national-sexual-assault-telephone-hotline
(July 2009). False-Positive Urine Screening for Benzodiazepines: An Association with Sertraline? Psychiatry (Edgmont). Retrieved February 2019 from from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2728940/
(October 2004).Windows of Detection of Lorazepam in Urine, Oral Fluid and Hair, with a Special Focus On Drug-facilitated Crimes. Forensic Science International. Retrieved February 2019 from from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15451084
How Long Does Ativan (Lorazepam) Stay In Your System? Mental Health Daily. Retrieved February 2019 from from https://mentalhealthdaily.com/2015/10/15/how-long-does-ativan-lorazepam-stay-in-your-system/