How long do opiates stay in your system, and what affects this? These are common questions from many individuals struggling with opioid addiction.
The short answer is it depends.
Both opioids and opiates affect the brain and body similarly, but there are different types. For example, there are prescription opioids and illegal opioids.
The type of opioid or opiate and how it is used impacts how long it stays in your system.
What are Opioids?
First, what are opioids? Opioids are a class of drugs that include heroin, which is illegal. This drug class also includes synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl.
Pain medications available by prescription are also opioids. Prescription pain relievers include oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and codeine.
Opioids and opiates are effective as short-term pain relievers, but they are very addictive. Opioid addiction has led to the so-called opioid epidemic. Tens of thousands of people die each year due to opioid overdoses.
While there are different types of opioids, all affect certain receptors in the brain and body.
Along with pain relief, opioids can cause drowsiness, nausea, and constipation.
They can also cause euphoria, known as being high.
When exploring the question of how long do opiates stay in your system, it’s best to break them down into categories. The general categories for reference are prescription opioids, fentanyl, and heroin.
What Factors Affect How Long Opiates Stay in Your System?
Most opiates have short half-lives. Relatively speaking, this means they leave the system quickly.
However, the effects can last for hours.
When answering, “How long do opiates stay in your system?” individual factors play a role.
Some factors that influence how long opiates stay in your system include:
- Your body weight and mass
- Your metabolism
- How much body fat you have
- Liver and kidney health
- How you used the drug
- How often you use opiates
- Drug quality
- How much water you have in your body
How Long Do Pain Pills Stay in Your System?
Prescription opioids are used to treat moderate-to-severe pain. For years, they were very widely prescribed.
There have been efforts recently to curb how often they’re prescribed because of the opioid epidemic. Prescription pain pills are linked to addiction, dependence, and overdoses. Even if someone takes opioids as prescribed, there’s an abuse or addiction potential.
Hydrocodone is one example of a prescription opioid. If you were to take hydrocodone orally in the form of a pill, it must first pass through the digestive system. It takes longer to feel the effects of opioids used orally. It also takes longer for them to leave your system.
While hydrocodone or oxycodone’s effects might wear off in three or four hours, that doesn’t mean the substance is still not in your system. In some cases, the drug could show up in certain tests anywhere from one to four days.
For example, how long do opiates stay in urine? Opiates can show up in urine tests for up to four days after someone uses them, despite the effects that have long since worn off.
A saliva test may be able to detect prescription pills for up to 48 hours after use.
Hair tests can detect use for up to 90 days.
Blood test detection for prescription pain pills can appear for up to 12 hours after someone takes them.
It is important to note that these are just estimates. Some prescription opiates are longer-lasting and have a longer half-life. Similarly, some are shorter-lasting.
How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?
When asking how long opioids stay in your system, you may be curious about heroin as well.
Heroin is typically injected instead of being ingested orally. Heroin has a much shorter half-life than other prescription opioids. The half-life is around 30 minutes. This means if you take a dose of heroin, it will take 30 minutes for your body to flush out half of the drug.
There have been studies showing the half-life could be as short as a few minutes. This can impact how it shows up on a drug test, but more advanced testing systems are being developed with increased sensitivity.
For most people, heroin might not show up in their urine after two days, but some tests will appear positive for up to seven days after heroin is used.
Due to the short half-life, it’s not common for blood or saliva tests to be used to screen for heroin.
How Long Does Fentanyl Stay in Your System?
Fentanyl is one of the most powerful synthetic opioids. The potency makes it incredibly dangerous. Fentanyl is available as a prescription under brand names like Actiq and Duragesic.
It is also sold illegally on the black market. Fentanyl’s potency is estimated to be anywhere from 50 to 100 times that of morphine.
Depending on the type of fentanyl someone uses and how they use it, it can stay in the system or at least be detected for up to four days after use. A blood test might show fentanyl use anywhere from five to 48 hours after the last use. A urine test could show fentanyl for up to three days after it is used.
Treatment for Opiate or Opioid Addiction
Even when someone takes opiates or opioids as prescribed, there is a significant potential for addiction. Your doctor should go over this with you.
You have to be careful to follow the dosage and prescription instructions with opiates or opioids.
These drugs affect your brain by binding to opioid receptor sites. In doing so, they trigger feelings of euphoria. That euphoria, in turn, activates a reward response in your brain. The reward response is what leads to addiction.
If you are addicted to opioids, your use is out of your control. It’s compulsive use that characterizes addiction to any substance.
Addiction treatment is available.
Treatment options for opiate or opioid addiction include:
- Medical Detox: When you use opioids regularly, you can become dependent on them. If you stop suddenly, withdrawal symptoms may occur. During medical detox, you receive supervision and clinical care while you go through withdrawal.
- Inpatient Treatment: Inpatient treatment is also known as residential rehab. You live onsite at a treatment facility for weeks or months based on your level of addiction and needs. The environment is safe and supportive. Triggers are eliminated so that you can focus on recovery.
- Outpatient Treatment: This is a broad term. Outpatient treatment can be intensive and very similar to inpatient treatment, except you spend your nights at home. It can also be therapy or meeting with your counselor once a week.
- Relapse Prevention: Your relapse prevention plan is what you enact after treatment. Relapse prevention plans might include participating in group or individual therapy. Recovery support groups are also often part of relapse prevention.
If you would like to learn more about opioid addiction treatment, please reach out to North Jersey Recovery Center today.
Our compassionate, clinically-trained team can verify your insurance and answer any questions you may have.
What are the Takeaways?
The question of how long do opiates stay in your system depends on your body and health, the type of opiate, and how you use it.
In general, they can stay in your system anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
Even though you might not feel the effects of an opioid any longer, it can still show up in tests, such as blood or urine tests.