Drug testing is a regular part of the hiring process and a person may also be drug tested for various other reasons. If you or a loved one is abusing drugs, it’s extremely likely that the drugs you are using will be detected by a urine, hair, or blood test.
While the best way to pass a drug test for employment is to permanently quit all drug use, many people still want to know how long different drugs stay in the body. First, we’ll review the different factors that affect how long drugs stay in your system and then we’ll take a quick look at how drug tests work.
Influential Factors for Drug Detection Times
A drug test may detect certain substances in the body over time depending on several different factors. Drug detection times will vary greatly from person to person, based on how their body metabolizes each drug and the type of drug test that was used. Hair follicle tests, urine tests, and blood/saliva tests are some of the most common drug testing methods.
|The rate at which a person metabolizes a drug will depend on their:
Even taking these factors into consideration, medical experts can’t provide exact detection times for drugs, as there are too many different variables. They can, however, provide accurate estimations for the length of time a drug may be detectable in hair, blood, saliva, and urine.
How Drug Tests Work
When a person ingests a drug, it is absorbed into the digestive tract and spread out into the various tissues of the body. Drugs that are injected, inhaled, or snorted, immediately penetrate the tissues. A drug test is a type of test that can be administered to determine if a person has used an addictive substance like cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, among others. These tests work by analyzing biological specimens like urine, blood, saliva, or hair to detect the substance(s).2
Drug Testing Methods
There are several different methods of drug testing.3 Each works in a unique way and has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
- Blood drug test – Blood tests can be used to detect very recent use of substances and is a well-established method. Although it provides a short detection window, it’s also more expensive, can only detect substances for a limited amount of time, and is considered invasive, since it requires a blood sample.
- Breath drug test – Breath tests are also a well-established drug testing method, but they can only be used for alcohol. Additionally, it’s often difficult to get an accurate sample if a person is extremely intoxicated or uncooperative.
- Sweat drug test – Sweat tests have lots of advantages, as they are easy to administer, can detect recent drug use (within 24 hours), and they are difficult to fake. Unfortunately, only one sweat swipe or patch is available for testing so additional testing is impossible if needed.
- Saliva drug test – A saliva drug test can provide same-day drug use detection, is easy to collect, is a non-invasive testing method. However, the drug detection window is short with saliva tests and a person must be supervised for 10 to 30 minutes before submitting to the test.
- Urine drug test – Urine testing is a well-researched method and can provide a larger specimen sample, compared to saliva, sweat, or blood tests. One of the biggest downsides of urine testing is that they are easier to fake or alter and some people may be unable to produce urine on the spot for testing purposes.
- Hair drug test – Hair tests offer the longest detection windows for drugs. The testing process quick, easy, non-invasive, and allows for convenient storage and transportation of the biological sample. However, it can be difficult to interpret the results and low-level drug use may not always be detected.
How Long Do Drugs Stay in Your System?
Approximate detection times2,3
|Alcohol||12-24 hours||10-48 hours||Up to 90 days|
|Amphetamines||12 hours||2-4 days||Up to 90 days|
|Barbiturates||1-2 days||Up to 7 days||Up to 90 days|
|Benzodiazepines||6-48 hours||Up to 7 days||Up to 90 days|
|Cannabis (marijuana)||Up to 24 hours||1-30 days||Up to 90 days|
|Cocaine||2-10 days||2-10 days||Up to 90 days|
|Codeine||1-36 hours||2-4 days||Up to 90 days|
|LSD||2-4 days||2-24 hours||Up to 4 days|
|MDMA||3-4 days||3-4 days||Up to 90 days|
|Methadone||24 hours||7-10 days||Up to 90 days|
|Methamphetamine||1-48 hours||2-5 days||Up to 90 days|
|Morphine||1-36 hours||2-5 days||Up to 90 days|
|Heroin||1-36 hours||2-3 days||Up to 90 days|
|Phenobarbital||4-7 days||2-3 weeks||Up to 90 days|
|PCP (Phencyclidine)||1-3 days||5-6 days||Up to 90 days|
Stop Sweating the Drug Tests and Overcome Your Addiction
If you struggle with chronic substance abuse or addiction, drug testing might be a stressful topic. A positive test could mean you lose your job, you get kicked off the college football team, or you spend time in jail.
Fortunately, it is possible to stop abusing drugs with the right detox treatment, behavioral therapy, and ongoing addiction treatment. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease, but long-term professional treatment can provide sustainable life skills and recovery resources to prevent relapse and encourage lasting sobriety.
Call Nova Recovery Center today for more information about inpatient and outpatient drug rehab programs for addicted individuals. We offer a full continuum of care comprised of traditional medical detox or executive detox, residential and outpatient rehab, sober living, and aftercare. We’re ready to help you start your new sober life.