How Long Do Opiates Stay in Your System?

What Are Opiates?

The word opiate refers to a number of naturally occurring opiate alkaloids, such as morphine, codeine, and thebaine, which are extracted from the seed pod of the opium poppy plant. These substances serve as the chemical constituents of many semi-synthetic opioids, such as heroin, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. The term opioid refers to all opiates, whether natural, semi-synthetic, or synthetic.

While opiates have essential uses in medicine as sedatives and painkillers, opioid drugs have very high addiction potential. Even opioid medication prescribed for legitimate medical purposes can lead to substance abuse disorders, and opioid addiction affects millions around the globe. The effects of opiates are very powerful, and since opiates stay in your system for a relatively short time, these effects also wear off fairly quickly, which can lead the user to rapidly want more of the drug.

Common opioids that are often abused include heroin, oxycontin, and hydrocodone. While methadone and fentanyl are semi-synthetic opioids that are approved for medical use, their abuse is also common. Synthetic opioids are often more potent than morphine or even heroin, making them among the riskiest drugs for developing an opioid addiction or having an overdose.

Testing Methods for the Presence of Opiates in The System

Testing for signs of use or abuse of opioids is done using samples of a person’s saliva, sweat, urine, blood, or hair. Traces of drugs remain only for hours or at most a few days in bodily secretions, whereas hair tests may detect drug use for up to 90 days. Different tests may be used for different purposes:

  • Urine tests: Urine testing is the most common method of drug testing. As a person’s body processes a drug, the byproducts are filtered out by the kidneys and pass into urine for elimination. Each drug has specific byproducts, which a urine test can identify.
  • Blood tests: A blood test gives an accurate picture of a person’s recent drug use, and can determine the levels of drugs in the blood at the time the blood sample is taken. It is the only method of testing that can give a result during the test – other methods usually require specialized facilities to verify the test results. Due to its invasive nature and cost, blood testing is generally only used when its degree of accuracy is required.
  • Saliva tests: Saliva testing is the simplest and least invasive method of testing, but can only accurately detect drug use for a short time, usually a few hours, after a drug is taken. However, if a saliva test is positive, it will often be cause for further testing.
  • Perspiration tests: These are a fairly new, and less common, type of drug test. Processing a perspiration test is lengthy and can take up to 2 weeks. These tests are generally used to monitor a person, such as somebody who is on probation.
  • Hair tests: As with urine testing, hair testing detects the metabolic byproducts of processing a drug. These can be carried by blood vessels to the scalp, and be deposited on hairs. As such, hair is more of an indicator of long-term drug use and is not so reliable for accurately detecting recent drug consumption.

Common reasons for drug testing include medical screening, for example, to monitor a person’s prescribed opioid use, or during substance abuse programs. Workplace testing is also common, for example when someone is being hired, or as part of an employer’s drug prevention policy. Forensic and legal testing is carried out when police suspect drugs were involved in an incident, for example, road accidents. Many traffic offenses are drug or alcohol-related, and saliva tests are usually used for drivers. And of course, athletes regularly undergo drug testing, to ensure they are complying with the US Anti-Doping Agency rules.

How Long Do Opiates Stay in Your System?

Since opiates generally have a short half-life, they leave the system rapidly, although their effects may be felt for several hours. Urine tests, blood tests, and saliva tests can only detect the presence of opioids in the body for a relatively short period. For example, saliva will reveal heroin use for only 5 hours after the last dose, while blood can detect heroin for up to 6 hours. The drug remains detectable in urine for up to 7 days, while hair follicle tests can be conducted for up to 90 days after the last use of most opiates.

Factors That Affect How Long Opiates Stay in Your System

How long opioids stay in your system depends on a number of parameters, firstly, of course, which specific substance has been consumed. It also depends on the way the drug is ingested. Prescription drugs generally come in pill form – they have to pass through the digestive system and it may take about an hour before their effects are even felt. Heroin and other illegal drugs are often injected, snorted, or smoked – these methods give a much more rapid high, and the drugs also pass out of the body more quickly. Other factors that influence the duration opiates stay in your system will depend on the individual, and include:

  • a person’s age, body weight, gender, and ethnicity
  • the quantity of the drug taken
  • the dose taken regularly, or a person’s level of habitual use
  • the metabolism of the individual
  • the presence of other drugs in a person’s body
  • health issues that may affect how quickly their body can process the drug – for example liver or kidney damage.

