How long do drugs stay in your system?

Here, we explore how long drugs can stay in your system, and outline advice if you're struggling with drug addiction.

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How long do drugs stay in your system?

If left unchecked, occasional drug use can quickly spiral into a serious addiction. According to drug use statistics, around 7% of UK adults have taken a Class A drug, with over 18,000 hospitalisations recorded due to drug misuse. The brief high that drugs provide is often, over time, replaced with a tolerance that can lead to a harmful dependency.

If you’ve recently taken drugs, or know someone who has, you might be in need of information about how long that drug will stay in yours, or their, system. In this piece, we’ll provide information on how long various drugs stay in your body and what factors impact that timeframe.

We’ll also provide information on drug addiction, including the signs of drug dependency to look out for, and what longer-term effects drugs can have on the body.

How long will a drug stay in my body?

The table below provides an estimation on how long drugs will typically stay in your system. Bear in mind, depending on a number of factors, these timelines may be different for different people and their individual circumstances.

Note: The information below comes from Drugs and Alcohol Information and Support Ireland, but is only a general guide. Other sources may provide different timeframes.


In Blood

In Urine


10-12 hours

3-5 days


12 hours

1-3 days


1-2 days

2-4 days


2-3 days

3-6 weeks


2 weeks

7-30 days


1-2 days

3-4 days


12 hours

1 day


12 hours

3-4 days


2-3 hours

1-3 days

MDMA (ecstasy)

1-2 days

3-4 days

Methamphetamine (crystal meth)

1-3 days

3-6 days


24-36 hours

3-4 days


6-8 hours

2-3 days

It should also be noted that, in addition to blood and urine tests, drugs can also be detected in your hair. When drugs become present in your bloodstream, they can make their way to any part of your body, including your hair via hair cells. In this case, drugs can stay in your system for as long as 90 days after consumption.

What affects how long drugs stay in my body?

The information above should only be used as a general guide to how long drugs can stay in your system. This is because a variety of different factors can impact how long drugs stay in your body. Here are a few of the key factors:

Amount consumed and frequency of use

How heavily you use the drug can have a big impact on how long it stays in your system. On a one-use basis, a drug may only be in your system for a short period of time. But extensive use, either in one go or consistently taken over a long period, can lead to higher concentrations of the drug in your body – leading to the drug staying in your body over a much longer period.

General tolerance

If you've built up a tolerance to the drug with regular consumption, it can metabolise more quickly in your body. This leads to a shorter period of time in your system.

Alcohol consumption

If you drink alcohol at the same time as consuming drugs, it can lead to the drug staying in your system for longer.

Weight and metabolism

Your weight can impact how long drugs stay in your system. If you have a higher level of body fat, you’ll generally find that drugs stay in your system for longer. The metabolites (what your body breaks the drugs down into), can accumulate in your fatty tissues, leading to a longer duration in the body.

When does it become drug addiction?

Depending on the drug involved, the signs that your drug use may have tipped into a dangerous dependency and addiction, will be different. As well as consuming the drug on a regular basis, there are a few key signs and symptoms of drug addiction that could indicate you have an issue that needs addressing:

Psychological signs of addiction

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Feeling nervous and ‘on edge’
  • Increased temper and irritability, leading to angry outbursts

Behavioural and social signs of addiction

  • Avoiding contact with family and friends, leading to social isolation
  • Finding that you only tend to spend time with other drug users
  • Prioritising drugs over other activities
  • Continued drug use, even after experiencing negative repercussions from previous use
  • Spending a large amount of time acquiring and using drugs, and attempting to recover from their effects

Physical symptoms of addiction

  • Weight gain or loss due to increased or reduced appetite
  • Feeling clammy and sweating excessively in the absence of physical exertion
  • Headaches caused by dehydration
  • Experiencing an increased tolerance to the drug – finding that you need to take more and more of the drug in order to experience the desired effects
  • Experiencing bruises, scabs, scars, infections and other skin problems as a result of injecting drugs

These symptoms can occur in addition to a number of long-term effects of drug use on the body.

When should I get help for drug abuse?

Any drug use could have very serious consequences for your health and wellbeing, so if you need help to stop or would like more information, professional help is available. With the right support, you can move past your struggles with substance misuse and lead a much more rewarding, healthier way of life.

At Priory, we have the very best in-house expertise, helping people to recover from the challenges of drug addiction. With our help for drug addiction, there's every reason that you'll be able to overcome your dependence on drugs and get your life back on track.

We deliver an intensive 28-day addiction treatment programme on an inpatient (residential) basis, consisting of group therapy and individual therapy when needed. Within our comfortable facilities, we use therapeutic techniques that are highly effective for addiction, trauma, stress, depression and anxiety. We also provide a family support programme for friends and loved ones, as well as a weekly aftercare group, allowing you to meet many former patients who have turned their life around after using our treatment methods.

You’ll also benefit from 24-hour support from highly qualified professionals, as well as a medically assisted detoxification programme. This will help you to safely come off the drug whilst managing your withdrawal symptoms, helping you to become physically stable and ready for therapy. In addition, we offer free aftercare for 12 months following treatment.

Page clinically reviewed by Sarina Wheatman (Emotional Freedom Technique Master Practitioner (EFT), Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals (FDAP) NCAC)

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