How Long Do Opiates Stay in Your System?
Depending on which drug is taken, opioids can stay in a person’s system for as little as a few hours or as long as a few days. Common forms of drug testing can detect opioid use for a longer period, typically for up to three to four days. Some tests can detect opioid use for as long as three months.
What Are Opiates?
Opiates are natural opioid chemicals that come from the opium poppy plant. “Opioids” is an all-encompassing term that refers to natural, semi-synthetic and synthetic opioids.
An opioid is any chemical that interacts with opioid receptors in the central nervous system, helping to relieve pain. Opioids are typically prescribed to help people living with severe or chronic pain control their pain levels, but opioid use can also create feelings of pleasure and euphoria. Because of these pleasurable side effects, opioids carry the risk of misuse and addiction.
Types of Opiates
There are three primary types of opiates:
- Natural opioids come from the opium poppy plant. Natural opioids include morphine and codeine.
- Semi-synthetic opioids are created in labs and are derived from natural opioids. Semi-synthetic opioids include hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone and heroin.
- Synthetic opioids are created in labs and are entirely human-made. Synthetic opioids include fentanyl, methadone and tramadol.
A drug’s half-life refers to the amount of time it takes for 50% of the drug to be metabolized and removed from the system. After around four to five half-life cycles, the drug will be mostly undetectable in the body. The half-life of opiates and opioids vary from minutes to hours.
The most common opioids have the following half-lives:
- Codeine has a half-life of 2.9 hours
- Morphine has a half-life of 1.7 to 4.5 hours
- Heroin has a half-life of three minutes, but it metabolizes into morphine
- Hydrocodone has a half-life of 3.5 to nine hours
- Oxycodone has a half-life of 3.5 to seven hours
- Fentanyl has an intravenous half-life of two to four hours and a patch/lozenge half-life of seven to 17 hours
How Long Do Opiates Stay in Your Urine?
Urine testing is one of the most common forms of drug testing. Opioids can be detected in urine for the following amounts of time:
- Codeine can be detected for two to four days
- Morphine can be detected for two to five days
- Heroin can be detected for two to three days
- Hydrocodone can be detected for three to four days
- Oxycodone can be detected for three to four days
- Fentanyl can be detected for eight to 24 hours
How Long Do Opiates Stay in Your Saliva?
Saliva tests can detect drugs almost immediately after use. After being used, opioids can be detected for the following amounts of time:
- Codeine can be detected for one to 36 hours
- Morphine can be detected for one to 36 hours
- Heroin can be detected for one to 36 hours
- Hydrocodone can be detected for one to 36 hours
- Oxycodone can be detected for one to 96 hours
- Fentanyl can be detected for one to 96 hours
How Long Do Opiates Stay in Your Blood?
Blood testing is not often used to detect drugs because of its invasive nature and short detection window. When screening for opioids, a blood test can detect opiates’ presence for two to 12 hours after use.
How Long Do Opiates Stay in Your Hair?
Hair testing is not as common as other testing options, but it can detect drug use for a much longer period. The test can typically detect opioids and most drugs for up to 90 days after the latest use.
Getting Treatment for Opioid Abuse in Orlando
The treatment of opioid abuse usually begins with medical detox. The Orlando Recovery Center offers medical detox programs, professional treatment and assistance for those suffering from opioid addiction. If you or a loved one misuse opioids, we’re here to provide you with the resources needed for a life of health and sobriety. Contact The Orlando Recovery Center to begin on your path toward recovery.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Prescription Pain Medications (Opioids).” March 2017. Accessed April 28, 2019.
Hadland, Scott E. “Objective Testing – Urine and Other Drug Tests.” NCBI, March 30, 2016. Accessed April 28, 2019.
Medical Disclaimer: Orlando Recovery Center aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.