How Long Do Drugs Stay in Your System?

The length of time drugs stay in a person’s system depends on the type of drug or substance they are taking as well as many other genetic and behavioral factors.

Various Drugs Stay in Your System Various Amounts of Time

According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS), in 2018, 31.9 million, or 11.7 percent of the population over the age of 12 in the United States were current illegal drug users. If you include alcohol and tobacco use, the number of Americans who were current substance users in 2018 rises to over 60.2 percent or 165 million people. Those statistics represent a huge amount of the population using and potentially abusing substances.

The amount of time it takes a person’s body to break down a drug varies depending on a lot of different factors. For example, depending on the type of drug taken and their method of ingestion their half-lives will vary.  A drug’s half-life is the amount of time it will take for half of the drug to leave your system. Some drugs can stay in your body for days, while others can stay there for months!

There are many reasons why a person may be curious about how long drugs stay in their system. One of these reasons could be because a person may need to take a drug test. The reasons a person might need to take a drug test include employee testing, probation, legal cases, custody, court-ordered testing, and even many athletes need to be screened to ensure they are not using drugs to enhance their performance.

Factors That Determine the Length of Stay in Your System

How long do drugs stay in your system? The length of time a drug will stay in your system depends on a lot of different factors. The first is the route in which the drug or substance was administered. There are also other factors that influence how long are drugs in your system? These include age, race, kidney function, mixing with other drugs or substances, metabolic rate, hydration, body mass, urine pH, and frequency of use.

Route Drug Administered

The first factor that determines the length of stay is the route that the drug was taken. The various routes drugs can be taken are orally (e.g. alcohol), intravenously (injection into a vein, e.g. heroin), inhalation (smoking, e.g. marijuana; snorting, e.g. cocaine; and sniffing, e.g. glue). Drugs that are taken through the oral route tend to absorb the slowest into the body. Drugs that are taken through the intravenous and inhalation routes tend to absorb the quickest. Additionally, the amount of drug that gets stored in the body also depends on the nature of the drug, the quantity taken, duration of ingestion, and the tissue holding the drug.

Age & Race

Age and race are factors because the younger a person is the better their body is able to metabolize drugs. In general, elderly people tend to eliminate the drug much more slowly.

Kidney Function

Kidney function plays a role in how long drugs stay in your system because people who have kidney failure take longer to metabolize drugs.

Combining Substances

Combining drugs or substances also impacts the rate a person is able to get drugs out of their system. For example, taking alcohol with other drugs can slow down the breakdown and excretion of other drugs because they must compete with alcohol to get broken down by the liver.

Rate of Metabolism

The rate of metabolism is another factor because every person has a different rate of metabolism which is determined by their genetics such as age, sex, ethnicity, and liver impairment, and environment. The faster someone is able to metabolize and breakdown the drug, the quicker it can leave their system.

Hydration and Body Mass

Hydration and body mass are two other factors because fatty tissues tend to store chemicals longer than lean tissue, and hydration dilutes and expels the drug.

Frequency of Use

Lastly, the frequency of use plays a role in determining how long ativan stays in a person’s system. For example, a person who is on a high dose of a drug will take longer to get the drug out of their system than someone on a low dose.

Drug Test Detection Times

Most drugs can be detected through drug testing hair, oral fluids, sweat, and urine. While these are all methods used, taking a urine sample and testing that seems to be the most frequently used method.

How long do drugs stay in your urine? Depending on the specific drug or substance taken, drug detection times vary. Urine drug tests are highly reliable, but false positives can occur for some drugs. Urine drug tests are the preferred method because it is available in large volumes, contains the metabolite, and requires less invasive procedures in its collection.

Marijuana

Marijuana can be detected in hair for up to 90 days. It can be detected in oral fluids for up to 24 hours and can be detected in sweat for 7 to 14 days.

Marijuana detection times in urine depend on whether or not a person uses it just once, moderately, daily, or is a long-term heavy smoker. Single-use of marijuana can be detected in urine for 3 days. Moderate use, described as 4 times a week can be detected in urine for 5 to 7 days. Daily use of marijuana can be detected in urine for 10 to 15 days. Lastly, long-term heavy marijuana smokers can have marijuana detected in their urine for 30 days. Therefore, depending on a person’s use, marijuana can be detected in urine anywhere between a few days to many weeks.

Opioids

Opiates such as codeine, morphine, and heroin can be detected in hair for up to 90 days. These drugs can be detected in oral fluids for 1 to 36 hours and in sweat for 7 to 14 days.

Opioids encompass a wide range of opioid drugs such as codeine, heroin, hydromorphone, methadone, morphine, oxycodone, and propoxyphene.  Codeine can be detected in urine for 48 hours. Heroin can be detected in urine for 48 hours. Hydromorphone can be detected in a urine drug test for 2 to 4 days. Methadone can be detected in urine for 3 days. Morphine can be detected in urine for 48 to 72 hours. Oxycodone can be detected in urine for 2 to 4 days. Finally, propoxyphene can be detected in urine for 6 to 48 hours.

Alcohol

Alcohol cannot be detected in hair or sweat. However, it can be detected in oral fluids for up to 24 hours. Alcohol can be detected in urine for 7 to 12 hours after a person has their last drink.

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines can be detected in hair for up to 90 days. They cannot be detected in oral fluids or sweat.

Benzodiazepines can be short-acting or long-acting and this will impact the length of time they can be detected in a urine test. Short-acting benzodiazepines such as lorazepam can be detected in a urine test for 3 days. Long-acting benzodiazepines can be detected in a urine test for 30 days.

Barbiturates

Barbiturates can be detected in hair for up to 90 days. They cannot be detected in oral fluids or sweat.

Barbiturates can be short-acting or long-acting and this will impact the length of time they can be detected in a urine test. Short-acting barbiturates such as phenobarbital can be detected in urine for 24 hours. Long-acting barbiturates such as phenobarbital can be detected in urine for up to 3 weeks.

Hallucinogens

Hallucinogens such as PCP can be detected in hair for up to 90 days. It cannot be detected in oral fluids but can be detected for 7 to 14 days in sweat.

PC has a half-life of 7 to 16 hours. They can be detected in a urine drug test for about 2 to 3 days.

Stimulants

Stimulants such as methamphetamine and cocaine can be detected in hair for up to 90 days. Methamphetamine can be detected in oral fluids for 1 to 48 hours. Cocaine can be detected in oral fluids for 1 to 36 hours. Both methamphetamine and cocaine can be detected in sweat for 7 to 14 days.

Stimulants such as methamphetamine have a half-life of 12-34 hours. They can be detected in a urine drug test for about 2 to 3 days. Stimulants such as cocaine have a half-life of 0.5 to 1.5 hours. Cocaine can be detected in a urine drug test for only a few hours.

Seeking Help For Drug Addiction

If you or a loved one is suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction, finding a high-quality rehabilitation center can help. An active rehabilitation approach can best treat someone wishing to overcome their substance abuse problem. An active rehabilitation approach combines entry into a substance abuse treatment center with support, education, and lifestyle changes.

 

References

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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