Drug Testing Methods and Timeline for the Top 8 Most Abused Drugs

Drugs & Alcohol

Drug Testing Methods and Timeline for the Top 8 Most Abused Drugs

Drug testing timelines help you to understand just how long drugs stay in your system. The drugs can linger in your blood, urine, saliva, and hair. Drug detection times are the windows in time where drug testing for drug traces in your hair, urine, or saliva will show up positive.

Some of the drug testing aren’t testing the drugs in your system but the presence of one or more metabolites. The body chemically alters the drug by metabolizing it and this can be detected through various tests. This range is from the time you took the drug to the point you will test clean. Most drugs will appear in your blood, saliva or urine for up to 8 hours. A hair test can detect drug metaboloites for up to 90 days after you’ve used.

Drug testing timelines

How long each drug stays in your blood, urine, and breath can vary. The methods of drug testing also have variable windows of detection. Drug testing timelines have a lot to do with many factors. Some factors include your physiological makeup, height, weight, how much body fat you have, your age, your state of health presently, your exercise patterns and your state of mind . When you take drugs, how you’re feeling at that moment can play a part in how long drugs stay in your system. The frequency and length of the drug use will also be contributing factors. Addiction plays a role in how quickly your body will get rid of the drugs also.

drug test

How Drug Testing for Blood, Urine, and Saliva Works

When you’re given a drug test, the testers are not just looking for the drug in your blood, urine, or saliva. They are looking for a metabolite which can be found once the substance is broken down. This is the indication that drugs have been in your body. When you take a drug, your body turns it into one of many metabolites. Urine tests determine if you’ve been using drugs by identifying the metabolites.

When your body doesn’t use metabolites, they become stored in fast growing cells. This includes your hair, fatty cells, and nails. The greater fat content you have, the longer the drug can be detected in you.

Blood and saliva tests work differently than urine tests because the parent compounds of the drug can be found in blood. This makes these drug tests more accurate and determines how much of the drug is in your system.  When drugs are detected in saliva, it’s an indication that the drug has entered the bloodstream.

Variables Involved with Drug Testing Timelines

The Variables Involved with Drug Testing Timelines

The following is a list of the variables that affect drug testing timelines. If you’re addicted and use a drug chronically, it’s likely that there’s a longer window duration where you will test positive. Although you’ve built up a tolerance, you are likely not healthy and have a slow metabolic rate.

  • Single or small doses of any given drug won’t last as long in your system and are not as easily detected.
  • If you have a fast-metabolic rate, the detection time for the drugs in your system will be shorter.
  • Your body mass will determine how fast or slow your body metabolizes. Those with more fat content will store the drugs in the body for a longer period of time.
  • If you’re physically active, the drug won’t be detectable for as long of a period as in someone who is overweight and out of shape. This is due to less body fat which means a reduced number of metabolites that can store themselves in your fat cells.
  • Your age may define the speed of drugs leaving your system. As we age, our metabolism tends to slow down.
  • If you have a tolerance to any given drug, this can lead to a shorter time of detection.
  • The pH of your urine can have something to do with drug detection. Having more acid in your urine will create a shorter detection timeline.

Why is there Drug Testing

Why is there Drug Testing?

Even prescription drugs can fall under scrutiny in a job setting. As drug abuse among prescription drugs have become such a problem, drug tests for prescription drugs are common in pre-employment screening. Drug testing is administered especially for positions where safety is paramount. Over 9 million urine drug tests done within the U.S. workforce in 2015.

Pre-employment drug testing is primarily a urine sample, but employers may ask for blood, saliva, sweat, or hair also. For jobs that require a high level of safety, there may also be random drug testing.

Drug Testing Option Urine

Drug Testing Options

Many people will opt for a urine sample to determine if someone has been using drugs. It may be used during detox.  The urine drug test screening is quick, convenient, and quite accurate. Even after the effects of the drug has worn off, urine is still capable of detecting its presence. Drug testing timelines do vary depending on what type of drug it is. Urine drug tests in a job setting will usually be screening for amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, nicotine, and alcohol. Urine tests target metabolites within the body and not the psychoactive element of the drug. The number of metabolites in your urine may increase and decrease which can lead to different results within the drug testing detection window.

How to Take the Test

One of the main benefits of a urine test is that it is relatively simple. The test is non-invasive, and a specimen can be collected within a matter of minutes. To ensure that there’s no shady business going on, you’ll likely be asked to take the test in a specified bathroom.

To take a urine test, you will simply have to urinate within a specimen cup. The administrator will let you know how much urine is needed. Most drug tests will require at least 45 milliliters of urine. This is to ensure that there’s enough sample for the testing. It also makes sure that the specimen belongs to the right individual.

You’ll likely be asked to leave your purse, briefcase and other belongings in another room while you take the test. In some rare situations, a same-gendered nurse, technician or administrator will accompany you to the bathroom. When you’re finished, you’ll put a lid on the cup and return it to a technician or administrator. The technician will usually seal the cup at this point. They will also measure the temperature of the urine.

The urine is then tested for the parent compound of various drugs, as well as their metabolites. In the event that there’s any discrepancy or confusion, a mass spectrometry may be conducted as well. The mass spectrometry is used to confirm any results that were previously obtained.

Saliva test for drug detection

Saliva tests measure the parent compound of the drug you took. The higher the level of the compound, the more drugs are in your system. Saliva is good for measuring how impaired you are in the immediate moment. Oral testing is when your mouth is swabbed. Saliva holds traces of chemicals that indicate drug use. It’s not as popular as blood or urine tests as it only detects drug and alcohol use for a few days. It’s helpful for recent drug use detection. A saliva test is a simple lab test that can be used to test for alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and methamphetamines.

