How Long Do Opiates Stay In Your Urine?

17 Nov How Long Do Opiates Stay In Your Urine?

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If drugs were magicians, opiates would be the Harry Houdini of mind-altering substances.

Manipulating its host stronger than any hypnotist could ever dare to imagine, opioids’ synthetic waterfall of feel-good chemicals highjack the brain into a flood of warmth, satisfaction and comfort—feelings so intensely pleasurable and dramatic that they often can’t be categorized or explained.

However, the aftermath of an opiates binge is just the opposite. It has no remorse, judgment nor motive; it’s devastating.

Nothing can equate to what was felt during the high.

A beautiful sunny day with crisp blue skies, squawking seagulls and a delicious salty ocean breeze is as useless as a doorknob. Walking through the door after a long hard day at work only to be greeted by your kid’s smiling faces couldn’t be more meaningless. Ice-cold lemonade on a hot summer afternoon, having sex, playing Frisbee with your dogs, going to the movies—everything—anything—feels empty and dissatisfying.

It is prison, only in here, there are no steel bars, guards or uniforms—only the feelings of numbness, hopelessness, and despair.

If you had to choose, where would go? I know where I would…

Not all opiate-abuse starts off recreationally or as a crutch to avoid feelings sadness, anger or confusion. In the practice of chronic pain management, opiates are widely known as one of the most effective methods in improving quality of life, physical functionality, sleep and concentration.


However, no matter who the subject is—or state of mind the person might have been in—life after opiates usually always follows a very similar course.

And it’s a road embedded with hurdles, emotional/physical pain, depression and cravings.

For individuals enduring the hard road to recovery and/or sobriety from opiate usage, the following days to come will not be easy; luckily however, the physical elements of the drug in your system breakdown relativity quickly.

After three to five days of the last dose, opioids are typically undetectable in the urinary track. But in order to truly determine the most accurate lifespan for traces of opiates existing in the urine, they should be individually analyzed.

How long do opiates stay in your urine? The following is a list of information on various opiates as well as the time length the drug is visibly detectable in the urinary track.

Opioids are broken into three different categories: natural, semi-synthetic and synthetic.

Natural opioids such as heroin, opium, Morphine and Codeine derive opium poppy plants; natural opium medical is without intervention of any manufactured or unnatural chemical materials.

Semi-synthetic opioids such as Hydrocodone, Oxymorphone and Oxycodone derive from opium poppy plants, but are equally combined with synthetic chemical elements, thus creating a semi-synthetic opioid.

Synthetic opioids such as Suboxone, Demerol and Fentanyl share no chemical relation to opium poppy plants, but mimic similar effects in the brain as natural opioids, thus creating a completely different chemical compound, and experience.

*Please note—the following is an approximate analysis; effect, potency, side effects, dosage and biological breakdown varies by individual. The information shared is relative and should never be generally assumed without consultation from your doctor or clinical opiate specialist.

*All ‘onsets of actions’ (OoA) are analyzed via oral administration

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Codeine (natural alkaloid)

Medical Usage: Treated to help alleviate mild to severe pain. Codeine is a cough suppressant as well as used to relieve symptoms of diarrhea, the common cold, and minimizes the urge to cough (cough reflex).

Common side effects: Mood swings, headache, nausea/drowsiness; thickens mucus in lungs, blurry vision, vomiting, itching and rash, perspiration, abdominal cramps; constipation, shortness of breath, hypotension, etc.

Starting dosage: 20mg to 50mg (repeated every 4 hours; repeated as needed)

Max. 24-hour dose: 360 mg.

 OoA: 15 minutes to 45 minutes

Peak effect: 30 minutes to 1 hour 

Duration of effects: 3 to 4 ½ hours

Time length Detectable in Urine: 2 -3 days


Hydrocodone (semi-synthetic)


Medical Usage: Treated to help alleviate mild to severe pain caused by chronic condition or injury, sudden impact injury or used in post-operation situations.

Common Side Effects: Lethargy, itching, dry mouth, constipation, shortness of breath, hollow breathing, vomiting, difficulty urinating; slow or irregular heart beat, insomnia, muscle weakness, sleepiness, etc.

Starting dosage: 2.5 mg to 10 mg.

Max. 24-hour dose: 60 mg.

