How Long Do Opiates Stay in Your System

Based on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the use of opiates continues to skyrocket. The sale of legal prescription drugs, such as hydrocodone, increased by 493% from 2010 to 2016.

Opiates & Half Lives

The sad fact is that opiates, while capable of easing pain and discomfort from a medical condition, are addictive, and an opiate’s half-life can stay in your system for as short as one hour or as long as nine hours. This period can be extended based on whether you take more than one opiate, the strength of the dose, and the type of opiate you take. Half-life is a medical term that refers to the time it would take for an opiate’s effect (amount of drug) to be reduced by 50%. This half-life represents the time it takes for the opiate to be eliminated from the body, destroyed in your blood, or moved to another part of the body fluid area other than the blood, like urine.

It’s important to know about half life because it will help you understand how long a certain opiate stays in your system. For example, if you take codeine, the half-life is a maximum of four hours, but if you take morphine, the half-life is a maximum of 6.5 hours.

That being said, half-life is only half of the story. While opiates generally have short half-lives, the effects linger.

Kinds of Drug Testing

The type of test used to detect opiates is chosen with care because some tests cannot detect certain opiates after a day, while others can detect them even three days later. For instance, if you take codeine, it will turn up positive in a urine test if the test is done within 48 hours. However, if you take a blood test, codeine can only be detected after 12 hours. It’s similar for hydrocodone because a urine test has a window of three days while a blood test for the same opiate only has a window of 24 hours.

Other tests, like hair and saliva, also have significant parameters. Saliva tests must be taken within a minimum of five minutes up to 36 hours, while hair tests can reveal opiate use for up to 90 days.

Factors that Affect Testing

However, drug testing is much more complicated since no one is created alike, which means your demographics will affect the test results. Here’s how:

  • Your Age – The older you are, the slower your metabolism is, and the higher the chance that your major organs, like your kidneys, don’t work as well. This means that the opiate stays in your system longer.
  • Your Weight and Height – Opiates tend to build up in fatty tissues, making it harder for the body to expel them.
  • Kidney/Liver Function – The health of these organs will help determine the speed with which drugs are cleared from your system.
  • Genetics – Some people have fast metabolisms because of their genes, while others inherit a slow metabolism, regardless of age. Also, genes will also affect reactions to opiates.
  • Frequency and Dosage – High dosage and frequency will make it harder to expel traces of opiates from the system, and accumulation will be the primary cause for a slow clearance time.
  • Diet – Certain foods can hasten the metabolism and drug clearance, like grapefruit juice, although most home remedies do not guarantee 100% clearance.

Medically speaking, opiate clearance is declared when only 3% of the opiate remains in your system.

Are There Any Drugs That Cannot be Detected?

The standard drug test is a 5-panel test. This test checks for the presence of the five most common drugs used: marijuana, cocaine, opiates, PCP, and amphetamines/methamphetamines. Drugs like hallucinogens and designer synthetic drugs, like K2 and Flakka, cannot be detected with this test but can be found using more sensitive tests. However, keep in mind that drug tests are constantly being upgraded and improved.