How Long Does Codeine Stay in Your System?

Codeine is a prescription opioid drug used to relieve pain or suppress coughing. Its short half-life might prompt people to use more codeine or use it more often, but misusing such opioids can lead to serious side effects or addiction.

Last Edited:

01/02/2022

Medical Reviewer:

Dr. Tasnova Malek

Clinically Reviewed:

10/07/2021

Codeine is a prescription opioid drug that can alleviate pain. The drug also works as a cough suppressant.

It’s also an opioid drug that can be highly addictive. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), children under the age of 18 shouldn’t use codeine because it can slow breathing and lead to overdoses, addiction, and death.

Regardless of their age, people might ask, How long does codeine last? because they wonder just how it could affect their bodies.

 

How long does codeine stay in your system?

Actually, codeine drug tests indicate that the drug doesn’t linger long in the body. It’s a drug with a relatively short half-life.

A half-life is the amount of time it takes for half the concentrated amount of a drug to leave the bloodstream. For codeine:

  • The half-life is around 2.9 hours
  • It reaches its pain-relieving peak within two hours after a person ingests it.
  • Its pain-relieving properties last from four to six hours.

While codeine’s effects occur quickly, they also fade quickly. People might experience quick withdrawals from the drug, so they might take larger or more frequent doses to stop the symptoms of withdrawal and pain. This can lead to codeine abuse and addiction.

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How long does codeine stay in your urine?

Because the codeine half-life is so short, people might ask, How long is codeine detectable in urine? The answer is, not very long.

According to screenings, the codeine drug test detection time is:

  • 20 to 39 hours if people consume a 25 milligram dose of codeine.
  • 30 to 52 hours if people take 50 milligrams of codeine.

Does codeine show up in a drug test? Yes, but the body metabolizes codeine quickly and it won’t show up on such screenings for long.

This doesn’t mean that codeine is safe, however. Taking too much, using it too often, or consuming it with alcohol or other drugs can be dangerous, even fatal. People might experience changes in their breathing or heart rates, be agitated, or have seizures, among other side effects.

Codeine can be a valuable tool, but people must use it properly.

Sources

  • fda.govFDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA Requires Labeling Changes for Prescription Opioid Cough and Cold Medicines to Limit Their Use to Adults 18 Years and Older
  • accessdata.fda.gov – Fioricet® with codeine C-III
  • pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.govUrine and Plasma Pharmacokinetics of Codeine in Healthy Volunteers: Implications for Drugs-of-Abuse Testing
  • medlineplus.gov – Codeine

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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