How Long Do Drugs Stay In Your System?

Different drugs stay in your system for different lengths of time. Whether or not a drug is detected after a span of time depends on the method of testing used.
Evidence Based
check icon

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, and 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

Alcohol

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

Marijuana

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

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

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 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

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

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.

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

Ready to Make a Change?

Resources

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.

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/S0025-6196(16)30825-4/pdf, 10.1016/j.mayocp.2016.12.007. Accessed 5 Aug. 2019.

related pages

calendar icon
Updated on: September 24, 2020
Author
Addiction Group Staff
About
calendar icon
Medically Reviewed
AnnaMarie Picture
Annamarie Coy,
BA, CADACII/ICADC, ICPR, MATS
About
addiction group logo
WE'RE HERE TO HELP

Find Treatment Today

Are you struggling with substance abuse? You aren’t alone. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about addiction and treatment:
What is the difference between physical dependence and addiction?How effective is addiction treatment?How long is addiction rehab?
Depending on your unique situation, there are many addiction treatment options available. Compare the most effective types of treatment options here:
Inpatient RehabPartial Hospitalization ProgramsOutpatient Rehab
addiction group logo white text green logo
All unique content created by the Addiction Group team is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert before publication. However, the information provided by Addiction Group is not a substitute for professional treatment advice. Read more in out About Us.

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.

© 2020 by TREATMENT PATHWAY, LLC. All right reserved.