A comprehensive guide to how long drugs can be detected in your body
If you are visiting this page, chances are you have recently taken a drug (legal or illegal) and are wondering if you will provide a positive result if drug tested.
This page aims to inform you not only about how long drugs stay in your system but also about the personal factors that affect how you metabolise drugs and the different window frames of detection for the different types of drug tests available.
Drug testing in whatever form is usually compulsory; a direct refusal to provide a specimen for testing is always considered a positive result.
On this page:
Types of drug tests:
Purpose of drug tests
DUI – Driving under the influence.
This not only applies to alcohol but also to intoxication from drugs. A positive drug test for driving carries the same hefty penalties as drunk driving.
Alcohol and drug testing are routinely carried out at the roadside on drivers suspected to be under the influence.
Roadside drug test detection
Police – The police will routinely conduct drug testing back at the station for anyone who is arrested and suspected to be under the influence of drugs
Local drug and alcohol services – Local drug and alcohol service teams routinely perform drug tests for those provided with a script (a substitute drug prescription) and those considered for drug rehab funding.
Those under social services must engage with the local drug and alcohol services and those referred by court order.
Probation services – Local probation teams must carry out routine drug testing where there is a court order that dictates the individual needs to provide clean drug specimens to remain in the community.
Social Services – Social services may conduct routine drug screening and alcohol testing where there is a cause for concern about the care of a child or family member and a history of drug and alcohol abuse.
Workplace – Many workplaces now include in their contracts a clause for randomised drug screening and alcohol testing. This applies to job roles that involve driving, operating heavy machinery and working with vulnerable children and adults.
Drug and alcohol detox clinics and rehab centres – Drug and alcohol detox clinics and rehab centres conduct randomised drug testing to ensure patients’ safety.
Sober living accommodation and support living – Sober living accommodation and supported living for those in recovery from drugs will conduct randomised alcohol and drug testing to ensure that their houses are safe and kept drug-free for residents.
If you know that there is a possibility of you being drug tested yet have still knowingly taken drugs, this indicates that you may well have a problem that requires treatment.
Providing a positive drug specimen nearly always carries consequences. These consequences can be far-reaching and affect many areas of your life, not just your career or legal status for driving.
Possible consequences of a positive drug test
A positive drug test can cause all manner of disruption, stress and outcomes, both directly and indirectly. A positive drug test is very rarely a good thing!
Workplace: Testing positive may result in a disciplinary hearing, a warning, or even dismissal from your job.
Driving: Drug driving (DUI) can carry financial penalties, time in prison, and a driving ban.
Probation: This is likely to result in a return to court to review your bail conditions and could result in serving time in jail.
Social services: This could affect your case; ultimately, you could lose custody or visitation rights to your children.
Road traffic accident: This carries severe legal implications and consequences.
Drug or alcohol rehabilitation: This often results in discharge. The same applies to sober living houses and supported accommodation; you could be homeless without notice.
Relationships: Impact your relationships, finances and family. Those close to you tend to feel disappointed and lose trust in your relationship.
Factors that affect how long drugs remain in the system
Several factors govern how long drugs remain in our system; one factor concerns each drug’s chemical structure and physical properties.
All drugs have different chemical makeup and biological characteristics and fall into different classes depending on their effect on the human body. For example:
- Amphetamines and Cocaine are stimulants
- Barbiturates are a sedative
- Heroin and Codeine are analgesics/opiates
- Cannabis is a hallucinogenic drug.
Therefore, a person would be mistaken to use their knowledge of how long one drug takes to leave the body as a guideline for another. For example, Cannabis contains THC, which is stored in the fat cells when ingested, which means it takes longer to leave the body than most other drugs.
Several factors relating to our physiology (which can differ markedly from one person to another) can play a crucial role in determining how quickly drugs leave our system and the unique personal circumstances people experience at different life stages.
The variety of short and long-term factors that affect how long drugs remain in our system can be seen below.