OoA: 30 minutes to 1 hour

Peak effect: 1 hour and 10 minutes

Duration of effects: 4 to 6 hours

Time length Detectable in Urine: 3 -4 days


Suboxone/Buprenorphine (synthetic)

Medical usage: Treated to help reduce addiction for regular opioid use, opiate detoxification, negates the potential for respiratory depression after drug use, withdrawal antagonist; in non-opiate addiction patients, suboxone/buprenorphine is used to alleviate symptoms of moderate to severe pain.

Similar medications: Methadone, Naltrexone

Common side effects: drowsiness, constipation, anxiety, insomnia, confusion, decreased tolerance of pain, “drunk” feeling, trouble with concentration, depression, difficulty waking (from sleep), unusual dreams; short or shallow breathing, etc. 

Starting dosage: 2mg.

Max. 24-hour dose: 8mg. (dosage increases by day)

OoA: 30 minutes to 1 hour

Peak effect: 8 hours

Duration of effects: 24 hours

Time length Detectable in Urine: up to 10 days


Oxycodone (semi-synthetic)  

Medical usage: around the clock, chronic pain (mostly used in severely painful situations such as car accidents, muscle tears, gun shot wounds and cancer); post-operational pain.

Common side effects: loss of appetite; vomiting; itching; irritability; intense depression; insomnia; constipation; chills; dark urine; bad breath; yellow eyes and skin; fever; headache; dry mouth; sweating; sudden tiredness; shortness of breath; irregular heart beat; etc.

Starting dosage: 2.5 mg. to 5mg. (every 6 hours)

Max. 24-hour dose: 30 mg.

OoA: 5 to 10 minutes

Peak effect: 15 to 30 minutes

Duration of effects: 1 ½ to 2 hours

Time length Detectable in Urine: 2 to 3 days


Hydromorphone (semi-synthetic)

Medical usage: around the clock, chronic pain (mostly used in severely painful situations) and post-operational pain. Approx. 7 times stronger than morphine 

Common side effects: seizures convolutions, loss of appetite, vomiting, itching, irritability, intense depression, insomnia; constipation, chills, dark urine; bad breath, yellow eyes and skin, fever, headache, dry mouth, tightness in chest; sudden tiredness, shortness of breath, irregular heart beat, fainting; etc. 

Starting dosage: 2 mg. to 8 mg.

Max. 24-hour dose: 8mg. to 20 mg.

OoA: 5 to 10 minutes

Peak effect: 15 to 30 minutes

Duration of effects: 1½ hours

Time length Detectable in Urine: 3 to 7 days


Oxymorphone (semi-synthetic)  

Medical usage: around the clock, chronic pain (mostly used for severely painful situations); post-operational pain; approx. 10 times stronger than morphine.  

Common side effects: slow or fast heart rate, fever, constipation, severe sweating, rash itching, insomnia, dizziness, muscle weakness, shallow breathing, seizures and/or convulsions, difficulty urinating, etc.

Starting dosage: 5 mg.

Max. 24-hour dose: 20mg.

OoA: 1 to 5 minutes

Peak effect: 15 to 30 minutes

Duration of effects: 1½ to 2 hours

Time length Detectable in Urine: 5 to 6 days


Demerol (synthetic)

Medical usage: around the clock, chronic pain (mostly used for severely painful situations), cancer, severe bone injuries and post-operational pain.

Common side effects: severe respiratory failure, insomnia, hypotension, confusion, visual hallucinations, urinary retention, constipation, shock, dry mouth, seizures and convulsions, cardiac arrest, etc.

Starting dosage: 50 mg. to 150 mg.

Max. 24-hour dose: 550 mg.

OoA: 30 to 45 minutes

Peak effect: 1 hour

Duration of effects: 2 ½ to 5 hours

Time length Detectable in Urine: 3 to 4 days


Morphine (natural alkaloid)

Medical usage: general anesthesia, pain relief from terminal cancer, relieves symptoms of diarrhea, severe cough, relief of pain from heart attacks.

Common side effects: low-blood pressure, change in pulse, dizzy/drowsiness, slow heart rate, inflammation of the skin, insomnia, fever, seizures convolutions, trouble breathing, hives, etc. 

Starting dosage: 30mg.

Max. 24-hour dose: 50 mg.