While different opioids interact similarly with the body’s receptors, how long their effects remain active can vary. In the study of the effects of drugs, these durations are measured by the elimination half-life, which is the time it takes the body to metabolize and eliminate half the original dose of the substance. It usually takes about 5 half-lives for a drug to be removed from the body.

Below are some examples of how long a number of common opiates stay in your system, and the duration drug tests can still detect them.

  • Codeine: 1-2 days in urine, 1 day in blood, 1-4 days in saliva.
  • Fentanyl: 1 day in urine, 12 hours in blood. Saliva tests are unreliable.
  • Hydrocodone: 2-4 days in urine, 1 day in blood, 12-36 hours in saliva.
  • Heroine: 2-7 days in urine, 6 hours in blood, 5 hours in saliva.
  • Morphine: 2-3 days in urine, 12 hours in blood, 4 days in saliva.

Opiate Addiction

As mentioned above, even with prescription opiates, there can be a danger of developing a substance use disorder. The potential for drug abuse stems largely from the powerful sense of well-being they induce. As with all drug addiction, there is also always the risk of an overdose, which, with these drugs, could be fatal. In 2019, opioids were involved in over 70% of all drug overdose deaths. If a person’s drug use has taken them to the point of overdose, they would be well advised to consider some form of addiction treatment. Relapse prevention is always of the utmost importance if further risk to the individual’s life is to be avoided.

Opioid abuse can cause severe withdrawal symptoms also. The detox process – during which the body gets rid of the drug – can be intense and painful. All in all, misuse of these drugs places great strain on the central nervous system and the body in general, even more so when people also use other drugs or abuse alcohol at the same time.

If you are concerned about how long opiates stay in your system, perhaps because you might fail a drug test scheduled for whatever reason, you may want to reflect on your patterns and habits of use.

Addiction Treatment and Treatment Options

Since opioid half-lives are quite short, the body processes and eliminates these substances rapidly. The intense stimulation of the brain’s reward pathways that opioids provoke is not deleted – the user will remember it, and may want more. A single dose of an opioid can be the start of a substance abuse issue. If you have the slightest doubt about your use of opiates, even prescription opioids, you should seek professional medical advice. It may be that some form of addiction treatment could save you from a dangerous downward spiral.

Treatment centers will offer various treatment programs, and if heavy use of opiates has led a person to require a medical detox, they will need to reach out to a treatment facility. For general recovery, there are other treatment options. Outpatient treatment can be a good solution for people who cannot undertake full residential treatment. In all cases, the process revolves around helping a person give up drug use entirely while offering counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other approaches to changing a person’s thinking, habits, and behaviors. A support network, including family members where possible, is essential to help a person remain clean and sober in the long term.

Your body can flush opiates out, and be rid of them. But, drug abuse habits or opiate addiction, aren’t so easy to get out of your system. You can, however, make them a thing of the past. At NP Addiction Clinic, we are one of the leading mental health and addiction treatment centers in the country, and have years of experience in providing the care and environment for people to recover. If you or someone you know is ready to take the first step to freedom, we are just a phone call away.

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Samantha Kelly​

Director of National Business Development & Admissions Coordinator

I am a dedicated and passionate professional with extensive experience in business development Admissions and marketing. I have an incredible passion for showing others that there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel if someone truly wants it.
Being in recovery myself I understand the struggles of addiction and alcoholism. I Started this Career path in 2009. With multiple years of experience, I bring a multi-faceted approach and am always seeking new ways to make a difference in the lives of those I work with.

Kim L. Buckner

Facilitator

As a Substance Abuse Motivational Speaker, Pastor, Peer Advocate, and Facilitator. Kim helps clients avoid relapse by understanding their triggers. Those people, places and things that can cause craving, as well as internal triggers like feelings, thoughts, or emotions. Kim also clients with identifying and building healthy relationships now that they’re clean and sober.