How to Take the Test

Another non-invasive method that is also highly recommended for drug tests is saliva testing. It’s possible to detect drugs in saliva within a fairly short period of time after ingestion. This is one of the reasons why this type of testing is so popular. It’s also non-invasive and fairly inexpensive in comparison to other options that are available.

Saliva drug tests offer fast and reliable results. They also offer a strong correlation between impairment and consumption. An in-depth analysis can also be conducted to get a better idea of one’s drug use. It’s also quite difficult to fudge or interfere with the results.

With that said, there are several ways to collect oral fluids for a saliva drug test. You may be asked to spit into a cup. While spitting is quick and simple, the saliva obtained may be viscous and difficult to work with. It may also be contaminated with food and other types of substances.

As a result, many of these drug tests will rely on a swab. A technician will swab the inside of the mouth using a pad or a foam. The oral fluids in your mouth are then squeezed from the pads and foams and tested for drugs.

Blood test for detecting drug

Blood tests are the most effective way to detect concentration levels of alcohol and drugs in the body. Blood tests also indicate the identification of the parent compound of the drug you’ve taken. It does take longer to develop than urine testing, but it can determine how intoxicated you are. For alcohol testing, a blood test can detect alcohol for up to 24 hours after you’ve stopped drinking. Blood drug tests may be used in an employment setting to detect if drugs are in a person’s system. The drugs that can be found in blood include amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines, opiates, nicotine, and alcohol. As most drugs only have a detection period of less than 48 hours in blood, supplemental urine sample will usually be included. A blood test can detect the presence of THC and Nicotine for many weeks after the ingestion date.

How to Take the Test

One of the most expensive and intrusive methods of drug testing is known as a blood test. These tests offer the most accurate results, although the drug detection window is fairly short. As a result, this type of testing is not as common. It’s usually only used in workplace scenarios.

To take this type of test, you will usually be asked to go to a medical lab. A trained technician will collect a vial of blood from you. The blood is extracted from the veins. A blood-draw specialist will first clean the area where the blood will be drawn from using an antiseptic solution. The most common areas where blood is drawn from include the crook of the elbow or the back of the hand.

To make it easier to inject the needle into the vein, the specialist will wrap an elastic band around your upper arm. This cuts off blood flow to the arm, which causes the veins to swell. A sterile needle is then inserted into the veins and the blood is drawn into a vial. The needle is then removed, and a bandage is placed over the puncture site.

The blood sample is then sent to a laboratory for testing. In general, you can expect most tests to come back within 2 to 4 days. Some of the more elaborate and complex tests can take up to 7 to 10 days. It all depends on how busy the lab is.

Hair drug testing is effective for determining drug use over a longer time. By analyzing hair follicles for chemical traces of addictive substances, drugs like cocaine, marijuana, opiates, methamphetamine, and phencyclidine can be detected. As hair grows slowly, drugs can be detected for months or even years after it was ingested. The processing time for this type of testing is longer than urine or blood testing, but it’s the best long-term method. Note that a hair sample can be taken from anywhere on your body. Your hair only needs to be 1.5 inches when used as a drug test sample. If you have longer hair, your drug detection timeline will be longer.

How to Take the Test

Hair tests probably provide the most detailed insights possible into one’s history with drugs. These tests can tell you whether a person was using drugs recreationally or quite frequently. They can tell you the type of drugs that were being abused, among many other types of details.

Hair drug tests are not instant. It does take some time for the results to be produced. Each 0.5 inches of hair represents one month. To conduct a hair test for drugs, the labs will need the newest 1.5 inches in growth. This will measure the individual’s drug use in the last 90 days. The hair sample needs to be cut as close to the scalp as possible. It doesn’t matter whether the hair is dyed or has been chemically treated. While most people tend to use hair from their head, the truth is that hair from other parts of the body can be used as well.

For an accurate test, most labs require anywhere from 40 to 50 strands of hair. The drugs will be detectable in the hair approximately 4 to 5 days after ingestion and will remain in the hair until the hair gets shed off from the body.

Drug Testing Timelines

Drug Testing Timelines for Cocaine

If you’re a casual user of cocaine, it is generally detectable for only a short time. Cocaine usually remains in your system for no more than four days. If you are addicted to cocaine and taking it chronically, your detection window will increase. You will only experience a high for about an hour. This is also its half-life which means that half the cocaine you took will have left your body. For someone who has been using cocaine for a long time and often, the drug will accumulate in body tissues.

If you had a heavy binging episode with cocaine, a urine test can detect it for 12-21 days. Urine tests and their effectiveness will depend on the purity and dose of cocaine taken. Blood tests will detect cocaine for up to 12-48 hours since you last used it. Cocaine also remains in your sweat for up to several weeks. It can be found in a hair test for years once you’ve stopped using cocaine.


Methamphetamines comes in various forms, such as meth, crank, crystal meth, and speed. These drugs affect your central nervous system by activating the release of chemicals like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Meth is similar to the effects of cocaine, but it does tend to stay in your system for longer. The by-products of methamphetamines in your system will be at their height 12 hours after you take it. They can be detected for up to 2-5 hours after you use it and up to 3-5 days with a urine test. Urine tests are very accurate at determining meth use, but only for a short time.

Methamphetamine metabolites stay in the body for 2-4 days and stay in your saliva and blood for up to three days. It can be found in as little as 5-10 minutes after being taken.  Meth can be detected by hair sample for up to 90 days. The concentration of meth will reduce about 12-34 hours after you first take it, being a half-life drug like cocaine. The half-life of meth ranges anywhere from 12 to 34 hours depending on its composition. It takes about 2-10 days to fully leave the body. The more your use, the longer it takes.


