How Long Do Different Drugs Stay In Your System

Articles, Australia, International, Understanding Addiction

How long do different drugs stay in your system? This is a question that has well-established ‘guideline’ answers, but with some important caveats.

When considering these timescales a variety of factors can affect the results. Some people may find different drugs leave their system more quickly than stated, others will retain signs of drug use for longer than the periods mentioned.

Here are just 4 variables that need to be taken into account:

Your metabolism:

Because everyone is different, this also means our metabolism differs. In simple terms some people have a slow metabolism where others have a fast one. Having a fast metabolism means your body uses things you put into it such as water, food or drugs more quickly than if you have a slow metabolism.

Fat or thin:

Those who are overweight can find that drugs may stay in their system longer than those who are classed as ‘normal’ weight for their height. This is because traces of the drug may become trapped in fatty tissue and lingering that bit longer.

On the other hand, those who are underweight could well have a faster metabolism and drugs may leave their system more quickly.


If you keep your body highly hydrated this can help expel traces of drugs more quickly, but do not take this as a given, and do not think it is a magic potion to remove traces of drugs more quickly.

While increased hydration often helps to dispel drugs at a faster rate it is not always the case.

The amount and frequency that drugs are used:

This is a major factor when asking the question: How long do different drugs stay in your system? Those who regularly use their drug of choice are building up a tolerance to that particular drug.

This means there is a good possibility the drug will linger in their system far longer than someone who is an occasional user. The quantity of drug consumed will also have a marked effect on how long it stays in your system.

Your current state of health and exercise regimen:

Those people who are in a good state of health and exercise regularly are more likely to clear drugs from their system quicker than those whose state of health is not so good and do no, or very little exercise at all.

No exact science:

While there are other factors to be taken into account it must be said that different drugs affect different people in different ways.

Bodily variables as well as frequency of use and the amount taken mean you cannot be certain when traces of a particular drug will leave your system.

How long do different drugs stay in your system – Accepted Data:

We will focus on 3 different categories in terms of drug testing. These are blood, urine and hair. The timescales in these examples mention blood and urine only.

Hair testing has a separate section below and it will quickly become apparent as to why!

In the main employers will use a urine or a hair test whereas the police will use blood testing on a frequent basis.

It is VERY IMPORTANT to understand these are guidelines only and results can vary.

Alcohol: will stay in your blood for around 10-12 hours and for 3-5 days in your urine.

Amphetamines: 12 hours in your blood and between 1-3 days in your urine.

Cannabis: 2 weeks in your blood and between 1 week and 1 month in your urine.

Cocaine: 1-2 days in your blood and 3-4 days in your urine.

Heroin: 12 hours in your blood and 3-4 days in your urine.

LSD: 2-3 hours in your blood and 1-3 days in your urine.

Ecstasy (MDMA): 1-2 days in your blood and 3-4 days in your urine.

Crystal Meth. (Methamphetamine): 1-3 days in your blood and 3-6 days in your urine.

Methadone: 24-36 hours in your blood and 3-4 days in your urine.

Morphine: 6-8 hours in your blood and 2-3 days in your urine.

Hair tests- How long do different drugs stay in your system?

To carry out a hair test a 1.5 inch strand of hair from your head is required

If you think being bald will save you, think again. Body hair can be used. These hair samples are generally taken from under the arm, from your chest or from the hairs on your legs.

Hair tests – Double Whammy:

There is a far more worrying aspect for those who use drugs and are requested to submit to a hair test rather than give a urine sample.

ALL of the above drugs in the blood and urine chart can be detected in hair plucked from your head for up to 3 months after last use, bar LSD which only shows ‘positive’ for 3 days.

If body hair is used this can reveal historical drugs use from 6+ months ago.

Even more worrying (for some!) is that hair tests can establish whether multiple drugs have been used!

Hair tests – One escape route, but not a very plausible one!

One way to avoid being subjected to a hair test is to shave your body thoroughly from head to toe. This obviously makes testing your hair impossible.

If you are considering this route after your employer has pre-warned you of an imminent drugs test and you are female, or a male who had a decent head of hair up to this notification one suspects your employers suspicions may just be raised!

How long do different drugs stay in your system – The No.1 Culprit?

The biggest number of ’positive’ results are against users of Cannabis. This is not surprising when you consider it is the most widely taken illegal drug the world over, and as can be seen from its detection timespan it stays in your system the longest!

‘Passive Smoking’:

While we are discussing Cannabis a common myth needs to be dispelled. If you live with someone who uses this drug, or mix with friends who indulge, but you DO NOT partake you have nothing to fear if asked to take a hair test.

There is no foundation in the myth that passive smoking will leave traces of Cannabis in your hair. Second hand smoke does not result in a ‘positive’ when tested.

How long do different drugs stay in your system? – Employers awareness:

A growing number of employers are including a drugs test of one sort or another for prospective new employees. This simply means that if you are shortlisted for a vacancy you will have to agree to a drugs test. Only when this proves ‘negative’ will you be considered for the position.

Existing employees are not immune either. Many companies already have in place, or are putting in place regulations regarding their right to test employees for signs of drug use.

For existing workers their updated employment contract will include a ‘drug testing’ condition as part of your employment. You will have to accept this condition by signature, or if you refuse to accept such a condition then you will be looking for a change of employment.

How long do different drugs stay in your system – Bottom line:

If you value your current job and your employer has, or is intending to implement drug testing for their employees, or you are hoping to secure a future with one of the many companies who include drug tests as part of a job offer you would be wise to cross recreational drug taking off your list of hobbies.

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