How Long Do Drugs Stay In Your System?
Testing for the presence of illegal drugs in a person’s system has been around for quite some time now, and new technologies in drug screenings have made these tests nearly impossible to beat. Parents can even purchase home testing kits if they suspect their children of using drugs. While a simple Internet search will bring up numerous methods of trying to beat a drug test, the only rock solid way is to abstain from using illicit drugs.
The Department of Labor estimates that more than $80 billion is lost each year in the workplace due to drug use. This can be from lack of productivity to missed days related to substance abuse. Businesses don’t take losses like that lightly.
According to HireRight’s 2013 Employment Screening Benchmarking Report, 78 percent of companies who responded to the survey said they conduct drug testing on some portion of their workforce.
Reasons for Drug Testing
Considering that 3 out of every 4 drug users in the U.S. are employed, many businesses require testing because of the nature of the work to be done. Generally, these are either pre-employment tests or random tests in jobs where ongoing safety is of the utmost importance.
Other reasons for drug testing include:
- Probation and criminal drug screenings
- Therapeutic testing
- Military testing
- Parental testing
Types of Drug Tests
There are two main types of drug tests. For instance, a basic immunoassay screening is known as a 5-panel test and will register the following substances:
- Cannaboids (marijuana)
- Amphetamines (speed/stimulants)
- Opiates (heroin, morphine et al)
There are also expanded panel tests on the market that screen for all of the above, as well as:
- Opioids (Oxycodone/Hydrocodone)
- Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, Klonopin)
- Propoxyphene (Darvocet)
- MDMA (Molly/Ecstasy)
The most common form of drug screening is done with urine, but tests can also be performed by taking a saliva or blood sample. Hair samples can also be used and are nearly impossible to cheat because nearly all drug residue can remain in follicles for as long as 90 days. The presence of illicit substances and how long they stay in the blood system depends largely on the frequency of use and amount used, along with other factors, such as bodyweight.
How Long Do Commonly Used Drugs Stay in the Body?
- Marijuana – 2 days to 40+ days
- Cocaine – 2 to 4 days
- Heroin – 2 to 4 days
- Methamphetamine – 2 to 5 days
- Amphetamines 2 to 4 days
- Ecstasy (MDMA) – 2 to 4 days
- Alcohol – 6 to 24 hours
- PCP – 3 to 14 days
While there are ways for a person to “flush” their system out before a drug screening, they are chancy at best. Professional screeners have seen it all, from detecting bleach in someone’s urine to being handed a cold, purple colored urine sample. To reduce the likelihood that an individual will substitute their urine sample with someone else’s, many labs require that a test administrator be present as it is being taken, which ensures the origin and purity of the sample.
In 2013, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimated that 9.4 percent of the population, nearly 25 million people, had used drugs in the past month. Continually failing drug screenings or being unable to stop using an illicit substance in the case of an impending test might be a signal of a greater issue, one of dependency or addiction.
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