Kim’s background includes extensive experience as a motivational speaker and work in faith-based organizations helping youth and adults alike. He says he is motivated by giving back to the community, understanding, and not judging who she comes into contact with. Kim’s favorite quote is by Dr. Raymond Johnson: “The respect given to others rebounds to the giver to deny the scared in the Other is to deny it in oneself.”

Caty Burns

Clinician

Caty graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minors in Counseling and History. Throughout her undergrad, she worked at the local CASA program, supporting volunteers advocating for children who had experienced abuse and neglect. Caty worked for seven years at a community mental health center (CMHC), partnering with children, adults, and families.

During those seven years, she taught life and coping skills as well as behavior management, provided case management and peer recovery services, and facilitated treatment teams that included the client, family, providers, and community members. I have also worked at an IOP providing group therapy services. She is currently working towards my Master of Social Work.

In her free time, Caty enjoys reading, especially historical fiction, spending time outdoors and having movie nights with her family. Disney World is her happy place, and she dreams of living among the elephants.

Madison Knowles

Mental Health Therapist

My name is Madison Knowles, I am a Mental health therapist at NPAC. I am a single-mother of two and I have a daughter who is globally delayed and has been diagnosed with autism. I have been in this industry since I was 16 years old, as I was fascinated with human behavior. I obtained my masters in applied behavioral analysis and started off working with people with disabilities. I then found my love for counseling when I worked with juveniles who had mental health and substance use issues. I then decided to go back for my mental health therapy license after that and working in a forensic treatment center. I went on to obtain my therapy credentials and since 2017, I have also been working on my PhD in forensic psychology in which I am currently working on my dissertation. I am inspired by change and how resilient people can be. My favorite inspirational quote is “Some will, Some won’t, So what, NEXT!!!” This quote has inspired me to try, try, and try again no matter how hard life gets, someone will give you a chance eventually. As a therapist at NPAC, I have been given the opportunity to work with diverse populations such as in substance use and mental health and I am known for my work with people on the schizophrenic spectrum as well as with other clients with other severe conditions including personality disorders.

Megan Carmona, LMHC

Lead Therapist

Our Lead Therapist, Megan, is a bilingual Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in working with adults who struggle with addiction, anxiety, depression, and trauma. As Lead Therapist, she provides individual, family, and group therapy sessions to our clients.  Megan says “I am very passionate about therapy, especially about supporting my clients in exploring their strengths and identity. My goal is to provide individuals with the tools that can help them achieve independence in coping with their challenges and facilitating personal development.” In her free time, Megan enjoys watching docu-series and playing video games with her family. Her dream is to own acres of land so she can care for vulnerable animals, especially old dogs, cats, and horses. 

Kristen Bensley

Primary Clinician

As Primary Clinician, Kristen works with all aspects of our clinical team, from case management to primary therapy.  She has broad experience working in the mental health field. Prior to joining our team at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic, Kristen was part of the team awarded the Evernorth Behavioral Health Center of Excellence Designation by Cigna. She says her motivation is to help people rediscover who they are and become excited about the future and all the possibilities life offers. Kristen’s favorite quote is: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Ronn Daigle, MSW

Therapist, Utilization Review Clinician

Ronn Daigle services as a Therapist and Utilization Review Clinician at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has been working in the field of substance use disorder treatment since 2011, with experience in all facility-based levels of care. Ronn earned, both an Associate of Arts in Psychology (2013) and Bachelor of Science in Human Services, with an Addiction Studies Concentration (2015) from Indian River State College. 

Ronn additionally earned a Master of Social Work degree in 2021 and is a current Registered Clinical Social Work Intern working toward licensure (LCSW). He describes himself as detail oriented, and solution focused.

Ronn says: “There is nothing more fulfilling than working with someone who doesn’t believe in himself or herself, and being there in the moment with them when the belief begins. We work with individuals who come to us at a point and time in their respective lives where they do not believe that change for others is possible; let alone for themselves…throughout the process they eventually come to a point where they realize that change is not only possible, but achievable.”

