Drug Detection Time
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The question of how long after the inclusion of a substance it can be determined is both of analytical and forensic interest. A whole series of parameters is playing a role:

  • The sensitivity of the method, which ultimately determines the physical detection limit. For non-specific methods is the Cut-Off value must be observed.
  • The concentration of the substance in the body. This depends on the amount of substance uptake, the body mass,the distribution factor and the frequency of consumption.
  • The half-life of the substance or its metabolites in vivo.
  • The kind of investigation materials (blood rsp. serum, urine or hair samples) and possibly the kind of storage and stabilization.

Regarding the expected drug levels in the samples it has to be differ between a normal only once consumption, a long-term consumption and a single overdose, leading to intoxication.

The following table provides an overview. For details, see the description of the individual drugs.

Drug Blood Urine Hair
Benzodiazepines 12-96 h
(dependending on substances)
1-8 days  
One time consumption a few hours
permanent consumption some weeks
3-4 days,
permanent consumption >30 days
6-12 month
at 6 cm hair length
Cocaine 1-1,5 hr
metabolites several hrs
metabolite 3-5 days 6 month
at 6 cm hair length
2 hrs
as morphine
1-4 days 6 month
at 6 cm hair length
7 - 30 hrs (dependending on substances) 1-3 days 6 month
at 6 cm hair length

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Last modification (M-D-Y): 02/08/2019 - IMPRINT - FAQ