Drug Testing Timelines: How Long Does Each Drug Type Stay in Your Blood, Urine, and Saliva

/Drug Testing Timelines: How Long Does Each Drug Type Stay in Your Blood, Urine, and Saliva

Drug testing timelines help you to understand just how long drugs will stay in your system. This can include your blood, urine, saliva, and hair. Drug detection times are a point in time where drug testing will prove positive for drug traces in your hair, urine, or saliva.

Some of the drug testing isn’t testing the drugs in your system but the presence of one or more metabolites. The body chemically alters the drug by metabolizing it and this can be detected through urine tests. This range is from the time you took the drug to the point you will test clean. Most drugs will appear in your blood, saliva or urine for up to 8 hours. A hair test can detect drugs for up to one week after you used.

How long each drug stays in your blood, urine, and breath can vary. The methods of drug testing also has variable windows of detection. Drug testing timelines will have a lot to do with many factors. Your physiological makeup, height, weight, how much body fat you have, your age, your state of health presently, your exercise patterns and your state of mind. When you take drugs, how you’re feeling at that moment can play a part in how long drugs stay in your system. How often you use drugs and for how long will also be a contributing factor. Addiction plays a role in how quickly your body will get rid of the drugs also.

drug test

How Drug Testing for Blood, Urine, and Saliva Works

When you’re given a drug test, they are not just looking for the drug in your blood, urine, or saliva. They are looking for a metabolite which can be found through a urine test. This is the indication that drugs have been in your body. When you take a drug, your body turns it into one or many metabolites. The urine tests determine if you’ve been using drugs by identifying the metabolites.

When your body doesn’t use metabolites, they become stored in fast growing cells. This includes your hair, fatty cells, and nails. The greater fat content you have, the longer the drug can be detected in you. Blood and saliva work differently because the parent compounds of the drug can be found in blood. This makes it more accurate and determines how much of the drug is in your system.  The saliva test, is measured by the drug you’ve taken. When drugs are detected in saliva, this indicates the drug has entered the blood stream.

The Varying Detection of Drug Testing Timelines

The following is a list of drug testing timelines and what the variables are. It’s likely that if you’re addicted and use a drug chronically, it will have a longer duration window where you will test positive. Although you’ve built up a tolerance, you are likely not healthy and have a slow metabolic rate.

  • Single or small doses of any given drug won’t last as long in your system and are not as easily detected.
  • If you have a fast-metabolic rate, you will have a shorter detection of the drug in your body.
  • Your body mass will determine how fast or slow your body metabolises. Those with more fat content will have the drug remain in the body for longer.
  • If you’re physically active, the drug won’t be detectable for as long as someone who is overweight and out of shape. This is due to less body fat which means a reduced number of metabolites that can store themselves in your fat cells.
  • Your age may define the speed of drugs leaving your system. As we age, our metabolism tends to slow down.
  • If you have a tolerance to any given drug, this can lead to a shorter time of detection.
  • The pH of your urine can have something to do with drug detection. Having more acid in your urine will create a shorter detection timeline.

Why is there Drug Testing?

Even prescription drugs can fall under scrutiny in a job setting. As drug abuse among prescription drugs have become such a problem, this is one of the drug tests in pre-employment screening. Especially when it comes to positions where safety is paramount, drug testing is administered. There were over 9 million urine drug tests done within the U.S. workforce in 2015.

Pre-employment drug testing is primarily a urine sample but they may ask for blood, saliva, sweat, or hair also. For jobs that require a high level of safety, there may also be random drug testing.

Drug Testing Options

Urine drug testing

Many people will opt for a urine sample to determine if someone has been using drugs. It may be used during detox.  The urine drug test screening is quick, convenient, and quite accurate. Even after the effects of the drug has worn off, urine is still capable of detecting its presence. Drug testing timelines do vary depending on what type of drug it is. Urine drug tests in a job setting will usually be screening for amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, nicotine, and alcohol. Urine tests target metabolites within the body and not the psychoactive element of the drug. The number of metabolites in your urine may increase and decrease which can lead to different results within the drug testing detection window.

