How Long Opiates Stay In Your System?

Opiates can be potent and extremely dangerous; often found inside your own medicine cabinet. The improper use of legal opioid drugs may have similar risks as using illicit heroin.

  • In the United States, 259 million prescriptions for painkillers including Vicodin, Opana, and OxyContin were written in 2012.
  • In the U.S., 467,000 people struggle with heroin addiction but more than 2 million abuse opioid painkillers.
  • The abuse of opiates, both heroin and prescription painkillers may seriously impact health.
  • Aside from the dangers of overdose, sharing of needles to inject crushed pills or heroin comes with its own dangers.
  • Such practices impact almost all parts of your body and can damage your health permanently.

The time it would take for a certain drug to leave your system is based on its half-life.

Half-life is the duration of the breaking down of the drug in the kidneys and liver and filters half of it in the bloodstream. So if the half-life of a drug is an hour, you would have half of the drug left in your blood, a quarter left after 2 hours and 1/8 left after 3 hours.

For the medical benefit, drugs are considered cleared from your body after 5 half-lives when around 3 percent remain in your body. The half-life of each drug varies from seconds to a few days.

The NHTSA reveals the shortness in the half-life of heroin, which can last 2-6 minutes and is then metabolized into morphine.

Another drug that metabolizes into morphine is codeine. Hydrocodone (e.g. Lortab, Vicodin) can metabolize into Hydromorphone (e.g. Dilidaud). Oxycodone (e.g. Percocet), on the other hand, can metabolize into Oxymorphone (e.g. Opana). The half-life of such drugs are:

  • Morphine: 1 1/2 hours-7 hours
  • Hydromorphone: around 2.3 hours
  • Fentanyl: around 3.7 hours
  • Oxymorphone: 9-11 hours
  • Methadone: 10-60 hours

Together with dependence and tolerance that occurs due to regular opiate use, addiction may come as a result.

Long-term opiate users cause damage on their endorphin systems, the system responsible for controlling your experiences of pain. Illegal drugs sold on the streets, including heroin, are often diluted and contain infectious and contaminating particles. Injecting contaminated heroin may result in infections that enter your blood and reach the lining of your heart leading to an inflammation known as endocarditis.

Also, as illicit heroin is often cut with several impurities, the contaminating particles may go through your body and be trapped in the small capillaries. It can cause clots or micro embolism, which may cut off the blood flow and result in progressive damage to other organs.

Intravenously administering opiates may lead to abscess formation, inflammation or infection on the site of application. The repeated use of drugs taken intravenously can result in cumulative vein damage and cause the veins to collapse eventually.

It is a common thing to share needles among those who crush pills or inject heroin.

However, this can cause bloodborne pathogens like hepatitis C to spread in your body which may lead to lung infection tuberculosis, which is a chronic liver disease. Injection drug abusers are also among the highest risk groups for HIV transmission which can lead to AIDS.

Heroin and opiate painkillers rank among the highly addictive drugs and the effects of abusing such are often lethal.

The CDC estimated in 2016, 46 people have died from an overdose of painkillers. However, this should not be the same case with you as with proper treatment, you may still be able to escape addiction and reclaim your life.


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