Recovery Blog How Long Do Opioids Stay in Your System?

How Long Do Opioids Stay in Your System?

How long opioids stay in your system and how long they can be detected depends on the test, your age, genetics, dosage, frequency of drug use and more.

The amount of time it takes for opiates to leave the body depends on a number of factors, including a person’s age, genetics, body size and dosage of the drug. Many different types of tests can detect the presence of opiates in your system, though how long after a person’s last use can depend on several factors. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction to opiates, there is treatment available.

Table of Contents

What Are Opiates?

“Opiates” and ”opioids” are often used interchangeably to describe a class of drugs that acts on the nervous system by interacting with opioid receptors. Both opioids and opiates are highly addictive and can result in abuse, dependence and addiction. They are prescribed to treat pain, although some opiates like codeine can also be used to treat a cough. Most opiates are prescription medications; however, some are illicit Schedule I substances like heroin. 

Opioid vs. Opiate

Although the terms are often used synonymously, opiates are technically naturally derived substances from the opium poppy. Conversely, opioid is an umbrella term that includes opiates as well as synthetic and semi-synthetic substances made in labs.

Examples of Opiates

Opiates, naturally-derived substances, include:

Opioid Examples

Opioids can be either semi-synthetic or synthetic. Semi-synthetic opioids are opiates that have been chemically changed in a lab. In contrast, synthetic opioids are entirely made in a lab.

Semi-synthetic opioids include:

Synthetic opioids include:

Half-Life of Opiates and Opioids

The half-life of a drug refers to how long it takes for your body to clear half of a single dose. Often, this is similar to how long the drug’s effects appear to last in your body. As such, drugs with longer half-lives often feel like they last longer than drugs with shorter half-lives. It typically takes five half-lives for a drug to be completely removed from your system. In addition, a drug’s half-life can be different in some fluids than in others. For example, a drug’s half-life in blood may be different from its half-life in breastmilk.

The half-lives of common opioids include:

  • Morphine has a half-life that ranges from 1.5 to 23.9 hours.
  • Heroin has a half-life of around eight minutes.
  • Codeine has a half-life of up to three hours.
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet) has a half-life of up to five hours.
  • Hydrocodone has a half-life of up to 4.5 hours for short-acting forms of the drug (Vicodin, Norco) and up to 9 hours for long-acting forms (Hysingla ER, Zohydro ER).
  • Buprenorphine (Suboxone) has a half-life of up to 42 hours for oral dosage forms (Suboxone), up to 60 hours for injectable dosage forms (Sublocade) and up to 26 hours for transdermal dosage forms (Butrans).
  • Hydromorphone has a half-life of up to 2.8 hours for short-acting dosage forms (Dilaudid) and up to 15 hours for long-acting dosage forms.
  • Tramadol has a half-life of up to six hours for short-acting tablets (Ultram). However, if the short-acting tablets are taken regularly, the half-life can increase to up to nine hours. Long-acting forms of tramadol (ConZip, Ultram ER) have a half-life of up to 11 hours.
  • Fentanyl has a half-life of up to 13.5 hours for oral dosage forms (Abstral, Actiq), up to 25 hours for the nasal spray (Lazanda) and up to 27 hours for the skin patch (Duragesic).
  • Methadone (Methadose) has a half-life that ranges widely from person to person and can be anywhere from eight to 120 hours.

How Long Do Opiates Stay in Urine?

Opiates can be detected in urine for different lengths of time, depending on the type of substance. After the last use:

  • Morphine can be found in urine for one to three days.
  • Heroin leaves the urine quickly and can be found for less than a day.
  • Codeine can be found in urine for one to three days.
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet) can be found in urine for one to three days. The same is true of its breakdown product noroxycodone, which stays in the urine for up to three days.
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco) can be found in urine for one to three days, the same as its breakdown product norhydrocodone.
  • Buprenorphine (Suboxone) can be found in urine for up to one week. Its breakdown products like norbuprenorphine, however, can stay in the urine for up to 14 days.
  • Dilaudid (hydromorphone) can be found in urine for one to three days.
  • Tramadol (Ultram) stays in the urine for up to four days. Its breakdown products, including O-desmethyltramadol and N-desmethyltramadol, leave the urine more quickly, within three days.
  • Fentanyl and its breakdown product norfentanyl can be found in the urine for up to three days.
  • Methadone and its breakdown product EDDP (2-Ethylidene-1,5-dimethyl-3,3-diphenylpyrrolidine) can be found in urine for up to 14 days.

How Long Do Opiates Stay in Your Blood?