Short-term factors affecting drugs in your system
A medication someone is taking determines what effect a drug will have on them and how long it stays in their system.
Some medications may make it harder for your body to break down certain drugs, whereas others can reduce the effects of the drug. This all depends on the chemical makeup and physical properties of the medication taken and the drug itself.
Frequency of use
Individuals who use a particular drug frequently will find that it takes them longer to eradicate the presence of the drug from their bodies than people who consume the drug less often or those who have only just started taking it.
For example, regular users of Oxycodone could find that the drug could become stored in their fatty tissues rather than being eliminated from their bodies. This will make the drug more vulnerable to detection by various drug testing means.
Those who are well-hydrated and drink water regularly can quickly and efficiently remove drugs from their system. Hydration levels affect how vital organs and bodily systems work and assist with the flushing-out process.
Levels of Use
Those who binge on drugs will take longer to rid their body of them. Toxins build up, and the liver and other vital organs work far less efficiently.
Long-term factors affecting drugs in your system
As people age, their bodies cannot metabolise drugs as efficiently and swiftly as they would have been in their physical prime. This means that the presence of a drug will remain in an older person’s body for longer and, therefore, be more vulnerable to detection.
A person’s gender is important, as women tend to have more body fat than men. Therefore, they will be unable to metabolise and eliminate drugs from their system as quickly as men.
A person with a higher BMI will likely have more fat cells than individuals with a lower BMI. This is significant as the more fat cells a person has, the more likely it is that the physical elements of certain drugs will be stored in their body for longer.
Health problems can also be a significant factor in increasing the time a drug takes to leave a person’s body.
Individuals with liver and kidney problems may find it takes their bodies longer to metabolise a drug and, therefore, will take longer to leave their system.
A person’s biology will strongly influence how efficiently they can remove the presence of drugs from their body.
Several body enzymes determine how quickly we can process drugs and toxins. The number and efficiency of these enzymes vary enormously between people and is down to genetic factors.
Level of alcohol use
Consuming alcohol while taking drugs means it can take longer for the presence of some drugs (e.g. Opiates and sedatives) to be eliminated from your body.
How Long Will a Drug Stay in My Body?
As there is a large variety of drugs, there is also a deviation in the duration of actions of these drugs in the body. Every drug will last in the body for a separate amount of time after consumption.
How long does alcohol stay in your system?
Our bodies process, on average, 1 unit of alcohol per hour. This is subject to several variables affecting how quickly we eliminate alcohol from our system. As a guide, using the following testing methods, alcohol remains detectable in our system for :
Alcohol Breath Test
As part of a routine breathalyser test, alcohol can be detected on the breath for up to 24 hours after consuming the last drink.
How long does alcohol stay in urine?
Alcohol can be detected in a urine sample test for 2 to 4 days after consuming the last drink.
How long does alcohol stay in saliva?
A saliva swab test can detect trace amounts of alcohol around 10-24 hours after consuming the last drink.
How long does alcohol stay in the blood?
Alcohol is eliminated from the bloodstream relatively quickly compared to other testing methods. Still, it also gives a more accurate reading of how much alcohol is in the system through a BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration).
Alcohol can be detected in the blood for up to 24 hours after the last drink, depending on the person’s consumption.
How long does alcohol stay in hair?
Alcohol remains detectable through strand hair tests for up to 3 months.
How long do amphetamine drugs stay in your system?
How long do Amphetamines stay in urine?
1-3 days after consumption. However, it has been known that Ephedrine / Pseudoephedrine (an amphetamine-type stimulant) can be detected in a person’s system for up to 5 days later.
How long do Amphetamines stay in saliva?
Amphetamines can be detected in a drug saliva test 1-2 days after consumption.
How long do Amphetamines stay in the blood?
Amphetamines can be detected in blood tests up to 1-6 hours after taking the drug.
How long do Amphetamines stay in hair?
A hair drug test can identify the presence of the amphetamines for up to 90 days after it was ingested.
How long does Cannabis stay in your system?
