Drug testing has become one of the most common procedures across the country when it comes to hiring new employees, obtaining certain benefits, or even joining specific organizations. While this is a very useful procedure, it can be scary for the person being tested if they have ingested any drugs, either prescribed or not. This fact leads to one of the most commonly asked questions in the medical field, “How Long Do Drugs Stay in the System?”. The answer to this question is reliant on a variety of different factors.

1)The Type of Drug Taken- Drugs metabolize in the system at various rates due to the fact that the body breaks each compound down in a different process. Marijuana, for example, is eliminated through a completely different process than what a prescription drug that is ingested would be. Marijuana can sometimes stay in the system for many weeks, while there are prescription drugs, such as painkillers, that are usually out within a few days.

2)The Metabolism of the Patient-When questioning how long do drugs stay in the system, you must know that the answer to this question is not the same for all people. People with higher metabolic rates will often eliminate traces of drugs a lot faster than someone who is less active. A good comparison is the way in which the body burns calories. People with a high metabolism will burn calories quicker and therefore, they will typically eliminate drugs much faster as well.

3)How Much of the Drug Was Taken?-Some drugs will remain in the system longer if they are taken in large quantities or if they are taken on a regular basis. Some prescription drugs actually build up in the system over time and therefore, they will take longer to eliminate. Certain forms of prescription medications are well known for this, and so is marijuana.

If you would like more information about how long do drugs stay in the system, Occupational Health Services may be able to help. It is best to educate yourself about how drugs react once they are in the body and just how long the residual components will hang around once inside.