Many people wonder—how long do opioids stay in your system? All opioids impact the body the same way, whether they are natural or man-made. However, there are several factors to take into account when determining how long opioids stay in your system or how long they can be detected on a drug test, including which opioid was used, what test was administered, and a variety of personal factors.
What is an Opioid?
An opioid is a chemical that produces an analgesic, or pain-relieving, effect. By binding to opioid receptors on nerve cells in our body and brain, these chemicals reduce the severity of pain signals we experience. These drugs, which are produced naturally in the environment, synthesized in labs, or semi-synthetically, include both illegal opioids and prescription opioids.
Heroin and Fentanyl are two examples of opioids, which are illegal substances that are many times more potent than their prescription counterparts. You may have Opioids in your system for a variety of amounts of time after taking them.
What Are Opioids Prescribed For?
Legally prescribed painkillers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and codeine are safe when taken under medical supervision and for a limited period of time. These drugs are frequently administered to patients with serious injuries, post-surgical care, and cancer pain management. However, the body can quickly and easily develop a tolerance to these drugs, which can cause dependence and addiction. In addition to their pain-relieving effects, opioids produce euphoria. This may increase the risk of misusing prescription drugs.
How Do Opioids Make You Feel?
Opiates stimulate specific receptors in the brain that are responsible for pleasure and reward by releasing dopamine. The rush of pleasure or euphoria triggered by opioids is what makes people addicted to them. Opioid drugs block pain and produce feelings of calmness and tranquillity, not to mention their antidepressant benefits. You feel good after taking an opiate because its chemical structure imitates a natural neurotransmitter and triggers certain nerve cells. The neurotransmitter dopamine, which regulates pleasure, is released in large amounts. Your pleasure system is overstimulated in a way that it couldn’t be naturally, resulting in euphoria.
The reason individuals frequently continue abusing opiates despite their negative implications is that their brain releases endorphins when they experience a sense of elation. Our brains are programmed to repeat activities that provide pleasure or reward, and the brain rewires itself to do this. Opiates make you feel good, but they also make you feel artificially good. It’s important to understand why opiates make you feel good as well as the extent to which they make you feel great. When you take opioids, you release endorphins at a much higher quantity than you would from a pleasurable activity naturally.
What Can Affect How Long an Opioid Stays in Your System?
The duration that opioids stay in the system is dependent on a number of factors, including the specific drug, the number of opioids taken, the individual’s opioid usage history, their medical history, their weight, their gender, and other elements. There are, however, some general rules for estimating how long an opioid will be detectable in the body. These include:
- Type of opioid- for example, methadone is detectable in the system longer than codeine.
- Dosage – While lower doses do not stay in the system for a long period of time, higher doses are likely to remain for longer spans of time.
- Frequency of use – The longer an individual uses opioids, the longer the drug will remain detectable in the system.
- Overall health – Healthy kidneys and a healthy liver are more effective at filtering out chemicals than unhealthy ones.
- Method of use – If injected, opioids leave the body more rapidly than if ingested.
How Long are Opioids Detectable by a Drug Test?
It is most frequently used to ensure a prospective employee is productive and reliable. Drug testing is also frequently used in workers’ compensation cases, parole, child custody disputes, competitive sports, and other situations. Despite popular misconceptions, not all tests sample urine or test for the same drugs. Some testing methods can detect drug usage long before the testing date.
While the test is the most common, it is true that there is some basis for the stereotypes surrounding it. As the body metabolizes substances, the byproducts are often excreted through the kidneys and into urine. These byproducts are unique to each drug, and this test can detect those that end up in urine. The following are approximate timeframes for how long each specific opioid may be detectable in the urine:
- Heroin – 7 days
- Hydrocodone – 2-4 days
- Morphine – 3 days
- Codeine – 24-48 hours
- Oxycodone – 4 days
- Fentanyl – 24 hours
- Methadone – 2 weeks
Since it is less invasive than urine testing, saliva testing is often chosen; however, its ability to detect drug use is much more limited. Drugs may not be detected accurately unless they are consumed within a few hours of testing. The following are approximate timeframes for how long each specific opioid may be detectable in the saliva:
- Heroin – 5 hours
- Hydrocodone – 12-26 hours
- Morphine – 4 days
- Codeine – 4 days
- Oxycodone – 2 days
- Fentanyl – 4 days
- Methadone – 2 days
This test detects certain drugs by identifying the metabolic byproducts that your body produces as a result of consuming them. You can determine whether someone has consumed Marijuana by examining their hair months after consumption. As your body metabolizes the substance, metabolites (metabolite molecules) are released into your blood and deposited on hair shafts. This method of testing is not very common because most workplaces require drug testing to detect recent or ongoing substance usage. The following are approximate timeframes for how long each specific opioid may be detectable in the hair:
Heroin – 90 days
- Hydrocodone – 90 days
- Morphine – 90 days
- Codeine -90 days
- Oxycodone – 90 days
- Fentanyl – 90 days
- Methadone – 90 days
Having blood tested can give an accurate picture of recent drug use and can detect the amounts of substances in the blood at the time of the test. Testing is the only one of these methods that can guarantee an outcome during the test, as opposed to relying on expert laboratories to verify outcomes for the others. Although it is more efficient, this test is more expensive and invasive than the others. Employers commonly avoid using it because of its high cost and difficulty. The following are approximate timeframes for how long each specific opioid may be detectable in the blood:
- Heroin – 6 hours
- Morphine – 12 hours
- Codeine – 24 hours
- Fentanyl – 12 hours
- Methadone – 3 days
How Long do the Effects of Opioids Last?
Opioids can be either short-acting or long-acting. A short-acting opioid, for example, typically consists of acetaminophen or ibuprofen in addition to an opioid. It may take 15 to 30 minutes to experience relief, which should last for 3 to 4 hours.
Pain resulting from serious injury or surgery is usually treated with short-acting opioids. If you have suffered from persistent pain for a long time, your doctor may prescribe a drug with a longer-lasting effect. These drugs provide consistent alleviation for 8 to 12 hours and are taken on a regular schedule. You may also use short-acting opioids in conjunction with long-term therapies as ‘rescue medications’ when the pain is severe.
Are Opioids Addictive?
Yes, opioids are highly addictive. In fact, about 80% of individuals who begin using heroin in the United States report starting with prescription opioids. Anyone who takes an opioid is at risk of developing a severe addiction. Your personal history and the length of time you use opioids are two factors that influence your risk of eventual dependence on and abuse of these drugs, but they are unable to predict who is vulnerable. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of overdose deaths in the U.S. today are the result of these drugs, whether they are legal or illegal, stolen or shared.
When you take an opioid in a way that is different from what your doctor prescribed, such as snorting or injecting crushed pills, you increase your risk of addiction. Using a pill that rapidly delivers all its medicine to your body can result in an accidental overdose. You may also become addicted if you take more of an opioid medication than your doctor prescribes, or if you take it more frequently than you are supposed to.
Opioid Addiction Treatment at Asheville Detox Center
At Asheville Detox Center in Asheville, North Carolina, you can find safety and comfort while you work to overcome your opioid addiction. You’ll receive around-the-clock medical care throughout your personalized opioid detox program. Furthermore, we’ll assist you in understanding and overcoming opioid addiction through various therapeutic techniques.
It is never too late to take the first step toward recovery. Please contact Asheville Detox Center for more information about our services. We can help you get there.