How Long Do Drugs Stay In Your System?


A drug is any chemical you take that affects the way your body works. Many drugs can directly affect the mind. They can distort the user’s perception of what is happening around him/her. As a result, actions of an individual who is under the influence of drugs may be odd, irrational, inappropriate and even destructive.

Alcohol, caffeine, aspirin and nicotine are all drugs. Though it can be tough to determine exactly how long a drug will stay in your body as it depends on various factors, but there are some general guidelines when it comes to the most common drugs.


Factors That Determine Duration Of Drugs In Your System

It can be very difficult to determine how long a particular drug will stay in your body, simply because everyone is different and there are numerous variables that determine the drug duration in your body. Here are a few things that make a difference:

  • Your physiological makeup.
  • Your physical height and weight.
  • Your age and current state of health.
  • Amount of body fat.
  • Hydration and body mass.
  • Whether or not you exercise.
  • Whether or not you are undergoing any degree of stress.
  • Frequency of drug-use.
  • The length of time of your consistent drug-use prior to your drug test.
  • The quality (potency) of the drug.

Detection Time Frame Of Common Drugs

The information below can be used to estimate the approximate length of time, specific drugs will be detectable in your body.1


1. Alcohol

When you drink, your liver metabolizes about 90 percent of the alcohol you consume. The remaining 10 percent is eliminated in your breath, blood and urine.2

How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your System?

  • Urine: 3 to 5 days
  • Blood: 10 to 12 hours
  • Hair: Up to 90 days

Effects Of Alcohol On The Body

  • Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, and can affect the way the brain works. These disruptions can change mood and behavior, and make it harder to think clearly and move with coordination.
  • Drinking large amounts can lead to coma and even death. Mixing alcohol with medications or street drugs is extremely dangerous and can be fatal.3

 2. Nicotine

It only takes one milligram of nicotine per cigarette stick to stimulate the brain, but this would be enough to cause cigarette smoking-induced nicotine addiction.


Neurotransmitters are the brain chemicals that communicate information throughout our brain and body. These are substances that can determine sensations and emotions.

When nicotine is inhaled, it then masks such neurotransmitters and causes an abnormal production of dopamine (a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers), inducing euphoria.


How Long Does Nicotine Stay In Your System?

  • Urine: 15 to 20 days
  • Blood: 1 to 3 days
  • Hair: Up to 1 year

Effects Of Nicotine On The Body

  • If consumed in high concentrations (30-60 mg), nicotine is neuro-toxic. On the other hand, in smaller doses (1 mg per cigarette stick), it acts as a stimulant.
  • Affecting mostly the nervous system, nicotine decreases the appetite. It also stimulates intestinal motility, increases salivation, increases both the heart rate and blood pressure, and may even cause nausea and vomiting.4

3. Cocaine

Cocaine is a powerfully addictive central nervous system stimulant that acts on the brain to produce a rush of elation combined with a surge of energy. Whether it is smoked, snorted or injected, it’s effects on the brain are virtually immediate.

With chronic use, cocaine accumulates in the body and results in a prolonged terminal elimination phase for cocaine and it’s metabolites.


How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your System?

  • Urine: 3 to 4 days
  • Blood: 1 to 2 days
  • Hair: Up to 90 days

Effects Of Cocaine On The Body

Regardless of how much of the drug is used or how frequently it is used, cocaine increases the risk of a user to experience a heart attack, stroke, seizure or respiratory (breathing) failure, any of which can result in sudden death.5

4. Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine, also known as meth, crank, crystal or speed, is a stimulant that acts on the central nervous system, activating the release of the neurotransmitters – dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin.


How Long Does Methamphetamine Stay In Your System?

  • Urine: 3 to 6 days
  • Blood: 24 to 36 hours
  • Hair: Up to 90 days

Effects Of Methamphetamine On The Body

  • Prolonged use of the drug decreases natural feelings of hunger. Users can experience extreme weight loss, disturbed sleeping patterns, hyperactivity, nausea, delusions of power, increased aggressiveness and irritability.
  • Other serious effects can include insomnia, confusion, hallucinations, anxiety and paranoia. In some cases, use can cause convulsions that lead to death.6

5. Heroin

Heroin is a highly addictive narcotic derived from the opium poppy (species of plant from which opium and poppy seeds are derived). The drug produces feelings of euphoria and sedation within few seconds or minutes, depending on the mode of intake.

The body eliminates heroin quickly within eight minutes. Depending on your age, weight, amount used and frequency of use, heroin can be detected.


How Long Does Heroin Stay In Your System?

  • Urine: 3 to 4 days
  • Blood: Up to 12 hours
  • Hair: Up to 90 days

Effects Of Heroin On The Body

  • Some of the common effects of this drug include scarred and/or collapsed veins, bacterial infections of the blood vessels, heart valves, abscesses and other soft-tissue infections, and liver or kidney disease.
  • Lung complications may also result.
  • Sharing of needles or fluids may result in hepatitis, AIDS and other blood-borne virus diseases.

6. Amphetamines

Amphetamines stimulate the central nervous system, giving you a sense of energy and sharpened mental focus.

How Long Does Amphetamines Stay In Your System?

  • Urine: 1 to 3 days
  • Blood: About 12 hours
  • Hair: Up to 90 days

Effects Of Amphetamines On The Body

Over a period of time the effects of amphetamine use can become increasingly problematic. These include aggression, violent behavior or hostility, paranoia, anxiety, emotional numbing with sadness, fatigue and social withdrawal, entitlement regarding obtaining positions of power or influence, convulsions and hallucinations especially hearing voices or conversations that are not real.7