Drug Test Detection Times: How Long Do Drugs Stay In Your System?

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D on October 7, 2020

Drug test detection times depend on the type of drug, amount used, time of last use, and other factors. Learn about the different drug test detection times and how to deal with a positive drug test result.

Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D on October 7, 2020
Drug Detection Times

How long a drug stays in your system can depend on many factors. Different drugs will have different detection times, and the type of drug test used can affect how quickly a drug may be detected.

Some drugs can be detected in the body quickly—within just a few minutes for a saliva test, for example. Others may not show up in certain tests for hours or even days.

Drug and alcohol testing can be used for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • workplace requirements
  • probation/parole conditions
  • use in legal cases: divorce or custody hearings
  • court-ordered testing
  • in alcohol and drug rehab programs

Regardless of the reason, drug testing can quickly identify substance(s) of abuse in a person’s body. It can be helpful to know the detection times for drugs of abuse and the factors that affect drug detection times if you or a loved one are in need of testing.

Factors That Affect How Long Drugs Stay In Your System

Because each drug and the effects it has on the body can be different from the next, there many factors that can affect how long a drug stays in your system.

These factors will contribute to your drug test detection times and can include:

  • type and amount of drug(s) used
  • frequency of use: single use; daily use; moderate use; heavy use; chronic heavy use
  • drug’s half-life: time it takes for a drug to decrease to half of its starting dose in the body
  • person’s tolerance level
  • physical factors: heigh, weight, ethnicity, gender, age
  • person’s metabolic rate
  • any medical conditions that affect a person’s ability to metabolize drugs, i.e. liver disease
  • hydration levels at time of test
  • person’s physical activity level

How Drug Tests Work

In any drug or alcohol test, there can be two steps to the process: the initial drug test and the confirmation drug test.

An initial drug test, also called the immunoassay, is what happens when you go in for a routine drug detection test. The biological specimen you submit (urine, saliva etc) is tested for the presence of drugs. If the test results of the initial drug tests are negative, results are submitted and no further testing is typically done.

If the results are non-negative, a confirmation test (confirmatory GC-MS analysis) may be conducted on a separate part of the same biological sample.

A confirmatory test should always be conducted before reporting a positive test result to ensure accuracy.

Different Types Of Laboratory Drug Tests

While urine drug tests are by far the most common, a number of lab tests exist to test for the presence of drugs or alcohol. How long it takes to get the result of your substance test can depend on:

the lab, hospital, or clinic where you got tested and how fast they process drug screens
if your results were negative or non-negative: negative results could be returned in 24 hours, positive results may take 1 week or more
how many substances the drug test screened for
the type of test you took

Urine Drug Tests

Urine drug tests are by far the most common and preferred drug test method used by employers, rehab programs, and other companies. A urinalysis may show the presence of drugs up to days after use, but the detection time can depend on the type of drug and other factors.

A typical urine test may screen for up to 5 to 10 drugs.

Urinalysis detection tests may screen for:

  • Alcohol
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • MDMA, MDA Analogues
  • Marijuana
  • Methamphetamine
  • Prescription Opioids: codeine, morphine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, oxymorphone

Saliva Drug Tests

Saliva testing is the second-most common drug testing method. Also called oral fluid detection testing or mouth swabs, this drug screen may detect drug use from within a few hours of last use up to 2 days.

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Mouth swab tests make for easy collection of test samples, are less likely to be tampered with (adulteration) and can test for the presence of multiple drugs at once, including:

  • Alcohol
  • Amphetamines
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Cocaine
  • Ecstasy
  • Marjiuana
  • Methamphetamine
  • Opiates
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

Blood Drug Tests

Blood drug tests are not often the preferred method since they are more invasive and collecting samples takes more effort. However, blood tests can detect drugs of abuse in a person’s system within a few minutes after use and up to hours later.

With blood analysis tests, there is very little chance for adulteration, and the tests screen for many of the same drugs of abuse as saliva and urine tests.

Emergency rooms may use blood drug testing for toxicology screens, such as in the case of a car accident, as blood tests can offer the most immediate and accurate results.

Drugs tend to be eliminated from the blood more quickly than saliva, urine, or hair, though. For this reason, urine or saliva drug tests may be used for drug use detection up to several days, rather than blood tests.

Hair Drug Tests

Hair drug tests serve well for detecting long-term drug use, up to 90 days. Hair tests screen for similar drugs of abuse tested in other drug analysis tests.

The person being tested will submit a sample of hair equal to 100-120 strands in front of lab personnel, which lessens the chances of tampering.