LSD has a plasma half-life that lasts 2.5-4 hours. The effects will last 6-8 hours, but the LSD stays in your system for much longer. It is broken down and excreted through your urine, making it detectable with urine drug testing for up to five days. Hair drug testing timelines have windows of up to 90 days. A urine test for LSD may not be effective, as the amounts of the drug in the body are minimal. Also, the body metabolizes it quickly, usually within a 48-hour period. There is a test that screens blood, urine and stomach content for LSD and its metabolites.


Amphetamines come in a variety of forms with street names like black beauties, red, and speed. A single dose of the drug can last for 2-4 hours. Half the amount you take is eliminated by your body within the first day. Urine tests can detect amphetamines for up to 48 hours, unless you’re a heavy user. In this case, it may be in your system for up to a week after your last use. Amphetamines will stay in your blood and saliva for up to 12 hours. A hair test can detect the drug in your system for up to 90 days.


Opiates, such as codeine, heroin, methadone, and morphine, produce feelings of euphoria. They have varying degrees of function. Heroin will hit you within seconds of taking it while morphine will take longer to work although it lasts longer. The body gets rid of heroin rapidly, but it can be detected by drug testing in urine for 2-7 days. A saliva drug test for heroin can only detect heroin for up to 5 hours after it’s taken. Blood tests will detect heroin for up to 6 hours from time of using. Hair follicle tests are most effective, as they can detect heroin for up to 90 days.

Although morphine takes longer to work than heroin and the effects tend to last longer, the detection period is similar. Blood tests can only detect morphine for the first 12 hours after the last dose, and urine tests only work for up to 3 days. Saliva tests are more effective. They are able to detect traces of morphine for up to 4 days. Again, morphine can be detected in hair follicles for up to 90 days.

Codeine is one of the fastest opiates to leave your system. A blood drug test can detect it within 24 hours while urine tests work for 24-48 hours. Saliva testing for codeine is effective 1-4 days after.


Barbiturates were originally prescribed for anxiety and insomnia. They are divided into groups that define how fast they start working and for how long. Barbiturates comes in many forms, so how long they stay in your system varies. They can be short or intermediate acting. The shorter-acting varieties like pentobarbital and secobarbital have short half-lives so the body eliminates them faster.

Urine drug screening tests can detect shorter-acting barbiturates for up to six weeks. Hair follicle tests can detect drug use for up to 90 days. Long-lasting barbiturates will have a direct effect of 6-8 hours  but can remain in your system for up to 140 hours. Drug tests can detect long-acting drugs for up to three weeks.


Xanax, Valium, and Ativan are an example of Benzodiazepines. They are used to sedate patients, prevent seizures, and ease anxiety. Benzodiazepines vary on how long they can show up in drug tests. Valium will show up in urine tests for 3-6 weeks after the last time you took it. It remains in your blood for just a few days however.

Xanax and Klonopin may not show up in blood, urine, or hair follicle tests. The general detection time is 2-7 days. If you chronically use benzos, the parent drug and metabolite will be present in tests. When used recreationally, only either the parent drug or the metabolite may be found. Urine, blood, and saliva tests are often administered altogether for benzodiazepines detection. The hair follicle test will detect the family of drugs for up to 90 days.


Marijuana stays in the system for a short time while the THC stays in the system for a long period of time. This is true for both chronic users and casual users. THC is stored in the body and can turn up as a positive read in drug test screening for up to 4 weeks. Your body stores THC in your fat cells and slowly releases it into your bloodstream.

If you use cannabis casually, it can be detected in your urine for up to 5 days. If you take marijuana orally  or have a pot edible, it stays in your urine for longer. Cannabis stays in your blood for up to 2 weeks and up to 90 days in your hair follicles.

Drug testing is necessary for protecting people in many areas of life. For those working on job sites that require you to be fully functional for safety reasons, drug testing may be necessary. Even legal drugs can become a problem when they alter your brain functions. Opioid prescription painkillers are being misused by many sadly. Marijuana is legal in many states now but that doesn’t make it safe when you need to operate equipment.

The three common tests are designed to cover all the bases of drugs in your body. While urine measures the by-product compounds metabolites, they don’t detect the drug itself. Blood and saliva measure the parent compound.

Blood, urine, and saliva drug tests may also help within a drug rehab setting in outpatient programs. Maintaining the truth about your recovery to parties that have invested in you is helpful. Even if you can convince yourself that you’re okay, these drug tests reveal that more recovery is needed.

The various kinds of drugs out there metabolize differently in the body. They also remain in the blood for varying times. If you’ve been taking drugs and you are tested outside of the detection window, it’s possible your test will come up negative. The detection windows above were created to offer the full range of possibility. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to come up negative if the detection window is outside of the parameters. Every body deals with drugs differently.

How to Detox from Drugs

How to Detox from Drugs

Drugs change your body and brain chemistry. They cause you to become reliant on foreign chemicals. To restore balance to the body, drug abusers will have to go through drug detox. A detox for drug addiction will physically cleanse the body from these toxins. Slowly, the body’s natural balance gets restored and drug users will find their way to sobriety.

Different types of drugs require different types of medications. A drug detox program will look at each patient’s drug of choice and the dose taken. With these factors in mind, doctors prescribe different concoctions of medications. During the entire detox for drug abuse, medical staff will monitor each patient’s vitals to determine how well the detox is going. The dose and type of medications used can be adjusted and changed to fit the unique biological makeup of each patient. Let’s take a look at the type of drug detox programs recommended for various illicit or addictive substances.

