Drug Test FAQ

How Long Can Drugs Be Detected in Your System?

A row of tablets on a table

Although the effects of stimulants can be felt for short periods of time, they can be detected in our system long after their use. The detection time will vary depending on the type of test but will also depend on the type of stimulant a person used.

With years of experience under our belt and thorough research on stimulant detection, we will ensure that you are not missing out on any important information related to stimulant detection in drug tests. 

Summary of the Key Findings

  • The effects of the drug might only last a few hours, but the traces of the drug can stay in your system for twice as long. Sometimes drugs can linger in your system for weeks.
  • Stimulants can be detected in your system through four drug testing methods: urine test, blood test, hair follicle test, and saliva test.
  • The drug’s half-life is more important than any other factor when it comes to detecting the drug. This includes things like the age of the user [1].

What are Stimulants?

A stack of medicine

Stimulants are drugs that affect the nervous system and they represent a big category of drugs, including both illicit drugs and prescription medications.

Cocaine and methamphetamine are examples of illicit stimulant narcotics while Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) medications and obesity and binge-eating disorder drugs are all prescription stimulants [2]

Examples of Prescription Drugs:

  • Adderall
  • Ritalin
  • Concerta

When prescription stimulants are given to someone with behavioral health conditions such as ADHD, they should help them focus, concentrate, and have greater self-control. 

While mental health and medical reasons justify the use of prescription stimulants, these mental health disorder medications are also abused recreationally.

In the last two decades, recreational misuse of prescription drugs has increased dramatically as these prescription stimulants become increasingly common due to the treatment of mental health issues and disorders [3].

Because the government regulates prescription stimulant drugs, they are more difficult to get than other drugs. This is one reason people may turn to drug abuse and illicit substances like methamphetamine.

What is the Half-Life of Stimulants?

White capsule tablets on a black table

The half-time of stimulants is the time it takes for the body to eliminate half of the drug. The elimination half-life is the amount of time it takes for 50% of a dose to leave the body.

A drug’s total duration in the system varies, but it generally takes at least five half-lives before being eliminated. The half-life of a substance is the most critical element to understand for detecting drugs.

Here are some examples of how frequently mistaken stimulants have incorrect drug half-lives:

  • Xanax (Alprazolam) – Xanax has a short half-life, usually from 9 to 16 hours in a healthy adult. This means that most people will have eliminated the drug from their bodies, and it will be undetectable after 4 days [5].
  • Ativan (Lorazepam) – Lorazepam has a half-life of 12 hours, which means that it is eliminated from the body in about 2.75 days.
  • Hydrocodone – Hydrocodone’s half-life is 3.8 hours for a 10 mg. dose. However, some sources say that the peak concentration in urine happens after 8 hours. The drug is fully flushed out after 24 hours from ingestion.
  • Marijuana – THC has a half-life of 3 to 4 days. This means that it takes about 3 to 4 days for the THC in your body to be reduced by half. The amount of time it takes for the THC to leave your system depends on how much THC is in your body and how soluble it is in water [6].
  • Amphetamine (Adderall) – The half-life of amphetamine is 11 hours, which is almost undetectable after 48 hours. It can be detectable for up to 5 days after taking it in chronic users.
  • Methamphetamine –Methamphetamine has a half-life of approximately 12 hours. This means it will be detectable in the user’s system for 1 to 4 days after use.
  • Cocaine – Cocaine’s half-life is only about an hour, but it can be detected up to 4 days after use.
  • Heroin – Heroin’s half-life is only 3 to 8 minutes. After that, the heroin is broken down by the body into morphine. Morphine can be detected in the blood test for 4 days after heroin use [7].
  • GHB – GHB has a half-life of 20 to 53 minutes, depending on how much is taken and on the person. After 2 hours, only 5% will remain.
  • Ambien – Ambien lasts for about 2 hours.

Factors That Influence How Long Drugs Stay in Your System

A man looking at his smartwatch

Several factors can influence how long drugs stay in your system, including:

  • The amount of the drug taken: A small dose will leave the body faster than a large dose.
  • The person’s metabolism: People with faster metabolisms tend to eliminate drugs from their system more quickly.
  • The person’s body fat percentage: People with higher body fat percentages tend to have a slower metabolism and take longer to eliminate most drugs from their system.
  • How often the drug is used: People who drug abuse more frequently will have a higher tolerance and may take longer to eliminate the drug from their system.
  • Whether the person is a chronic user or an occasional user: Chronic users tend to have a higher tolerance and may take longer to eliminate the drug from their system.
  • The route of administration (oral, snorting, smoking, etc.): The way of administration can influence how quickly the body eliminates the drug.
  • The person’s age: Older people tend to have a slower metabolism and take longer to eliminate drugs from their system.
  • The person’s kidney and liver function: People with impaired kidney or liver function may take longer to eliminate drugs from their system.
  • Whether other drugs are being taken: The presence of other stimulants in the system can influence how quickly a stimulant is eliminated.
  • Pregnancy: Pregnancy can slow down the metabolism and cause a stimulant to stay in the system for longer.