Rapid Drug Tests

Some drugs metabolize (break down in the body) quickly, meaning they won’t be detected as easily through a common drug testing method. Rapid drug tests often utilize urine or saliva samples to ensure testing doesn’t miss the detection window.

5 Panel Drug Screen Detection Times

Standardized drug testing used by employers may test for the same types of drugs each time.

The 5-panel drug test may detect the presence of several illicit, street drugs, such as:

  • Amphetamines
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Methamphetamine
  • MDMA
  • PCP
  • Opioids

10 Panel Drug Screen Detection Times

For a wider range of substance detection, employers may elect a 10-panel drug screen, which tests for the same drugs as the 5-panel drug tests as well as:

  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Methadone
  • Methaqualone (Quaaludes)
  • Propoxyphene (Darvocet)

Detection Times By Drug Type

Depressant Drug Detection Times

Depressant drugs affect the central nervous system, leading to slowed reaction times, feelings of sleepiness, relaxation, and reduced inhibitions. This drug class includes alcohol, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and opioids.

Alcohol Detection Times

Alcohol is not always a substance included in drug analysis. However, certain tests may screen for alcohol, like ER toxicology screens and breathalyzer tests used by law enforcement.

How long alcohol shows up in a person’s body can be affected by how much they drank, how much time has elapsed since they drank, and if they abused any other substances with alcohol.

Alcohol may be detected by:

  • breath testing (breathalyzer): up to 24 hours
  • urine testing: 3 to 5 days via EtG metabolite; 2-12 hours traditional urine testing
  • saliva testing: 24 to 48 hours
  • hair testing: up to 90 days
  • blood testing: up to 12 hours

Benzodiazepine Drug Detection Times

Benzodiazepines are sedative prescription drugs often used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and related conditions. Benzos may have a short half-life or a long half-life, depending on the drug, which can affect detection times.

Ativan Detection Times:

  • urine testing: up to 5 days
  • saliva testing: up to 12 hours
  • hair testing: up to 30 days
  • blood testing: up to 3 days

Librium Detection Times:

  • urine testing: 1 to 6 weeks
  • saliva testing: 1-10 days
  • hair testing: up to 90 days
  • blood testing: 6-48 hours

Restoril Detection Times:

  • urine testing: up to 1 week
  • saliva testing: up to 24 hours
  • hair testing: up to 90 days
  • blood testing: up to 24 hours

Valium Detection Times:

  • urine testing: up to 6 weeks
  • saliva testing: up to 10 days
  • hair testing: up to 90 days
  • blood testing: up to 48 hours

Xanax Detection Times:

  • urine testing: 4 days
  • saliva testing: up to 2.5 days
  • hair testing: up to 90 days
  • blood testing: up to 24 hours

Opioid Drug Detection Times

Opioids, also called opiates, include both illicit street drugs, such as heroin, and prescription narcotics, such as OxyContin. The type of opioid will affect how a test screens for it (different opioids break down into different metabolites within the body) and may affect detection times as well.

Codeine Detection:

  • urine testing: up to 3 days
  • saliva testing: up to 4 days
  • hair testing: up to 90 days
  • blood testing: up to 24 hours

Fentanyl Detection:

  • urine testing: 1-3 days
  • saliva testing: 1-4 days
  • hair testing: up to 90 days
  • blood testing: 5-48 hours

Heroin Drug Detection:

  • urine testing: up to 3 days
  • saliva testing: up to 24 hours
  • hair testing: up to 90 days
  • blood testing: up to 6 hours

Hydrocodone (Vicodin) Testing:

  • urine testing: 2-4 days
  • saliva testing: 12-36 hours
  • hair testing: 90 days
  • blood testing: up to 24 hours

Methadone Testing:

  • urine testing: 1 hour up to 2 weeks
  • saliva testing: 30 minutes up to 2 days
  • hair testing: after a few days up to 90 days
  • blood testing: 30 minutes up to 3 days

Morphine (Duramorph) Drug Detection:

  • urine testing: up to 3 days
  • saliva testing: up to 4 days
  • hair testing: up to 90 days
  • blood testing: up to 12 hours

Oxycodone (OxyContin) Drug Detection:

  • urine testing: 1-4 days
  • saliva testing: up to 48 hours
  • hair testing: up to 90 days
  • blood testing: up to 24 hours

Propoxyphene (Darvocet) Drug Detection:

  • urine testing: up to 10 days
  • hair testing: up to 90 days

Tramadol (Ultram) Detection:

  • urine testing: up to 72 hours
  • saliva testing: up to 48 hours
  • hair testing: up to 90 days
  • blood testing: up to 48 hours

Barbiturate Drug Detection Times

Barbiturates are anti-anxiety and sedative prescription drugs which have largely been replaced by benzodiazepines. The drugs are still in use and may be abused for the sedative effects, so many drug tests still screen for the presence of barbiturates.

