Opioid drugs, also known as opiates, can be detected in the urine, saliva, blood, and hair through a drug test.
Hair drug tests can detect the use of drugs like opioids for a longer amount of time than any other type of drug test.
How Long Can Opioids Be Detected In Hair?
Opioids can generally be detected by a hair drug test for up to three months, or 90 days, after a person’s last use. However, a hair test may not depict a positive test result directly after use.
Due to how hair is collected for a hair drug test, it may take five to 10 days for opioid use to be detected in the hair.
What Types Of Opioids Can Be Detected In Hair?
Hair drug tests can detect the use of various opioid drugs, including both prescription and illicit opioids.
Common opioid drugs include:
- oxycodone (OxyContin)
- hydrocodone (Vicodin)
- tramadol (Ultram)
- oxymorphone (Opana)
- hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
Heroin, an illicit opioid, can also be detected in the hair for up to 90 days on average. Some drug screens may show a positive result for morphine or codeine among those who use heroin.
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What Factors Can Affect Opioid Detection In Hair?
Three months is the standard timeline for how long various drugs—including but not limited to opioids—will remain detectable in a sample of hair.
However, some personal and biological factors may affect this average timeline, particularly for people with a history of chronic opioid use or opioid addiction.
Factors that can affect opioid detection times in hair:
- duration of opioid use
- dose taken (e.g. quantity of opioids used)
- amount of melanin in hair
The use of styling products will not affect how long a drug remains detectable in a person’s hair.
Hair samples taken for a drug test are generally collected from the head, or from another area of the body if a person has no hair to be collected from the head.
Why Hair Drug Tests Are Used
Hair drug tests can be used to detect a 90-day history of repetitive drug use. They are generally used less often than urine tests, which can be ordered by a judge, employer, or doctor.
Why hair drug tests may be used:
- random testing
- detecting patterns of long-term use
- pre-employment screening
- workplace drug testing
Hair testing is less suitable for post-accident drug testing or reasonable suspicion testing. For these purposes, oral fluid and blood tests are preferred methods.
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- Quest Diagnostics—2018 Hair Drug Testing FAQ
- U.S. National Library of Medicine—OBJECTIVE TESTING - URINE AND OTHER DRUG TESTS