Drug tests can detect the psychoactive component of Cannabis, referred to as THC, which shows up as positive in various drug testing methods.
Cannabis is identifiable in a person’s system for a long time after consumption compared to most other drugs.
The body releases THC very slowly, and it tends to be stored in a person’s fat cells as it is a lipid. Therefore, a person with more fat cells will have traces of Cannabis in their system for longer than someone with fewer fat cells.
How long does Cannabis stay in urine?
If you have taken Cannabis for the first time, signs of this can appear in urine tests up to 3 days after consumption of the drug. However, more regular users might find it can be detected in their system up to 30 days later, and chronic users up to 45 days later.
How long does Cannabis stay in saliva?
Generally, most saliva tests can detect signs of Cannabis within 24 hours of consumption. Some of the more sensitive tests can detect traces of Cannabis in saliva for up to 72 hours.
How long does Cannabis stay in the blood?
Blood tests can detect the presence of the THC component in Cannabis for up to 4 hours after use.
Yet, in some cases, it’s been detected following 25 days. Persistent heavy use increases the period that it can be identified.
How long does Cannabis stay in hair?
Hair strand tests, the most sensitive and sophisticated drug test, can detect traces of THC in your system for up to 90 days after consumption.
How long does cannabis stay in your system in a roadside test?
Random roadside saliva tests can detect THC (the active element in cannabis) for about 12 hours after usage in a person who uses cannabis rarely or ‘recreationally.
How long does Cocaine stay in your system?
Cocaine, or ‘Coke’, a Class A stimulant drug, is very addictive. It can be ingested in several ways: snorting, smoking, rubbing into the gums, injecting or swallowing (bombing). Regardless of how the drug is consumed, the time frames for drug testing detection remain the same.
How long does cocaine stay in urine?
Cocaine in urine can be identified up to three days after use, although, for a heavy user, this can rise to two weeks.
How long does cocaine stay in saliva?
Traces of Cocaine can be picked up in a saliva test for up to two days after use.
How long does cocaine stay in the blood?
Cocaine can be detected in a person’s bloodstream for up to two days after use.
How long does cocaine stay in hair?
Cocaine can be detected in a hair strand test for up to several months and even years for regular cocaine users.
How long does Crack Cocaine stay in your system?
Crack cocaine is an extremely powerful and addictive stimulant Class A drug.
It is short-acting and is usually smoked but can also be injected.
Drug tests cannot differentiate Crack from powdered Cocaine as they are turned into the base of the drug in your system once taken.
How long does crack cocaine stay in urine?
Crack can be detected in urine samples for up to 4 days after taking the drug.
How long does crack cocaine stay in saliva?
Saliva drug test facts – in a test, you can identify the presence of Crack in a person’s body up to 48 hours after consumption.
How long does crack cocaine stay in the blood?
A blood test for Crack can find evidence of the drug in a person’s system up to one day after consumption.
How long does crack cocaine stay in hair?
A hair test can detect the presence of crack cocaine in hair follicles up to 3 months after the drug was last ingested.
How long does Crystal Methamphetamine stay in your system?
Crystal Methamphetamine, although still mainly a problem in the US, is now becoming more popular in the UK, especially among those involved in the Chemsex scene.
Crystal meth is dangerously addictive. This drug is very difficult to use on a recreational basis only. A powerful stimulant, it has similar effects to crack Cocaine, except the effects last longer and are much cheaper.
How long does Crystal Meth stay in urine?
Regular users of crystal meth will find that the urine test will detect the presence of this Class A drug between 1-4 days after consumption of the drug. However, heavier users of crystal methamphetamine will likely find that urine tests can detect evidence of the drug in their bodies up to a week later.
How long does Crystal Meth stay in saliva?
Mouth swab saliva tests for crystal meth can identify trace amounts of the drug for 1–4 days after consumption.
How long does Crystal Meth stay in the blood?
This common method of drug detection can find traces of crystal meth in the person’s bloodstream between 1–3 days after taking it.