Detection time for barbiturates, depending on the test, can be:

  • urine testing: up to 6 weeks
  • saliva testing: up to 3 days
  • hair testing: up to 90 days
  • blood testing: up to 72 hours

Stimulant Drug Detection Times

Stimulant drugs work to excite the central nervous system, leading to feelings of euphoria, increased heart rate, and lowered inhibitions. Stimulants include illicit drugs (cocaine) and prescription drugs, such as amphetamines.

Cocaine:

Cocaine is a highly addictive, illegal drug that is abused in two forms: crack cocaine (freebase cocaine) and powder cocaine. It’s difficult to estimate an exact timeframe that cocaine may be detectable in a person’s body due to the many factors that affect detection.

Drug tests may be able to screen for cocaine by:

  • urine testing: 1-3 days
  • saliva testing: 1-2 days
  • hair testing: up to 90 days
  • blood testing: up to 24 hours

Ecstasy (Molly, MDMA):

Ecstasy, an illicit party drug, may be detected in a person’s body fluids for up to days after taking the drug.

The detection window begins after a person’s last dose and can last:

  • urine testing: 1-3 days
  • saliva testing: 1-2 days
  • hair testing: up to 90 days
  • blood testing: 1-2 days

Methamphetamine (Meth):

Methamphetamine (meth) is both an illicit street drug and a prescription medication (Desoxyn). Detecting meth depends on how much a person took, the method they used, and their physical characteristics.

Meth may be detected in drug screens by:

  • urine testing: 1-4 days (single use); up to 1 week (heavy use)
  • saliva testing: 1-4 days
  • hair testing: up to 90 days
  • blood testing: 1-3 days

Amphetamine Drug Detection Times

Amphetamine prescriptions are used to treat mental health disorders like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Common amphetamines of abuse which may be tested for in a drug screen include:

Adderall Detection:

  • urine testing: 3-4 days
  • saliva testing: 20-50 hours
  • hair testing: up to 90 days
  • blood testing: up to 46 hours

Ritalin Drug Detection:

  • urine testing: up to 2 days
  • saliva testing: up to 2 days
  • hair testing: up to 90 days
  • blood testing: up to 12 hours

Vyvanse Detection:

  • urine testing: up to 3 days (more in some cases)
  • saliva testing: up to 48 hours
  • hair testing: up to 90 days
  • blood testing: up to 8 hours

Marijuana Drug Detection Times

While legal in many states, employers may still test for the presence of marijuana. Though not considered a dangerous drug of abuse, the drug still affects a person by producing feelings of euphoria, extreme relaxation, and may cause paranoia.

Depending on the test, detection times for marijuana can be:

  • urine testing: up to 3 days (single use); up to 5 days (moderate use); 10 days with daily, repetitive use; 30 days with chronic daily use
  • saliva testing: up to 24 hours
  • hair testing: up to 90 days
  • blood testing: up to 25 days

Synthetic Marjiuana Drug Detection Times (Cannabinoids)

Synthetic marijuana (K2, spice) can be more unpredictable and dangerous than marijuana.

Drug test results largely depend on how much of the drug is used and how often it is abused:

  • urine testing: up to 72 hours
  • saliva testing: up to 48 hours
  • hair testing: up to 90 days
  • blood testing: up to 48 hours

Hallucinogen Drug Detection Times

Because so many drugs of abuse are now readily available, hallucinogens are often not perceived as a large threat, though the drugs can lead to dangerous side effects. These can include hallucinations, psychosis, and more. Hallucinogens are classified as either dissociative drugs (PCP) or classic hallucinogens (such as LSD).

Acid (LSD) Detection:

  • urine testing: up to 4 days *(most routine urine drug tests cannot detect LSD)
  • hair testing: up to 90 days
  • blood testing: 8-16 hours

Ketamine Detection:

  • urine testing: up to 3 days (traces may be found up to 14 days)
  • saliva testing: up to 24 hours
  • hair testing: up to 90 days
  • blood testing: up to 24 hours

Mescaline Detection:

  • urine testing: 2-3 days
  • saliva testing: 1-10 days
  • hair testing: up to 90 days
  • blood testing: up to 24 hours

PCP Detection Times:

  • urine testing: 1-2 weeks
  • saliva testing: 24-48 hours
  • hair testing: up to 90 days
  • blood testing: up to 24 hours

Psilocybin (Mushrooms) Detection:

  • urine testing: up to 24 hours
  • hair testing: up to 90 days
  • blood testing: less than 24 hours

Companies That Offer Drug Testing

Certain pharmaceutical companies offer trusted, accurate testing used by employers, drug rehab centers, and other testing sites.