Types of Drug that Require Detoxification

Although medical detoxification will ease withdrawal symptoms and shorten withdrawal timelines for all types of drugs, they are not always needed. It’s possible to recover from some drug addictions without the use of any medications at all. In these situations, a holistic detox approach may be possible. Only certain drugs require detox without any exceptions. They include:

  • Heroin
  • Opiate-related drugs, like Oxycontin
  • Xanax
  • Vicodin

For these drugs, medically-supervised detox is crucial. The withdrawal symptoms can make a turn for the worse at any point in time. These symptoms can even become fatal if they are not properly addressed.

The medical detox process can last anywhere from 3 days to one or two weeks. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved certain drugs for medical detox. In other situations, the withdrawal symptoms are not severe at all and will not be too difficult to handle. For example, marijuana detox often does not require any medications at all.

In the event that patients do feel overwhelmed by the withdrawal symptoms, the doctors at the detox facility may prescribe other medications at their discretion. For example, some doctors may prescribe sleeping pills to patients who have insomnia.

Medications Often Used for Opiate Detox

Opiates are some of the only drugs that actually require medical detox. This type of detox is also known as Opiate Replacement Therapy (ORT). Essentially, doctors will replace the strong opioids with weaker ones. This way, the patients will not experience as intense withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the type of medications taken for ORT, patients may need to slowly taper off of the meds.

The FDA has approved quite a few different types of drugs for ORT. The type of medication that will work best for each patient will depend on the severity of their addiction, their length of drug use, their drug of choice, among many other factors. The most common types of prescription drugs used in opioid detox include:

  • Methadone. This is a full opioid agonist, which means that it has the same mechanism of action as heroin. These medications will attach directly to the opioid receptors in the brain. They can stimulate a sense of euphoria, and, as a result, can be quite addictive.
  • Buprenorphine. Unlike methadone, this is a partial opioid agonist. It works in a similar way to methadone; however, it has a  “ceiling effect”. Basically, there is only a maximum amount of buprenorphine that a patient can take before their body doesn’t respond to the drug. This is why buprenorphine is less addictive than methadone.
  • Naloxone. This is an opioid-reversing drug. It blocks opioids from attaching to the opioid receptors in the central nervous system (CNS).
  • Suboxone. This is a combination of both naloxone and buprenorphine. This drug is also highly favored by drug detox facilities because it is less addictive than methadone.
  • Naltrexone, otherwise known as Vivitrol. This drug is injected into the buttocks once a month, instead of taken as a pill. It blocks opioids from attaching to the CNS, and can only be taken once patients have stopped using opioids for at last 2 weeks.

If you’re seeking drug detox for an opioid addiction, learn more about the different types of medications available. There are distinct benefits and disadvantages to each option.

Drugs withdrawal timelines

Drug Detox Methods

When looking at drug detox options, patients are often given three different options. The medical professionals will want to assess each patient’s condition and situation to determine which method will be most effective. The three different methods available include:

  • “Cold Turkey” method. This drug detox method is exactly what it sounds like. Patients receive no pharmacological help at all during the detox process. They will cease the use of all addictive substances and endure the full brunt of the withdrawal symptoms. In general, this drug detox method is only recommended if the withdrawal symptoms are going to be mild. This detox method is not recommended for those who easily give in to temptations.
  • Short-term medicated detox. Patients will only use medications for a limited period of time. The sole responsibility and job of the detox process is to help ease withdrawal symptoms. For example, patients who experience insomnia may take sleeping pills while they are detoxing from a drug addiction.
  • Long-term medicated detox. This type of detox can span several weeks if not months. It’s usually only reserved for some of the most severe types of addiction, like an addiction to opioids. Patients are expected to take the medications for an extended period of time. This will give them time to relearn healthy habits and to retrain their brain. This drug detox method is recommended when the withdrawal symptoms are expected to be rather intense.

In most situations, the doctors at the rehab center will lean towards one type of method only. They will give patients more details about the type of methods and medications that will be used in the personalized plans.

Get Professionally Tested at Northpoint Seattle

Get Professionally Tested at Northpoint Seattle

Get a professional assessment and drug testing with a recovery center, like us, to get more insight on your addiction. We know exactly what to look for and how to determine the severity of your addiction. The tests don’t lie, and are also a great way for determining whether a loved one has been abusing drugs. The tests can tell you not only the type of drugs they’ve been abusing, but also the length of the drug use.

Once our addiction specialists have assessed your situation, we can provide you with some recommendations. Our intensive outpatient program (IOP) can treat all types of addiction. We offer some of the highest quality medical detox programs and behavioral therapies to our clients. Each patient receives individualized care, and programs are tailored to their biological makeup and needs. Our goal is to help you transition into recovery as smoothly as possible. Take a big step forward towards addiction recovery by contacting us today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Types of Drugs do Employers Test for?

Most employers follow SAMHSA’s guidelines for drug testing, which means they test for five illicit drugs. Although some tests may also check for the presence of alcohol in the body as well. The five drugs that are most commonly tested for are:

  • Phencyclidine (PCP or angel dust)
  • Opiates (codeine, morphine or heroin)
  • THC (marijuana or other cannabinoids)
  • Cocaine (including crack)
  • Amphetamines (meth, ecstasy or speed)

But private employers are not limited as far as how many substances they can test for. They may opt for either an 8-panel or 10-panel test. An 8-panel test includes all of the above drugs as well as barbiturates, methaqualone and benzodiazepines. The 10-panel test includes all of these drugs as well as methadone and propoxyphene.

