How Long Do Opioids Stay In Your System?

Last Updated: February 1, 2024

Editorial Policy | Research Policy

Opioids can be found in your system for hours, weeks or even longer, depending on the drug being tested and testing methods.

If you take an opioid, you may wonder how long opioids stay in your system. Although the pain-relieving property of an opioid may fade after a few hours, traces of the drug may remain in your system for much longer. If you take opioids, knowing how long the drug can stay in your body is important.

What Are Opioids? 

Opioids are narcotic analgesics that may sometimes also be prescribed for cough. The drugs work on the brain’s opioid receptors to relieve pain and cough. As controlled substances, they are unfortunately also drugs of abuse and can sometimes be bought on the street. Examples of opioids include hydrocodone (the opioid component of Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin) and heroin.

Like other drugs, opioids can linger in your system for hours, days or weeks after taking them. Many different factors can determine how long opioids will remain in your body.

Factors That May Affect Opioid Processing

How long opioids stay in your system differs based on many factors, including:

  • If the opioid is long- or short-acting: Long-acting opioids like methadone and OxyContin can stay in your system longer than short-acting opioids like Percocet and heroin.
  • Opioid dose: Higher opioid doses may take longer for your system to eliminate than lower doses.
  • Frequency of opioid use: If you take the opioid regularly, it may take longer to eliminate it from your body than if you just take it occasionally.
  • Route of administration: Depending on the opioid, smoking or injecting it versus taking it by mouth can impact how long the drug lasts in your body.
  • Your age: It can sometimes take older individuals longer to break down drugs than younger people.
  • Your body composition and sex: Your metabolism, body fat percentage and sex can influence how long an opioid may last in your body. For example, your sex may influence the amount of liver enzymes you have that break down drugs.
  • Your medical history: If you have any medical conditions, they may influence how long an opioid stays in your system.
  • Drug interactions: If you take other medications, there is a potential for drug interactions that may speed up or slow down the amount of time an opioid stays in your body.
  • Hydration and nutritional status: Poor hydration and nutritional status may influence how quickly your body breaks down a drug.

Opioid Half-Life

The half-life of a drug refers to how long it takes half of a single dose to leave your system. In general, it takes five half-lives for your body to eliminate a drug. The half-life of opioids can differ widely and also, in part, depend on your age and kidney and liver function. Further, some opioids break down into other opioids in the body, each with its own half-life. However, in general, the half-life of common opioids is as follows:

  • Hydrocodone: Can range from 3.8–4.5 hours for short-acting formulations like Vicodin and seven to nine hours for long-acting formulations like Hysingla ER
  • Oxycodone: Can range from three to five hours for short-acting formulations like Percocet and 4.5–5.6 hours for long-acting formulations like OxyContin and Xtampza ER
  • Fentanyl: Can vary extensively based on the specific formulation:
    • Buccal lozenges: 3.2–6.4 hours
    • Buccal tablets: 2.6–11.7 hours
    • Sublingual tablets: 5–13.5 hours
    • Sublingual spray: 5.3–12 hours
    • Nasal spray: 15–25 hours
    • Transdermal patch: 20–27 hours
  • Methadone: Can range from 8–59 hours, but may be up to 120 hours in those who chronically take the medication
  • Heroin: About three minutes
  • Morphine: About 15.1 hours 
  • Codeine: About 2.5–3 hours

How Long Do Opioids Stay In Your System?

Opioids can stay in your system for different time frames depending on the drug and the specific test ordered. Generally, experts know how long to expect each opioid to remain in your system. 

How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay In Your System?

Hydrocodone is usually detectable in your body for the following durations:

  • Urine: Both hydrocodone and its breakdown product, hydrocodone, can show up between one and three days after the last use.
  • Blood: Along with its metabolite norhydrocodone, hydrocodone can be found in the blood for approximately 3.4–8.8 hours.
  • Saliva: Between 24–36 hours
  • Hair: A 1.5-inch hair sample can show the past 90 days of hydrocodone use.

How Long Does Oxycodone Stay In Your System?

Oxycodone is usually detectable in your body for the following durations:

  • Urine: Oxycodone and its breakdown product, noroxycodone, can show up in your urine for one to three days.
  • Blood: Oxycodone and its metabolite noroxycodone can show up in your blood for three to six hours.
  • Saliva: Between 24–36 hours
  • Hair: A 1.5-inch hair sample can show if oxycodone was taken in the past 90 days.

How Long Does Fentanyl Stay In Your System?

Fentanyl is usually detectable in your body for the following durations:

  • Urine: Fentanyl and its metabolite norfentanyl can show up in your urine between one and three days after the last use.
  • Blood: Fentanyl can show up in your blood for anywhere between 3–12 hours after the last use, while its breakdown product, norfentanyl, can stay in your blood for 9–10 hours.
  • Saliva: Between 24–36 hours
  • Hair: A 1.5-inch hair sample can show if you took fentanyl within the past 90 days.

How Long Does Methadone Stay In Your System?

Methadone is usually detectable in your body for the following durations:

  • Urine: Methadone and its breakdown product EDDP can show up in your urine between 1–14 days after the last dose.
  • Blood: Both methadone and the metabolite EDDP can remain detectable in your blood for 15–55 hours after the last dose.
  • Saliva: Between 24–36 hours
  • Hair: A 1.5-inch hair sample can show the past 90 days of methadone use.

How Long Does Heroin Stay In Your System?

Heroin is usually detectable in your body for the following durations:

  • Urine: Heroin and its breakdown product 6-MAM can be found in your urine for less than a day after the last use.
  • Blood: Heroin and its metabolite 6-MAM disappear from your bloodstream very quickly after use and are only detectable within 15 minutes.
  • Saliva: Between 24–36 hours
  • Hair: A 1.5-inch hair sample can show if you took heroin within the past 90 days.

How Long Does Morphine Stay In Your System?

Morphine is usually detectable in your body for the following durations:

  • Urine: Morphine can be detected in your urine between one and three days after the last use.
  • Blood: Morphine can be found in your blood for 1.3–6.7 hours after the last use.
  • Saliva: Between 24–36 hours
  • Hair: A 1.5-inch hair sample can show if morphine was taken within the past 90 days. 

How Long Does Codeine Stay In Your System?

Codeine is usually detectable in your body for the following durations:

  • Urine: Codeine can be detected in your urine between one and three days after the last use.
  • Blood: Codeine can be found in your blood for 1.9–3.9 hours after the last dose.
  • Saliva: Between 24–36 hours
  • Hair: A 1.5-inch hair sample can show the past 90 days of codeine use.

Get Help for Addiction to Opioids/Opiates

If you or a loved one struggle with opioids, help is available. At The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper, we offer a full continuum of care to give you the support you need to live an opioid-free life. Starting with medical detox, we wean you off opioids, using medication-assisted therapy (MAT) as medically appropriate. We continue your care through our inpatient and outpatient rehab and aftercare options, which are flexible according to your needs and incorporate telehealth. Don’t wait — contact a Recovery Advocate today to learn more about how we can help.

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