Thursday, July 11, 2024

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How Long Do Drugs Stay/Last In Our System: A Pharmaceutical Response

There is one common thing between foods, meds, other substances and alcohol. Our body needs to “process” them accurately before they get out of our system. This includes DRUGS too.

The question is how long does the effect of drugs last? Well, it could be hours, days, or weeks. But that depends on several factors:

  • The type of drug taken
  • The amount of drug taken
  • The frequency of drug usage
  • Your overall health in general
  • Your body’s metabolic rate
  • Your gender (male/female)
  • Your weight and height

One thing is important to bear in mind – the processing of the drugs in our system involves the participation of many organs and systems: digestive and respiratory, liver and kidneys. So it isn’t really easy. The human body is pretty unique, in every way.

How drugs get in and out of your system

It goes without saying that the person who ingested drugs (by smoking, through injection or swallowing it in pill form) have drugs enter the body system via the bloodstream.
How to get the drug out of your system could be your next question.

Your rate of metabolism plays an instrumental role. Those with a VERY HIGH METABOLISM are likely to get rid of drugs faster (much faster) than those with a slow metabolism.

How Long Do Drugs Stay In Your System

The interesting thing is that drugs aren’t just in-and-out of our body. They can be detected (when in our body) by testing out four things – our breath, blood, saliva, urine or hair.

Urine test: This is a popular type of test for employers and law enforcement agencies (especially when random testing becomes the need of the hour).

Blood test: These take longer to process as compared to urine tests. But it is pretty effective in detecting alcohol (and other drugs) concentration level.

Breath test: Our liver processes most of the alcohol we drink. During the time of metabolizing, traces of alcohol are eliminated in our breath and urine. A breath analyzer is used by law enforcement agents to detect the alcohol level in the breath.

Saliva test: This test has the ability to detect traces of alcohol, hormones and other chemicals which indicate drug use. Not so popular it is as against blood or urine testing.

Hair test: It is the most accurate way to test for long-term drug use. It needs more processing time than blood or urine testing. Hair grows at an approximate rate of 1cm per month. Depending on the length of hair, drug use over recent months may be possible to determine.

Here is the reference guide for Drug Detection you need to know:

Drug Type Urine Blood Saliva Hair
LSD 3 hours 3 hours 1 day Up to 3 days
Morphine 6 hours 8 hours 3 days Up to 90 days
Heroin 4 hours 12 hours 5 days Up to 90 days
Amphetamines (AMP) 3 hours 12 hours 3 days Up to 90 days
Alcohol 5 hours 12 hours 1 day Up to 90 days
Methamphetamines (MET) 6 hours 37 hours 3 days Up to 90 days
MDMA 4 hours 48 hours 3 days Up to 90 days
Cocaine 4 hours 48 hours 5 days Up to 90 days
Barbiturates 4 hours 48 hours 2 to 4 days Up to 90 days
Cannabis 30 hours 336 hours 1 to 10 days Up to 90 days
Cotinine(Tobacco) 1-3 days  240 hours 1-3 days Up to 90 days
Ecstasy 1 to 3 days 12 hours 1 to 5 days Up to 90 days
Equanil(Depressant) 2-7 days 336 hours 1 to 7 days Up to 90 days
Ibogaine(Hallucinogenic) 2-5 days 1-5 days Up to 90 days


Drug detection is governed by the following factors:

  • Usage pattern: This is where the amount and frequency of the drug becomes the judging parameter. Single or small drug doses are generally not detectable as compared to chronic or long-term use.
  • Metabolic Rate: Drug-takers who have slower body metabolism are prone to longer detection times.
  • Body Mass: As goes the principle, metabolism in humans slows with increased body mass. This leads to longer detection time.
  • Physical Activity: Individuals who are physically inactive and have a high % age of body fat in relation to total body mass are prone to a longer detection time (due to the increased amount of metabolites stored in their fat cells).
  • Age: Human metabolism slows down with age and this is a fundamental and a well-accepted rule.
  • Overall Health: Human metabolism slows down during drug intake. This can result in a longer detection time.
  • Drug Tolerance: Once tolerance to a particular type of drug is established, drug users have a faster metabolizing rate of a drug. This leads to a shorter detection time.
  • Urine pH: This can have an impact on drug detection. Highly acidic urine leads to shorter detection time.

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