It is also possible to test for drugs like:

  • Anabolic steroids
  • MDMA
  • Inhalants
  • Hallucinogens
  • Opioids like hydrocodone or Percocet

What are the Different Types of Drug Tests?

There are several different types of drug tests and each one has its advantages and disadvantages.

  • Blood tests – They work well to detect the recent use of a drug, but they are invasive and quite expensive.
  • Breath tests – This test can only be used for alcohol and it can be difficult to get people to agree to take them. But they are less invasive.
  • Sweat tests – These tests are easy to administer and hard to falsify. They can detect drug use within the last 24 hours, but retesting may be a challenge.
  • Saliva tests – These tests can detect same-day drug use. They are easy to use and non-invasive. The downside is that their detection window is very short.
  • Urine tests – They are the most popular method of testing for drugs for most employers. They offer a larger specimen sample than the other methods, but they are much easier to falsify or alter.
  • Hair tests – These tests give a much longer testing window because many drugs can be detected for as long as 90 days or so. The test is quick and non-invasive, but low-level drug use might not show up in the results.

How Accurate is Drug Testing?

Private employers have a lot of freedom with regard to how they implement drug tests. Businesses that are subject to Federal regulations, on the other hand, do not. For example, the U.S. Department of Transportation has drug testing rules that are the same for all professional drivers.

Every effort is made to ensure that drug testing is as accurate as possible. SAMHSA’s guidelines include a vigorous process of testing to ensure that nothing goes wrong. Here is an overview of their guidelines:

  • A chain-of-custody form documents the handling and storage of the specimen from beginning to end. It links the sample to the person who gave it and serves as written proof for everything that happens to it.
  • The initial screen is done, which tests the sample for specific drugs. This test is not always accurate, false positives have occurred. If that initial screen is positive, a confirmation test should be completed.
  • The confirmation test is extremely accurate and can rule out any false positives that may have occurred initially. In order for a test to be ruled positive, both the initial and confirmation results must be positive.
  • If both tests are positive, the sample is passed off to a licensed medical doctor who will review the results. They ensure that the chain-of-custody was followed and they contact the individual to ask them if there are any legitimate reasons the tests would be positive. If certain medications impacted the test result, and the person has a prescription, the test would be deemed negative.

Are There Ways to Beat a Drug Test?

People try all kinds of things to try and beat drug tests. There are a lot of methods they might use, including:

  • Drinking excess amounts of water in an attempt to flush the drugs out of the body.
  • Drinking cranberry juice to dilute drugs and flush them out.
  • Trying one of many drug detox products that are sold online that claim to rid drugs from the urine.
  • Adding certain chemicals to their urine in an attempt to hide the presence of drugs.
  • Diluting their urine with water.
  • Using someone else’s urine for their drug test.
  • Purchasing drug detox drinks to flush drugs and their toxins out of the body.

Most people who attempt to beat drug tests are usually not successful. The drug detox kits that are sold online promise great results, but they often do not live up to the hype. Any attempt to manipulate a specimen is usually uncovered because the testing might not work.

How Long do Drugs Stay in Your System?

People who are substance abusers with upcoming drug tests often want to know how long their drug of choice will stay in their system. There is no one right answer because every drug is different and the rate each person metabolizes drugs can vary widely.

But there are some general guidelines as far as how long a drug will stay in your body. For example, assuming you are having a urine drug test:

  • Cannabis can be detected for up to 30 days.
  • Cocaine, barbiturates and heroin can be detected for up to 4 days.
  • LSD and Amphetamines can be found for up to 3 days.
  • Alcohol may be detected for up to 5 days.
  • Methamphetamine and morphine may be found for up to 6 days.

The length of time a drug stays in your system depends on its half-life. This means the amount of time it takes for half of the drug to be metabolized. After one half-life has passed, another 50% of the remaining amount is processed and this process continues on.


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Drug Testing Methods and Timeline

2021-08-02T22:05:00+00:00August 7th, 2020|57 Comments


  1. Jody March 13, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    Yes my name is Jody and I had a question I literally have never tried heroin in my life recently went through a bad divorce and I tried it 7 days ago about 3 times only snorted it how long would that stay in my urine I had a drug test 14 panel today would seven or eight days will it be out of my urine if someone can let me know I would appreciate it

    • Ian Kelly May 28, 2019 at 10:33 pm

      Im not sure how long it stays in your system. 3-4 days with that little of use. Im just replying to give advice. Choose a better release in heroin that’s a dark windy road you don’t want to go down and if you hang out with somebody that does it stop if they appear normal now imagine the worst looking tweaker you’ve ever seen on the news * 100 I’m not imagine your whole day is only consumed I had to get 5 to 20 bucks every couple hours to get high and that’s what happens with every heroin user guaranteed I’m an addict myself but F1 drug not even I would touch

  2. Jessica Nicosia March 19, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    If I suspect my child is using drugs,shaves his body hair and keeps his hair very short, what results could I get with an inch or less?

    • Northpoint Seattle Staff May 18, 2018 at 11:14 pm

      You would need to reach out to the drug testing facility you would be using. However, you can use other forms of drug testing such as, blood, urine or saliva. Best of luck!

    • Pete December 18, 2018 at 10:24 am

      Usually a person that has a drug addiction loses all concern for proper hygiene. I’m not saying that your child may or may not be using. I’m saying that experimentation and drug use are two different things and I personally would be more concerned if (he) stopped shaving their hair.
      Communication works much better than putting someone in a corner and making them piss in a cup.
      As it is common for humans to experiment. So don’t be ram rod, ask them if they are experimenting?
      The rule of thumb is people become the friends they keep.
      Look for the red flags. Change of friends. Change of hygiene habits.
      Be a friend, don’t become an enemy. Let them know that you love them and are their for them no matter what.
      But set boundaries and let them know what they are, as well as the consequences.
      So what if they smoke a little pot. If they keep their grades up and have goals they keep.

