How Long Does Codeine Stay In Your Urine?

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D on April 30, 2021

Codeine is a pain reliever that can be found in prescription drug form and in some cough and cold medicines. Codeine can be detected in urine for up to three days. Longer detection times may apply to people with codeine dependence and addiction.

How Long Can Codeine Be Detected In Your Urine?

Codeine can be detected in a urine sample for one to three days after your last use.

Codeine is a naturally occurring opioid that can be found in some prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines for pain relief, colds, and cough.

Codeine can come in the form of:

  • cough syrup
  • tablets (e.g. Tylenol with Codeine)
  • capsules

Although a common ingredient in cold medicines, codeine can be habit-forming and addictive when misused. The preferred method for testing someone for drug use is a urine test.

Codeine Detection Time In Urine

Urine tests are the preferred method of detecting codeine abuse in an individual. Codeine can be detected in the urine for one to three days depending on a variety of factors.

What Factors Can Affect How Long Codeine Stays In Urine?

There are a variety of factors that can shorten or lengthen the detection window for codeine after your last use.

Factors that can affect codeine detection times include:

  • age
  • dose taken
  • frequency of use
  • metabolic rate
  • taking multiple drugs (e.g. benzodiazepines, other opioids)
  • impaired kidney or liver function
  • level of hydration

People who have to take higher doses of codeine over time, or have developed physical dependence, may have a buildup of codeine in their system.

Physical dependence on codeine can cause it to stay in the body—and by extension, the urine—for longer than someone who takes it infrequently or just once.

Why Are Drug Tests Used?

Urine tests can be used to determine whether someone with a history of substance abuse or addiction is using drugs.

Codeine specifically belongs to a class of drugs known as opioid analgesics, which have a high potential for addiction. Chemically, codeine is similar to drugs like morphine and heroin.

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Drug testing can be ordered by a healthcare provider, legal entity, employer, or sports organization for routine testing or on suspicion of drug abuse.

How To Get Codeine Out Of Your System

The only reliable way to get codeine out of your system is to stop taking it. If you’re dependent on codeine or have become addicted, this may not be as simple as it sounds.

Physical dependence and addiction can make it difficult to quit. Doing so can also be dangerous without the support of a medical professional.

If you or someone you know is dependent on codeine, the safest way to get off codeine is to seek professional help through a detox program.

Codeine Withdrawal And Detox

Codeine withdrawal can be difficult to manage alone. This is where the benefits of a detox program come in.

Detox programs can offer:

  • medical supervision
  • strong support system
  • treatment for withdrawal symptoms

The amount of time withdrawal lasts can vary depending on how much codeine you take and for how long. After detox, additional substance abuse treatment may be recommended.

Treatment For Codeine Abuse And Addiction

For people addicted to codeine, detox is only the first step towards recovery. If you’re trying to get off codeine after a pattern of drug misuse, beginning a treatment program is recommended.

Codeine addiction treatment programs can offer:

  • medications for opioid use disorder (e.g. methadone, buprenorphine)
  • behavioral therapy
  • group therapy
  • chronic pain management services
  • aftercare support

Many of the people who are concerned about testing positive for codeine are struggling with substance abuse or addiction.

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Opioid addiction can affect health, hurt relationships, and cause significant life stress. Overcoming this addiction is possible.

If you or a loved one is struggling to get off codeine, we may be able to help. Call our helpline today to find codeine detox options near you.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D on April 30, 2021
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