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How Long Does Fentanyl Stay in Your System?

Last Updated: February 5, 2024

Editorial Policy | Research Policy

Fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid, is widely used for treating severe pain but also carries a high potential for misuse. Understanding how it works and how long it stays in one’s system is vital, especially for those seeking to break free from its grip. 

Article at a Glance

  • Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid used in severe pain management but has high misuse potential due to its potency.
  • The length of time fentanyl stays in the body depends on the type of fentanyl used, method of use, individual metabolism rates and type of drug test.
  • Fentanyl comes in different forms such as lozenges, patches, injections and illicit pills. The method of use influences how quickly the body absorbs and eliminates the drug.
  • Individual metabolism rates, determined by factors like age, weight, overall health and genetic factors, can influence how quickly fentanyl is metabolized and expelled.
  • Various types of drug tests, including blood, saliva, urine and hair tests, have different detection windows for fentanyl.
  • Blood tests can detect fentanyl within a few minutes of use but it leaves the bloodstream within hours.
  • Saliva tests can detect fentanyl from 1 hour after use to 1 to 4 days. Urine tests can detect fentanyl from 24 hours to 3 days after the last use.
  • Hair tests can detect fentanyl up to 3 months (90 days) after last use.
  • Seeking professional treatment, including medication-assisted treatment and behavioral therapies, combined with support from family and community, is key to recovery from fentanyl use.

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid prescribed by doctors to manage severe pain, particularly after surgery or for those suffering from chronic pain. It is about 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Unfortunately, because of its potency, it has high potential for misuse and is frequently associated with cases of opioid addiction and overdose. Every day, more than 150 people die from a fentanyl overdose.

How Long Does Fentanyl Stay in the System?

A common question when considering treatment for fentanyl use or when undergoing medical evaluations is, “How long does fentanyl stay in the body?” The answer depends on several factors, including the type of fentanyl used, the method of use, individual metabolism rates and the type of drug test used.

Factors Affecting the Presence of Fentanyl

  • Type and Method of Fentanyl Use: Fentanyl comes in various forms such as lozenges, patches, injections and illicitly produced pills. The way the drug is consumed affects how quickly it is absorbed and eliminated by the body.
  • Individual Metabolism: People have unique metabolic rates. Factors such as age, weight, overall health and genetic factors can impact how quickly fentanyl is metabolized and eliminated.
  • Type of Drug Test: Different drug tests have different detection windows for fentanyl. Blood and saliva tests tend to detect the drug for a shorter period than urine or hair tests.

Fentanyl Detection Times

While the specific detection times can vary based on the factors above, the following gives a general idea:

Blood testsFentanyl can be detected in the blood within a few minutes of use. However, it typically leaves the bloodstream within hours, making detection after about 3 to 12 hours difficult.
Saliva testsThese tests may detect fentanyl up to 36 hours, depending on the specifics of the test and the frequency of fentanyl use.
Urine testsFentanyl and its metabolites are often detected in urine. The window of detection can range from 24 hours to 3 days after last use, but this can be extended in regular or heavy use.
Hair testsHair testing has the longest detection window. It can detect fentanyl for up to 3 months (90 days) after the last use.

Fentanyl Addiction Treatment Options

Treatment options for fentanyl addiction have been developed to address the growing opioid crisis, which includes the misuse of prescription opioids, heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl and its analogs. These treatment methods aim to help individuals overcome their addiction to opioids and include several approved medications and a variety of behavioral therapies. Combining therapy and counseling with medication has been shown to enhance the effectiveness of treatment.

Medication

Medications such as buprenorphine (which can be administered alone or in combination with naloxone, as in Suboxone) and methadone are opioid receptor agonists and are the gold standard for treating fentanyl addiction. They work by activating the same receptor system that fentanyl interacts with, helping to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Another medication, naltrexone, is an alternative to opioids. It is used after detoxification and is known as an opioid antagonist. It binds to opioid receptors but blocks fentanyl from producing its effects, thereby helping to prevent relapse.

Therapy

Behavioral therapies are an integral part of fentanyl addiction treatment, helping individuals change their thought patterns and behaviors related to fentanyl use, develop better coping mechanisms and effectively respond to triggers that may lead to relapse. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the most recognized of these therapies, and it has been proven effective in treating fentanyl addiction. These comprehensive treatment approaches aim to provide individuals with the tools they need to achieve and maintain recovery from fentanyl addiction.

Seek Professional Treatment for Fentanyl Use at The Recovery Village Atlanta

If you are concerned about a drug test finding fentanyl in your system, this could be a sign that you may need help quitting the drug. The Recovery Village Atlanta believes that the best way to help you overcome your fentanyl addiction is to support you every step of the way: from detox to cleanse your system of fentanyl, through rehab to help you learn how to live a fentanyl-free life. Don’t wait: contact a Recovery Advocate today to see how we can help.

Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Fentanyl Facts.” June 27, 2023. Accessed July 22, 2023.

American Society of Addiction Medicine. “National Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder.” December 18, 2019. Accessed July 22, 2023.

Gryczynski, Jan; Schwartz, Robert P; Mitchell, Shannon D; et al. “Hair Drug Testing Results and Self-reported Drug Use among Primary Care Patients with Moderate-risk Illicit Drug Use.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, May 17, 2014. Accessed July 22, 2023.

LabCorp. “Drug Test Summary for Urine Oral Fluid and Hair.” Accessed July 22, 2023.

ARUP Laboratories. “Drug Plasma Half-Life and Urine Detection Window.” September 2022. Accessed July 22, 2023.