If you’re concerned about how long drugs remain in your body, you can learn what factors influence the amount of time that different types of drugs stay in your body.

Factors That Determine How Long Drugs Stay in Your System

Different drugs stay in people’s bodies for varying amounts of time. One of the most significant factors is the type of drug that was used. Some other factors that can determine the amount of time that a drug stays in your system include:

  • The type of test performed, for example, urine and hair tests can detect drugs for different lengths of time
  • The amount of the drug consumed and its potency
  • Someone’s drug tolerance and metabolism
  • Any pre-existing medical conditions
A more exhaustive list of drugs in the human body. Source: Wikipedia.


Alcohol use is the fourth leading causes of preventable death in the United States. Alcohol abuse can range from alcoholism and alcohol use disorders to binge drinking. Although alcohol is legal, it remains a dangerous and harmful substance.

The short term and long term side effects of alcohol are often what causes overdose, alcohol poisoning and death. Even when someone decides to stop drinking alcohol, the withdrawal symptoms from an alcohol detox can lead to severe health complications and death.

Alcohol poisoning can be fatal. If you suspect someone is experiencing alcohol poisoning, call 911 immediately. Do NOT be afraid to seek help. If you do not have access to a phone contact Web Poison Control Services for online assistance.


Opioid use disorder is the leading cause of drug overdoses in the United States. Prescription opioids are intended to treat acute pain. These drugs are highly addictive and can cause opioid addiction. The side effects of opioid use can be dangerous. People with opioid addiction are often reluctant to seek treatment because of the withdrawal symptoms during opioid detox.


Stimulants like Adderall are often prescribed for people with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but there are also illegal stimulants like methamphetamines and ecstasy (MDMA). People misuse stimulants for various reasons, like to stay awake longer, lose weight or recreationally. The side effects of stimulants can be dangerous and potentially harmful, one particularly dangerous side effect can cause irregular or rapid heartbeat. If you or someone you know experiences adverse side effects of a stimulant, it is recommended to stop using stimulants and detox.


Several states in America passed legislation to make medical marijuana legal and some allowed recreational marijuana to become legal. However, similar to alcohol, marijuana can still be addictive. The short-term side effects of marijuana are not necessarily harmful, but long-term marijuana use can have negative impacts on your health. If you want to stop using marijuana, it is suggested to go through marijuana detox.

Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs can be safe to use when taken as prescribed by a physician. However, when someone takes more doses than they should it can cause an addiction. The side effects of prescription drugs can be dangerous and potentially harmful to your health and wellbeing. If you or someone you know struggles with an addiction to prescription drugs and wants to recover, the first step is to detox.


Benzodiazepines were commonly prescribed to people who were living with anxiety or insomnia. Consuming benzodiazepines carry a high risk of addiction, so physicians are cautious when prescribing them. The side effects of benzodiazepines are potentially dangerous, so it’s important for someone using them that they do so as directed by a doctor. If someone does decide to stop taking benzodiazepines, it is suggested to go through professional detox because it’s safer than a cold-turkey detox attempt.

Hallucinogens and Inhalants

Hallucinogens are a diverse class of drugs that alter perceptions. They can cause individuals to feel disconnected from their environment. Inhalants include solvents, aerosol sprays, gases, and prescription medicines for chest pain.


Thompson, Warren MD. “Alcoholism.” emedicine.medscape.com, November 27, 2018. Accessed May 17, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.