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How Long Does Codeine Stay In Your System?

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

May 29, 2019

Codeine is an opioid medication most commonly used to treat mild to moderate pain. It is also used as a cough suppressant. Codeine typically stays in the system for around three days. How long codeine is detectable in a person’s body is dependent on a number of factors, including the person’s health and the amount of codeine used.

Codeine is a common opioid prescription medication used as a cough suppressant and in the treatment of mild to moderate pain. This drug typically stays in the body for three to four days after the last dose is taken.

Codeine is available in a number of different forms, including as a cough syrup and as tablets. It is also available in combination with acetaminophen, which is commonly referred to as Tylenol 3. This drug is highly abused due to its euphoric effects and how relatively easy it is to obtain compared to other opioids.

This opioid is milder compared to other drugs in its class. However, as a Schedule II substance, codeine still comes with the potential for abuse and addiction.

There are several factors that contribute to how long codeine is detectable in a person’s system. These include both personal factors and how often and how much a person uses codeine.

How Long Codeine Is Detectable In The System By Test

There are a number of different tests used to detect codeine and other opioids in the system. The most common test used is a urine drug test. Each method varies as to how long it can detect this drug in a person’s body.

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The following are the most common drug tests used to detect codeine in the system and their detection window:

  • Urine — two to four days
  • Blood — up to 24 hours
  • Hair — up to 90 days
  • Saliva — one to four days

The detection windows for each test are only general estimates and will vary from person to person.

Factors That Influence How Long Codeine Is Detectable In The Body

There are a variety of factors that can affect the length of time that codeine is detectable in a person’s system. Many of these factors are individual, meaning that the detection times can vary greatly from person to person.

Common factors that influence codeine’s detection time include:

  • urinary pH
  • liver and kidney function
  • genetics
  • hydration levels
  • dosage and frequency of use
  • height
  • age
  • body fat
  • additional drug use
  • the half-life of codeine

In general, people who are younger and in better health will metabolize codeine faster than those who are older or unhealthy. Additionally, long-term codeine use will likely cause the drug to stay in the system longer.

Getting Treatment For Codeine Abuse And Addiction

Codeine is an addictive substance that can be easily abused. Abusing codeine increases the risk of dependence and addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling with codeine addiction, formal treatment may be recommended.

A formal treatment program will likely include a medically supervised detox program as well as inpatient or residential treatment. Inpatient programs are often considered the most successful approach to treating a substance use disorder.

Many inpatient programs offer customized plans for recovery to meet each patient’s needs. These plans may include various forms of therapy as well as medication-assisted treatment.

To learn more about how long codeine is detectable in a person’s system, contact a treatment specialist today.

National Institutes of Health - Opioid drugs in patients with liver disease

U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Codeine

VeryWell Mind - How Long Does Tylenol #3 Stay in Your System?

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