How Long Does Fentanyl Stay In Your System?
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Last Updated - 10/28/2022View our editorial policy
Fentanyl is one of the most potent opioids medically available in the United States. Prescribed to treat severe pain, its analgesic effects can help a person struggling to get their pain under control. It is also misused illicitly and is sometimes mixed into other substances. But how long fentanyl lasts and how long it stays in your body can vary based on several factors. For this reason, it is important to know what elements determine how long fentanyl stays in your system.
How Long Do the Effects of Fentanyl Last?
Fentanyl comes in several different formulations, and the drug can last different lengths of time depending on which formulation is used. This is important because the duration of fentanyl’s effects often impacts how many doses per day a doctor prescribes for you.
|Fentanyl dosage form
|Duration of effect
|Injectable (given in hospitals only)
|30 to 60 minutes
|72 to 96 hours
The half-life of a drug refers to how long half of a dose lasts in your body before it is eliminated. In the case of fentanyl, the liver is the main place where fentanyl breaks down using an enzyme called CYP3A4. The drug is then removed from the body in the urine.
Fentanyl’s half-life varies depending upon the dosage form used. Generally, it takes five half-lives to remove a drug from your system completely. Therefore, half-lives can help you predict how long traces of fentanyl may remain in your body.
|Fentanyl dosage form
|3.2 to 6.4 hours
|2.6 to 11.7 hours
|5 to 13.5 hours
|5.3 to 12 hours
|15 to 25 hours
|20 to 27 hours
In the case of a fentanyl lozenge, a half-life of up to 6.4 hours means that traces of the drug would remain in your system for up to 32 hours, or roughly five half-lives.
Does Fentanyl Show Up on a Drug Test?
Fentanyl shows up on some drug tests. However, the drug does not readily show up on many standard drug tests, and special, fentanyl-specific tests need to be ordered. This is due to fentanyl’s chemistry. As a synthetic, or lab-made, opioid, it has slightly different biochemistry compared to many other opioids like morphine or heroin.
Fentanyl is detectable in blood and plasma (the liquid component of blood) for anywhere between three and 12 hours after the last dose. Fentanyl’s breakdown product norfentanyl is also detectable for nine and ten hours.
Fentanyl and its breakdown product norfentanyl are detectable in urine for up to three days after the last dose.
A 1.5-inch hair sample can show if any fentanyl was used within the previous 90 days.
Fentanyl is detectable in saliva for up to two days after the last dose.
Factors That Affect Fentanyl Detection Times
Fentanyl may have different detection times in different people. This is because multiple factors can influence the tests, including:
- Fentanyl dose: A higher dose may be detectable for a longer time than a smaller dose.
- Frequency of fentanyl administration: If you take fentanyl more often, it may be detectable for longer than if you take it only occasionally.
- Fentanyl formulation: Taking a fentanyl formulation with a long half-life like transdermal fentanyl may keep the drug detectable in your system longer than a formulation with a shorter half-life.
- Age: Older people tend to eliminate fentanyl from their systems slower than younger people.
- Kidney function: People with kidney problems often clear fentanyl from their systems more slowly than people with healthy kidneys.
- Drug interactions: Medications that impact CYP3A4, the main enzyme that breaks down fentanyl, may make the drug last shorter or longer than expected.
Fentanyl Addiction Treatment & Detox in Colorado
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