How Far Back Does a Drug Test Go?

In choosing the best drug testing services for your needs, there are several considerations, such as whether you wish to test for more recent use of drugs or over a longer period of time. For pre-employment drug screens, you will want to know if the applicant has a long-term substance abuse problem. After an accident, you will want to test right away for more recent use, to know if they were under the influence when the accident occurred. Therefore, it is important to know the detection window for various types of tests. For employee drug testing, it's also helpful to know how long drugs stay in a person's system, so that you can schedule random testing accordingly.

Health Street offers testing with urine and hair, plus additional tests for alcohol. Our clients include individuals and their families, courts and businesses, who use drug testing for applicants and employees.

Jared Rosenthal
Published on

Drug Detection Times and Factors

How far back does a drug test go? There are various factors that influence how long a certain drug can be detected in the system. These include the type of testing used, the drug and dosage, potency, person’s tolerance and metabolism, and whether they have existing medical conditions.

The detection period for urine tests can be between several hours to two months, depending on the substance. For phenobarbital, it’s just 6-48 hours. Urine tests can detect marijuana and THC for as long as two months, in the case of daily users.

The drug detection time in urine drug tests are rough estimates, since there are many factors that can make these detection windows longer or shorter.

Alcohol
timer 3-5 days
Adderall
timerup to 3 days
Amphetamines
timer1-3 days
Barbiturates
timer2-4 days, up to 6 weeks (depends on many factors)
Benzodiazepines
timer4-6 days (Xanax, Ativan) to 6 weeks (Librium, Valium, Restoril)
Cocaine
timer3-4 days
Codeine
timer1-3 days
Fentanyl
timer1-3 days
Heroin
timer3-4 days
Hydrocodone
timerup to 4 days
Ketamine
timerup to 11 days
LSD
timerup to 4 days
Marijuana
timer7-30 or more days
MDMA
timer3-4 days
Mescaline
timerup to 3 days
Methamphetamine (crystal meth)
timerup to a week
Methadone
timerup to 12 days
Morphine
timer2-3 days
Oxycodone
timerup to 4 days
PCP (angel dust)
timerup to 4 weeks
Propoxyphene (Darvon, Darvocet)
timerup to 10 days
Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms)
timerup to 1 day
Synthetic Marijuana (K2, spice)
timerup to 3 days
Tramadol (opiate analgesic)
timerup to 3 days

With hair follicle tests, the drug can be detected for a greater length of time. For marijuana, heroin, fentanyl and other substances, it can be as much as 90 days.

How Long Do Drugs Stay in Your System?

The amount of time a drug stays in your system can vary by the type, how much is used, frequency of use, your hydration levels, amount of physical activity, body mass, metabolic rate, drug tolerance, weight, medical conditions, gender, and ethnicity.

Which Drug Test Goes Back the Furthest?

Hair tests go back 90 days or more. Hair follicle testing doesn’t test the hair follicles (roots), but rather the first 1.5 inches of growth. Since drugs are detectable in hair for a long time, testing hair determines prior use of drugs. Many substances can be detected in hair.

Testing for Alcohol Use

When asking “how long do drugs stay in your system,” there’s also the issue of alcohol use. Health Street offers various kinds of tests which can detect alcohol and its metabolites. We can check for current intoxication or if the consumption was at some time in the past. Since testing methods differ on how far they look back, the type you should order depends upon the circumstance and your requirements.

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DOT and Non-DOT Breath Tests – Breathalyzers show how much alcohol a person has on their breath, so it’s for current intoxication only. It’s faster, more convenient and as accurate as a blood test. This method is required by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and is used by other employers and law enforcement.
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Basic Urine Test – This test detects alcohol use within the past 12 hours. It does not necessarily check for current intoxication, but only if someone has had a drink in the recent past.
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EtG Urine Test – The EtG test goes back further, up to 80 hours (three days). A urine test may be required by a court order for parents who have limited custody of their children (i.e., weekends), and are prohibited from consuming alcohol during this visit.
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Peth Test – This test looks for biomarkers in the bloodstream, which it can detect for up to three weeks after consumption. Families, clinicians or courts may order these to check for binge drinking or chronic use.
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Hair Testing – Of all the tests, this one looks back the furthest — up to 90 days or longer. Either head or body hair can be used. This one is often ordered by a court after a DUI charge or during a custody dispute, by doctors treating alcoholism and by families who may be worried about underage drinking.

Why Use Health Street for Your Drug Testing Needs?

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For Individuals and Families – You may be concerned that a family member is using drugs, or you may want to ensure that someone is staying drug-free. Our quick and easy drug tests can be ordered by individuals and their families, and there are convenient locations nationwide to choose from.
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Court-Ordered – We provide testing for drugs and alcohol as required by court order. This may be relating to a DUI/DWI, child custody case, probation or pre-trial. Legal agreements or court orders will often state the reporting requirements. We work extensively with drug testing that is required by court orders.
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In the Workplace – To ensure a drug-free workplace, many companies have instituted drug testing programs for their employees, as well as a pre-employment urine drug screening for initial testing. Health Street can help your business set up a regimen, and the software for our business clients makes it easy.

StaffGlass For Company Drug Testing Programs

For a company-wide drug screening program, it can be difficult to coordinate tests for groups of employees. Our StaffGlass integrated recruitment and onboarding platform lets you order pre-employment and ongoing drug testing for your staff. It also includes remote ID verification, background checks, occupational health services and e-sign document management.

StaffGlass benefits include:

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The ability to order a wide variety of tests directly from the cloud-based platform.
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Candidates or employees can select a convenient time and location.
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More than 14,000 nationwide clinics to choose from.
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Status notifications at every step.
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Test results are securely delivered and displayed on the person’s centralized record.
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Once an applicant is hired, their record becomes their employee record, so that further tests can be ordered throughout their employment and their results can be closely monitored.
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Platform is mobile-friendly and accessible anytime/anywhere.
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Advanced security and data management


Contact us if you have any questions about which drug tests are most appropriate for your situation. Whether you require a drug test for a family member, a court order or for a company program, we have a fast, accurate and effective solution.

WRITTEN BY

Jared is the Founder of Health Street, the creator of the Who's Your Daddy DNA truck, and the host of VH1's Swab Stories.

WRITTEN BY

Jared is the Founder of Health Street, the creator of the Who's Your Daddy DNA truck, and the host of VH1's Swab Stories.

FEATURED IN

Drug Testing

Read Health Street's dramatic and informative drug testing stories.

FEATURED IN

Drug Testing

Read Health Street's dramatic and informative drug testing stories.