How long does Crystal Meth stay in hair?
This is probably the most sophisticated and expensive drug analysis method and can detect crystal methamphetamine in your system for up to 90 days after use.
How long does Heroin stay in your system?
The Class A narcotic drug heroin is broken down into morphine in a person’s system. It is this that can be detected by various drug testing methods.
Most individuals who use Heroin regularly require a heroin detox to stop using the drug. Heroin is also responsible for most drug-related deaths in the UK.
How long does Heroin stay in urine?
Traces of Heroin can show up in a urine test for up to 3 days after consumption.
How long does Heroin stay in saliva?
The chemical properties of Heroin can show up on a saliva test for up to one hour after taking the drug.
How long does Heroin stay in the blood?
Heroin can be detected in your bloodstream for up to 6 hours after intake.
How long does Heroin stay in hair?
Heroin can still be detected in your hair 90 days after you last consumed the drug.
How long do barbiturate drugs stay in your system?
Barbiturates are drugs used extensively in the 1960s and ’70s as an effective medical treatment for anxiety, sleep disorders and seizure-related conditions.
Barbiturates are far less commonly prescribed now due to being superseded by more effective drugs, which are considered much safer, although still as addictive.
How long do Barbiturates stay in urine?
For shorter-acting barbiturates, this drug will likely be detected 1-2 days after consumption, and for longer-acting barbiturates, this rises to up to 7 days.
How long do Barbiturates stay in saliva?
Barbiturates can be detected in a saliva test up to 3 days after taking the drug.
How long do Barbiturates stay in the blood?
Barbiturates stay in your bloodstream for up to 2 days after ingesting the drug.
How long do Barbiturates stay in hair?
A hair strand test would detect any traces of Barbiturates up to 90 days after taking the drug.
How long do GHB/GBL drugs stay in your system?
GHB is a liquid drug with potent sedative and anaesthetic properties; it also dramatically reduces inhibitions and can be misused to facilitate sex during Chemsex. GBL is converted into GHB once ingested. GBL is often more potent and has a faster onset than GHB, so a smaller amount is required to achieve the same effects.
How long does GHB / GBL stay in urine?
GBL converted into GHB, can be detected in a standard urine test for up to 12 hours after taking the drug.
How long does GHB / GBL stay in saliva?
Saliva tests can identify evidence of GHB/GBL for up to 6 hours after use.
How long does GHB / GBL stay in the blood?
Blood tests for GHB / GBL can only identify physical traces of the drug in the person’s system up to 8 hours after the drug was last taken.
How long does GHB / GBL stay in hair?
Hair strand tests are not as reliable as other methods of detecting the presence of GHB/GBL drugs, but the tests can identify their presence for up to one month after use.
How long does Methadone stay in your system?
Methadone is a powerful opiate painkiller commonly used as a substitute for heroin and opiate detoxes by the NHS. Methadone is equally as addictive as other opiates and has a huge potential for misuse. For those who have been using Methadone long-term, specific drug tests can detect the presence of the drug for longer.
How long does Methadone stay in urine?
Methadone can be detected in urine 1-3 days after consumption; however, more chronic drug use may lead to the drug being detected in a urine test for up to 7-9 days after taking the drug.
How long does Methadone stay in saliva?
Methadone can be detected in a saliva test around 30 minutes after consumption and be identified using this test for up to 2-3 days since it has last been used.
How long does Methadone stay in the blood?
Methadone can be detected in a person’s bloodstream 3–4 days after consumption.
How long does Methadone stay in hair?
Traces of Methadone can be found by testing hair sample tests for up to 3–4 months after last consuming the drug.
How long do Opiates/Opioids drugs stay in your system?
There are many different types and strengths of opiates and opioids: synthetic, semi-synthetic and pure; many have various components. This, together with personal factors and the length and amount of use, could affect drug detection times within your system. As a general guide:
How long do opioids stay in urine?