    • Joshua March 24, 2019 at 8:15 pm

      Hey i definitely agree with Pete. If you are just worried about them smoking a little herb and they havnt became a nucents to society I would let that one go.

      If they are staying up all night and loosing a bunch of weight and or being agitated very easy i would be concerned. As well as if they were nodding out or passing out while just sitting theere i would start to worry. These are signs of way worse drug use. But you have to be careful about how you come at the kid. It is easy to revoult when you are young and do something just because the parent says no.
      I would also go with the urine test. You can get it at any drug store and also only takes a few minutes to work. If he or she fails then try not to yell and freak out. I know that will be hard but as you already know most kids now a days are not saceptical to that. And i know its hard but alot of kids have to learn on their own. I know i did. Good luck to you

    • Eh March 25, 2019 at 12:08 am

      Honestly my son does the same and he passed all his school test he probably just wants to look cleaner

    • Paul April 13, 2019 at 7:38 pm

      Sounds to me like a self image issue, as it was not so long ago that spiked Mohawks were common. Also drugs stay in hair and the closer to the scalp shows the latest history. I personally see drugs as something that helps to improve life, as that is what they are to me as I have medical problems. They are the only thing that helps me to feel and act normal. I hate feeling stoned or high, as I like to be in full control of my body and mind. Without what I am taking I can’t walk or even breath properly, and people abusing drugs hurts me because there are those that think things need to be regulated more and then I can’t get the medications that I need to stay alive. Also with the attack I suffered about a year and a half ago I need medications so I can remember what I am doing and even spell my name.

      We need to do things to make this country and world better so people will not have the desire to use drugs to escape it so that people that need medications to be functional and medications that allow them to stay alive can get them. I rarely if ever buy anything from walmart as they do not carry what I need to stay alive any longer.

      I know many do not know what it is like to be in so much pain that you just can’t breath, and that is why you see drugs as the problem, but the problem is in the minds of people that want to take away all their memories and their life so they do not have to deal with it. They do that by abusing what I take for severe pain in doses that are far too much to be safe for anyone. They get respiratory depression and pass out and die.

      It is sad that we live in a time where people are not able to afford a place to live on what they can earn even with college degrees because those people wasted years of their life paying thousands of dollars for a degree that USED to allow people to get a good paying job. However doing drugs does not change this, it means that people need to find within them skills that they can develop that are in high demand so that they can earn enough to enjoy life instead of trying to escape it.

      • layla April 27, 2019 at 9:49 pm

        I very much like what you said! Thank you for sharing.

      • Miss Betty September 10, 2019 at 9:12 pm

        Wow…. Paul, you are wise beyond your years. I am in tears. For everything you said was exactly what needs to be heard. I myself am an addict and I agree that it is to easy my mental anguish… Sad, but true
        I have seen drugs kill the most beautiful souls….
        Thank you for bringing this to light. I will be praying for you to get the healing you need so as not to even need the medication that has been the source of so many of your troubles.

    • Krystyna Flury April 27, 2019 at 6:07 am

      Wow Paul you obviously are not an addict and never have been…Ive been an addict since I was 19 I’m going on 32 and I’ve been clean for about 3 yrs. Everyday is a challenge but I do it. I would recommend don’t talk about addicts like u know why we do what we do and u know what and how we think….u don’t. Have a nice night/day u will b n my prayers.

  3. Ted May 30, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    If I use a Sylvia test on my son how long is the time period will it detect after?

    • Northpoint Seattle Staff June 7, 2018 at 5:43 am

      The results would depend upon the test you are using and the substance you are looking for. You may want to reach out to the testing facility for more information.

  4. Chelsea Gilliam July 2, 2018 at 8:35 pm

    My name is Chelsea, I have been a recovering addict since January of 2015 now. My “drug of choice” was amphetamines, and before I got sober, I was a VERY heavy user! All day, everyday, with no end in sight at the time. But my question for you guys is, can traces of methamphetamines still be detected in a hair follicle test?? I am currently going through a custody battle for my two children and their relentless father asked for a hair follicle test in court a few months ago, so I agreed to take it knowing that I have been clean for nearly 3 years now. Unfortunately, the test came back with EXTREMELY high amounts of “minute” traces of methamphetamines.. how is this possible?? I have lost all contact with my children due to a BOGUS drug test.

    • Northpoint Seattle Staff July 6, 2018 at 5:06 pm

      I am sorry that you are going through this and congratulations to 3 years sober! You could always challenge the results, or go to another clinic and request another test. Best of luck to you!

      • Jack Straw January 14, 2019 at 5:30 am

        Adderall is what I was prescribed to me legally, but im trying for a job that indeed does test for this. I stopped taking it a week ago, but im still concerned. Is there any way to get it out of my system any quicker?

        • Northpoint Seattle Staff January 21, 2019 at 4:35 pm

          There is no way to rid any drug from your system faster. Everything depends upon how much you took, how long you took it, how much has been stored up in your body, your metabolism, etc. Wishing you the best!

        • Paul April 13, 2019 at 7:51 pm

          If you are legally prescribed you should bring the bottle of the medication so they can see it to the testing place. I have always passed drug tests, as everything that I take is legally prescribed for me. However if I were to take a test and things showed that are not prescribed for me or things that I am prescribed are not showing in my system there would be a problem.

