Sometimes employers or court systems will need people to pass a drug test. Some drugs will be detectable after months, but some vanish in hours. The type, amount, and frequency of the drug being taken, along with many other factors, determine how long it will stay in your system.
Different Drugs Stay In Your System For Different Amounts Of Time
The lengths of the effects of different drugs vary greatly. For example, the high from LSD lasts 6 to 12 hours, but the high from Cocaine lasts about 15-30 minutes. The same is true for how long a drug stays in the body’s systems, even after the effect has worn off. Some drugs will stay in your system for days; some months. How long a drug is detectable depends on a number of factors.
There are a variety of reasons that a drug test might need to be conducted such as probation, legal cases, custody, divorce, employee testing, and court-ordered testing. Additionally, many sporting officials require urine drug screens to check whether athletes have used performance-enhancing drugs.
There are different types of drug tests that are used depending on the goal of the test. These include urine, saliva, blood, hair, and perspiration. Urine testing is the most common because of its ease, affordability, and fast results. It is also the only testing method approved for federally-mandated testing. Urine testing can detect if a substance has been used in the past few days for most drugs.
Hair drug testing is very effective and almost impossible to cheat at, as the hair follicle from a person’s head is taken and sent to a laboratory to be tested. It can tell if someone has used most drugs for a significantly longer period, sometimes up to the past 90 days. Hair testing is also the most efficient for the purpose of detecting on-going or repetitive drug use, because if a person only uses a drug once, they are less likely to show up as positive on a hair test. Hair tests are also efficient when used to draw comparative test results, to find out when a drug was used, how long it was used for, or to determine if drug use was discontinued. However, it is not good if the tester only wants short-term results. It also has a longer turnaround time and is more expensive.
Factors That Determine How Long Drugs Stay In Your System
Type of drug(s) used
Amount of drug(s) used
Frequency of use
Medical conditions that impact drug elimination
The presence of other drugs or alcohol
The drug’s half life
How Long Does Marijuana Stay In Your System?
Over 22 million Americans reported using Marijuana in the past month, making it the most commonly used illicit drug. In many states it has been legalized for recreational and medicinal use, and many others have only legalized medical Marijuana. However, there are still states across the country where Marijuana is illegal, and employers or court systems may need to conduct a drug test.
Tests for Marijuana are actually testing for the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that makes people feel high. The results of a drug test depend on many factors, including how much body fat a person has, how often someone smokes, and how much they smoke. First-time Marijuana users are more likely to pass a drug test, compared to a person who smokes Marijuana multiple times per week. The timeframe for detection depends on the drug test:
How Long Does Synthetic Marijuana Stay In Your System?
Synthetic Marijuana, also known as K2 or Spice, are man-made chemicals that are sprayed on dried plants to be smoked or sold as liquids to be vaporized. This drug is sometimes marketed as “fake weed,” and it is unpredictable and dangerous, sometimes causing violent behavior, vomiting, suicidal thoughts, and rapid heart rate. The results of drug tests for Synthetic Marijuana greatly depend on how frequently the user inhales the drug.
Opioids are a class of drugs that include Fentanyl, Heroin, and pain relievers such as Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Codeine, and Morphine. The misuse of prescription Opioids and Heroin affected over 10 million Americans in 2019. A study found that 80% of employers are concerned about Opioid use and 30% have restrictions for Opioid use in place. Living in the midst of an Opioid epidemic may require employers or judges to test people for drugs. The timeframe for detection depends on the specific drug, the frequency and quantity of use, metabolism, and body fat.
How Long Do Benzodiazepine Drugs Stay In Your System?
Benzodiazepines are sedatives that are commonly prescribed for anxiety or insomnia. The number of adults misusing these drugs is increasing, with the largest group of people misusing being ages 50 to 64. Common Benzodiazepines include Valium, Xanax, and Klonopin. Benzodiazepines usually stay in your system for 2 to 7 days if being detected by a urine test but can be detected for longer if the use is repeated.
Hallucinogens are drugs that alter someone’s awareness and can cause people to see and hear things that aren’t there. They are split into 2 categories: Dissociative drugs, like PCP, and classic Hallucinogens, like LSD. Some Hallucinogens, like PCP and Ketamine, are man-made chemicals while others such as Psilocybin (commonly called magic mushrooms) are grown as plants and then consumed. Most of these drugs will be out of your system in a few days, but similar to other drugs, they can be found in hair follicles up to 90 days after use.
Sixteen million American adults are prescribed Stimulants that are meant to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. Unfortunately, some people misuse prescription medications or use illicit drugs such as Cocaine or Methamphetamine. Ecstasy, also called MDMA or Molly, is chemically similar to both Stimulants and Hallucinogens.
How Long Do Barbiturate Drugs Stay In Your System?
Barbiturates are drugs mainly used to treat insomnia and seizures disorders. They are not as commonly prescribed as they used to be because of better alternatives available today. However, the number of people abusing Barbiturates is on the rise, giving the user a high that makes them feel drowsy and intoxicated. There are several factors that determine how long Barbiturates will stay in your system. First is if the drug is short acting or intermediate acting. Second is how much and how often the drug is taken, and third is the individuals body weight, hydration levels, metabolism, food intake, and sex.
Alcohol is a Central Nervous System Depressant, and although it is legal for people over 21 in America, it is commonly abused and causes 88,000 deaths each year. Most standard drug tests do not include alcohol, but there are tests to confirm alcohol abstinence if need be.
If someone you know is unable to stop misusing drugs or consuming alcohol to pass a drug test, they may have a serious substance use disorder. Contact a treatment provider to get more information on treatment options.
Hayley Hudson is the Digital Media Manager at Addiction Center. She earned a B.A. in Communications from the University of Central Florida and has 6 years of professional writing experience. A passion for writing led her to a career in journalism, and she worked as a news reporter for 3 years, focusing on stories in the healthcare and wellness industry. Knowledge in healthcare led to an interest in drug and alcohol abuse, and she realized how many people are touched by addiction.
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.
Theresa is a Certified Addiction Professional (CAP), a Certified Behavioral Health Case Manager (CBHCM) by The Florida Certification Board, and a Certified International Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ICADC) by The International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC). Theresa is also a Certified Professional Life Coach and volunteers at a local mental health facility helping individuals who struggle with homelessness and addiction.
Theresa is a well-rounded clinician with experience working as a Primary Addiction Counselor, Case Manager and Director of Utilization Review in various treatment centers for addiction and mental health in Florida, Minnesota, and Colorado. She also has experience with admissions, marketing, and outreach. Eager to learn, Theresa is currently working on her Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. As a proud recovering addict herself, Theresa understands first-hand the struggles of addiction. There is no limit to what Theresa is willing to do to make a difference in the field of Addiction!