Opiates and Opioids: Facts You Need To Know

Opiates and Opioids: facts You Need to Know

Did you know that the total number of deaths due to opiates and opioids use rose to 71%? Based on the recent report or UNODC World Drug Report, there’s an increase of 92% of deaths among women and 63% among men due to repeated exposure to drugs.

A scary fact, however, some people continue to use it no matter how harmful it is. Now, as we talk about this type of drug, in this article, specific topics are discussed, including the following:

  • The Opiates and Opioids
  • How long the opiates stay in our body system
  • Different types of drug tests to detect opiates

The Opiates and Opioids: The Difference Between

Derived from the Opium Poppy plant, Opiates are highly addictive yet harmful types of drugs and classified as Schedule II narcotic drugs.

Meanwhile, Opioids are a type of medicine that combines synthetic chemicals and pure opium substances.

Opioids, among the drugs, became known due to its painkilling effects. Physicians even prescribe it to help lessen cancer, operation recovery, and other forms of pain. It is beneficial, yet, it is also known for its addictive nature. And if not controlled, it could lead to drug dependency.

Opioids also include illicit drugs – Heroin and Fentanyl – that are more powerful than what the physicians prescribe to drug use victims.

Drugs Use: How Long Do Opiates and Opiates Stay In Your System?

Opiates stay in your system depending on what type of opioid and metabolism the user has. One way to measure how long an opioid stays in our body is through the half-life of an opioid. Generally, opioids can be a short or a long half-life depending on factors that can cause the drug’s timeframe.

To give you an example:

Hydrocodone and Oxycodone have short half-life opioids. It means half would either leave your body within three to five hours.

Methadone is considered a long half-life opioid which its half-life lasts from 24 to 36 hours.

Fentanyl, which caused the opioid epidemic, has a half-life of four hours only.

Short half-life opioids generally leave the body quickly. However, the effect would last for several hours.

What is Drug Half-Life, anyway?

Drug half-life is when the drug enters the body system and when the life of the drug reduces by half due to metabolization. The metabolization continues over time until it depletes and vanishes in the body system.

Experts use the Opiate’s half-life to benchmark calculations in determining the length of stay of the drug’s substance. But this benchmark does not provide the exact estimates due to different metabolization rates of the drug user.

Note also that in most cases, the effect of drugs stops when they hit the half-life. However, in some medicines, the impact continues because it affects the body’s different parts like diamorphine (Heroin). Its effect imbues the blood-brain barrier. And over time, it causes side-effects.

Even though the drug’s half-life calculations are not 100% accurate, it is still essential because it is easy to identify blood tests through the drug’s half-life stage.

Factors influencing how long Opiates and Opioids stay in your system

Here are the other factors that affect the length of time of opiates and opioids in your system:

  • How many opioids were taken by the user?
  • Weight of the person
  • The individual’s metabolism
  • Dosage of opioids taken
  • Dosing Administration
  • Your age
  • Your ethnicity
  • The presence of other drug’s in our system.
  • Medical conditions (if any)
  • The user’s gender

The more from these will feed the stay of the drugs’ substance.

Different Types Of Drug Tests

Drug test methods used to detect opioids include urine, saliva, hair, and blood. Each differs from the benefits and disadvantages when it comes to identifying opioids.

Method #1: Urine Drug Tests

It’s the most commonly used test as it provides quick results and very easy to administer. It can detect drugs for several days.

The urine test disadvantage is if the person takes vitamins, supplements, and even cough medicine (contains Codeine).

Method #2: Saliva Drug Tests

The same with the urine test, saliva drug test delivers quick results and is more accurate. The substance of the drug can be detected even if the user had just taken it minutes ago. But the window where the saliva can see a drug’s presence in the system is only limited.

Method #3: Hair Drug Tests

Compared to the first two methods, hair drug testing has more benefits. It is more accurate and cannot alter the drug’s presence in hair with dye or even bleached or shampooed. Note that the presence of drugs in the hair is at least a month.

The disadvantage of hair drug testing is if the hair grows slowly, it takes weeks or days before the substance of drugs becomes present in hair follicles.

Method #4: Blood Testing

It also gives an accurate picture of the user’s recent drug use and can even determine drug testing levels during drug testing.

Opioids Duration of Action

Duration of action is the amount of time in which drugs remain active in the body system. Discussed here are the common drugs and their length of time of how long do opiates stay in your system.

For example, with Oxycodone, the duration of action in our body is:

Saliva – zero to four days (0-4 days)

Urine – two to four days (2-4 days)

Blood – 12 to 48 hours

Hair – lasts more than 90 days.

Codeine, The timeframe of this drug is:

Urine – stays one to days (1-2 days)

Blood – 24 hours

Sliva – one to four days (1-4 days)

Hair – up to 90 days

For Hydrocodone:

Urine –ย  stays two to four days (2-4 days)

Blood – one day (24 hours) in blood

Saliva – 12 to 36 hours

Hair – up to 90 days


Urine – from two to seven days (2-7 days)

Blood – stays up to 6 hours.

Saliva – remains five hours.

Hair – accurately detect Heroin 90 days from the last use of Heroin.

For Morphine:

Urine – the substance stays for two to three days (2-3 days)

Blood –ย  stays up to 12 hours.

Saliva – remains active for four days.

Hair –ย  drugs stay longer, up to 90 days.

Fentanyl drug:

Urine – drug remains active for 24 hours.

Blood – it stays at least 12 hours.

Saliva – it stays one to four days (1-4 days)

Hair – stays up to 90 days.

As you can observe, each has different timeframes, and it stays longer depending on other factors that can increase the opioid’s stay in the body.

The Effects of Opiate Use Disorder

Taking opioids relieve pain and makes the user feel relaxed and happy, which makes them want to repeat the experience. However, it has a negative effect, mainly on behavioral health. Also, too much exposure to drugs can affect the user’s mental health. Can make the user feel drowsiness, confused, nausea, constipated, euphoria, and slow in breathing.

According to the study of Annals of Family Medicine, the more prolonged use of opioids, the greater the risk of developing depression.

Opiate Addiction Treatment

There are ways to treat people with Opiate Addiction Disorder, including medicines and behavioral therapies.

Medicines prescribed for opiate use disorder include buprenorphine and methadone. Both work to help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Other medications used to treat them are naltrexone that mainly blocks the opioid receptors and prevents drugs.

Aside from medicines, behavioral therapies are available to help the user modify their attitudes and other behaviors due to drugs. It can also help them increase their healthy life skills.

Cognitive-behavioral treatment or therapy can help modify the user’s behaviors. This treatment is very useful in managing triggers and stress. On the other hand, multidimensional family therapy is for adolescents who have drug use problems.

Both medicines and behavioral treatments are proven to work efficiently during the recovery of the patient.


Opioids are drugs used as a very effective pain reliever for treating short-term pain like surgery or injury. However, it leads to addiction when used long-term.

And people who experience depression usually became dependent on opioids and increased the risk of developing severe mental health problems and behavioral issues.

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