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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? Perhaps you're an employer vetting a potential employee. Different drugs last in your body for different lengths of time, based on a number of factors. How long do certain drugs stay in your system?

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)
  • The dose consumed and its potency
  • The individual's tolerance and metabolism
  • Any preexisting medical conditions

Please use the guidelines below as rough estimates

Drug

Time in System

Alcohol

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

Amphetamines

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

Barbiturates

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

Benzodiazepines

3-6 weeks in urine (Approximately)

Cannabis

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

Cocaine

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

Codeine

1 day in urine (Approximately)

Heroin

3-4 days in urine (Approximately)

LSD

1-3 days in urine (Approximately)

MDMA

3-4 days in urine (Approximately)

Methamphetamine

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

Methadone

3-4 days in urine (Approximately)

Morphine

2-3 days in urine (Approximately)


Let's look more closely at how US Drug Test Centers can screen for drugs: through urine drug testing and hair follicle drug testing.

urine drug testing sample

Urine Drug Testing

Urine drug testing is the most common type of testing, and it's 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 drug test.

Can Urine Testing Be Cheated?

There are indeed a few ways individuals can attempt to cheat a urine drug test.

The first way some individuals will try to cheat a urine drug test is by providing synthetic urine. In other cases, they might use someone else's urine. 

Another method for trying to cheat a urine drug test is drinking an excessive amount of water to flush out the system. This sometimes results in a diluted urine sample. This means the sample is too diluted to accurately analyze (although if it tests positive for drugs, the results are conclusive). When a test turns up with a diluted sample, the individual can simply be retested.



Hair Follicle Testing

Hair follicle drug testing is another type of testing. This measures habitual use, rather than instant and current impairment. Since hair grows roughly .5 inch a month, it makes it easier to identify a chronic abuser. You can see the levels of substances but not the exact day and time the substance was used. A hair follicle drug test can be used to go as far back as a year if the hair 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. Special products claiming they can "cleanse" your hair are merely a myth. With today’s advancements in hair drug testing technologies, you also will not get false positives for secondhand smoke/exposure. Furthermore, hair samples must be collected by a drug testing professional, unlike urine samples. This makes it difficult for an individual to provide a fake specimen.

Overall, hair follicle drug testing returns twice as many positive drug tests as urine drug testing.

Hair can be taken from the head and body — most commonly, the arms and legs.



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. Most commonly, 5 and 10 drug test panels are used, but there is no standard drug test that every lab adheres to, except in the event of the Department of Transportation testing.