How Long Do Drugs Stay in Your System?

Published by John Gillen | Last updated: 18th October 2022

How Long Do Drugs Stay in Your System?

When consuming drugs or alcohol, no matter their type or form, it will take some time for our body to metabolise, break down and eliminate them from our internal systemAlthough the initial effects, experienced through drug abuse may wear off or lose their effect, traces of those drugs will still be present, for a period of time.  

Here is where significant risks are experienced, as drugs remain in the body for longer than you’d imagine. From health concerns, causing damage to the internal system, to problems with relationships and career responsibilities, especially when drug traces are found through testing, any degree of substance abuse can result in drastic life changes.   

With this in mind, it is important to understand the dangers of drug abuse, before consuming them. Here we will address ‘how long do drugs stay in your system for?’ by considering the influential factors, drug testing and how to overcome drug abuse.  

If you’re personally struggling with drugs, we encourage rehabilitation as your next best steps. Avoid the damage of drug abuse, which may stay in your system for days, weeks or months, yet will change your future for the worst.  


The dangers of drug abuse  

Before we consider the question of ‘how long do drugs stay in your system for?’, we must highlight the dangers of drug abuse. Ongoing drug abuse can be very serious, no matter how long you abuse them for, or their form. Of course, some drugs will have reduced initial impacts, yet, all will carry addiction probabilities.  

Drug abuse can cause significant adaptations to your physical and mental health. Over time, these adaptations will result in damages, health conditions and unbearable side effects. Depression, anxiety, behavioural disorders, challenging withdrawal symptoms and a reduced quality of life are all likely.  

The longer you abuse drugs for, the longer they will stay in your system for, aggravating these damages. Additionally, once an addiction has materialised, it will be hard to break your consumption, as an internal reliance will have developed.  

With this in mind, ongoing drug abuse can be dangerous and change your life for the future. Consider this before misusing drugs and alcohol, ingesting them into your bodyremaining in your system for a prolonged period.  


How long ddrugs stay in your system? – Here’s what controls its timescale  

Drugs will affect all individuals differently. With this in mind, the time that it takes for drugs to metabolise will again vary. Below are factors which can control the timescale that drugs stay in your system for: 

  • The type and quantity of drugs that you abuse: This can have a large impact as some drugs will have greater effects than others, remaining in your system for longer.  
  • The consistency of your drug consumption: Long-term drug abuse will result in an internal reliance. The longer that you consume drugs for, the longer that drug traces will stay in your system for.  
  • Your age: Metabolism rates are commonly quicker in younger individuals. This can influence the speed that drugs are eliminated out of your body.  
  • Your gender: Women are known to experience greater impacts from drug abuse, down to their body fat proportions. The timescale that drugs remain in a woman’s body can increase significantly.  
  • Your height and weight: Your height and weight can impact how drugs affect you, ultimately impacting post-consumption traces.  
  • Your health history: Healthier individuals will likely metabolise drugs quicker than those with pre-existing health conditions.  
  • Your metabolic rate: Again, fitter individuals will likely eliminate toxins through their system at a quicker rate.  

In order for drugs to leave your system, they will be processed and eliminated. Yet, through the metabolism process, traces of drugs will remain in metabolites. Metabolites are identified as your saliva, your hair, your blood, and further bodily fluid which can be tested for drugs.  


Testing drugs in your system 

Completing drug tests is the most effective way to understand how long drugs stay in your system for. There are 5 common tests which present drug traces, including a urine test, blood test, breath test, hair test and saliva test. Below is a breakdown of commonly abused drugs, how they are tested and how long they can stay in your system for.  

  • Alcohol: Alcohol is one of the most popular drugs to abuse. When consuming alcohol, a large proportion of its trace will be eliminated through the liver. However, remaining traces can be tested through blood alcohol levels, urine and breath. On average, alcohol will stay in your system for up to 12 hours. However, this will vary depending on how many units you’ve consumed, personal factors such as your weight and height and whether food is in your system.  
  • Amphetamines: Although the effects of amphetamines are short lived, traces of the drug can be found in your system for some time after. Through urine tests, amphetamines can be identified for up to 48 hours, and even up to 90 days through hair.  
  • Cocaine: Cocaine is a highly addictive drug. With this in mind, many individuals develop a reliance on it, meaning high internal tolerances. Here is where cocaine can be found in the bloodstream for up to 12 hours post consumption, up to 2 weeks in urine and for a number of months through hair tests.  
  • Heroin: Heroin is a rapid drug, where effects are short-lived. Through this short lifespan, heroin can be eliminated from your body very quickly. However, factors such as your weight, gender and metabolic rate will affect the amount of time that heroin stays in your system for.  
  • Benzodiazepines: Although benzodiazepines are prescription drugs, they can be very addictive. However, they will likely metabolise quickly, staying in your system for a short period of time. If ongoing consumption is experienced, this rate will increase.  

It is important to note that timeframes are based on average experiences. To answer the question ‘how long do drugs stay in your system?’, evaluations of personal factors such as weight, health and age will be required. This will offer an accurate timeline.  

It’s important to note that no matter how long a drug may stay in your system for, consistent consumption is very dangerous, with high risks of addiction. If you’re experiencing the negatives of drug abuse, we encourage professional treatment via our centre here at Cassiobury Court. Reach out if you have any questions or concerns around drug abuse and rehabilitation.  

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John Gillen

John Gillen - Author Last updated: 18th October 2022

John Gillen is a leading addiction treatment expert with over 15 years of experience providing evidence-based treatment methods for individuals throughout the UK. John also co-authors the book, The Secret Disease of Addiction, which delves into how the addictive mind works and what treatment techniques work best.