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How Long do Common Drugs Stay in Your System?

How Long do Common Drugs Stay in Your System?

Are you getting a new job that requires drug testing prior to employment? Maybe your former employer had a lax policy on drug use, or you tried something new on vacation to Colorado, Amsterdam, or Las Vegas. Do you ever wonder how long you have to wait to be fully clean on a drug test? Or even how long do certain drugs stay in your system? If you are an employer vetting a potential employee, it is almost impossible to know exactly what their pre-employment test will be revealing.

Well, sadly, there is no simple answer. There are rough estimates that you can estimate with, but there are a lot of extenuating circumstances that you will need to be aware of. The length of time that substances may be detectable in your system depends on a myriad of factors. These include: the type of test performed, whether urine or hair; dose; tolerance; potency; your metabolism; and any preexisting medical conditions.

Urine Testing

With urine testing, you will be tested on the last three to five days of consummation, though, in the case of habitual use, you will find that certain drugs, like marijuana, can be detected in your sample, even if you have been clean for a week. Urine testing, also called urinalysis or UA, is usually fast, convenient and accurate, with some laboratories able to give negative results within an hour after receiving the sample. If you are subject to random testing under the Department of Transportation, you will be submitting to a 5-panel test to determine if you are fit to be on the road.

Can urine testing be cheated?

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t even need testing, but since we aren’t, there are always possibilities to attempt to circumnavigate detection. There have been cases of synthetic urine, other people’s urine being used or stored for someone else, as well as people drinking an extraordinary amount of water to flush their systems. While it is rare that this occurs, the laboratories attempt to curtail any possibility of this occurring. Photo IDs are required to match the donor. If there is too much water in the sample, the test is failed. Laboratories are also always updating their testing equipment to be ahead of potential cheaters.

Hair Follicle Testing

The other popular type of testing that you can be subjected to, whether it is through the legal system or through your employer, is hair testing. This type of test measures habitual use, rather than instant and current impairment. Since hair grows roughly at .5 in/month, it makes it easier to identify a chronic abuser. You can see the levels, but not exact day and time in which the substance was used with this type of test. A hair follicle drug test can be used to go as far back as a year, if the sample is long enough.

Can hair testing be cheated?

Hair testing requires more time to give the sample and process it, and is nearly impossible to cheat, as far as research has proven, with beauty products such as bleach or dyes. There are no special shampoos to ‘beat the test’. With today’s advancements in testing technologies, you also will not, with hair samples, get false positives for secondhand smoke/exposure. It is required that you have at least 2 inches of head underarm, leg, or chest hair, in order to have a successful test. The unfortunate problem with this type of testing is if someone shaves from head to toe, there is no way to perform it.

Substances tested and durations

There are a wide variety of tests, and when you are interested in the rough estimates of longevity, it is difficult to guarantee which substances you are being tested. At US Drug Test Centers, our standard 5-panel urine and hair test screens for cocaine, marijuana, PCP, amphetamines and opiates. Each of these has a different lifespan within your body. Marijuana can be detected in your urine, if you are a chronic user, for up to 30 days in urine and over 90 days in hair, depending on the amount consumed per instance.

Please use the figures below as a rough guideline.


Time in System


3-5 days in urine, 90 days in hair (Approximately)


1-3 days in urine, 90 days in hair (Approximately)


2-4 days in urine, 90 days in hair (Approximately)


3-6 weeks in urine (Approximately)


7-30 days in urine, 90+ days in hair (Approximately)


3-4 days in urine, 90 days in hair (Approximately)


1 day in urine (Approximately)


3-4 days in urine (Approximately)


1-3 days in urine (Approximately)


3-4 days in urine (Approximately)


3-6 days in urine, 90 days in hair (Approximately)


3-4 days in urine (Approximately)


2-3 days in urine (Approximately)

My employer says I need to take a 5 panel test, what does that mean?

The number of panels indicates how many drugs they are looking for. The convention is for 5 or 10 drug test panels, but there is no standard drug test that every lab adheres to, except in the event of the Department of Transportation testing. You could be subject to instant testing, where a negative (good) result can be given within an hour of sample donation, or lab-based tests, usually for hair or DOT collection, where a result can be returned in as soon as 24 hours.

Does trying to pass a drug test make me an addict?

Simple answer, no, not really. If you are planning your life around your drug tests, there might be a problem that needs to be addressed. There are resources to help you if you are battling addiction.