          Adderall is something that helps people with ADHD to be functional and if I had an employee that needs something to be functional I would want them to be using it. There are some jobs such as airplane pilots and such that they need to be functional without the use of medications.

          It is always better to have a job in a place where people can be honest about what they need to be functional and not be penalized for it. Perhaps if taking a medication is a problem you should find a place that hires you without it being seen as a problem. If it is for office work then it is a matter of taking only things prescribed for you, as you would not be operating heavy equipment.

    • Jane Simon November 17, 2018 at 12:51 am

      Hey . I know you wrote this a while back. Those test are so wrong . I’m currently going to challange lab corp.
      I had a test done after being clean for 5 months
      I was a heavy user. Amphetamines I’ve used for 20 years …methamphetamines only 2 years .
      My first test..I popped positive for 5 of the 9 panals. Levels over 1000 for opiates …and 4000 for methamphtamines.
      I challanged it bc I knew and my sponsor knew I hadn’t used in 5 months . This being a 90 test the courts see it as ..you used drugs in 90 days. So I freaked. I went and had my hair cut 2 days after receiving my results..my next test came back totally different …new levels …one higher. So I went to quest diagnostics and had a third test ..
      Only tested positive for amphetamines at a livel of 426. After these 3 I went to a toxicologist…they told me my results so close together with what they read …were very unique and really almost not possible…as if an error happened when my samples were cut.
      After this my lawyer still pressing I needed a clean test to get my son back. I went again and had s 4th test …came back clean.
      What i did different was take my father with me he watched the lady cut my hair. He made sure she pulled the strands and scrapped..my head. Super important to have the fresh cut extremely close..shave balled close. Most of the people the take the samples I noticed cut the hair loosely from the crown of your head. The other thing we did was had the person taking the sample cut the extra hair instead of wrapping it below the sample to be tested. So they only send in 1 and a half inches.
      I’m not sure if this helped. If you are still having a hard time. I did find out bleach does lower your levels …it doesnt erase the drugs but it helps. Good luck to you. I hope you find solid sobriety and a life with your kids. They need both parents.


      • Sarah Boldman March 1, 2019 at 12:05 am

        I have to commend you for standing up for yourself( and your son ) and taking the initiative and time and I’m sure money as well,to provide all the best
        and accurate information to prove yourself to the courts!!????..good for you!Screw the “justice system”, justice,ha! What a ridiculous word.Where the hell do they provide justice for the people?Not here in Oklahoma,they are only in it for the power and the money they are given by people who want to take your kids from you bc you are poor,(ie;me)Thank you for going above and beyond for your son,he will never know what a wonderful thing you did bc you love him so much! But I hope he does!You are now my idol and I hope you can share your story with everyone everywhere and be a wonderful source of inspiration to people all over like you were to me! Congratulations on your success and ty for sharing your story!We need a lot more people like you, Keep up with inspiring people for the rest of your life!God bless you and your family!

  5. Cinthia Ramosé September 14, 2018 at 3:21 am

    I take dabs of marijuana every night usually to calm my anxiety. I found out I have to schedule a drug test sometime soon. I have been a week without taking any dabs. How long do you think I have to wait for it to be out of my blood.

    • Northpoint Seattle Staff September 16, 2018 at 4:11 pm

      Each person can differ but as stated in the blog, “A blood test can detect the presence of THC and Nicotine for many weeks after the ingestion date.” However, the differences of amount ingested, body weight, age, etc. all play a factor on how long it will truly stay in your system.

  6. john November 4, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    What weekly amount of cannabis consumption considered casual?

    • Northpoint Seattle Staff November 5, 2018 at 8:37 pm

      John, if cannabis consumption takes place on a weekly level, it would not be classified as “casual” in reference to this article. Thank you for asking!

  7. Leeann November 4, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    I took valley yesterday iv drank 4litres on water but have a swab test on 15th of Nov if I keep drinking water till then should I be ok xx

    • Northpoint Seattle Staff November 5, 2018 at 8:26 pm

      We wish you the best on your cleansing, Leeann.

  8. Shadi November 9, 2018 at 8:20 pm

    i am not a drug addict, but i smoke cigarettes, should that affect my employment drug test?

    • Northpoint Seattle Staff November 10, 2018 at 9:14 pm

      Some employers do test for nicotine. You may want to check the employer’s website resources to investigate further, best of luck to you!

  9. Brandon Lee Morales November 19, 2018 at 4:29 pm

    i smoked 3 hits of crack yesterday at 1pm got a saliva test at 4 today willl i pass

    • Northpoint Seattle Staff November 23, 2018 at 8:46 pm

      Everyone’s body works differently, Brandon, that is cutting it pretty close. Happy holidays to you!

  10. Donald November 27, 2018 at 9:11 am

    If someone has a drug test for probation and has used crack cocaine 3 times within a 2 week margin (20 to 40 worth and if they are not fat (6’1 150 lbs) can it be out of your system within 12 to 13 days of use? Also they take prescription medicine that’s allowed such as suboxone and xanax. Will they likely pass with this given time to get clean?

    • Northpoint Seattle Staff November 28, 2018 at 2:13 am

      Everyone’s body works differently, Donald. This someone would likely need to reach out for further assistance to either their care provider, or the contact information we have here on the page. Thanks!

  11. Donald November 27, 2018 at 9:13 am

    Also it will likely be a urine test or possible blood test.

    • Northpoint Seattle Staff November 28, 2018 at 2:12 am

      Thank you for sharing!

  12. Betty House November 29, 2018 at 4:59 am

    How do you know if levels are high on a hair folice test. Marijuana level 1.7. Haven’t smoked in 60 days did expensive hair wash..I just want to know if those are high levels.