OoA: 30 minutes to 1 hour

Peak effect: 1 hour

Duration of effects: 2 to 3 hours

Time length Detectable in Urine: 2 to 3 days


Fentanyl (synthetic)

Medical usage: alleviates severe chronic pain, relieves cancer-related pain, used in post-operational settings, sudden impact injury and kidney stones.

Common side effects: tarry stool, confusion, hypotension, numbness, irritability, fever/chills, intense hallucinations/nightmares, difficulty waking (from sleep), seizure convulsions, inflammation of the skin, irregular pulse, weak and/or shallow breathing, and approx. 50 times stronger than morphine.

Starting dosage: 50 mcg.

Max. 24-hour dose: N/A

OoA: N/A

Peak effect: N/A

Duration of effects: N/A

Time length Detectable in Urine: 4 days


Factors That Effect the Body’s Breakdown of Opiates

No two people in this world are the same. Although this may seem like an old sang your mother would tell you, it happens to also be true.

We all come from different backgrounds and genetics, which means if you’re trying to find an exact timeframe of when opiates leave the body’s urinary track—you’re likely not going to find one; at least one that’s not 100 percent correct.

However, there are several things you can do to help improve your accuracy.

Review the opiate—conduct your own analysis into the specific drug you’re take. Each drug varies in lifespan and interaction in the body. Opiates, in general, tend to have short lifespans (approx. 2 to 5 days) compared to other drugs such as Marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol.

How was the drug administered—intravenous (IV), smoking, snorting, oral and anal, and injection administration are all different forms of consuming opiates. Each method alters the way the drug breakdowns in the body.

Amount of water in the body—the more hydrated your internal organs are, the faster opiates will be processed. Keeping hydrated ensures that your organs have what they need to naturally progress the chemical breakdown of drugs and expel what’s “not needed” from the body.

Quality of drug—perhaps the drug consumed was not medically engineered or manufactured. If not, this makes determining how long the drug(s) stay in the body’s urinary system nearly impossible to estimate.

How often does the individual take the drug—the more the body is used to a drug, the slower it takes the drug to leave the body; the more consistently opiates are consumed, the more the body begins to interpret it as natural (and essential to the body’s health), which slows down the drug’s metabolic process.

Individual’s metabolism—the rate at which you burn calories—relates to the body’s natural process of moving different compounds to sustain energy and help synthetize new cells. The slower an individual’s metabolism is, the slower it takes opiates to leave the body’s urinary track.

Factors that determine metabolic rates:

  • Genetics—some families/individuals naturally have faster/slower metabolic rates
  • Age—the older an individual is, the slower there metabolism becomes; after the age of 25, bones no longer grow, and metabolic rates go down by 2 percent or more every ten years.

As you age, your body begins to naturally lose its muscle mass, and the less muscle mass means more fat.

  • Skipping meals—Sure, missing breakfast and lunch may result in your body to eat its own fat, however, by skipping meals, you also put yourself in danger of overeating and/or eating unhealthy foods. That’s because you will be inevitably hungry, and when you are, your decision-making goes down. By eating every four to six hours, you’re more likely to make better decisions regarding the foods you choose to eat.
  • Height—The taller you are, the larger your lean mass is (i.e., bones, water, organs, and muscles). The larger your lean mass is, the faster your metabolism will is.

Conversely, the shorter you are, the harder your muscles have to work in order to achieve the same level of distance (as someone taller). The harder your muscles have to work, the more body fat you burn. That means there are both advantages and disadvantages in metabolism for shorter/taller people.

  • Temperature/environment—Where you live, and the environments you endure, make a dramatic impact into your metabolic rate; for example, people that live in colder states such as Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan have faster heart rates and have to pump more oxygen into their brain. That’s because your body’s natural instinct (of survival) to protect you from harsh conditions has to work harder in order to keep blood/oxygen consistently flowing throughout your body.

However, the colder it is, the less likely people are motivated to exercise and get outdoors, which of course, slows down your metabolic rate.

If you are struggling with addiction we have the resources to help you make a change. At Georgia Detox we offer a supportive and safe detox environment to truly start over.

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Lautieri, Amanda. “How Long Do Opiates Stay in Your System?” American Addiction Centers. 8 Mar. 2019.

T., Buddy. “How Long Oxycodone Stays in Your System?” Verywell Mind. 2 Oct. 2018. 8 Mar. 2019.

Davis, Charles. “How Long Are Opiates in Urine?” 8 Mar. 2019.

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