If you’re wondering how long drugs stay in your system, you’re probably anxious about passing an upcoming drug test. Many workplaces commonly implement drug testing, so failing a drug test could potentially mean the loss of your livelihood. As tempting as it may be to “cheat” on a drug test, most methods are unsuccessful. Even if such quick fixes did work, they would not address the real problem of substance abuse.
Your concern about passing a drug test could sign that your substance use has started to affect you negatively. It may be time that you reach out for help in dealing with your drug use, and we are here to guide you toward the right resources. There is never shame in needing assistance. Call us at 706-480-8733 today for more information on substance abuse treatment in your area.
Drug tests can reveal traces of certain drugs in your system several days after use. Learn what affects the detection period and some common misconceptions about avoiding a positive test.
Types of Drug Tests
There are several types of drug tests, but urine testing is the most common procedure. You may be wondering, “how long can drugs be detected in urine?” After the effects of a drug have worn off, the residue remains in your body for some time and eventually gets flushed out along with urine. This type of testing is generally affordable and highly accurate.
However, some labs also offer blood testing in situations when urine testing is not suitable. For instance, when a person is actively under the influence of drugs, blood analysis may be more appropriate. This is because drugs are detectable in blood immediately after drug use. Meanwhile, it takes time for drugs to pass into the urine. Depending on the type and the dose, drugs are generally detectable in blood within minutes to hours. Conversely, drugs are detectable in urine in one to seven days. Drugs are rapidly absorbed and eliminated from the body, so blood analysis only offers a short window of detection and is not ideal in most situations.
You may have also heard of a hair follicle drug test. While this option does exist, it is much less common. Not all labs conduct this type of analysis, and you are unlikely to have to undergo a hair follicle drug test. This type of test is to detect drug use in the 4 to 6 months before testing. Because hair grows at a relatively slow rate, any drug residue absorbed by the follicles will remain for an extended time. Although hair samples are easy to collect and more difficult to tamper with, most drug tests will rely on urine samples. Most drug testing is only concerned with relatively recent drug use.
How Long Do Drugs Stay in Your System?
On average, most substances remain in your system for approximately two to four days after you take them. However, the exact length of time that drugs stay in your system and can be detected depends on several factors. The chemical properties of the drug itself play a significant role. Different drugs get metabolized and exit the body at varying rates. Drugs like marijuana, PCP, and benzodiazepines, for instance, may stay in your system for up to 30 days. Alcohol, on the other hand, typically only remains for less than a day.
Additionally, the amount of the drug you have taken, how frequently you have taken it, and how you administered it can also affect how quickly the drug passes through your body. The higher the dose and the more frequently the addict uses, the more likely it is to be detected. Substances will accumulate in the body with repeated use. For example, a single use of cocaine may only remain in your system for about a day. However, continued daily usage will make it detectable for up to three days after stopping use.
Your circumstances have some influence as well. Specifically, your physical health, exercise, diet, weight, gender, and fluid intake can all affect how your body metabolizes and eliminates the drugs you take. In any case, it is safe to assume that a drug will not completely leave your system for at least a few days, even if you stop feeling its effects much sooner. Furthermore, it is essential to remember that drugs may only stay in your system for a matter of days, but the consequences of substance abuse can be long-lasting. Contact our professionals today if you would like to start your road to recovery.
How Long Can Drugs Be Detected?
This question also has varying answers depending on the drug and other influences. Different drugs have different clearance rates. The drug clearance rate determines two things: how soon a drug will show up in a drug test after taking it and how long after use it will continue to show up on a drug test. Clearance rates are general guidelines, and actual times can deviate from the estimates based on various factors. Remember, the amount of the drug you use and how long you have been taking it can influence how long it stays in your body. Your metabolism also affects clearance rates. Typically, however, drugs can be detected in a matter of hours and can remain detectable for multiple days afterward.
Below are typical clearance rates for some commonly abused drugs to demonstrate the wide variation. The first time frame shows how soon after taking the drug, there will be a positive drug test. The second time frame indicates how long after taking a drug, there will continue to be a positive drug test. For example, marijuana will become detectable between 1 and 3 hours after use. It will continue to be detectible for 1 to 7 days.
- Marijuana: 1-3 hours / 1-7 days
- Cocaine: 2-6 hours / 2-3 days
- Heroin: 2-6 hours / 1-3 days
- Meth: 4-6 hours / 2-3 days
- PCP: 4-6 hours / 7-14 days
- Ecstasy: 2-7 hours / 2-4 days
If you do not have time to wait for a drug to clear your system before you have to take a drug test, you may be anxious about failing. You may wonder if there is any way to speed up a drug’s clearance rate. However, the majority of attempts to accelerate the process are not successful.
Drug Testing Fact and Fiction
Many methods supposedly exist for quickly removing drugs from your system, rendering them undetectable in a drug test. But these “quick fixes” are simply myths. For example, some people may believe that drinking a lot of water will remove drugs from their systems. While it is true that doing so may dilute the urine sample, thus making drugs harder to detect, no amount of water will remove the drugs any faster. This may seem like a solution for those worried about passing a drug test, but labs can work around this measure. Today’s testing technologies can detect this process of dilution. In that event, the lab will run more extensive testing and still detect the drug.
Some products are “drug cleansers.” They claim to quickly remove the toxins from your body so that any drugs you have taken will not be detectable in a drug test. But these claims are false. Once you have taken a drug, there is no way to force it out. You have to wait for it to fade from your system on its own. Your body will eventually eliminate it, but it will take time, depending on the many factors discussed above.
They Can Detect “Cheating” Too
Most cheating methods on a drug test do not work because labs can test a sample’s integrity. This means they can detect when it has been tampered with. Several properties of a urine sample can reveal contamination. In other words, drug testing labs know that samples should have a certain temperature, pH value, and creatinine level, a waste product found in urine. Therefore, when any of these properties stray from the norm, testers know something is wrong with the sample.
Lower levels of creatinine concentration, for instance, often point to an attempt to dilute the sample. Urine samples are also often tested with temperature strips. This ensures that the sample was collected at the time of testing, rather than switched out with a different sample, for instance. Some people may even try to alter their samples with household chemicals in the hopes of producing a false negative. Salt is a common contaminant, easily identified because it always alters certain urine samples’ properties distinctively.
Instead of providing the desired result, cheating on drug tests often culminates in wasted time and effort.
Help is Available
If you are anticipating an approaching drug test, you may be wondering how long certain drugs can stay in your system. Perhaps, knowing that you have recently used drugs, you are worried you might not pass a drug test, and the consequences of failing could be significant. While it is possible to estimate how long a substance will remain in your system, such information may not help you avoid detection on a drug test. The only guaranteed way to pass a drug test is to wait for all the drug traces to leave your body naturally.
Some drugs can remain in your body and show up on a drug test several days after you have stopped taking them, and there is not much you can do to speed up the process of flushing them out, despite any claims you might hear. Using certain products or taking specific measures to cleanse your system of drugs will not work quickly. Additionally, lab testing can work around many common attempts to tamper with urine samples.
Ultimately, even if you pass a drug test, you may still be at risk for substance abuse. You may feel safe to continue using drugs if doing so has not negatively impacted you. However, even if you feel like your drug use is under your control, that can quickly change with continued use. Addiction can affect anyone, and very few people can overcome it alone. We can treat your addiction, and even prevent it, with proper care and support. We can help you find the assistance you may need—call 706-480-8733 to discuss today’s drug abuse treatment.
Written by: Alina Gonzalez