How Long Do Opiates Stay in Your Blood?

How Long Do Opiates Stay in Your Blood? Georgia Drug Detox

03 Nov How Long Do Opiates Stay in Your Blood?

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As a flower, you’d never guess that a poppy plant would be one of the most addictive and dangerous drugs known to man. This unassuming plant first came into existence around 3,400 B.C., in the Southwestern region of Asia. Commonly referred to by early Sumerians as the “joy plant,” demand for opium poppy seeds grow rapidly throughout the region.

Fast forward to 2016, and demand for opium continues to thrive; so much that in fact it has surpassed tobacco use in the United States.

In medical practice, opiates are widely used in the treatment of pain management. Although opiates do not actually help patient recover from impact related injuries, arthritis, back pain, etc., they mitigate and alleviate the discomfort, agony and anxiety commonly associated with pain.

When opiates are administered in the body, they target opioid receptors, which are scientifically known as seven-transmembrane domain receptors (i.e., G protein-coupled receptors). Opioid receptors are not exclusively found in the brain, but also the spinal cord, gastrointestinal tract, as well as other vital organs. Opiates neurotransmitter the chemical to opioid receptors, which bind together with opioid peptides (e.g., endorphins, dopamine, enkephalins and dynorphins; in other words, opioid peptides represent the human body’s chemical genetic makeup, and like all genetics, each individual has a different process regarding the way chemicals are distributed.

When you exercise, laugh, have sex, eat food, watch televisions, etc., the brain naturally releases these chemicals, thus giving you a morphine-like high. Opiates, when administered externally, mimic the brain’s natural process of transmitting “information” to opioid receptors. The feel-good sensations that are naturally achieved through daily activities are now overtaken by opiate administration.

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How long do opiates stay in your blood?

When opiates are administered, they are collected in body’s fatty tissues and slowly discharged into the bloodstream. Detection-wise, opiates have a relativity short lifespan in the body; after approximately ten hours, the opiates are no longer detectable in the blood. However, depending on a number of factors, this number can easily change.

This depends on:

Quality of drug: Manufactured drugs, which are used in medical practice, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, are easier to approximate; however, heroin, a drug that is typically found on the streets for recreationally usually, does not have a quantifiable structure concerning opiates in milligrams. Additionally, opiates differ in potency dramatically. The more powerful an opiate is, the longer it stays in the bloodstream.

Frequency: The longer an opiate addict uses the drug, the longer it will stay in the person’s bloodstream. That’s because the brain is more used to consolidating unnatural chemicals, and if the brain no longer receives administered opiates, the more the brain will try to conserve it. If you’re an infrequent opiate user, the brain will alert itself of that an unnatural substance is present, and will work hard to get rid of it.

Administered: There are several different way opiate users can administer the drug; and how it is administered alters the brain processes it. This includes:

  • Smoking
  • Oral administration
  • Anal administration
  • Intravenous administration
  • Snorting

Metabolism: Metabolism is the natural process of how the body distributes calories. A number of factors effect a person’s metabolism. This includes:

  • Genetics
  • Height and weight; body size
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Temperature
  • Environment
  • Health/condition of individual
  • Age


Codeine, a natural alkaloid, is one of the most common prescribed opiates in medicine. The effects of codeine usually occur within minutes of administration, and are used to help alleviate individual enduring pain from coughing; codeine is used as a cough suppressant.

How long does codeine typical stay in the body’s bloodstream? Approx. 1 Day


Hydrocodone, like codeine, is also one of the most common opiates prescribed to patient due to its low potency. Hydrocodone a, semi-synthetic opiate, is derived from codeine; hydrocodone is an opioid analgesic (painkiller), which is mainly used to treat patients who are experiencing mild to severe pain.

How long does hydrocodone typical stay in the body’s bloodstream? Approx. 3 Days


Heroin, which is widely considered the most dangerous and easily accessible drug in the opiate class, is a natural alkaloid. Its main danger mostly stems from its unregulated dosage, as it is not manufactured in medical practice. Heroin is commonly found in inner cities/ urban areas of poor to middleclass residents; of all opiates, heroin is the most popular drug for recreational usage. Oddly enough, heroin has one of the shortest lifespans of all opiates.

How long does heroin typical stay in the body’s bloodstream? Approx. 8 hours.

how long do opiates stay in your blood



Morphine, a natural alkaloid, is also very commonly used in the medical community; however, morphine is used in more serious circumstances of pain management; for example, broken bones, car accidents, tears, etc. Because of morphine’s common medical use, it has been manufactured in several ways for administration, including injection, anal suppositories, pills, and solutions, among others.

How long does heroin typical stay in the body’s bloodstream? Approx. 15 hours


Opium, a natural alkaloid, is found directly in poppy plants and is derived via extraction. In earlier times and present day, opium is collected from the seedpods of the poppy plant. Usually containing a reddish, yellowish or brownish appearance, opium is first found as a milky substance that is later dried and eventually used for consumption. Opium is known to have a very dissatisfying, bitter taste and has an easily recognizable scent to individuals familiar with the drug. Like heroin, opium has a very short lifespan.

How long does opium typical stay in the body’s bloodstream? Approx. 8 hours

How Opiates Effect the Body and Brain

The brain: Opiate usage can make the individual experience drowsiness and muscle weakness. Ironically, the sedative effects of opiates are commonly known to cause insomnia. Chronic usage (i.e., long term use) of opiates also puts you in danger of experiencing major depression. When the individual no longer has access to the chemical, the brain becomes “confused” and “panics.” Because so much dopamine was released during drug use, the brain no longer has the ability to naturally distribute endorphins into the bloodstream.