Hydrocodone, a powerful opioid, is detectable for between 2 and 4 days after taking it.
How long do opioids stay in saliva?
Saliva drug test facts – tests can identify Hydrocodone from 12–36 hours after consumption.
How long do opioids stay in the blood?
Blood tests can detect the opioid Hydrocodone for up to 24 hours after drug intake.
How long do opioids stay in hair?
Elements of opioids can still be detected in a person’s system by hair strand test for up to 90 days after taking the drug.
How long do Oxycodone and OxyContin drugs stay in your system?
These drugs have a huge potential for misuse due to their potency and can easily lead to drug dependence and addiction when abused. The same drug test can detect the presence of both drugs as one is short-acting and the other long-acting, but for different time frames. Both OxyContin and OxyCodone are also available in gradual-release forms.
How long does Oxycodone stay in your system?
How long does Oxycodone stay in urine?
Oxycodone can be detected in a urine sample up to 3-4 days after consumption.
How long does Oxycodone stay in saliva?
Oxycodone can be detected in a saliva test for up to 4 days after taking it.
How long does Oxycodone stay in the blood?
Oxycodone can be detected in a blood sample for up to 24 hours after use.
How long does Oxycodone stay in hair?
Oxycodone can be detected in a hair strand test for up to 90 days after it was last taken.
How long does Oxycontin stay in your system?
How long does Oxycontin stay in urine?
Oxycontin can be traced in a person’s system for up to 4 days after use.
How long does Oxycontin stay in saliva?
Oxycontin can show up fairly quickly (3 hours) after consuming the drug and can be detected in Saliva tests up to 4 days after consumption.
How long does Oxycontin stay in the blood?
A blood test will be able to identify evidence of this drug in a person’s system up to 4 days after the use of the drug.
How long does Oxycontin stay in hair?
A hair follicle test will highlight traces of this drug in a person’s system up to 90 days after consuming it.
How long does Codeine stay in your system?
Codeine is a commonly used opiate painkiller and is available in different compounds. Codeine is available as an over-the-counter medication and is often present in other medicines, such as cough syrup. Stronger forms of Codeine are available for pain relief on prescription only. The strength and frequency of use of Codeine will affect how long the drug stays in your system.
How long does Codeine stay in urine?
Codeine can be detected for up to 2 days of its last use for the average person. However, chronic users may detect it up to a week later.
How long does Codeine stay in saliva?
Codeine can be detected in your system for up to 1 day after use when tested by a saliva test.
How long does Codeine stay in the blood?
Codeine can be detected in a blood test up to 24 hours after use.
How long does Codeine stay in hair?
Hair follicle tests can identify traces of Codeine in someone’s system up to 10 weeks after the person last consumes the drug.
How long do Benzodiazepine drugs stay in your system?
There are numerous benzodiazepines on the market. Benzodiazepines are controlled drugs that can only be legally obtained through prescription. This is because of their potential for abuse and the fact that they are also extremely addictive. Stopping benzodiazepines where there is a dependency or addiction usually requires a benzodiazepine detox to ensure that the person remains safe while stopping the drug.
The length of time benzodiazepines can be detected will vary; some are short-acting, some long-acting and some far more powerful. Long-term benzodiazepine use also leads to a build-up of the drug in your system, meaning that it can be weeks before a clean urine sample is obtained once the drug has been stopped.
How long do Benzodiazepines stay in urine?
As the body breaks down the chemical components of the benzodiazepine, it produces other substances such as metabolites that can be detected in the system for longer than the benzodiazepine initially consumed, so that is something to bear in mind. This is important because these metabolites suggest that the nature of the drug was a prescription-based rather than a non-description drug, which is more likely to be associated with substance misuse.
Benzos can be detected in urine samples up to 6 weeks after intake.
How long do Benzodiazepines stay in saliva?
Saliva drug test facts – Benzodiazepines can be detected in a saliva test up to 10 days after taking the drug.
How long do Benzodiazepines stay in the blood?
