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How Long Do Opiates Stay in Your System?

The first step in seeking help for opioid abuse is to determine that misuse is happening. Conducting a drug detection test of some kind is often the best option to take. With that said, there are some things you should know about how long opioids stay in your system as well as which kinds of tests are most effective at detecting their presence. Let’s take a look at how to determine how long the substance will remain in someone’s system as well how medical detox services (Toronto) can help you get your loved one started with an effective recovery plan.

Close up of a doctor looking at a chemical test tube

What Are Opioids?

Before we go into how opioids affect and stay in someone’s system, it’s a good idea to give a brief overview of the drug itself. When the term “opioids” is used, it is referring to a class of drugs used to help treat pain, be it from injury, disease, medical procedure, or some other reason. They are highly effective at their stated medical purpose and can be incredibly helpful for individuals struggling with pain, especially those who live with chronic pain.

With that said, opioids are perhaps equally known for their addictive qualities. From codeine to heroin and fentanyl, this class of drugs is at an incredibly high risk for abuse thanks to the feelings of calm and peace that they incite.

Factors Impacting Opioid Retention Rate

It can be difficult to determine exactly how long opioids will remain in someone’s system because there are a plethora of factors to consider, including:

  • The amount of opioids taken.
  • The weight of the individual in question.
  • The speed of the individual’s metabolism.
  • The regularity with which the dose is taken.
  • The method by which the dose was administered.
  • The presence of any other drugs in the individual’s body.
  • The age of the individual in question.
  • The ethnicity of the individual in question.
  • The presence of medical conditions like kidney problems that might affect drug elimination.
  • The individual’s gender.

As you can see, there are quite a few things that can affect just how long opioids remain in someone’s system. Giving a precise number here is, therefore, just about impossible, however that doesn’t mean that we can’t determine an estimate. Some opioids have a longer effect timespan than others, for example, and that alone can help narrow down the window within which opioids will be detected in someone’s system.

Opioid Effect Duration

Opioids all work in the same way, but they often have different effect durations. This time is often measured by the amount of time it takes to eliminate the half-life of the drug. This refers to the amount of time it takes the body to metabolize and subsequently eliminate half of the dose originally taken. It usually takes about five half-lives for a drug to be completely eliminated for the human body, and there are three different classifications of half-lives pertaining to opioids: short-acting, long-acting, and rapid-onset. In order to figure out how long a specific opioid will remain in someone’s system even independent from the factors described above, you need to know that particular opioid’s half-life.

Long-acting opioids include oxytocin, Butrans, and methadone. Short-acting opioids include codeine, hydrocodone, and morphine, and sublingual and intranasal fentanyl are rapid-onset. Here are some of the generally detectable timeframes for common opioids, but keep in mind that the exact time will depend upon the factors mentioned above:

  • Codeine: 1-2 days in a urine test, 1 day in a blood test, 1-4 days in a saliva test.
  • Heroin: 2-7 days in a urine test, 6 hours in a blood test, 5 hours in a saliva test.
  • Hydrocodone: 2-4 days in a urine test, 1 day in a blood test, 12-36 hours in a saliva test.
  • Morphine: 2-3 days in a urine test, 12 hours in a blood test, 4 days in a saliva test.
  • Fentanyl: 1 day in a urine test, 12 hours in a blood test, NA in saliva test (saliva tests are unreliable for detecting fentanyl use)

Note that not every form of drug test is ideal for every opioid. Sometimes one test simply isn’t reliable, and you’ll need to look at another method. Let’s take a look at some of the more common drug testing methods available.

Close up of a test tube

Drug Testing for Opioids

The most common types of drug tests are urine testing, saliva testing, and blood testing. These are the most widely available and affordable options, with urine testing kits, in particular, being sold in pharmacies in North America. Hair testing is also used, albeit to a somewhat lesser degree.

Urine Testing

Because drug byproducts are sent through the kidneys as the substances are metabolized, urine testing is quite popular and fairly effective. It is the most widely available and commonly used drug testing method.

Saliva Testing

Saliva testing is an option for non-invasive drug testing, however, it is not particularly reliable. The problem is that its ability to detect drug use has a much smaller window than urine testing. That means that unless the drugs being tested have been consumed within a few hours of the test administration, they might not be accurately detected.

Hair Testing

Hair testing is a useful testing method if you’re hoping to catch use that might have been happening months ago. It is less common than urine testing as it is both a bit more expensive and less practical for daily use (most people want to know if someone has been using recently as opposed to several months in the past).

Blood Testing

Blood testing is more effective than other testing methods, however, it is also more expensive and therefore less widely used than the other options. When it is used, however, it paints an accurate picture of an individual’s recent drug use and can even provide the levels of drugs in their blood.

Medical Detox Services Toronto

If you or someone you know are looking for effective medical detox services, Toronto has the help you need. Reach out to Freedom from Addiction today and ask how our professionals can help ensure that your loved one receives personalized care catered to their specific needs.

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