Respiratory system: In order for us to survive, the body needs to continually send oxygen to the brain and other internal organs. When taken in high doses, the body will naturally slow down its breathing (i.e., respiratory depression). Respiratory depression is one of the biggest reasons why opiate addiction is so deadly; sufficient and continual high doses of opiates can withdrawal the brain from receiving oxygen as well as injuring internal organs. Respiratory depression minimizes the amount breaths the body naturally takes in one minutes, and the breaths you take, the higher chance you have of dying.

Digestive System: Many opiate users have constipation: decreased frequency in the body’s natural process of expelling stool. Opioids, interestingly, put a large burden and hinder stool from passing the digestive tract. When a person takes opiates, this causes contractions in the small and medium intestines; consequently, this slows down how food breakdowns in the intestines. In other words, opiates essentially paralyze the stomach, which makes food harden (dry) and clog the body’s intestines.

The Liver: Many opiate abusers suffer from liver damage. That’s because painkillers are commonly combined with acetaminophen (i.e., Tylenol). In fact, contrary to popular belief, overdose of acetaminophen is one of the largest reasons why drug opiate addicts die (i.e., liver toxicity).

Itching: One of the most common side effects of opiate usage is itching. Opiates release histamines, which causes people to experience the urge to itch. Typically, there is no specific area in the body where the itching begins or is mainly present; nearly ¼ of all opiate users experience itching as a side effect.

Nervous System: Chronic use of opiates, ironically, can cause the body to become more sensitive to pain (i.e., hyperalgesia). This happens because after long-term usage of opiates, the brain no longer focuses on pain tolerance as a critical component to the body’s wellbeing, and instead focuses on only releasing dopamine. The longer an opiate user either abuses or uses the drug, the more likely will the individual experience hyperalgesia.

Sex Life: One of the most frustrating, and common, side effects of consistent and/or short-term use of opiates is a loss or disinterest in sex. Opiates lower the production of testosterone as well as limit existing levels of testosterone. Women, too, can experience a loss in sex drive when taking opiate medication.

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Why Detoxification is Vital

If you have any hope of clearing traces of opiates from your blood, than detoxification is your only realistic option. Opiate detoxification is imperative, as this process is needed for your body to cleanse itself from toxins acquired during drug use (i.e., opiates). Detoxification is not a comfortable process, and enduring the early stages of withdrawal can be physically and emotionally taxing.

Some of the most common side effects associated with detoxification and acute opiate withdrawal is insomnia, agitation, depression, fear of opiate sobriety, anger, muscle spasms, fatigue, vomiting, confusing, etc.

These intense and unpleasant side effects of acute opiate withdrawal (i.e., the first hours of opiate sobriety) are one of the biggest reasons why addicts continue to use. However, continuing drug use will only make successful sobriety more difficult as the brain becomes more and more accustom to external administration of chemicals.

You’re Not Alone

Making the decision to detox your body from opiates is a brave and difficult decision. However, it’s also the most important decision in your life. Although you may be embarrassed or simply don’t want to stop abusing, receiving help from opiate withdrawal specialists gives you the best opportunity to overcome your addiction. Inpatient services won’t only help you with consultation, care and support, but also with medically assisted services. Many doctors prescribe their patients suboxone (i.e., buprenorphine), which is used to counter the effects of opiate usage by blocking the chemicals from transmitting to opium receptors. Although suboxone does contain natural opiate and synthetic properties, it does not produce the same “high” or euphoria that is commonly associated with addiction.

Ultimaitely, managing detoxification alone is incredibly difficult, especially for individuals that have long-term abuse of opiates. Here are some of the challenges associated with individually managed detoxification:

Access – Staying home means that you have the same access to opiates as you did before. Why put yourself in an even more vulnerable position to abuse than before?

Support—Unlike inpatient treatment services, you don’t have around the clock care.

Association and environment—The slightest reminder, either made subconsciously or consciously, of opiates, can force you to succumb to your cravings; a song on the radio, a commercial, a certain friend, a scent, a time of day, etc., can trigger the impulse to indulge and satisfy your cravings.

Peer pressure—Sure, peer pressure may be an adolescent term your mother or school teacher once told you to not drink or take drugs, but in terms of opiate addiction, peer pressure is a dangerous obstacle you’ll have to overcome. Once you a visit a friend’s house or see someone indulge in the recreational use of opiates, it will instinctively force you to use as well.

No Network—When you’re in an inpatient facility, you will encounter other individuals enduring the same pain, discomfort and cravings as you. Although it sounds counterintuitive, developing social relationships with other going through detox can be extremely beneficial in terms of support, encouragement and accomplishment. Being alone means you might only have yourself to talk to, which in the face of withdrawal, is a daunting challenge most don’t successfully overcome.

Efficiency – Inpatient care means you “nip the problem in the butt” and develop tangible skills to use when cravings inevitably surface. Managing detoxification alone usually results in continual relapse, which of course, means the process takes longer—and may never end at all. But taking care of priorities, you can get back to constructive things in your life faster such as work, family, hobbies, passions and romance.


Lautieri, Amanda. “How Long Do Opiates Stay in Your System?”American Addiction Centers. 28 Feb. 2019.

Elkins, Chris. “How Long Do Opiates & Opioids Stay in Your System?” Advanced Recovery Systems. 30 May 2018. 28 Feb. 2019.

“Opioid Testing” Lab Tests Online. 15 March 2018. 28 Feb. 2019.

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