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How Long Does Codeine Stay in Your System?

How Long Does Codeine Stay in Your System?

Several prescription drugs are available for pain relief, with codeine being one of the most sought after.  Codeine is a well-known opiate and its accessibility may cause some to believe that it’s free of risk from addiction or overdose. But is it a safe drug, and how long does codeine stay in your system?

We will explore how your body is affected and how long codeine will stay in your system. Additionally, we’ll also address Tylenol 3, the most common form of codeine that people ingest, and how long Tylenol with codeine stays in your system.

What is Codeine

Codeine is a medication classified as an opiate analgesic and is in the antitussives class of medication. This prescription medication can be delivered in a variety of manners to treat mild to moderate pain. Codeine alters the way that the brain and nervous system respond to pain stimuli. It can also be used to suppress coughing by inhibiting the activity in your brain that controls coughing.

Regardless of the codeine’s delivery, tablet, pill, or otherwise, it is considered a controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The form that codeine comes in does play a part in its Schedule, with codeine sulfate tablets being grouped with Schedule II controlled substances. It’s earned this category due to its addiction potential.

How Your Body Processes Codeine

In order to determine how long codeine stays in your system, we first need to cover how it’s processed through your body. Opioid metabolism occurs in the liver, enabling codeine to reach its target site before it begins its function, and is ultimately eliminated from the body.

The breakdown of codeine creates the end product metabolites. Codeine is converted into mostly codeine-6-glucuronide, with the remaining producing norcodeine and morphine. Morphine is the active ingredient that creates the “high” of elation or euphoria.

The final stage of metabolism is when metabolites are removed from the body through urine. Urine codeine tests are effective in determining codeine use, as they can not only detect the presence of codeine, but codeine-6-glucuronide, norcodeine, and morphine as well.

The half-life (the time required for the body to reduce the drug by half) for codeine is around three hours.  

How Long is Codeine Detectable

To determine the exact time-frame of codeine’s detectability in a person’s body requires several factors to be considered. In order to figure out how long codeine stays in your system, you will need to account for your age, gender, weight, height, hydration, physical activity level, and metabolism. These aspects not only play a part in how fast you metabolize codeine but any drug in your system.

However, the standard is that codeine is detectable for up to two-days since that last use if using a urine test. If the drug test is being used on a chronic user, then detection can occur for up to a week since that last use of the drug.

Different tests have different time-frames that they can accurately determine if codeine has been used, this includes:

Hair Test

Hair follicle tests are best at determining if someone has used codeine between 3-12 weeks since the drug has been used. 

Saliva Test

A saliva test can figure out if someone has ingested codeine within the last four days. However, the accuracy of the test can be affected by a person’s physiology, and some studies have reported that citric acid can lower the registered levels of codeine in the saliva.

Urine Test

Urine tests are an economical choice to determine if someone has used a range of opioids within three days.

Blood Test

Blood tests are less common due to cost and efficiency factors. This test can determine codeine use within 24 hours.

Codeine & Tylenol 3

Tylenol with codeine is most frequently marketed as Tylenol 3. Like regular Tylenol, acetaminophen is in Tylenol 3 but requires a prescription because it is also packaged with codeine. 

Acetaminophen is classified as an analgesic and antipyretic. It’s most commonly used for pain, muscle soreness, and fever treatment. 

The effects of acetaminophen lasts between four to six hours. This means that the half-life of Tylenol stays in your system between two to three hours if you’re a healthy adult. For small children, acetaminophens stay in your system around 1.5 hours before reaching half-life.

Because of the addition of codeine, Tylenol 3 stays in your system with a half-life of 2.5 to 3 hours, meaning that to ease pain, you’ll need another dose every four to six hours.

Tylenol has multiple lines with varying degrees of strength. Tylenol 1 has a strength of 8mg of codeine, while Tylenol 3 has a strength of 30mg. Tylenol 4 contains 60 mg of codeine and is also classified as a Schedule III drug.

Factors That Affect Detection Time

As stated above, figuring out how long codeine stays in your system, which includes brand name drugs such as Tylenol 3, requires an assessment of several personal factors. 


Younger adults metabolize drugs faster than older adults.


Liver and kidney function will greatly affect how fast you can clear a drug from your system.


Whether you’re a chronic user or you’ve taken an exceptionally high dose will play a part in how fast you can fully metabolize a drug.


Your metabolism is the sum of the previous factors, plus any genetic predispositions. 

If you have a fast metabolic rate, processing drugs through your body can be done rapidly.

How To Get Codeine Out of Your System

The main factor in processing codeine out of your system will be your metabolic rate. However, some things might speed up breakdown and excretion.

Before you can expect to clear your body of codeine, you first need to stop any usage. However, before adjusting your medication, you should speak with your doctor. The most common procedure for getting off a drug is by slowly decreasing the dosage over time. 

During the transition, you might switch over to a less addictive alternative. 

To boost your metabolism, which will excrete the drug faster, you will want to adjust your lifestyle. Physical activity, hydration, and diet can all affect your metabolic rate.

Codeine Testing

If you’re looking for a codeine test that you can perform yourself, contact Countrywide Testing. We have opiate testing kits that can produce quick and accurates.