There are several reasons a person might have to undergo an opiate drug test. Some pain management clinics and medical facilities administer these tests, as do employers. Frequently, opiate drug tests are required as part of law enforcement programs. There are professional drug tests and at-home tests available.
Whether or not someone will pass an opiate drug test depends on a multitude of factors. For example, how long ago they last used drugs will play a role, as well as their health. Opiates tend to have a short half-life, which means they leave the system quickly. How someone uses the drug will also determine whether or not they pass an opiate drug test. For example, if someone takes prescription pills orally, traces of the medication may stay in their system longer than if they inject a drug like heroin.
Heroin is detectable in a urine test for anywhere from two to seven days after the drug is last used. With an opioid like hydrocodone, a urine test will usually detect the drug for two to four days after the last dose. A naturally-derived opiate like morphine may show up in urine tests for up to three days. It will be more difficult for people who have heavily used drugs to pass an opiate drug test because opiates and opioids build up in the fatty tissue of the body throughout long-term use.
Certain things can cause a false positive on an opiate urine test. For example, poppy seeds come from the poppy plant and may have trace amounts of opium, which can trigger a false positive. Medications common to inpatient treatment settings, such as quinolone antibiotics and rifampin, may also result in false-positives. Additionally, a wide variety of common medications, such as verapamil, quetiapine, diphenhydramine and doxylamine can produce false positives on methadone-specific testing.
False negatives are also possible with opiate test kits. A false negative indicates that someone wasn’t taking opiates or opioids when they were. False-negative opiate urine tests can occur for one of two main reasons. The first is due to the wrong test being used for a specific opiate. The second reason for a false negative opiate urine test is that the individual doesn’t have a high enough amount of the drug in their test sample. To avoid this, clinicians will often test for specific opiates outside of what’s tested for in a standard drug test kit and use low cut-off points. Most opiate tests are designed to show positive test results within one to three days after the last time the person used the drug.
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.