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How Long Do Drugs Stay in Your Body

W. Nate Upshaw, MD

W. Nate Upshaw, MD

Dr. William Nathan Upshaw is the Medical Director of NeuroSpa TMS®. Since receiving training from the inventor of TMS Therapy nearly a decade ago, Dr. Upshaw has been a pioneer, champion and outspoken advocate of TMS Therapy. Dr. Upshaw’s holistic experience in the field has transformed him into Florida’s leading advocate for widespread accessibility to TMS Therapy.

About Dr. Upshaw

There are many factors that affect how long drugs stay in your system, such as your age, weight, overall health, and the dose of the drug. Whether a drug is legal or illicit isn’t one of those factors, and some legal drugs can stay in the body for far longer than many illicit drugs.

Drugs can be detected in your system from their original substance or the chemical products released when processed by the body. It’s these metabolites that are most often detected in drug screens. Drugs vary on how long they stay detectable, and there are many factors that affect the length of time, including:

  • Metabolism and body weight
  • Kind of test (blood, breath, swab/saliva, urine, follicle/hair)
  • Drug, potency, and dose
  • Medical conditions—for example, kidney and liver disease significantly slow down the body’s ability to process drugs

Depression and Substance Abuse

The relationship between depression and substance abuse is complex. It’s most accurate to say that in some cases, drug addiction aggravates psychological disorders a person already has. Many people abuse substances to self-medicate depression, anxiety, or other psychological disorders. Drugs of abuse work by increasing dopamine production in the brain. Dopamine is responsible for pain suppression, the brain’s reward system, and feelings of pleasure, among many other things. The release of dopamine can provide a brief, artificial lift to a person’s mood, but that lift doesn’t last.

Over time, the brain’s dopamine-producing tissues become fatigued and produce less and less, leaving a person worse off than at the onset of their drug use. Essentially, drug abuse may temporarily and briefly relieve depression, but it also makes rebound depression even worse.

People often use drugs to cope with problems they don’t know how to manage. Alcohol is commonly abused for this reason.

Can Drugs Cause Anxiety and Depression?

Anxiety and depression usually exist without drug abuse or addiction. However, it’s entirely possible for a person to have anxiety or depression at the same time as a drug abuse or addiction disorder.

Long-term drug abuse and substance addiction can cause impairments in the way the brain functions, which may lead to anxiety and depression. Stimulants like amphetamines, methamphetamine, and cocaine are particularly known to aggravate anxiety, while alcohol and opioids worsen depression.

Drug abuse can make pre-existing depression and anxiety worse, both by further impairing a person’s neurological health and harming one’s ability to make good decisions.

One medication-free treatment that produces lasting results is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). TMS is a painless, non-invasive procedure using magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression. TMS has become a great option for treatment, as it’s become widely available and is covered by most insurance providers. TMS is FDA-cleared and free of side effects.

 

This blog post is meant to be educational in nature and does not replace the advice of a medical professional. See full disclaimer.

Works Cited

Bhandari, S. (n.d.). 7 types of drugs & medications that can cause anxiety. Retrieved March 29, 2021, from https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/anxiety-causing-meds

Geisner, I. M., Mallett, K., & Kilmer, J. R. (2012, May). An examination of depressive symptoms and drinking patterns in first year college students. Retrieved March 29, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3654787/

Smith, J. C. (n.d.). Workplace drug testing. Retrieved March 29, 2021, from http://www.datia.org/datia-resources/27-credentialing/cpc-and-cpct/931-workplace-drug-testing.html#q5

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