As you can see, many factors can influence how long a stimulant stays in your system. The best way to find out how long a particular stimulant will stay in your system is to seek professional medical advice or talk to a qualified medical professional, especially if you feel you suffer from drug abuse.

If you suffer from drug or alcohol abuse and face withdrawal symptoms, you can also reach out to them or addiction treatment centers and other treatment options.

4 Most Common Drug Tests to Detect Stimulants

A scientist looking at a test tube

Stimulants can be detected in your system through four drug testing methods: urine test, blood test, hair follicles test, and saliva test. Let us dive into the details of each method and its detection windows.

  • Urine Tests

A urine test is the most common type of drug testing method. These tests are usually cheap and easy to administer. Urine drug tests can detect stimulants in your urine sample for up to 72 hours after drug use.

  • Blood Tests

Although blood tests are not as common as urine drug tests, a blood test can detect stimulants in your system for up to 48 hours after substance use.

  • Hair Tests

A hair test is less common than urine and blood testing, but hair drug testing can be used to detect stimulants in your system for up to 90 days after substance use.

  • Saliva Tests

Saliva tests are the least common type of drug test, but they can be used to detect stimulants in your system for up to 72 hours after use.

“General guidelines are available for detection times but can vary by individual. Many drugs stay in the system from 2 to 4 days, although chronic use of marijuana can stay in the system for 3 to 4 weeks or even longer after the last use. Drugs with a long half-life, such as diazepam, may also stay in the system for a prolonged period of time.”

– Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD

How Long Do Stimulants Remain Detectable?

A female doctor doing a check up on someone

The period during which stimulants remain detectable depends on the type of drug, so some remain detectable for only 48 hours while some remain detectable for up to 90 days.

Here are some common types of drugs and how long these drugs can be detected, before complete drug elimination:

  • Amphetamines – Amphetamines are stimulants with a high risk for abuse, and dependency can be detected in your urine test for up to 48 hours and your hair for up to 90 days.
  • Barbiturates – Barbiturates are a drug that works by suppressing the central nervous system, creating a sedative-like effect. Long-acting versions of benzodiazepines can stay in your system for up to 140 hours, while short-acting versions disappear within 40 hours. Short-acting versions can be detected in a person’s urine for up to 48 hours and in hair for 90 days.
  • LSD – LSD is a type of drug that produces hallucinations. It can be detected in your urine test for up to 72 hours and your hair for 90 days.
  • Benzodiazepines – Benzos are drugs used to control anxiety and sedate the body. These drugs include Valium, Xanax, and Ativan. Valium and Xanax can stay in your system and be detected in your urine for up to 7 days after taking them, but most benzos will only appear for 2 to 5 days.
  • Cocaine – Cocaine is an addictive drug that creates a “rush” in the body. After taking it for 15 minutes, your blood reaches its peak level and declines rapidly. Tests can only detect cocaine in your blood test for 12 hours after taking it, but it may show up in your urine for 2 weeks if you take it regularly.
  • Heroin – Heroin is a narcotic that is addictive and makes you feel calm. Your body can get rid of heroin quickly. It might only be detectable for up to 48 hours in your urine test.
  • Marijuana – Marijuana can take effect within 3 to 8 minutes of ingestion. Still, the active ingredients of marijuana can stay in your system for up to 4 weeks if you are a long-term user. Chronic users can test positive in their urine tests for up to 30 days past their last use.

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FAQs

How long do you need to be clean to pass a urine drug test?

You need to be clean for at least 48 hours to pass a urine drug test. However, if you are a chronic user of stimulants, they may show up in your system for 2 weeks.

Can Adderall stay in your system longer than three days?

Yes, Adderall can stay in your system longer than three days, especially if you are a chronic user of stimulants.

Can stimulants kill you?

Yes, stimulants can kill you if you overdose on them. Overdoses can occur when people take too much of a stimulant or mix stimulants with other drugs. That is why you must seek addiction treatment. 

The Bottom Line

The length of time that stimulants stay in your system depends on many factors, including the type of drug you took, how much you took, and how often you took it. If you’re facing a drug test, the best option is a detox drink.

I strongly advise you to visit our website to understand how detox beverages work and how soon you can expect to flush out stimulants from your system. We’ve compiled a list of the best detox drinks on the market so you can make an informed decision about your best drink of choice.


References:

  1. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601234.html
  2. https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/nmp/sonet/rlos/bioproc/halflife/index.html
  3. https://www.samhsa.gov/homelessness-programs-resources/hpr-resources/rise-prescription-drug-misuse-abuse-impacting-teens
  4. https://www.samhsa.gov/homelessness-programs-resources/hpr-resources/rise-prescription-drug-misuse-abuse-impacting-teens
  5. https://www.dea.gov/drug-information/drug-scheduling
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3570572/
  7. https://nida.nih.gov/sites/default/files/heroinrrs_11_14.pdf

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