Written by Christopher A. Parrella, J.D., CHC, CPC, CPCO
Just as the effects that drugs can have on your body can vary, so too does the amount of time those drugs can remain in your system. For some it can be a matter of hours, for others it can be days. And, where the remnants of those drugs remain – in your blood, your urine, or even your hair – also can vary.
Although there is no definitive data on how many companies conduct pre-employment or post-employment drug testing, it’s estimated that approximately 60 percent do. And, while knowing that a drug test is coming makes it easier to prepare for by abstaining, what happens once you are hired and the company conducts random drug testing?
There are a number of variables that can impact how long drugs remain detectable. As we previously wrote about, your hydration can play a role in flushing out drugs from your system. Some people will try to drink excessive amounts of liquids to get rid of drugs.
Your body mass, how much you exercise, how much of the drug or drugs you use, and how often, also are factors that can determine how long they will remain in your system. If you are on a medication that has been prescribed by a physician, it’s important that you advise the person administering the drug test, so they can interpret the results correctly.
The following are some estimates gleaned from various professionals. It’s important to note that these are just estimates and, once again, depend on how much of the drug is used, how often it is used, whether it is mixed with other drugs, as well as on the individual using.
Alcohol can be detected for three to five days in the urine and can show up in a blood test for up to 12 hours.
Amphetamines can be detected in a urine test from two to five days after use, and for up to 12 hours in a blood test.
Barbiturates detection can be a bit more tricky because there are different formulations and each has its own half-life and elimination time. Generally speaking, barbiturates can show up two to four days in urine and one to two days in blood, but in some cases can be detected up to six weeks in urine.
Benzodiazepines or BZO are potent sedatives that can remain in urine anywhere from three to six weeks and in the blood for two to three days.
Cannabis is one of those drugs that stays in the system a long time. It can show up anywhere from seven to 30 days in urine and up to two weeks in the blood.
Cocaine has many different forms. It can be injected, snorted, smoked or ingested orally. Generally speaking, it can remain in the urine three to four days and in the blood one to two days, but those times can be extended following a binge, or for chronic users.
Dexedrine, which is commonly prescribed to treat ADHD, can remain detectable for one to two days in the urine and the same for blood.
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is often prescribed on top of other opioid medications to handle “breakthrough pain.” It takes about five days for it to be completely eliminated from your system.
Heroin, because it is not legally available by prescription in the U.S., it varies in its strength and purity, depending on how it is manufactured. Like cocaine, it can be smoked, injected or snorted. It can last three to four days in urine and up to 12 hours in the blood.
Methadone is another powerful medication that remains active in the system long after its effects wane. It can take six to 12 days for it to clear from urine, but can clear much more quickly (24-36 hours) from the blood.
Methylenedioxyemphetamine or MDA, is commonly referred to as ecstasy or Molly. It can stay in urine three to four days, and up to two days in your blood.
Methamphetamine (crystal meth) can be detected in urine from three to six days and from 24 to 72 hours in blood.
Percocet is commonly prescribed as a pain killer and can be detected in urine for three to four days and up to 24 hours in the blood.
Valium can show up in blood for six to 48 hours and in urine from one to six weeks. However, the larger the dose and the more frequently you take it can make it detectable for longer periods of time.
Xanax is a benzodiazepine and will show up as such in a drug screening. It can last in urine for five days up to a week and in blood for about 24 hours. Different populations metabolize Xanax differently including the elderly, the obese and those with alcoholic liver disease.
Innovative Laboratory Solutions tests for 12 of the aforementioned drugs. The information provided is meant to be a guide and not meant to be a substitute for professional advice. Readers are responsible for making their own assessment of the information presented here and any use of our products based on such information.
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