Many people suffering from pain are given pain killers. Post-surgery pain, injuries involving large muscle groups and spinal problems often require strong painkillers. This is where opiates are commonly prescribed.

Over-the-counter meds like ibuprofen work by blocking prostaglandins. This substance causes pain and swelling in the body. Opiates work by activating brain receptors that block pain. Opiates also cause feelings of wellness and strong anti-depressant effects. The big problem? They are addictive. The effect is so profound that people take these pills for a very long time.

At some point, people want these drugs out of their system. They do this either for a test or are trying to quit. Our bodies process substances at different rates, so what are these factors that affect them?

Factors That Affect Duration

  • The Type of Opiate

This depends on the drug’s half-life. Once a chemical reaches its half-life, it decays into smaller parts.

  • Quality of Opiate

Some drugs are made out of a simple pill matrix, while others have chemical timers and sustained release.

  • Frequency of Use

Frequent use can cause chemical build-up in the body. The amount of this buildup can affect the duration.

  • Amount of Dosage

The amount you take directly affects how long your body processes it. I some cases, unprocessed opiates can be stored somewhere in the body.

  • Your Mass and Weight

The amount of muscle and fat in your body will dramatically affect the duration. People with large muscles often process chemicals faster.

  • Health of Liver and Kidneys

Your liver helps turn toxic chemicals into harmless compounds. Your kidneys filter out toxins from your body like lactic acid from muscle activity. Your body’s processing speed is determined by the condition of these two organs.

Duration of Common Opiates

These values are based on when tests fail to detect them. On average, a user will feel withdrawal effects once the drug is undetectable in the bloodstream. The values have minimum and maximum values to compensate for the factors.


An illegal drug known by many names. It acts fast and has a powerful effect. The really bad cons? It doesn’t last long and it has equally bad withdrawal effects. These are the factors that make this drug addictive.

Urine: 2 to 7 days

Saliva: 3 to 5 hours

Blood: 4 to 6 hours

Hair: 90 days

Hydrocodone and Oxycodone

Sometimes prescribed together, the effects of these meds are arguably similar. The only difference is their chemical compositions.

Urine: 2 to 4 days

Saliva: 12 to 36 hours

Blood: 6 to 8 hours

Hair: 90 days


This drug was present in over-the-counter cough syrup for its powerful anti-cough effects. Eventually, it was reformulated, but it’s still used for its muscle-relaxant properties.

Urine: 1 to 2 days

Saliva: 1 to 4 days

Blood: 12 hours to 1 day

Hair: 90 Days


A popular drug prescribed to people with cancer and other conditions with debilitating pain. Morphine works fast and lasts long, perfect for long term pain management.

Urine: 2 to 3 days

Saliva: 3 to 4 days

Blood: 8-12 hours

Hair: 90 days