Some drug testing does not test the drug in bodies but instead tests for the existence of metabolites, which are substances produced by metabolism. Studying these metabolic changes can help people determine when users took the drugs. Often, drugs will remain in people’s urine, blood, or saliva for up to eight hours. It can be much longer in case of hair tests, as drug metabolites can remain in the hair for ninety days after people last use them.
The period during which drugs remain in the urine, blood, and breath can differ. The windows of detection for different methods of drug testing also vary. Drug testing timelines depend on several factors, which include weight, height, physiological makeup, age, present health condition, body fat, exercise regimen, and the state of a person’s mind.
How you feel when you take drugs can determine how long the substances stay in the system. The length and frequency of drug use can affect the staying power of drugs and influence drug tests. Also, the frequency of drug tests can affect the readings of drug tests. If people undergo infrequent drug tests, the drugs might leave their systems before their next tests.
Urine, Blood, and Saliva Testing: How Do They Work?
Drug tests look for drugs in the urine, blood, and saliva. They also look for metabolites, substances that occur with metabolic processes. When people take drugs, their bodies chemically change the drugs into metabolites. Urine tests establish whether people have been using drugs by studying such metabolites.
If people’s bodies do not metabolize drugs, the drugs are stored in fast-growing cells, such as fatty cells, hair cells, and nail cells. The more fat people have, the longer tests can detect the presence of drugs.
Blood and saliva tests work differently to determine the presence of drugs. Blood tests can be more accurate, as they detect the drugs’ parent compounds. They also determine how much substances are in an individual’s system. Meanwhile, detecting drugs in the saliva can provide evidence that drugs have entered the bloodstream.
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Drug Testing Timeline Variables
There are several variables that impact drug testing timelines. People with chronic drug use problems and those suffering from addiction often have longer windows for testing positive for the presence of drugs. They may have developed tolerances to the substance, but their conditions can also mean that they are unhealthy and possess slower metabolic rates.
- If people have fast metabolic rates, drugs stay in their systems for a shorter periods of time. Thus, the detection time is shorter.
- If people take small doses of a drug, the drug will not remain in their systems for long. Thus, it will be more difficult to detect drug use.
- If people are overweight, they will store drugs in their systems longer. More body fat means that the bodies store more metabolites in fat cells and other parts of the body.
- If people are more tolerant to drugs, their drug tests will have a shorter detection time.
- If people are older, their metabolisms are slower. This means that drugs leave the body more slowly as people age.
- If people have urine with higher pH levels, they have more acid in their urine. This could create a shorter detection timeline and make it more difficult to determine the presence of drugs.
Drug Testing Timeline: Cocaine
Tests can only detect the presence of cocaine in the bodies of casual users for a short time after they use it. It stays in the system for four days or fewer. This detection window will increase if an individual is suffering from cocaine addiction or is chronically using it. Cocaine will accumulate in the body tissues of people using it for a long period of time.
If people binge on cocaine, urine tests can detect it for twelve to twenty-one days. Blood tests can detect cocaine for twelve to forty-eight hours after use. Hair tests can also determine if people used cocaine.
Drug Testing Timeline: Methamphetamine
There are various forms of methamphetamines (meth), including crystal meth (ice), crank, and base. While its effects are similar to cocaine, meth stays in the system for a shorter period of time. Urine tests can detect the presence of meth for three to five days after users take it.
Meth metabolites remain in the body for two to four days and remain in the blood and saliva for up to three days. Hair testing can detect meth for up to ninety days after use. The concentration of meth typically decreases twelve to thirty-four hours after users take it. The more meth one uses, the longer it takes to leave the body.
Drug Testing Timeline: LSD
The effects of LSD typically last for only six to eight hours but the drug often stays in the system for a much longer time. Users excrete LSD through their urine, which makes it detectable by urine drug testing for up to five days. The window of detection for hair drug testing is up to ninety days. A test is available to screen the urine, blood, and stomach contents for LSD as well as its metabolites.
Drug Testing Timeline: Amphetamines
There are several forms of amphetamines and they are known by several names, such as speed, red, and black beauties. Half of the amphetamines a person uses are eliminated within the first day after use. Unless you are a heavy user, amphetamines can be detected by urine tests for up to forty-eight hours after use. Blood and saliva testing timelines detect amphetamine use within twelve hours, while hair tests can determine amphetamine use for up to ninety days.
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Drug Testing Timeline: Opioids
Heroin, codeine, morphine, and methadone are all opioid drugs that can produce feelings of euphoria. They produce different effects. While heroin can produce a high within seconds, morphine may take longer.
The body eliminates heroin quickly, but a urine test can detect it for two to seven days. A saliva test will detect the drug for up to five hours after its last use, while a blood test can determine the presence of the drug for up to six hours. Hair testing can detect the presence of heroin for up to ninety days.
If people use the drug morphine, it may take longer to feel its effects, but it may remain in the system longer than heroin. Blood testing detects morphine up to twelve hours after its last use, while saliva screening traces the presence of morphine for up to four days. Urine tests are only effective for up to three days. Like heroin, morphine stays in the hair follicles for up to ninety days.
Codeine leaves the system faster than other opioids. People should conduct blood tests within twenty-four hours after using codeine, urine tests within twenty-four to forty-eight hours, and saliva tests within one to four days after use.
Drug Testing Timeline: Barbiturates
Doctors prescribe barbiturate drugs for insomnia and anxiety, Urine tests can detect short-acting barbiturates for up to six weeks after use, while hair testing can detect the drugs for up to ninety days. Long-acting barbiturates, whose effects last for six to eight hours, can be detected for up to three weeks.
Drug Testing Timeline: Benzodiazepines
People use benzodiazepine drugs such as Valium, Xanax, and Ativan to ease anxiety, relax, and prevent seizures. Urine tests can determine Valium for three to six hours after last use and the drug can remain in the blood for several days.
Klonopin and Xanax may not appear in urine, blood, or hair follicle screening but its general detection time is often between two to seven days. Tests on recreational users might find metabolites or the parent drug.
Drug Testing Timeline: Marijuana
While the effects of marijuana do not last a significant amount of time, marijuana can remain in the body for some time. This is true for both casual and chronic users. Tests can detect one compound in marijuana, THC, for up to four weeks after use.
For casual users of marijuana, urine tests can detect the drug for up to five days, longer if users take it orally, such as in the form of edible marijuana products. Blood testing detects marijuana for up to two weeks, while hair follicle testing detects it for up to ninety days.
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