How Long Does Codeine Stay In Your System? June 17th, 2021 The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake
Blog & News How Long Does Codeine Stay In Your System?

How Long Does Codeine Stay In Your System?

A bottle pouring cough syrup into a spoon with a white background

Codeine is an analgesic drug in the opioid family typically prescribed for the relief of mild to moderate pain. It is also used for cough suppression, diarrhea, and other secondary treatments. Codeine is commonly combined with other medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol 3 with Codeine) or the anti-nausea drug promethazine (Phenergan with Codeine).

Those taking the drug may wonder, how long does the codeine remain in my body? To understand this, let’s look at how the body processes codeine and how different tests can detect its presence in your system:

How Codeine is Processed

Like many medications, codeine is metabolized by the liver upon ingestion. The half-life of codeine is 2.5 to 4 hours. The “half-life” describes how long it takes the body to process half of the ingested drug in the blood’s plasma.

Like many opiates, codeine is processed relatively quickly by the body. Nearly 90% of the substance is eliminated via the kidneys in urine within the first 24 hours. That said, trace amounts of the medication can remain in your system for longer and be detected with drug testing.

How Long is Codeine Detectable

How long codeine is detectable in a person’s system can vary by person and situation. Several factors can affect this, including:

  • The amount of the drug taken.
  • Which formulation of codeine is consumed.
  • Length of codeine use.
  • Consumption of other medication or drugs.
  • The individual’s metabolism.
  • Hydration and activity levels.
  • Age, liver and kidney health, and other physiological factors.

For example, particularly large doses or prolonged use may extend the amount of time the drug is in your system. While exact times may vary, below are typical estimates for how long codeine is detectable, listed by the testing methodology.

How long is codeine detectable in urine?

As noted above, codeine is eliminated from the body fairly quickly by the kidneys. On average, the substance remains present in urine for 1-2 days.

How long does codeine show up in saliva?

Codeine can show up in saliva drug tests in as few as 15 minutes. Typically, the drug will fall below beneath testable levels in 1-2 days.

How long does codeine stay in blood?

Due to its short half-life, codeine is typically detectable in the blood for only 1 day. As such, it is not as commonly used for testing as other methods.

How long is codeine detectable in hair?

A hair follicle test can detect codeine for up to 90 days. The effectiveness of hair testing depends on hair length and heaviness of drug use. However, unlike other testing methods, it can take 1 to 3 weeks for the drug to show up following initial ingestion.

Codeine Abuse

Despite its legitimate medical uses, codeine also carries a risk for abuse and addiction. Like many painkillers, it can cause physical dependence, and medications containing codeine have faced increasing restrictions in the pharmaceutical industry.

If you or someone you love is struggling with opiates like codeine, please reach out today for assistance. Our expert, caring staff is ready to help you.


MedlinePlus. “Codeine.” U.S. National Library of Medicine. 15 April 2016. Accessed 13 June 2016.

Toxicology Data Network. “Codeine.” U.S. National Library of Medicine. 23 August 2005. Accessed 13 June 2016.[email protected]+3043

PubChem Compound Database. “Compound Summary for CID 5284371: Codeine.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. 11 June 2016. Accessed 13 June 2016.v

Smith, H. S.”Opioid Metabolism.” Mayo Clinic Proceedings. July 2009. Accessed 13 June 2016.v

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a 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 provider.