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Updated on November 22, 2021

How Long Do Drugs Stay In Your System?

The length of time a drug stays in your system is based on a variety of factors.

In general, factors include:

  • the type of drug
  • the frequency and potency of use
  • the method used to detect the drug’s presence

A drug’s half-life also plays a role in how long it is detectable.

What Does Drug “Half-Life” Mean?

A drug’s half-life is an estimate of how long it takes for the concentration to be reduced by exactly one-half (50%). 

For example, if 100mg of a drug with a half-life of 60 minutes is taken, the following is estimated:

  • 60 minutes after administration, 50mg remains
  • 120 minutes after administration, 25mg remains
  • And so on until the drug is gone from a person’s system (In this example, this would be just over 300 minutes)

Most drugs are considered to have an effect after four to five half-lives. However, it might no longer be detectable in a drug test at this point. 

Despite the estimation of a drug’s half-life, it is impossible to know exactly when it will be eliminated from a person’s system.

Factors That Affect How Long a Drug Stays in Your System

Several factors affect how long a drug remains in someone’s system. These factors include:

  • Age
  • Blood circulation
  • Diet
  • Fluid levels
  • Gender
  • History of previous drug use
  • Function of the kidneys or liver depending on how the drug in question is metabolized
  • Weight or obesity
  • Pre-existing health conditions
  • Other drugs in someone’s system at the same time
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Smoking
  • Hemodialysis

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The type and amount of alcohol consumed affects the length of time it remains in a person’s system. 

Drug NameUrine TestSaliva TestHair Test
AlcoholUp to 72 hoursUp to 48 hours Up to 90 days


How long marijuana is detectable in a drug test is based on how often and how much of the drug someone uses. 

Drug NameUrine TestSaliva TestBlood TestHair Text
Marijuana3 to 30 days1 to 29 daysUp to 25 days90 days
Synthetic Marijuana3 to 30 days1 to 29 days1 to 25 days90 days


Stimulants increase a person’s energy and help them stay awake. They tend to be abused by younger people but are a problem for anyone who uses them recreationally.

Drug NameUrine TestSaliva TestBlood TestHair Text
MDMA / EcstasyUp to 4 daysUp to 2 daysUp to 2 daysUp to 90 days
Cocaine24 hours to 22 daysUp to 2 weeks with heavy use72 hoursUp to 90 days
Methamphetamine3 days2 days2 daysUp to 90 days
Adderall 4 days72 hours3 to 5 daysUp to 90 days
Ritalin1 to 2 days1 to 3 days12 hoursUp to 90 days
Vyvanse3 days2 to 3 days8 hoursUp to 90 days
Dexedrine1 to 2 days1 to 2 days1 to 2 daysUp to 90 days

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Opioids are medications that relieve pain. They are often abused by people who were originally treating a medical issue with a prescription and became addicted to the medication.

Drug NameUrine TestSaliva TestBlood TestHair Text
Codeine3 days4 days24 hoursUp to 90 days
Heroin2 daysUp to 36 hours5 hours to 2 daysUp to 90 days
Fentanyl1 o 3 days3 days5 to 48 hoursUp to 90 days
Oxycodone3 to 4 days2 daysUp to 24 hoursUp to 90 days
Methadone6 to 12 days30 minutes to a few days6 hoursUp to 90 days
Morphine4 days4 daysUp to 3 daysUp to 90 days
Buprenorphine1 to 2 days3 days2 daysUp to 90 days


Barbiturates are sedatives that are frequently used to aid sleep. They are addictive and are frequently abused through recreational use. 

Drug NameUrine TestSaliva TestBlood TestHair Text
Butisol7 to 10 days3 days72 hours90 days
Amytal2 to 4 days3 days72 hours90 days
Seconal2 to 4 days3 days72 hours90 days
Others2 to 4 days3 days72 hours90 days


Benzodiazepines are tranquilizers. Though they have valid prescription uses, they are often abused by people who use them recreationally. 

Drug NameUrine TestSaliva TestBlood TestHair Text
Valium5 to 7 days7 to 9 days23 days90 days
Xanax4 days2.5 days1 day90 days
Klonopin2 daysUp to 3 daysUp to 3 days90 days
Ativan1 to 6 weeks6 hours6 hours90 days
Librium1 to 6 weeksUp to 48 hoursUp to 48 hours90 days

Treatment for Drug or Alcohol Addiction

Inpatient or Outpatient Treatment

Inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment both offer support for substance use disorders that focus on three goals:

  • Stopping the use of the substance immediately
  • Motivating the patient to abstain long-term by arming them with coping strategies and other methods of support
  • Helping the patient re-integrate into normal society and live a productive life

Inpatient treatment meets these goals on a full-time basis wherein the patient removes him or herself from their regular life entirely and focuses on recovery. Outpatient treatment meets these goals relatively part-time and allows someone to maintain home and work responsibilities.

Medical Detoxification

Medical detox is the process of eliminating the body of a substance while under medical professionals’ supervision. This takes place before inpatient or outpatient treatment or is offered at the same time as inpatient treatment.

Medical detox provides stabilization for relapse, but it does not provide long-term treatment. This means long-term recovery is a two-part process for most people – medical detox is the first step and rehabilitative aftercare is the second step. Medically assist addiction therapy is the safest way to detox.


Aftercare is the second step for most people in recovery after detox. It describes the ongoing or follow-up treatment a person receives for managing addiction.

The goal of aftercare is to:

  • Maintain recovery
  • Prevent relapse
  • Assemble a life of purpose with rewarding relationships


  1. Verstraete, A. “Detection Times of Drugs of Abuse in Blood, Urine, and Oral Fluid.” Therapeutic Drug Monitoring, 2004,, 10.1097/00007691-200404000-00020. Accessed 14 Sept. 2020.
  2. Moeller, Karen E., et al. “Clinical Interpretation of Urine Drug Tests.” Mayo Clinic Proceedings, vol. 92, no. 5, May 2017, pp. 774–796,, 10.1016/j.mayocp.2016.12.007. Accessed 5 Aug. 2019.

Related Pages

How Long Do Drugs Stay In Your System?

Types of Drugs

How Long Do Drugs Stay In Your System?

Addiction Resources for American Communities

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