More employers are required to develop pre-employment drug testing and randomized drug-testing policies, and drug abuse is reaching epidemic levels in the US, leading to a similar increase in drug-driving incidents. The long stay of drugs in the system has attracted more attention from employers and employees.
In addition, the window of time that drugs can be detected in chemical testing can be important information for both law enforcement and defendants in court proceedings. But the size and shape of this window can vary greatly from person to person and drug to drug.
Variables in how the body metabolizes a drug
It is nearly impossible to determine an exact timetable for how long drugs can be detected in urine, blood, and saliva tests. There are many factors that can affect how a person’s body processes or metabolizes drugs.
If someone has built up a tolerance to the drug, it metabolizes more quickly. This means that the amount of time that can be detected in their system may be very short.
Frequency and amount of use
Another important factor in drug detection time is the amount and frequency of drug use. One-time use of a drug can only be detected for a short period of time, while heavy or prolonged use of a drug can be detected over an extended period. Very often drug use can result in concentrations in the system that can be detected for a long period after the last use.
Acidity of urine
Even the acid-base balance in the urine can affect the time of detection in a urine test. The more acidic the urine, the shorter the detection time.
Pros and cons of workplace drug testing on employees
Pros and cons of hair testing
Hair follicle drug tests are less likely to be affected by the above factors – and less likely to be tampered with. These tests can detect drug use for up to 90 days.
The disadvantage of using a hair test is that the drugs will not be visible in the hair for seven to 10 days. In addition, hair tests are currently more expensive than standard urine, blood and saliva tests in both collection and processing costs.
Why are drug detection timetables inconsistent?
Because there are many different factors that affect the time that drugs appear in chemical tests, researchers have not been able to determine a precise timetable for detecting individual drugs using standard testing. The best they’ve been able to do is develop a range of time, or detection windows, during which drugs can be detected.
Detection timetables are estimates
While a drug detection timetable can help you better understand how long a drug is detectable in your system, it is important to remember that these numbers are estimates. The exact time frame depends on your body mass, hydration, use and the type of drug test used.
These identification timetables of commonly used and misused prescription and illicit drugs were developed from sources with a vested interest in their accuracy. These include the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, the professionals who conduct the actual tests; companies that sell drug testing kits to employers and law enforcement; And even companies that sell products aimed at helping people beat drug tests.
- Ecstasy (MDMA)
- opium extract
- Robitussin A-C
- Tylenol #3
a word of verywell
Many different factors affect how long a drug can be detected in your system. If you’re concerned about a test you’ll have, it’s best to look at the specific drug or drug you’re taking for more specific information about the detection timetable.