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How Long Do Opioids Stay In Your System?

Most opioids have a short half-life, meaning they do not remain in the body long. However, various tests can still detect opioids anywhere from a few hours up to 90 days after the last use. Other factors also determine how long opioids stay in your system. By learning about opioids as well as how long opioids stay in your system, one can be better equipped to handle the hardships that opioid use brings.

What Are Opioids? 

Opioids are used interchangeably with opiates, which are specific types of opioids. Opiates are naturally made substances derived from the poppy plant. Opioids, on the other hand, include both opiates and semi-synthetic and synthetic substances produced in labs.

Some of the more well-known opiates include:

  • Heroin
  • Codeine
  • Opium
  • Morphine

Some of the more well-known opioids include:

  • Hydrocodone (Norco, Vicodin)
  • Oxycodone (Percocet, OxyContin)
  • Fentanyl
  • Methadone
  • Hydromorphone
  • Buprenorphine (Suboxone)

While there are many different kinds of opioids, most of them share similar effects, though some forms are more potent than others.

The Dangers Of Using Opioids

Many people use prescription opioids to treat chronic and acute pain. They are also used to alleviate pain associated with cancer treatment. Unfortunately, there are also street opioids that are misused, such as heroin and opium. Continual use or misuse of opioids can cause a person to develop a dependence on the drugs, leading to addiction. 

Effects on the Brain and Body from Using Opioids

Regardless of whether the opioids are prescription drugs or street drugs, they react with the opioid receptors in the brain, central nervous system, and gastrointestinal tract to reduce and numb pain.

Once the drugs attach to the opioid receptors, they cause a series of chemical reactions to regulate pain. Furthermore, opioids also cause an increase in the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of pleasure, energy levels, sexual stimulation, concentration, and learning. 

Opioid use causes an increase in normal dopamine levels. As a result, one can experience euphoric sensations, excitability, elevated energy levels, and an increased sexual drive. Some people also experience insomnia, anxiety, stress, and panic attacks from opioid effects. 

The drugs can cause slowed respiration and heart rates at higher dosages, potentially leading to respiratory and heart failure.

Are Opioids Addictive?

Opioids are highly addictive, even when used responsibly. When ingested, opioids can produce euphoric like effects. As such, the brain remembers the effects of opioids as positive behavior, which can trigger cravings for the drug. 

Furthermore, the longer opioids are taken, the body builds up a tolerance to their effects. Even though the drug is working correctly, people will still perceive pain. Unfortunately, tolerance leads to using higher doses of the drug to achieve the desired pain relief and euphoric state. 

Additionally, the body will continue to build up a tolerance to higher dosages, resulting in a never-ending cycle of increasing the amount taken to reach the desired effects. As people go through this cycle, they also develop a physical and psychological dependence on opioids. 

Physical dependence is signified by experiencing withdrawal symptoms the longer one goes without the drug. Psychological dependence is when one believes they need opioids to function, and opioid use becomes their primary focus.

How Long Do Opioids Stay in Your System?

How long opioids stay in your system is influenced by the following factors:

  • The dosage amount taken.
  • The frequency of use.
  • The amount of water in the body.
  • The duration opioids have been taken.
  • The metabolism rate of the individual.
  • The body fat, body mass, and weight of the individual.
  • The purity of the substance. 
  • The health of the kidneys and liver.
  • The type of opioid being taken.

Generally, while the opioid effects can wear off within a few hours of taking the drug, it can remain in your system for several weeks until it is fully flushed out. In addition, even after the drug has been flushed from the body, it is still detectable in hair follicles for up to 90 days after the last dose was taken. 

Detoxing from Opioids

Detoxing from opioids requires going through withdrawal. Withdrawal systems start between eight and twenty-four hours after the last dose. They begin to intensify between two and four days until they peak. After that, they gradually decrease until they fully subside within one to two weeks after the last dose.  

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

The range of withdrawal symptoms one experiences is also related to the same factors that determine how long opioids stay in your system and include:

  • Abdominal Cramping
  • Flu-Like Symptoms (Runny Nose, Nausea, Diarhhea, Vomiting, Hot and Cold Flashes)
  • Sweating Excessively
  • Cravings
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Muscle Aches and Cramps
  • Lack of Energy
  • Loss of Appetite

These withdrawal symptoms typically subside within two weeks of stopping use.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is often used as part of medically supervised detox to help alleviate many opioid withdrawal symptoms. Drugs like methadone and buprenorphine are used as opioid replacement therapy. Unlike other opioids that cause a euphoric state, these drugs do not. They also help overcome cravings for opioids. 

Opioid Detox Treatment and Rehab in Nashville

When you are ready to overcome your opioid misuse and addiction, help is available at Detox Nashville. We offer medically supervised detox with MAT to help you safely flush opioids from your system. We also provide personalized treatment plans at our luxury treatment center to help you retake control and live opioid-free. For further information about our opioid detox and rehab programs, please feel free to contact us and speak with an intake specialist today.

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