These include:

  • Laboratory Corp of America Holdings (LabCorp)
  • National Toxicology Labs, Inc.
  • Phamatech, Inc.
  • Quest Diagnostics, Inc.

What To Expect During A Workplace Drug Test

If you are being tested as part of a pre-employment process, it may help to know what to expect during your drug screen. First, you should be notified of the test within a reasonable amount of time.

Employers can require that you show up for the drug analysis no later than 24 hours after being notified. This lessens the chances of a person being able to rid their body of substances prior to the test.

Once at the testing facility, you’ll submit your sample of urine or saliva, or in rare cases, hair or blood. Sweat tests may also be used but are far less common.

Careful drug detection practices will be used by all personnel handling the sample to ensure there is less room for error. Samples may have to be collected in view of lab personnel if a previous sample has been tampered with.

Drug Detection Testing FAQs

If you’re being tested for drugs or alcohol for a job or rehab program, it may help to know answers to some of the most common drug detection test questions.

Can A Drug Test Have A False Positive Or False Negative Result?

✔️ In general, drug tests are highly accurate and the chances of producing a false positive test result are low. This is especially true if a confirmatory test is performed for a non-negative test result.

However, if you get back a positive drug test result you believe was in error, be sure to go over any prescription or over-the-counter medications, herbal supplements, or other things you are ingesting which could affect the result.

Can Poppy Seeds Affect Drug Test Results?

✔️ Poppy seeds come from the poppy plant, an original source of opium, which is why ingesting poppy seeds prior to a drug screen can lead to a positive drug test result.

Other substances that can affect your test results include common cold medicines (decongestants), such as dextromethorphan (Delsym, Robitussin) and ephedrine (Akovaz).

❓ What Causes A False Positive Cocaine Drug Test?

✔️ Some people being tested for cocaine may mistakenly believe they can have a positive result due to recent Novocaine use, or drugs with names similar to cocaine.

However, the presence of cocaine is typically detected through one main metabolite—benzoylecgonine. This metabolite can’t be found in nature, so its presence points directly to cocaine use.

Can CBD Use Cause A False Positive Marijuana Test?

✔️ When grown to federal regulation standards, Cannabidiol (CBD) should contain less than .3 percent of THC—the main chemical ingredient in marijuana responsible for producing the “high.”

Yet not all CBD is tested and pure in form, which means it could lead to a false positive for a marijuana drug test. If the CBD you ingested was contaminated with THC, this could lead to a positive test result.

Can I Be Tested For Marijuana At Work If It’s Legal In My State?

✔️ Though marijuana has been legalized in most states, employers can still test for marijuana use. Even if you weren’t using marijuana during work hours, a positive drug test result could be grounds for termination. Recreational marijuana use laws do not protect employees from zero-tolerance workplace policies.

Can A Drug Test Detect Secondhand Smoke?

✔️ Secondhand smoke doesn’t usually affect a drug analysis as detection levels are set high above the low amounts which could be present due to passive smoke inhalation (secondhand smoke). If you get a positive test result for any reason, some labs allow for a private secondary drug screen at your cost.

Can I Refuse A Roadside Drug Test?

✔️ It’s illegal to refuse a roadside drug test due to a concept known as “implied consent.” This principle holds that as soon as you step into a car and begin to drive, you are under implied consent that you are physically and mentally able to operate the vehicle. This includes not driving while intoxicated.

Refusing a roadside alcohol test could lead to an immediate DUI charge, even if you were not intoxicated, and all the consequences that come with this charge.

Can A Drug Test Come Back Inconclusive?

✔️ Drug test results can be inconclusive if the sample has been tampered with (adulterated). This could include drinking a lot of water right before testing or adding water to the sample.

Is It Legal To Fire Someone For An Inconclusive Drug Test?

✔️ It may not be legal for an employer to fire you for an inconclusive drug test, since the test result may not have been your fault and there’s no way to prove otherwise. Typically, you may have to undergo another test to yield a positive or negative result.

Finding Treatment: The Best Way To Avoid A Positive Drug Test

If you or someone you know are constantly concerned about drug testing and whether you’ll pass, there’s an effective and proven solution: addiction treatment.

The best rehab programs can teach you ways to conquer addiction, manage cravings, and prevent relapse. With time, you won’t have to worry about a positive test result because you’ll be living a new life of sobriety.

Learn how to break free from the vicious cycle of drug and alcohol addiction. Contact AddictionResource.net today for more information on finding a rehab program that works for you.

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