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Blood, Urine & Hair Drug Test Detection Times

Drug Test Detection Times


Drug detection times refers to the length of time during which drug testing will indicate drug elements in the urine, hair, saliva or blood. This includes the time from when the drug can be first detected to the point in time when you will test clean. The detection time varies from hours to many months depending on various factors, including the users’ physiological features, the drug used, how often the drug is used, the amount of drug used, the potency of the drug, and the consistency in time of usage.

However, when testing for over the counter and some foods and prescription drugs, it’s imperative to note that, the tests can return false results, incriminating you even when you are innocent. This is referred to as false positive drug test and is said to happen with more than 5% of the drug tests. Most drugs are detectable in the urine and saliva within 2-8 hours after use, while blood drug tests detect almost immediately, and within 5-7 days the drugs can be detected from the hair on the head, however, detection the body hair takes longer since the hair generally grows slower.

Drug testing, in essence, does not look for the drug itself in the system; it looks for a metabolite, which simply is an element of an ingested substance after metabolism, in this case, a drug. Unused metabolites are stored in the fast-growing cells like hair, nails, and also in the fat cells. Needless to say, a precise drug detection chart is almost impossible to derive as a result of the many factors that affect how an individual's body processes and stores metabolites of the drugs. In trying to solve this problem, most drug tests have various cut-off levels which either increase or decrease drug detection time 

Factors That Affect A Drug Detection Time

There are a number of determinants that influence the detection time First, the amount and frequency of use, drugs used only once or in small doses are not as detectable as drugs used over a long haul either chronically or on a long-term basis.

Secondly, individual's metabolism rate plays a role too; people with slower body metabolism rate take longer to be detected.

Thirdly, body mass, human metabolism is inversely related to body mass, that is, higher body mass results to slower metabolism, consequently, longer detection times.

Fourthly, physical activity, the more active an individual is the higher the metabolism rate hence a shorter detection time, and on the contrary if an individual is inactive, thus having a higher percentage of body fat in relation to body mass, the longer the detection time because the excess metabolites are stored in the fat cells. 

Fifthly, metabolism slows with age. As a result, the younger the individual the shorter the detection time and the older the individual the longer the detection time Sixth, general health, an individual's wellbeing affects the metabolism rate. During periods of bad health metabolism slows down resulting in longer detection time Lastly, drug tolerance, a drug is usually metabolized faster once its tolerance is secured resulting to a shorter detection time 

Types of Drug Tests 

Urine Test

This is the most commonly used test due to its simplicity in administration, accuracy, and the quick results. The urine drug test tests for all prescription drugs and illicit drugs. A urine sample is taken and tested using a dipstick, and if it tests positive, it's taken to the laboratory for further analysis.

Saliva Test

This test can be given anywhere and at any time, the test results are accurate and immediate. Saliva drug test tests for cannabis, amphetamines, ecstasy, cocaine, opiates and some benzodiazepines. In this test, an absorbent collector is put in the mouth or on the tongue.

Hair Test

The hair strand test detects drug usage in any hair on the body and can tell when and how much of the drug was used. The test is able to detect past use, thus can test for chronic use It's the only reliable test presently in detecting drug use beyond a few days or weeks. The hair drug test is becoming more commonly used. While still more expensive to administer than a urine test, the price for a hair test has dropped dramatically in the last few years.

A hair drug test can detect all illicit drugs and some prescription drugs. A sample of 40-50 hair strands is taken close to the scalp usually giving a drug detection of up to 90 days from 1.5 inches when taken to the laboratory for testing. If the tester takes 2 Inches, the detention time is increased by 30 days. Theoretically, drug use can be detected for many years if the hair is long enough, however, the ends of a long strand of hair have been exposed to the environment for months, and much of the metabolites have been washed out from that section of the hair. So that's why labs really only use a strand long enough to detect 90 days.

Blood Test

Blood drug tests are accurate but least used. Unlike the other tests, the blood drug test looks for the actual drug in the blood. Most drugs have a retention period of not more than two days, thus it's usually taken along the urine drug test. It has to be administered by a health care professional and usually for insurance or law enforcement purposes. This test looks for all illicit and prescription drugs. And can also be used to substitute or validate alcohol breath test. A blood sample is taken from a finger prick, or from a vein in the arm or hand using a needle and taken to the laboratory for testing. 


Drug Urine Test   Hair Test   Saliva Test   Blood Test
 Alprazolam lam  10  90  3  NA
Amphetamines   5  90  3  2
 Buprenex  7  90  3  3
 Buprenorphine  7  90  3  NA
 Butorphanol  2  90  2  2
 Cocaine — Crack  2  90  3  3
 Codeine  5  90  3  3
 Desoxyn  5  90  3  3
 Dextroproxphene  3  90  2  2
 Diazepam  40  90  3  3
 Dilaudid  3  90  2  2
 Ecstasy  5  90  3  1
 Ephedrine - Pseudoephedrine  5  90  3  1
 Hashish  30  90  4  5
 Heroin  7  90  2  2
 Hydromorphone  3  90  2  2
 Laudanum  1  90  2  2
 Marijuana- Single Use  3  90  2  2
 Marijuana - Casual (1— 3 Times Per Week)  14  90  2  2
 Heavy User (3+ Times per Week)  28  90  4  5
 Marijuana - Chronic (Longer Than 3 Months)  70  90  4  7
 Methadone  12  90  7  2
 Methamphetamine  5  90  3  2
 Nicotine — Casual User  5  90  3  2
 Nicotine — Chronic User  14  90  7  5
 Norco  6  90  2  2
 Oxycodone  5  90  2  3
 OxyContin  5  90  2  3
 Oxymorphone  5  90  5  3
 PCP — Casual User  7  90  3  2
 PCP — Heavy  7  90  5  2
 Percocet  5  90  2  3
 Valium  40  90  3  2
 Vicodin  6  90  2  2
 Xanax  10  90  3  2