How Long Do Opiates Stay in Your System? - California Behavioral Health
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How Long Do Opiates Stay in Your System?

Opiates are the most abused drugs in the United States, and more and more Americans are beginning to abuse and sadly become addicted to substances like heroin, oxycodone, and fentanyl. Opiates are depressants, meaning that when they are used they create a sense of relaxation and detachment. They also slow the respiratory and cardiovascular system down, leading to shallow breathing, slow heart rate, and faint pulse. The more opiates that are abused, the more the system becomes depressed, which can cause death. 

Opiates do not just clear your system when you stop using them. Instead, they remain detectable in your blood, urine, saliva, and hair. If you are wondering how long opiates stay in your system, it is important to consider the determining factors that shape that outcome.

Determining Factors

Everyone is unique in their own ways regardless of what similarities the naked eye might see. There are several physical and physiological factors that influence how long a substance will remain in your system. That is why for some people, opiates clear out of their system faster than others and vice versa. How fast opiates exits the system is not dependent on the type of opiate that is being abused, rather several other factors, including:

  • Age
  • Body fat content
  • Body mass and weight
  • Metabolism
  • Water intake 
  • Potency of the opiate
  • How much of the opiate is being abused
  • How often the opiate is being abused

The healthier you are, the faster opiates will leave your body. But unfortunately, anyone who is abusing opiates is likely not at their peak of health and wellbeing, meaning that it can take some time for these drugs to clear the system. As opiates are abused, the metabolism takes a hit and does not function as seamlessly as it would without the presence of opiates. Things such as drinking enough water, maintaining a healthy diet, and exercising regularly often fall to the wayside when opiate addiction is occurring, making it more likely for opiates to remain in the system. 

How Long Do Opiates Stay in Your System?

All opiates are not made equal. Some are less potent than others, while others create more severe physical and psychological effects. Therefore, it is no surprise that different opiates may remain in the system longer or shorter than each other because, despite being in the same class of drug, there are minor differences between opiates. 


Heroin has quickly become one of the most widely abused opiates in the United States. Stemming from the surge in prescription painkiller addiction that began in the late 2000’s, more and more people are turning to the use of heroin because it is easier to obtain, cheaper, and produces the same effects as prescription painkillers. Today, approximately 1 million Americans are addicted to heroin and the number is climbing. 

If you are abusing heroin, it will remain in your system even if you are not currently high on it. While considering the factors above, the average amount of time that heroin can remain in your system is as follows:

  • Urine — 2-7 days
  • Saliva — 5 hours
  • Blood — 6 hours


Hydrocodone is a common prescription painkiller that is most often used to treat moderate to severe physical pain. It is also used in palliative care settings. Hydrocodone is one of two active ingredients in Vicodin, which millions of people throughout the country are unfortunately hooked on today. 

Unlike heroin, hydrocodone does not remain in the system for as long, but it can stay in the system longer than some prescription opioids. Consider the following:

  • Urine — 2-4 days
  • Saliva — 12-36 hours
  • Blood — 8 hours


Oxycodone, the primary ingredient in OxyContin, is arguably one of the most potent prescription painkillers on the market. It remains a top-prescribed medication in the country, and while it is highly beneficial for those in severe pain or in end-of-life care, it is extremely addictive. Even using oxycodone as prescribed can create a small level of dependency that can lead to further abuse and eventually addiction. Oxycodone typically remains in your system for the following periods of time:

  • Urine — 1-4 days
  • Saliva — 48 hours
  • Blood — 24 hours


Fentanyl abuse and addiction is relatively new in comparison to other types of opiate abuse, however its popularity is unparalleled. Fentanyl is 50-100 times more potent than morphine, meaning that abusing even the smallest amount of it can be deadly. Specifically, 2 milligrams is considered a lethal dose of fentanyl. To better understand this amount, think of Abraham Lincoln on a penny. Two milligrams of fentanyl is smaller than his cheek. 

Fentanyl is produced by drug companies and illegally on the streets. The greatest risk associated with fentanyl is using too much at one time, however the next most pressing issue lies in the fact that illegal fentanyl is often cut with heroin or cocaine. Both of these drugs can increase and intensify the effects of the fentanyl and lead to severe complications or fatal overdose. 

Despite how powerful fentanyl is, it can remain in your system for just about the same time as other prescription opioids. If fentanyl is illegally obtained, however, its half life may vary depending on if it is cut with other substances. Consider the following:

  • Urine — 8-24 hours
  • Saliva — 1-4 days
  • Blood — 12 hours

All opiates can generally be detected in the hair for up to 90 days after one’s last use. So, even if you have not used in a few days, keep in mind that the opiates you were once abusing can still show up on any and all drug tests that ask for hair samples. 

Opiate Rehab in Palm Springs

If you are abusing or addicted to opiates, reach out to us right now. You do not need to keep going down a path of destruction, nor do you need to do any of this alone. We are here to help you overcome your struggles with opiates once and for all so that you can live a happy, healthy life.

Do not wait any longer. Call California Behavioral Health right now. We are here to help.


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