Most opiates are Schedule II drugs, meaning that while they have legitimate medical purposes, they also have a high potential for abuse. The more common term, opioid, encompasses both naturally occurring opiates and synthetic, or man-made opioid drugs that are derived from morphine.

The information below can help you learn more about these medications, their potential dangers and how to get help for opioid addiction if you or a loved one develop one.

How Long Do Opioids Stay In Your System?

Since all opioids are different, the data below reflects opioids in general, although specific drugs may vary. For example, hydrocodone is not detectable in saliva until 12 hours after the last use.

  • Detection In Urine Tests:

    Urine tests can detect codeine for up to 48 hours. Morphine can be detected for 48 to 72 hours. Hydrocodone can be detected for up to three days.

  • Detection In Blood Tests:

    • Blood tests can detect morphine for up to six to eight hours in your blood.
    • Codeine can be detected for 12 hours.
    • Hydrocodone can be detected for up to 24 hours.
    • Fentanyl can be detected in the bloodstream for up to 12 hours.


  • Detection In Saliva Tests:

    Saliva tests can detect opiates within five to 10 minutes of use and for up to 24 to 36 hours.

  • Detection In Hair Tests:

    Hair tests can detect opiates within seven to 10 days after use and for up to 90 days.

The half-life for opiates can range from one to nine hours. For instance, the half-life of immediate-release morphine is two to four hours, the half-life of codeine is three hours, and the half-life of hydrocodone formulated with acetaminophen is four hours. The amount of time that opiates can be detected in your system relies on the type of test.

Why Do People Abuse Opioids?

Some of the side effects of opiates can be pleasurable for people, even those who wouldn’t normally abuse drugs. For example, opiates can cause a sense of well-being, euphoria, calmness or relaxation.

When you use opiates for a long time, especially when you don’t take them as prescribed, they can become habit-forming and you may find yourself with a physical or psychological dependence on them. If abused for long enough, you could end up with a substance use disorder.

  • Negative Side Effects of Abuse:

    Opiate abuse can also lead to side effects that people find less appealing, such as:

    • Confusion
    • Constipation
    • Drowsiness
    • Overdose
    • Slow breathing
    • Weakness

Which Opioids Are The Most Commonly Abused?

Opiates are used primarily as pain relievers, but some opiates have specific purposes. For instance, morphine is a Schedule II narcotic analgesic used for moderate to severe pain.

  • Other Commonly Abused Opiates:

    The most common way people take prescription opiates is in pill form. Illicit opiates are often ingested by injecting, snorting or smoking the substance, such as with heroin.

    • Codeine
    • Hydrocodone
    • Vicodin
    • Heroin
    • Morphine
    • Codeine
    • Fentanyl
    • Hydrocodone

What Sort Of Treatment Is Available For Opioid Abuse?

There are many ways to approach opioid addiction treatment and recovery, such as:

  • Medical Detox

    Understand what medical detoxification does, how it works and what to expect during detox.Learn More

  • 12-Step Programs

    12-step programs like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) can provide you support from people who know your particular struggle.Learn More

  • Behavioral Therapies

    Behavioral therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management are both effective.Learn More

  • Rehab

    Rehab can help you through the detox process, but it can also provide you with the long-term skills you need…Learn More

  • Medication-Assisted Therapy

    Medication-assisted therapy uses methadone, so it can be used without subjecting people to side effects of opiates or symptoms of…Learn More

  • Aftercare

    Aftercare and sober living programs promote self-efficacy, coping skills and relapse prevention in long-term recovery.Learn More

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a 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 provider.

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