Saliva drug testing

Saliva tests measure the parent compound of the drug you took. The higher the level of the compound, the more drugs are in your system. Saliva is good for measuring how impaired you are in the short-term. Oral testing is when your mouth is swabbed. Saliva holds traces of chemicals that indicate drug use. It’s not as popular as blood or urine tests as it only detects drug and alcohol use for a few days. It’s helpful for recent drug use detection. Saliva is a simple lab test that can be used to test for alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and methamphetamines.

Blood drug testing

Blood tests are the most effective way to detect concentration levels of alcohol and drugs in the body. Blood tests also indicate the parent compound of the drug you’ve taken. It does take longer to develop than urine testing but it can determine how intoxicated you are. For alcohol testing, it is good for up to 24 hours after you’ve stopped drinking. Blood drug tests may be used in an employment setting to detect if drugs are in a person’s system. The drugs that can be found in blood include; amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines, opiates, nicotine, and alcohol. As most drugs only have a detection period of less than 48 hours in blood, there will usually be a supplemental urine sample included. THC and Nicotine can be detected for many weeks with a blood test however.

Hair drug testing

Hair drug testing is effective for determining drug use over a longer time. By analyzing hair for chemical traces, drugs like cocaine, marijuana, opiates, methamphetamine, and phencyclidine can be detected. As hair grows slowly, drugs can be detected for months or even years afterwards. The processing time is longer than urine or blood testing but it’s the best long-term method. Note that a hair sample can be taken from anywhere on your body. Your hair only needs to be 1.5 inches when used as a drug test sample. If you have longer hair, your drug detection timeline will be longer.

Drug Testing Timelines

Drug Testing Timelines for Cocaine

If you’re a casual user of cocaine, it is detectable for a short time generally. It usually remains in your system for no more than four days. If you are addicted to cocaine, taking it chronically, your detection window will increase. You will only experience a high for about an hour, which means that half the cocaine you took will have left the body. For someone who has been using cocaine for a long time and often, it will accumulate in body tissues.

If you had a heavy binging episode with cocaine, a urine test can detect it for 12-21 days. Urine tests and their effectiveness will depend on the purity and dose of cocaine taken. Blood tests will detect cocaine from 12-48 hours since you last used it. Cocaine also remains in your sweat for up to several weeks. It can be found in a hair test for years once you’ve stopped using cocaine.


Methamphetamines comes in forms such as meth, crank, crystal meth, and speed. These drugs affect your central nervous system by activating the release of chemicals dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Meth is similar to the effects of cocaine but does tend to stay in your system for longer. The by-products of methamphetamines in your system will be at their height 12 hours after you take it. It can be detected 2-5 hours after you use it and up to 3-5 days with a urine test. Urine tests are very accurate at determining meth use but only for a short time.

Methamphetamine metabolites stay in the body for 2-4 days and stay in your saliva and blood for up to three days. It can be found in as little as 5-10 minutes after being taken.  Meth can be detected by hair sample for up to 90 days. The concentration of meth will reduce about 12-34 hours after you first take it, being a half-life drug like cocaine. It takes about 2-10 days to fully leave the body. The more your used, the longer it takes.


LSD has a plasma half-life that lasts 2.5-4 hours. The effects will last 6-8 hours but the LSD stays in your system for much longer. It is broken down and excreted through your urine, making it detectable with drug testing for up to five days. Hair drug testing timelines can be up to 90 days. A urine test for LSD may not be effective as the amounts of the drug in the body are minimal. Also, the body moves it out quickly, usually within a 48-hour period. There is a test that screens blood, urine and stomach content for LSD and its metabolites.


Amphetamines come in a variety of forms with street names like black beauties, red, and speed. A single dose of the drug can last for 2-4 hours. Half the amount you take is eliminated by your body within the first day. Urine tests can detect amphetamines for up to 48 hours, unless you’re a heavy user. In this case, it may be in your system for up to a week after your last use. Amphetamines will stay in your blood and saliva for up to 12 hours. A hair test can detect the drug in your system for up to 90 days.


Opiates such as codeine, heroin, methadone, and morphine produce feelings of euphoria. They have varying degrees of function. Heroin will hit you within seconds of taking it while morphine will take longer to work but lasts longer. The body gets rid of heroin rapidly but can be detected by drug testing in urine for 2-7 days. A saliva drug test for heroin can only detect for up to 5 hours since it’s been taken. Blood tests will detect up to 6 hours from time of using. Hair follicle test are effective as detecting heroin for up to 90 days.