    • Northpoint Seattle Staff December 1, 2018 at 6:25 pm

      Betty, please contact a testing facility to inquire about level thresholds with a technician. Alternatively, feel free to contact us at the number provided here on this page. Thank you!

  13. Shaun December 1, 2018 at 8:40 pm

    I had been clean off of heroine:pills for 27 days. I took a urine drug test and it showed positive for morphine. I was So mad. No one believed me, he’ll, I wouldn’t have believed me. That was the longest I had been sober. The night I failed, I used. I felt so defeated. I relapsed that night, but before that I had been clean for 27 days. I have no idea why I failed. But since I was going to do the time (my Sobixone script was reduced to one week worth of meds, and I will need a clean test to go back to 2 weeks, then 3, then a month…etc), I sure as fuck was going to do the crime (use heroine), so to speak.

    The last drug test, that I passed, I was clean for 17 days.

    I had a root canal done the morning before the positive test. Had been on antibiotics, ibuprofen and tylenol for tooth pain.

    Anyone have any idea how I failed after 27 days clean?

    • Northpoint Seattle Staff December 4, 2018 at 3:54 pm

      That is a strange experience that you had, Shaun. A number of factors could have impacted this. Feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss it with a professional. Best wishes!

  14. Shane December 3, 2018 at 5:34 am

    If a heroin addict who has used for month does a detox cold turkey and has a drug test/urine could he pass it with 5 days clean? I’ve heard of people
    Passing the cup test and when it’s sent to the lab failing?

    • Northpoint Seattle Staff December 4, 2018 at 3:52 pm

      Everyone’s body works differently when processing toxins and cleansing them from the system. Five days is not much time to allow for your body to physically heal. Thanks for asking!

  15. Paul December 15, 2018 at 12:31 am

    My friend took X Saturday afternoon. (Doesn’t do it much) He got called in Thursday morning for a urine drug test for a job. Dose was probably 125ish mg. He’s stressi over the results. He should be fine right?

    • Northpoint Seattle Staff December 19, 2018 at 8:23 am

      That is difficult to say, Paul. We recommend that your friend check into an over-the-counter urinalysis if time permits.

  16. crackhead211 December 24, 2018 at 3:36 am

    I smoke crack everyday and lost 65 pounds in the process, anyway since I literally have no fat, will the cocaine be out of my system by this night??

    • Northpoint Seattle Staff December 27, 2018 at 5:19 am

      That is difficult to determine, but is doubtful it would be out of your system so quickly. Best wishes.

  17. Martine January 16, 2019 at 9:54 pm

    I have a urine test coming up on 6 days at my méthadone clinic i did à few amphétamine will it show

    • Northpoint Seattle Staff January 21, 2019 at 4:32 pm

      We cannot guarantee a pass or fail for any situation, as there are many factors involved (how much was taken, your body structure, etc). Wishing you the best!

  18. Joban January 17, 2019 at 9:12 pm

    How long is GHB detectable in the urine? And is it common for labs to test for that specific drug?

    • Northpoint Seattle Staff January 21, 2019 at 4:29 pm

      Unfortunately, we cannot provide a specific timeline for GHB since there are many factors to how long it would remain detectable. For the lab to test for that particular drug, you may want to reach out to them and ask if they will be testing for that drug. It would depend upon the test they are using if it will test for it.

  19. bri January 18, 2019 at 6:11 pm

    i smoked heroin and crack 10 days ago im due to take a drug test in another 10 days, my boss says they test the structre of my metabolites, will i pass ???

    • Northpoint Seattle Staff January 21, 2019 at 4:27 pm

      We cannot guarantee a pass or fail for any situation, as there are many factors involved (how much was taken, your body structure, etc). Wishing you the best!

  20. Denise D McCaffrey February 1, 2019 at 7:54 am

    Im on here looking for my neighbor for her daughter and brother. She doesnt want her husband to know. Well as I am reading I see someone mention coming up positive when they didnt do drugs hey it happened to me 16 yrs ago for pot never smoked the stuff in my life. Did other things 34 yrs ago last but never pot. It scares me how things can happen

    • Northpoint Seattle Staff February 2, 2019 at 5:12 pm

      It is possible, although rare, to show positive for a particular drug you never took. However, it usually means you did eat/drink something that has similar properties or contains part of that particular drug (think poppy seed for opium). Hope the article helped you with your research.

  21. Danielle March 21, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    My friend took a one off sniff of cocaine a couple of weeks ago, she’s never taken it before but has been asked to do a hair drugs test in a few days, are the results likely to be positive for cocaine as it was only a one time use and a very small amount?

    • Northpoint Seattle Staff March 21, 2019 at 4:25 pm

      It is hard to give a clear answer since it would depend upon the exact amount taken, how long it has been since taken, your friends’ metabolism, weight, etc. We wish you and your friend all the best!

  22. Tai Dean April 8, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    So i just applied for a new job. 4 months ago i had my tubaligation surgery and was prescribed pain medication. I only took half of the prescription as the recovery wasnt too terrible. A month ago i had a killer migraine and finally decided to take one of the pills to help. The company i applied at does hair follicle testing. Will one pill really show up in my hair follicle test? I have the prescription bottle.to shoq the compny but still wanted more information on this. I dont want to lose a chance at this job because of this.

    • Northpoint Seattle Staff April 8, 2019 at 4:31 pm

      Unfortunately, we cannot give you a clear answer on this. It will depend upon the prescription dosage, your weight, age, etc. There are several factors when considering if a drug will appear on a drug screening. Since you still have the bottle you may want to take it with you and let them know that could show up. Best of luck!

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