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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.

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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

Alcohol

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

Drug Name Urine Test Saliva Test Hair Test
Alcohol Up to 72 hours Up to 48 hours  Up to 90 days

Marijuana

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

Drug Name Urine Test Saliva Test Blood Test Hair Text
Marijuana 3 to 30 days 1 to 29 days Up to 25 days 90 days
Synthetic Marijuana 3 to 30 days 1 to 29 days 1 to 25 days 90 days

Stimulants

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 Name Urine Test Saliva Test Blood Test Hair Text
MDMA / Ecstasy Up to 4 days Up to 2 days Up to 2 days Up to 90 days
Cocaine 24 hours to 22 days Up to 2 weeks with heavy use 72 hours Up to 90 days
Methamphetamine 3 days 2 days 2 days Up to 90 days
Adderall  4 days 72 hours 3 to 5 days Up to 90 days
Ritalin 1 to 2 days 1 to 3 days 12 hours Up to 90 days
Vyvanse 3 days 2 to 3 days 8 hours Up to 90 days
Dexedrine 1 to 2 days 1 to 2 days 1 to 2 days Up to 90 days

Opioids

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 Name Urine Test Saliva Test Blood Test Hair Text
Codeine 3 days 4 days 24 hours Up to 90 days
Heroin 2 days Up to 36 hours 5 hours to 2 days Up to 90 days
Fentanyl 1 o 3 days 3 days 5 to 48 hours Up to 90 days
Oxycodone 3 to 4 days 2 days Up to 24 hours Up to 90 days
Methadone 6 to 12 days 30 minutes to a few days 6 hours Up to 90 days
Morphine 4 days 4 days Up to 3 days Up to 90 days
Buprenorphine 1 to 2 days 3 days 2 days Up to 90 days

Barbiturates

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

Drug Name Urine Test Saliva Test Blood Test Hair Text
Butisol 7 to 10 days 3 days 72 hours 90 days
Amytal 2 to 4 days 3 days 72 hours 90 days
Seconal 2 to 4 days 3 days 72 hours 90 days
Others 2 to 4 days 3 days 72 hours 90 days

Benzodiazepines

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

Drug Name Urine Test Saliva Test Blood Test Hair Text
Valium 5 to 7 days 7 to 9 days 23 days 90 days
Xanax 4 days 2.5 days 1 day 90 days
Klonopin 2 days Up to 3 days Up to 3 days 90 days
Ativan 1 to 6 weeks 6 hours 6 hours 90 days
Librium 1 to 6 weeks Up to 48 hours Up to 48 hours 90 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

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
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Resources

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  1. Verstraete, A. “Detection Times of Drugs of Abuse in Blood, Urine, and Oral Fluid.” Therapeutic Drug Monitoring, 2004, www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Detection-Times-of-Drugs-of-Abuse-in-Blood%2C-Urine%2C-Verstraete/157fce13e153e873b50b8644e34be07610800ffc?p2df, 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, www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-619630825-4/pdf, 10.1016/j.mayocp.2016.12.007. Accessed 5 Aug. 2019.

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