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Whether used for pain medication or recreation, opiates regularly show on drug tests. Thus, unless you are using them legally and as per your doctor’s prescription, a drug screen that turns up positive for opiates could land you into trouble including loss of a prospective job or even going behind bars.
The good news, though, is that just like other drugs, there are several ways of passing an opiate drug test. And that’s what I’ll be showing you in a couple of minutes.
What do drug tests look for in a drug test for opiates?
When consumed, either orally, intravenously, or through snorting, the body starts the process of metabolizing a drug into its respective metabolites in a bid to unleash its intended effects as well getting it out of the system.
Similar to other drugs, such as weed, opiates are metabolized in the liver into metabolites that are later excreted either through urine, sweat, and hair. The resultant metabolites are what drug tests look for during screening. For instance, in a heroin drug test, the test looks for 6-monoacetylmorphine (a.k.a 6-MAM) and Morphine – 2 of its three major metabolites.
Opiates vary with respect to how they are metabolized and this consequently leads to a difference in the type of metabolites that are formed and that show up in drug screening. That is the reason why some opiates may show up in a test while others fail.
All in all, considering that they tend to work in a similar manner, opiates also tend to portray similar metabolism patterns that mainly involve phase 1 and 2.
In phase 1, the drugs are subjected to a process known as hydrolysis or oxidation that is facilitated by the cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes.
Phase 2 of opiates metabolism involves the conjugation of the drug into a hydrophilic compound by adding an endogenous substance, for instance, glucuronic acid, sulfate, and glycine, into it.
This process basically improves the solubility of the resultant metabolites and this makes them more polar and thereby making it easy to be excreted in urine and bile through the enterohepatic recirculation.
How long do opiates stay in your system?
Opiates generally have a short half-life. This means that the drugs and their metabolites leave the system quickly, even though their effects may linger for several hours.
The length of time that each opiate takes to clear from the system, however, varies mainly because of their structural differences according to research.
It’s also dependent on several other factors including the mode of ingestion. For instance, opiates that are ingested generally take a longer time in the system than those that are injected. This is because the former has to go through the digestion system for absorption into the blood system, a process that can take close to an hour.
On the other hand, opiates that are injected, smoked, or snorted such as heroin get into the blood system much faster to create a rapid onset of action, and also pass out of the system much sooner.
Other factors that affect how long different opiates take to leave your system include;
- How long you’ve used the drug and the severity
- Your metabolism rate
- The health of your liver and kidneys
- Age, body mass, weight, and fat content
Considering that we are all unique with respect to all the factors above, the detection windows for different opiates that I have stipulated below become mere estimates.
How long is heroin detectable in urine and saliva?
Heroin stays in the blood for up to 12 hours and can be detected in urine for 3-4 days after the last dose. This opiate is processed quickly upon administration and can cause a high in utmost 8 seconds if injected intravenously, 5-8 minutes if injected into the muscles (intramuscular injection a.ka. skin popping), and 10-15 minutes if snorted.
A saliva test will detect heroin within minutes after use and up to 24 hours for occasional users and 48 hours for chronic users.
How long is Morphine detectable in urine and saliva?
A morphine dose reaches its peak in 4 to 6 hours and the effects can be felt for up to 24 hours. A urine test can detect its metabolites for 48 to 72 hours after the last dose.
According to the American Addiction Centers, Morphine is detectable in saliva within minutes and remains detectable for up to 4 days.
How long is Methadone detectable in urine and saliva?
Methadone is used as a heroine agonist and it helps people who are struggling with heroin addiction to taper off slowly. Compared to other opioids, this drug has the longest shelf-life of 8-59 hours and as a result, its detection window in urine is considerably longer and can be 6 to 12 days.
A blood test for methadone can detect usage in up to 24 hours while a saliva test will pick up the metabolites in 1-10 days.
How long is Fentanyl detectable in urine and saliva?
Fentanyl is one of the most potent and addictive opioids in the market today. Precisely, this drug is said to be 50-100 times more powerful than Morphine. Upon admission, Fentanyl is detectable in saliva within minutes and up to 1-4 days. It is also detectable in urine for 8 to 24 hours.
How long are Opiates detectable in hair?
Whether we are talking about naturally occurring opiates such as morphine, semi-synthetic opiates such as heroin, or synthetic opiates, their metabolites are persistently detectable in the hair for up to 90 days and even lifetime – and it’s not hard to understand how this is possible.
After metabolism in the liver, the drug metabolites are excreted through various means including urine, sweat, saliva, and poop. As the blood system is transporting these metabolites to these excretion points, some of the metabolites head to the hair papilla (base of the hair) where they cross over from the blood vessels into the matrix where they eventually become a part of the hair strand.
After being deposited into the matrix, the part of the hair containing the drug metabolites takes anywhere between 5 and 10 days to shoot through the scalp thereby making the metabolites detectable in a hair drug test.
In a hair drug test, the lab guys will cut at least 100 hair strands measuring 1.5 inches from the scalp. Hair grows at the rate of 0.5 inches per month, so a 1.5-inch strand holds a drug use history of up to 3 months.
How to pass a urine test for opiates
The journey to passing a urine test for opiates starts with understanding the cutoff levels that will be used to determine whether a urine sample is positive or negative and then coming up with a way to lower your urine concentration to below that level.
Although the Department of Transport (DOT) testing utilizes a 2000ng/ml cutoff level, most laboratories use different cutoff levels depending on the drug that is being tested for. For instance, most enzyme immunoassays (EIA) have a cutoff level of 10ng/ml and 150ng/ml for 6-MAM (heroin metabolite) and methadone respectively.
While there are several ways that have been suggested to pass a urine test for opiates, the internal dilution method remains to be the most reliable.
This method basically involves drinking more water to increase urine formation and consequently lead to a lower concentration level of the target drug metabolites in the urine sample.
No, the dilution method is not as easy as slurping a lot of water down your throat. There are several twists to this method including diluted creatinine and specific gravity levels. Here is a guide on how to dilute urine to pass a urine drug test.
How to pass a hair test for opiates
A hair test is hands down, the hardest test that you might ever be subjected to. This is because there’s no other way to pass the test than to strip off most of the drug metabolites that have been entrenched in the hair to below the cutoff level- and this is very hard to do. This means that there is still a very high risk of failing the test even if you last used the drug, say, 2 months ago.
But there are still 2 very popular ways of going around this;
The Macujo method – this is a 7-step method that involves cleaning and rinsing the hair with 4 major components; Heinz vinegar, Clean and Clear, Aloe Toxin Rid Shampoo (old style), and Tide Laundry Detergent.
This method has a very high success rate. Its major drawbacks, however, is that it costs a lot and can also damage your hair since it involves the use of harsh chemicals. Check it out here.
The Jerry G method– this is a cheaper method to the Macujo and also has a very high chance of success if all the steps are followed to the latter. The Jerry G method is very similar to the Macujo only that it has 2 extra steps and involves bleaching and dying of hair. Learn how to use the Jerry G method to pass a hair test for opiates here.
How to pass a swab test for opiates
To pass a saliva test for opiates you’d need to lower the concentration of the drug metabolites in your saliva to below 40ng/ml for Codeine, Hydrocodone, 6-MAM, Morphine, and Hydromorphone and 50ng/ml for methadone.
There are 3 major ways of passing a saliva test; rinsing your mouth thoroughly with water (read more about it here), using hydrogen peroxide, or using a mouthwash such as Listerine as I have explained in this article.