Although morphine takes longer to work than heroin and the effects tend to last longer, the detection period is similar. Blood tests can only detect morphine for the first 12 hours after the last dose, and urine tests only work for up to 3 days. Saliva tests are more effective, being able to detect traces of morphine for up to 4 days. Again, morphine can be detected in the hair follicles for up to 90 days.

Codeine is one of the fastest opiates to leave the system. A blood drug test can detect it within 24 hours while urine tests work for 24-48 hours. Saliva testing for codeine is effective 1-4 days after.


Barbiturates were originally prescribed for anxiety and insomnia. They are divided into groups that define how fast they start working and for how long. Barbiturates comes in many forms so how long they stay in your system varies. They can be short or intermediate acting. The shorter-acting varieties like pentobarbital and secobarbital have short half-lives so the body eliminates them faster.

Urine drug screening tests can detect shorter-acting barbiturates for up to six weeks. Hair follicle tests can detect drug use for up to 90 days. Long-lasting barbiturates will have a duration of 6-8 hours. The long-lasting barbiturates can remain in your system for up to 140 hours. The long-acting drugs can be detected through drug testing for up to three weeks.


Xanax, Valium, and Ativan are an example of Benzodiazepines. They are used to sedate patients, prevent seizures, and ease anxiety. Benzodiazepines are variable on how long they show up in drug testing. Valium will show up in urine tests for 3-6 weeks after the last time you took it. It remains in your blood for just a few days however.

Xanax and Klonopin may not show up in blood, urine, or hair follicle tests. The general detection time is 2-7 days. If you chronically use benzos, the parent drug and metabolite will be present in tests. When using recreationally, it may just be that either the parent drug or the metabolite is found. Urine, blood, and saliva tests are often administered altogether for benzodiazepines detection. The hair follicle test will detect the family of drugs for up to 90 days.


Marijuana stays in the system for a short time while the THC stays in the system for a long period of time. This is true of chronic users and casual users. THC is stored in the body and can turn up as a positive read in drug test screening for up to 4 weeks. Your body stores THC in your fat cells where it slowly gets released into your bloodstream.

If you use cannabis casually, it can be detected in your urine for up to 5 days. If you take marijuana orally, it stays in your urine for longer. Cannabis stays in your blood for up to 2 weeks and up to 90 days in your hair follicles.

Drug testing is necessary for protecting people in many areas of life. For those working on job sites that require you to be fully functional for safety reasons, drug testing may be necessary. Even legal drugs can become a problem when they alter your brain functions. Opioid prescription painkillers are being misused by many sadly. Marijuana is legal in many states now but that doesn’t make it safe when you need to operate equipment.

The three common tests are designed to cover all the bases of drugs in your body. While urine measures the by-product compounds metabolites, they don’t detect the drug itself. Blood and saliva measure the parent compound.

Blood, urine, and saliva drug tests may also help within a drug rehab setting in outpatient programs. Maintaining the truth about your recovery to parties that have invested in you is helpful. Even if you can convince yourself that you’re okay, these drug tests reveal that more recovery is needed.

The various kinds of drugs out there metabolize differently in the body. They also remain in the blood for varying times. If you’ve been taking drugs and you are tested outside of the detection window, it’s possible your test will come up negative. The detection windows above were created to offer the full range of possibility. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to come up negative if the detection window is outside of the parameters. Every body deals with drugs differently.

Full Infographic:

Drug Testing Timelines How Long Does Each Drug Type Stay in Your Blood Urine and Saliva

2017-11-08T22:37:57+00:00 July 16th, 2017|2 Comments


  1. Jody March 13, 2018 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    Yes my name is Jody and I had a question I literally have never tried heroin in my life recently went through a bad divorce and I tried it 7 days ago about 3 times only snorted it how long would that stay in my urine I had a drug test 14 panel today would seven or eight days will it be out of my urine if someone can let me know I would appreciate it

  2. Jessica Nicosia March 19, 2018 at 6:55 pm - Reply

    If I suspect my child is using drugs,shaves his body hair and keeps his hair very short, what results could I get with an inch or less?

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