Opioid addiction has become a part of daily life for many individuals across the United States. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released statistics showing that more than 191 million people were dispensed opioid prescriptions in 2019. Between eight and 12 percent of those who abuse prescription opioids will develop a substance use disorder. It’s important to understand how they affect your body and how long the drugs remain in your system.
Whether you use opioid medications as prescribed, or you are abusing illicit drugs, you must know how long they remain in your system. If you are struggling with an opioid use disorder, it can be helpful to know this information. If you plan on taking a substance, how long will you feel its effects? If you continually use opioids, when is it safe to take your next dose? By knowing these facts, it can save you from overdosing.
The half-life of a drug means how long it will take to be reduced to half of its original concentration in your bloodstream. In many cases, the duration of action (or how long you feel its effects) is similar to the drug’s half-life. The one exception to this rule, however, is drugs that break down into psychoactive metabolites.
Some opioids will be broken down into different opioids that will last longer and continue affecting your body and brain. Understanding the half-life and duration of action will let you know how long before a drug will lose its strength. Here are the time periods for common opioids below:
Hydrocodone: May be detected in your urine for up to three days
Morphine: May be found in your urine for up to three days
Hydromorphone: Will be detected in your urine for two to three days
Oxycodone: May be detected in your urine for three to four days
Heroin: Can be detected in your urine for up to a weekFentanyl: Will show up on a urine test between one and two days.
American Psychiatric Association. (2018, November). Opioid Use Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/addiction/opioid-use-disorder/opioid-use-disorder
CDC. (2018, October 3). U.S. Opioid Prescribing Rate Maps | Drug Overdose | CDC Injury Center. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/maps/rxrate-maps.html
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, January 22). Opioid Overdose Crisis. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis
Purse, M. (2019, September 29). Why the Time It Takes a Drug to Be Eliminated in Your Body Is Important. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/medication-half-life-380031
N.A (N.D) Opioids. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids