How Far Back Can Urine Test Detect Drugs?

How Far Back Can Urine Test Detect Drugs?


A urine drug screening test can detect the presence of illegal drugs and prescribed medications in the human body. This is the most common method of drug testing, and it is easy, rapid, painless, and cost-effective. Urine analysis is a tool used to determine drug use from a few days to a few weeks, even after the diminished effects of the drug.

Urine drug test can screen alcohol, AMP, BAR, BZO, COC, THC, MAMP, OPI, PCP and its metabolites in the specimen provided.

Table of Contents:

How Far Back Does A Urine Test Go?

Normally, a urine test may detect drugs 3 to 4 weeks after taking the drug. But that is not the usual case. The drugs may also get detected in more than 2 months based on certain factors. The amount of time a drug remains detectable in the urine samples may be impacted by many variables, including:

  • Body weight
  • Donor’s hydration status and fluid balance
  • Acidity level in the urine (pH level)
  • Last drug use
  • Drug type
  • Drug’s half-life
  • Amount of drugs consumed
  • Route of administration
  • Metabolic rate
  • Gender
  • Usage Frequency.

After ingesting a drug, the body metabolically breaks the molecules or changes them to chemical substances for easy elimination from the body.

The ability to metabolize and clear out substances from the body differs among individuals. Therefore, it is difficult to determine exactly how long a drug will remain in the body or how long a drug will be available for detection in a test.

Many drugs can stay in the body system for 2 to 4 days. Weed ingested chronically can remain in the system for 3 to 4 weeks or longer after the last use. Drugs with a long half-life may also remain in the system for an extended period.

Urine Drug Test Detection Times - Alcohol and other Drugs


Detection Period


7-12 hrs


Single Use:  Up to 13 hours

Regular Use:  Up to 45 hours

Heavy Use:  Up to 90 hours


Short-Acting:  24 hours

Long-Acting:  3 weeks


48 hours


Single Use:  1 to 4 days

Heavy Use:  Up to a week


Short-Acting:  3 days

Long-Acting:  30 days


48-72 hours

COC metabolites

2 to 4 days


3 weeks


8 days


1-4 days


3-4 days

Any person can be drug tested for various reasons. For employment purposes, the best way to pass a drug test is to permanently quit drug use. Most employers follow SAMHSA's Drug-Free Workplace Program to maintain productivity and safety.

Abusing drugs and exploring ways to beat a drug test may have short-term success. By doing this, there is a tendency to avoid the real problem of drug dependency/addiction. It may be prudent to get professional help and treatment for drug abuse rather than trying to find a temporary solution.

How far back does a lab urine test go?

Lab Urine tests may detect the drugs within the same time frame, but with utmost accuracy. Lab urine tests may take 2 to 3 days to provide the results, whereas the positive results might take a week. Also, lab urine drug tests are accurate and objective, which gives no space to FALSE POSITIVES. 

Also,  lab-based drug testing follows strict advocacy to the chain of custody where every step of the drug testing process is documented and maintained, and hence it is more accurate, cannot be tampered with, and is efficient. 

Can Sure Jell be detected in a urine drug test?

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most commonly found substance in urine drug test. There are various detox products available in the market to beat a drug test, and Sure Jell is one of the popular brands of fruit pectin among them.

Pectin is a water-soluble fiber obtained from ripe fruits and vegetables, and used in preparing fruit jellies and jams.

THC metabolites stored in the body’s fat become water-soluble when binding with bile. Sure Jell method works by impacting the solubility of the THC metabolites. The fruit pectin attaches to the bile to prevent water-solubility of the THC metabolites and expels the THC metabolites out of the body through defecation instead of urination.

How Sure Jell Method Works

  1. Two days prior to taking urine drug test, one should consume large amounts of water and urinate frequently to help minimize drug toxins in the system.
  2. The night prior to the test and before going to sleep, dissolve a sachet of Sure Jell with one 32-ounce sports drink and drink over the next quarter of an hour.
  3. Next day morning, drink 32 ounces of water roughly 3 hours before the test.
  4. Then 2 hours before the test, repeat step 2. Try to urinate as much as possible.
  5. Then one hour before the test, drink 32 ounces of water, take multivitamins, B2 supplement and finally urinate once more.

It should be noted that the above process requires drinking gallons of water, which will unquestionably dilute the urine and yield better chances of passing a drug test.

There are misconceptions among weed users that the Sure Jell method blocks THC, narcotics or any other drug toxins from getting mixed into the urine. There is neither enough data to support the above theory nor any scientific evidence to support natural detox.

Facts about Sure Jell

  • Fruit pectin is easily digestible
  • Fibers in pectin help bowel movement and expelled through defecation
  • May raise insulin due to sugar content

Misconceptions about how Sure Jell works

  • It doesn’t absorb toxins in the digestive system
  • It doesn’t bind to bile, as some people think
  • It neither coats the stomach nor reach and coat the walls of the bladder

The best advice would be to stop using weed (cannabis) or any other substances at least two weeks before the test to allow the body to detox in a natural way. There have been reports of weed traces in the system after following all the instructions of the above method.

Most importantly, this product does not specify or advertize as detoxifiers or produced to beat a drug test.

Can Synthetic Urine be detected in a drug test?

Though not mandatory, many private employers have adopted a drug-free workplace policy and people find ways to cheat on drug tests for various reasons; namely to retain their jobs, avoid going behind bars or to maintain their reputations.

Synthetic urine use has become more popular over the years to beat a drug test. Synthetic urine or “fake pee” is a created chemical solution (pre-mixed) that mimics the appearance, chemical properties and the composition of human urine. It also contains major elements of natural urine including creatinine, uric acid, urea, ammonia and sulfates. The pH level and specific gravity of synthetic urine is almost identical to the human urine.

How to use Synthetic Urine

  1. The human urine temperature is approximately 36-37 ºC (95-100 ºF), so the synthetic urine should have temperature close to the real urine. Some products come along with heating pad to keep the synthetic urine warm and a temperature strip to display the temperature.
  2. Pouring the synthetic urine into the cup must be done quickly since the temperature drops off quickly.
  3. Concealing the product is more important because there may be physical evaluations before proceeding to provide the sample.
  4. Buying high-quality, fresh products (check batch and expiry date) may broaden the chances of passing the urine drug test since it will be more similar to the natural urine.

Reasons Why Synthetic Urine Won’t Work

  1. Urine Integrity and Adulterant Checks:  Laboratories are well equipped to test for authenticity of the provided urine sample. Standard concentration elements and values may vary beyond the allowable range in fake or adulterated urine specimen compared to human urine.
  2. Secured site and inspection during sample collection:  Carrying any faking products to the collection site is risky. Attempts to carry under the clothes or any other way won’t work if an agency staff member accompanies the donor in the collection room.
  3. Temperature of the Urine:  Fake specimens can be easily discerned because freshly collected urine is a bit warm to the touch. It is almost unimaginable to control the temperature of the fake specimen unless one can sneak in a heating device.

Beating a urine drug test with synthetic urine might look like a reliable option, but smuggling it into the collection room, maintaining it at an optimal temperature and adding it to the specimen cup as quickly as possible isn’t an easy task. There might be risks associated at each level.

Can a drug test detect gender?

In the employment sector, drug tests are done to filter out drug users/abusers and deter drug use in the workplace. Most companies refrain from doing gender-based test since it is more expensive than the normal drug test.

Gender can be determined through gender-based test, which are done in sophisticated labs using comprehensive methods of testing and are quite expensive.

There are differences between male and female urine composition, and a person’s gender can be determined by the presence of foreign substances and hormone levels in the urine sample collected.

Female urine may have the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone produced early in pregnancy. There also may be presence of red blood cells (RBC) if urine sample is collected during menstrual flow.

Men have higher muscle mass than women and may result in a higher amount of creatinine present in the men’s urine. There could also be traces of sperm or pre-ejaculate in urine which may aid in identification of gender.

The blood cells, sex hormones, pH and reproductive cells help in determination of the donor’s gender.

Both male and female urine resembles the same and it is difficult to differentiate just by looking at it or by the color. It is difficult to use other’s urine sample or smuggle in urine specimen to pass a drug test since most of the tests administered are under direct supervision.

The basic drug test uses immunoassay test strips which cannot determine the gender of the donor. Presence of foreign materials and hormonal traces found in the urine specimen helps determine the sex. These hormones are not tested generally and most drug tests do not reveal the donor’s sex.

Drug effects in males and females are almost similar. There can be higher amounts of drug traces found in women because of their physical structure and body weight compared to men. The ability to metabolize alcohol differs in males and females due to variations in the amount and activity of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) enzyme. Men have higher concentrations of ADH that aid in alcohol metabolism, while women produce smaller quantities.

According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, workplace discrimination is illegal including gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy, race, religion, disability, etc. So, it does not make sense for an employer to test for gender in a drug test. Knowing the gender of the donor based on their drug test specimen would also disclose impertinent information.

Can drug tests detect alcohol?

Although alcohol is not evaluated as part of a standard drug test, it can be added if specifically requested. Many companies have started to include alcohol test in their drug testing programs for safety-sensitive employees. The presence of alcohol can be detected via:

  • Breath:  Breathalyzer device is used to measure the blood alcohol content (BAC) in breath. It is the easiest, on-the-spot method to detect recent alcohol use. The detection period depends on the amount of alcohol consumed and alcohol metabolism in the body. It would take about two hours for all the alcohol traces to leave the system for an average person.
  • Saliva:  The presence of ethanol (a byproduct of beer, liquor, wine, etc.) is detected in saliva. Though saliva alcohol test is a bit more expensive than urine tests, it is easy to perform and can detect alcohol ingestion within the past two days.
  • Urine:  There are two types of urine alcohol tests performed:
    • Alcohol in Urine:  Alcohol stays in the human body for about 1 to 3 hours based on the level of consumption. After metabolism, alcohol leaves the body through breath, perspiration, feces and urine. Since alcohol tends to leave the body quickly, it cannot be identified in the urine for very long.
    • EtG Test:  This test looks for the substance, Ethyl Glucuronide (EtG), which is one of the byproducts after metabolism. EtG remains in the body for a long time (about 3 or 4 days) after all the alcohol is gone.

Detection Window for Alcohol

  • Breath : Up to 24 hours
  • Saliva : Up to 8 hours
  • Urine : 12 to 80 hours
  • Hair : Up to 90 days

Blood, urine and hair tests are most frequently used in forensic, civil and legal testing, but infrequently in workplace. Urine tests, in particular, can produce an inaccurate read due to its ability to cross-react with a number of products.

Drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers test their residents on a regular basis to ensure the patients receiving treatment for drug or alcohol abuse stay sober. Random drug tests are done on people who are on probation or parole for any drug or alcohol-related offense to verify sobriety.

Can a drug test detect pregnancy?

Drug testing is screening for one or more illicit substances and/or prescription medications in urine, blood, saliva, hair, breath or sweat. Along with detecting substances, some hormones and steroids are also measured as part of sports testing protocol.

In general, commercial drug tests are optimized to screen major drugs of abuse. They are not designed to detect pregnancy. There is always a fear among women that revealing their pregnancy may lead to denial of job.

If any woman employee or applicant is subjected to drug screen and the employer also runs a pregnancy test without their consent, then it is considered an invasion of privacy. Women employees receiving a physical in the hospital may expect pregnancy screening to occur as well.

Federal law forbids companies regarding discrimination against women because they are pregnant. Companies can refuse to hire if failed a drug test, but not if failed a pregnancy test though most jobs do not require pregnancy check during the hiring process.

Drug test kits are not designed to detect pregnancy, but there have been cases where pregnancy has resulted in false positive. In these rare cases, traces of opiates or methamphetamine were detected through screening.

It is conceived that these false positives are in some way related to hormonal changes that occur in pregnant women. It is advisable that pregnant women taking drug test inform their employer before screening so that they are aware of this possibility. If a drug test results in false positive, one can request a second test. Unfortunately, an employer may deny employment based on false positive result.

How long can a drug test detect weed?

Weed can be found in bodily fluids up to 30 days after last use and detectable in hair for several months. Detection period depends on the frequency and amount of weed ingested. Chronic users who consume higher doses of weed may have longer detection period. Weed metabolites linger long in the system even after the weed effects diminish.

Factors that may influence detection

  • Individual’s body fat
  • THC dosage and frequency of consumption
  • Gender
  • Hydration status
  • Physical exercise
  • Metabolism
  • Drug test sensitivity

Drug tests can detect weed metabolites (THC) in urine, blood and hair for many days after last use and saliva test can detect THC within a few hours.

THC binds with fat in the body, which increases the length of time for individuals to excrete THC completely. Some THC gets stored in organs and fatty tissues temporarily and can be reabsorbed into the bloodstream in the kidneys, excreted in urine and stool.

Weed and its metabolites can be detected through the following drug tests:

Urine Testing:  The most commonly used testing method to detect traces of drugs. Cannabis substances are said to be lipid-soluble chemical that binds to fat molecules in the body. Elimination of THC metabolites completely out of the body depends on the individual’s body habitus and metabolism.

    Following is the detection period for weed after last use:

    • Occasional users (three times a week) : 3 days
    • Moderate users (four times a week) : 5 to 7 days
    • Chronic users (once or twice daily) : 10 to 15 days
    • Chronic heavy users (multiple times a day) : More than 30 days
    Blood Testing:  Weed can be detected in the bloodstream within a few seconds of inhalation. The blood test can detect weed for up to 2 days. Length of time for detection may vary according to the usage, i.e., chronic heavy users may have a longer detection period.
      Saliva Testing:  Traces of weed can be found in the saliva after smoking or ingestion. Oral fluid is used for roadside testing by the police. Weed is detectable in the saliva after its last use:
        • Occasional users : 1 to 3 days
        • Chronic users : 1 to 29 days
        Hair Testing:  Weed can remain in the hairs for up to 90 days. It reaches the hair follicles through small blood vessels. Hair segments taken close to the scalp can provide a window of up to three months.

          There is no way to accurately predict how long the weed may remain in the body. It may take several days to months after last use to get eliminated completely. One can test themselves using home testing kits to ensure elimination of weed from their system.

          Can a drug test detect male or female urine?

          As already discussed above, the male and female urine resembles the same and it is difficult to differentiate just by looking at it or by the color. Urine drug tests will look for drugs, its metabolites and any kind of adulterants added to dilute the urine sample. Since the urine drug testing is a limited invasion of privacy, there are limitations to what can be tested.

          Urinalysis can reveal private information about the donor’s health, but drug testing is just limited to the donor’s recent drug use history as contained within the individual drug testing policy of the requesting agency. Under normal circumstances, there is no need to know the donor’s gender.

          Therefore, it will not be tested for gender unless it is included in the drug testing policy, which would be outside the scope for drug testing. Gender based testings are carried out by sports agencies to screen for illegal drugs and performance enhancing steroids.

          Male and female urine can be differentiated by the presence of foreign materials to include pH, DNA, hormone and reproductive cells in the specimen. This comprehensive testing is quite an expensive process and most companies refrain from doing such tests.

          Can a urine drug test detect age?

          As stated above, most employers would only require the donor’s recent drug use history. Law enforcements may mandate comprehensive tests due to the dangerous jobs involved as well as sports agencies and healthcare where private information like gender, age, pregnancy, etc., may be taken into account.

          Though there is no theory to support if age can be detected via urine test, there are recent research studies stating that a simple urine test can determine the biological age of a person’s body. The study also reports that this information can be used in preventive medicine to determine the risks of a person’s age-related illnesses.

          There are many theories behind why the body ages and at what rate. The recent study states that oxidative damage to cells and tissues causes ageing and that this oxidative biomarker is measurable.

          The study states “as we age, the oxidative damage increases and oxidative marker levels also increase in the body.” Researchers hope the oxidative markers in the urine can be used to predict the development of age-related diseases as well as devise future treatments to slowdown the aging process.

          Final Thoughts

          It should be noted that most employers choose to screen their employees for recent drug use history. One should go through the Drug Testing Policies carefully before giving their consent. Some drug testing policies do require extensive testing that involves risky and safety-sensitive jobs. Knowing drug testing policies relevant to their jobs and staying drug-free would heave a sigh of relief.

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