Benzodiazepines can be detected in blood tests from 1 hour to eight days after ingesting the drug.
How long do Benzodiazepines stay in hair?
Benzodiazepines can be identified in a hair follicle drug test for up to 90 days after intake.
How long does Ecstasy stay in your system?
MDMA, or ‘Molly’, is a Class A drug with powerful and long-lasting euphoric effects. It is mostly associated with recreational use. This does not, however, mean that it is safe or non-addictive. It is possible to become addicted to this “party drug.”
How long does MDMA stay in urine?
MDMA can be detected in a person’s urine up to 3-4 days after consumption.
How long does MDMA stay in saliva?
Saliva drug test facts – tests could find MDMA’s presence up to 10 hours after taking it.
How long does MDMA stay in the blood?
MDMA can be detected in blood up to 4 days after consumption.
How long does MDMA stay in hair?
This test will identify traces of MDMA in a person’s body for up to 90 days after last consuming it.
How Long Does Ketamine Stay in Your System?
Ketamine, again, is associated mainly with abuse. It does have its uses, mostly in hospital anaesthesia and as a powerful painkiller. Its dissociative properties can easily place a user in danger. While mainly used recreationally for parties and to facilitate chemsex. It is still hugely addictive, and frequent use can lead to developing tolerance, dependence and addiction.
How long does Ketmaine stay in urine?
Ketamine has been known to be detectable in urine samples from 3-5 days after the drug was consumed.
How long does Ketmaine stay in saliva?
Ketamine can be identified by saliva tests up to 24 hours after taking it.
How long does Ketmaine stay in the blood?
A blood test can pinpoint any traces of ketamine for up to 2 weeks after consumption. However, blood tests for this drug are rare as organising the tests is both expensive and time-consuming.
How long does Ketmaine stay in hair?
Hair tests can identify any signs of this drug in the human body for up to 3 months after it is last taken.
Understanding drug addiction
Drug addiction is medically recognised as a chronic disorder of the brain and a complex mental health illness.
The brain becomes chemically altered and damaged over time through repeated exposure to a specific drug or drug. This leads to the brain developing new pathways as it becomes addicted to the high of the drug. These pathways prioritise the drug over everything else, including basic human needs such as food, water and housing.
Once addicted to a drug, an individual will do almost anything to obtain that drug; their priority of the day is to ensure they have enough drugs to last them.
Drug addiction is also progressive; the more drugs are taken, the more damage the brain and other vital organs sustain. A drug addict will also develop tolerance and dependence, meaning they need to increase the amount of drugs they take to feel any benefits. Missing a regular dose of drugs or taking any less than their brain is accustomed to results in drug withdrawal symptoms.
Because of the progressive nature of drug addiction, drug addicts tend to lose everything precious and of value to them. They can lose their job, licence, financial stability, home, trust and support of their loved ones, physical health, mental health, and, more often than not, life. Someone suffering from drug addiction will give little thought to the possible consequences of drug-taking and drug-related behaviours.
Drug addiction differs from drug misuse; addiction will often start as drug misuse and abuse, but there is still an element of control in someone who misuses drugs as opposed to a drug addict who will compulsively seek and take drugs continually. The changes in the brain of someone who suffers from addiction are long-lasting and cannot be reversed. This is why there is no medical cure for drug addiction.
A drug addict can obtain and sustain recovery through drug detox and continued drug abstinence. A drug addict must undergo extensive psychotherapy and counselling to avoid a drug relapse. Recovery from drug addiction is possible, but only with continued support and a lot of work put in by the individual to change.
As with any progressive and chronic disorder, addiction requires professional and very specific treatment to keep the symptoms of the illness at bay.
Help for a drug or alcohol problem
If you or a loved one are struggling with a drug or alcohol problem and want help, Detox Plus UK specialises in providing the latest evidence-based treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.
We can facilitate urgent inpatient drug detoxes and bespoke rehab programmes near you.
Call us today on 02072052734 to find out more.
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