How Long Do Opioids Stay In Your System?

Opioids are one of the most notorious types of substances in the world. Not only can they be highly addictive, but some are also legal and prescribed by doctors every day. In fact, the nationwide accessibility of opioids has resulted in what policymakers call the “opioid epidemic.” These substances are known to relieve pain and sedate, but this feeling can quickly cause habits that are difficult to break.

If you are curious about an upcoming drug test and are wondering how long opioids stay in your system, keep reading.

What Are Opioids?

Opioids are substances that are usually prescribed for pain relief. Although many are prescription medications, they are flagged for having a high risk of addiction and dependence. Opioids generally give users a feeling of euphoria and calm that can lead to eventual dependence or misuse of the substance. There are various types of opioids with a number of different ways that they can be administered. 

In the United States, Opioids are a major part of the medical industry. Because of the severe pain killing and sedating qualities, they are often administered and prescribed by physicians. Those with severe pain after surgeries or injuries are usually given these substances to aid in recovery. However, if a pattern of misuse develops, misuse can spiral out of control and into addiction. 

How Do Opioids Affect the Body?

Long-term misuse of these substances can have substantial effects on a person’s body and health. Addiction can be deceptive. When a person uses an opioid, the substance connects with the opioid receptors in the brain. This results in the production of dopamine, the hormone that is responsible for relaxing and pleasant feelings.

When dopamine levels are elevated, it makes the person feel better, which can be dangerous. This is how it can deceive someone into feeling like they need the drug. When a person becomes dependent on opioids, they may feel like they cannot live without them. Any attempt to stop the use of the substance will be combated by symptoms of withdrawal. Such symptoms include the following.

  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Muscle aches 
  • Chills 
  • Mood swings 

What Will Affect the Outcome of a Drug Test?

Opiates generally have a relatively short half-life. If you remember anything from chemistry class, you might remember that half-life refers to the amount of time it takes for the quantity of a substance to reduce by one-half of its initial value. 

While this may be the case, there are still a few factors that will dictate how long a substance will stay in the body. One of the most prominent factors of how long the drug will stay in the body is how it was taken. 

Generally speaking, it can take longer for drugs that were taken orally to pass through the body. Prescription opioids such as hydrocodone and oxycodone are generally prescribed and taken in their pill form. While others may be taken as an injection or through other methods. When substances are taken orally, they have to travel through the digestive system, which slows down the process.  On the other hand, other methods of ingestion, like snorting, injecting, or smoking, can cause the substance to move faster through the body. 

Here are a few individual factors that may affect the outcome of a drug test.

  • Body composition (mass, weight, fat content, etc…)
  • Age
  • Liver and kidney health 
  • Amount of water in the body
  • Frequency of substance use
  • Method of testing (urine, blood, saliva, hair)

How Long Do Different Opioids Stay In Your System?

Although the high may not last for days, most substances will take at least 3 days to be undetected in a drug test. While each substance varies, the results will also depend on the type of drug test being given. Many people are used to urine or blood tests. However, drugs can also be detected through saliva. 

Here are a few different opioids and how long they stay in the body after initial use. 


Heroin can be detected for as little as five hours in saliva and six hours in a blood test. However, heroin shows up in urine exams up to seven days after the last use. It can also be detected in the hair follicles up to 90 days after the last use. 


With an even faster rate than heroin, hydrocodone tests using a saliva sample can be detected for 12-36 hours after the last use. On the other hand, it does not show up in urine for more than 2-4 days. As with all other substances, hydrocodone rests in the hair follicles for 90 days. 


Morphine is a substance that takes longer to work than those previously mentioned. Even still, blood tests can detect it for 12 hours and urine for up to three days. In this case, saliva tests are the most reliable, with detection for up to four days.  


Out of all the listed substances, codeine is the fastest to leave the body. Blood test results will only be effective for 24 hours after the last use. It lasts in the urine for 24-48 hours and up to four days in the saliva. The hair follicle test still remains the longest time with a duration of up to 90 days.  

#1 Opioid Recovery Center in Birmingham, AL

Birmingham Recovery Center is a trusted Recovery Center in Birmingham, AL, that offers comprehensive treatment services for those who need them. Opioids have caused an influx of addiction across the nation. At Birmingham Recovery Center, we have the expertise and resources to help you overcome your addiction. 

Our team of experienced experts is dedicated to helping individuals and their families find long-term recovery through evidence-based treatment plans and personalized care. We treat all our clients with patience and understanding because we know how difficult it can be to overcome addiction.

For more information about opioid recovery or any of our other offered services, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We are here to help you or your loved one regain control of their life.


  • Ian Henyon, LPC

    Having worked in a variety of clinical settings since 2008, Ian brings well over a decade of treatment center experience to the leadership role at Birmingham Recovery Center. As Executive Director, he is responsible for all aspects of BRC’s operations and provision of services. Being firmly grounded in the notion of servant leadership, Ian is focused on establishing a supportive work environment as a foundation for providing superior clinical services to BRC’s clients. Ian combines his extensive knowledge of treating addiction and psychiatric illness with the recognition that addiction is a disorder of the brain, to ensure that all clients are treated with the highest levels of respect and compassion. Ian is a licensed professional counselor. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia and he received a Master of Science degree from Prescott College.


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