Generally, blood tests detect opiates for shorter periods of time than urine tests. For this reason, blood tests are not as widely used as urine tests. Following the last use:

  • Morphine can be found in blood for up to 6.7 hours.
  • Heroin is untraceable in the blood after 15 minutes.
  • Codeine can be found in the blood for up to 3.9 hours.
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet) can be found in blood for up to six hours.
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco) can be found in blood for up to 8.8 hours.
  • Buprenorphine (Suboxone) can be found in blood for up to 42 hours. Its breakdown products like norbuprenorphine, however, can stay in the blood for much longer — up to 150 hours.
  • Dilaudid (hydromorphone) can be found in blood for up to 3.8 hours.
  • Tramadol (Ultram) stays in the blood for up to eight hours. Its breakdown products, including O-desmethyltramadol and N-desmethyltramadol, can be found in the blood for up to 10 hours.
  • Fentanyl can be found in blood for up to 12 hours, while its breakdown product norfentanyl can be found for up to 10 hours.
  • Methadone and its breakdown product EDDP (2-Ethylidene-1,5-dimethyl-3,3-diphenylpyrrolidine) can be found in the blood for up to 55 hours.

How Long Do Opiates Stay in Your Saliva?

Opiates can be found in the saliva for up to two days following the last use. 

How Long Do Opiates Stay in Your Hair?

Hair tests can detect opiates in the body for the longest amount of time. A 1.5-inch hair sample can be used to detect opiate use for up to 90 days.

How Long Do Opiates Stay in Breastmilk?

Opiates can stay in breastmilk for varying amounts of time, though not all opioids have been extensively studied in breastmilk. For this reason, if you breastfeed, it is always important to discuss opioid use with your doctor and your child’s pediatrician. Based on you and your child’s medical history, they will let you know if it is safe to breastfeed while taking opiates. After the last dose:

  • Morphine likely lasts in breast milk for around 15 hours, based on its half-life in breastmilk of around three hours.
  • Heroin lasts for an unclear amount of time in breast milk, as the drug has not been systematically studied in breast milk.
  • Codeine likely lasts in breast milk for about 12.5 hours, based on its half-life in breastmilk of 2.5 hours.
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet) stays in breast milk for an unclear amount of time but can stay longer than 37 hours in some women.
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco) lasts in breast milk for an unclear amount of time.
  • Buprenorphine (Suboxone) lasts in breast milk for an unclear amount of time.
  • Dilaudid (hydromorphone) likely stays in breast milk for around 52.5 hours, based on its half-life in breastmilk of 10.5 hours.
  • Tramadol (Ultram) can stay in breast milk for longer than 10 hours.
  • Fentanyl (Duragesic) stays in breast milk for an unclear amount of time.
  • Methadone (Methadose) likely stays in breastmilk for up to 50 hours, based on its half-life in breastmilk of 8 to 10 hours.

What Factors Affect How Long Opioids Stay In Your System?

Many factors influence how long an opioid stays in your system. These include:

  • Opioid dose: Higher doses of an opioid can make the drug stay around longer in your system compared to lower doses.
  • How often you take the opioid: If you take the opioid on a regular basis, it can take longer to clear your system than if you only take it once in a while.
  • Patient age: Opioids may take longer to leave your system if you are older.
  • Body composition and sex: Some opioids may stay longer in your system depending on your gender and body fat.
  • Medical history: Some medical conditions, including kidney problems, may make an opioid last longer in your system than it otherwise would.
  • Other medications: Some medications may interfere with your body’s ability to clear opioids quickly, meaning that the opioid can stay in your body longer than expected.
  • Hydration and nutrition: Having poor hydration and nutrition can interfere with your body’s ability to quickly clear an opioid.

How Long Does It Take to Detox From Opioids?

The detox timeline can vary from person to person. When you stop an opioid, opioid withdrawal symptoms can occur within 12 to 30 hours of the last dose and can continue for three to ten days. However, overcoming an opioid addiction takes much longer. It involves not only ending opioid use but also overcoming the issues that made you rely on opioids in the first place. For this reason, undergoing an opioid addiction treatment program is the best way to get off — and stay off — opioids.

Opiate Addiction Treatment

While opiate addiction and dependency can be very difficult to overcome, there is hope. Treatment is available to help you safely detox from opiates and help as you recover from addiction. The Recovery Village Columbus offers a variety of rehabilitative treatment options to help people struggling with addiction and dependence take control over their lives. These include options for inpatient and outpatient rehab as well as partial hospitalization. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction to opiates, contact us today.

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.