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI

Assistant Clinical Director

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI is the Assistant Clinical Director at Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic who specializes in the treatment of LGBTQ, addiction, as well as mental health disorders ranging from depression and anxiety, to Bipolar Disorder, trauma, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and eating disorders. Erika utilizes a number of modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Mindfulness amongst others. Erika has been in practice for close to a decade and has earned her license in Mental Health Counseling, as well as being a Master’s Certified Addiction Professional. Erika has worked with many individuals including couples counseling and family therapy, and is fluent in Spanish.
 
Throughout my years of practice, one of the things I enjoy helping people find is inner peace. Whether you are in the deepest parts of depression, overrun by your anxiety, controlled by your addiction, or there are certain issues in your life that are negatively impacting your ability to function, and have a happy, healthy life, maybe now is the time to talk about it. I am a big believer in empowerment, working hard in therapy, and utilizing different techniques to help you regain that inner peace that may have been lost along the way. I want to work with you as a team because with two people, absolutely everything is possible. I want to be there as a therapist, to help build you up, support you, but also help you be honest with yourself and accountable. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, my biggest goal for you is going to be simple….for you to no longer need my services. Why? Because if you no longer need my services, it means that you have regained your peace, you have regained your strength, you have regained your confidence. It means that you now have the tools to address any issues that try to derail you, and best of all, you will have the insight to overcome and thrive. So let’s begin this journey together, and get you to the place you want to be, emotionally, mentally, psychologically, and in your sobriety.

Aurelio Ayuso, MSW, LCSW, CAP, ICADC

Clinical Director

Aurelio has worked with those that suffer from the disease of addiction in adults and juveniles alike for over 10 years, beginning in the United States Navy where he proudly served for 20 years, working with those that were succumbed by addiction due to trauma and continuing his passion for helping those in need locally in Central Florida.

He specializes in both Addictions and Trauma, he has worked first as a therapist then as the clinical supervisor to both the Juvenile and Adult Drug Court programs in Brevard County. Aurelio has been instrumental in developing substance abuse treatment programs directly tailored to help those that also suffer from complex trauma due to their addiction. He has been recognized by several organizations for his forward thinking and ability to tailor treatment to individuals in the most restrictive environments.

Mr. Ayuso received his Graduate Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker as well as Certified Addictions Professional in the State of Florida, and Internationally Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor. Aurelio specializes in the treatment of Addiction, Trauma, and Abandonment using strength based strategies deeply rooted in Solution Focused, and Mindfulness Therapies. At the Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic he passionately develops holistic curriculums that foster the belief that through addressing the mind, body, and spirit together, the Disease of Addiction can be addressed successfully.

Robert Lehmann, MHSA

Chief Operating Officer

Bob Lehmann is the Chief Operating Officer at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Services Administration with a concentration in Mental Health Administration and over twenty-five years of experience as a senior executive at addiction and mental health treatment facilities.

One of the reasons for his commitment to excellence in addiction treatment was his experience related to family members who suffered from the disease of addiction. Bob has been actively involved in community organizations throughout his career. Recently he was one of the founders of the Florida Addiction Treatment Coalition (FATC) and is its present Vice President. FATC was designed to bring together treatment executives in Florida to advocate on behalf of treatment facilities and the clients they serve adhering to a foundation of integrity and service excellence.

Jose R. Toledo, M.D.

Medical Director

A well-rounded and accomplished individual, Jose R. Toledo, M.D., is the Medical Director of Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a neurologist with 25 years of experience and has been in private practice since 1991 on the Treasure Coast of Florida. He completed his neurology training at the State University of New York and his Fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh in Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology.

He also completed 24 months of acute inpatient psychiatry at the Western Missouri Mental Health Center, University of Missouri in Kansas City. In 2008, Dr. Toledo participated in and was certified in the continuing medical education activity entitled “Buprenorphine and Office-Based Treatment of Opioid Dependence” from The Medical University of South Carolina during which began his quest to found and head Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a brain specialist with particular competence in addiction medicine and out-patient detoxification treatment and integrates the fields seamlessly. He is certified to prescribe Buprenorphine (Suboxone). He incorporates his background in neurology into the addiction field. Dr. Toledo is member/fellow of The American Medical Association, The Florida Medical Association and The American Society of Addiction Medicine