How Long Do Anabolic Steroids Stay In System? Drug Test

Last Updated: June 10, 2020

Authored by Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

Anabolic steroids are drugs with legitimate medical applications but are more well-known for their use as a performance-enhancing agent in sports. Steroid drug tests are frequently administered by sports authorities that ban their use. Anyone using them or considering starting anabolic steroids should know how long steroids stay in the system.

How Long Do Anabolic Steroids Stay In One’s System?

For anyone who is using AAS steroids as a performance-enhancing drug, passing drug tests is likely to be a major concern. The first thing an athlete needs to know about passing steroid drug tests is how long the drugs remain present in the system.

One way to talk about how long steroids stay in the body is the half-life of the medication. This is how long it takes the concentration of the AAS to reach 50 percent in the blood plasma, indicating roughly how long it will take for it to be fully eliminated as well as giving the user an idea as to how long the substance will show up on a drug screening. The half-life of AAS medications varied widely, with those of some commonly used AAS medications being as follows:

Up to 8 Hours – Primobolan tablets (4 to 6 hours)
– Andriol testosterone undecanoate (8 hours or less)
– Dianabol oral (6 to 8 hours)
– Halotestin (6 to 8 hours)
– Winstrol tablets (8 hours)
9-12 Hours – Anavar (8 to 12 hours)
13-16 Hours – Anadrol (16 hours or less)
2-3 Days – Masteron propionate (2 to 3 days)
– Trenbolone (2 to 3 days)
– Winstrol Depot injectable (48 hours)
– Dianabol injectable (60-72 hours)
4-9 Days – Equipoise (7 to 9 days)
– Masteron enanthate (8 days)
More Than 10 Days – Primobolan Depot injectable (10 to 14 days)
– Deca Durabolin (14 to 16 days)

However, these are merely the half-lives of the various medications. Once the half-life point is reached, AAS are still in the system.

do steroids show up on drug test

Do Steroids Show Up On Drug Tests?

The answer to this question is a little nuanced. Steroids do show up on drug tests—but not all drug tests.

The standard drug screening administered by employers and also available in at-home kits for parents and loved ones to use is a 12-panel drug test. These tests look for the presence of commonly abused street drugs and medications that are used to get high. Steroids do not show up on a standard 12-panel drug test because they are not used to get high.

Steroid drug tests look for metabolites that are produced by the medications. These tests can look for AAS substances alone or seek evidence of the use of performance-enhancing drugs in general, including various supplements and other medications.

It is important to note that there is legitimate anabolic steroid medical use even in athletes. If an athlete has a valid prescription for the substance they are using and a documented medical condition, the sports authority testing them should not be able to take action against them legally. However, that does not mean they will not try.

Common Steroid Detectability Times

The range of detectability times starts with as little as a few days and can go as far as 18 months after the last use of the substance, depending on various factors.

Given that urine screening is the most common, those are the detectability times users should focus on. Detectability timeframes for the AAS medicines most commonly looked for in steroid drug tests are as follows:

Up to One Week – Andriol
– Testosterone Suspension (No Ester)
– Clenbuterol
Up to One Month – Anavar
– Winstrol (Oral)- Masteron Propionate
– Testosterone Propionate
– HCG
– Arimidex
More Than One Month – Anadrol
– Dianabol- Halotestin
– Primobolan
– Winstrol Depot
– Equipoise
– Masteron Enanthate
– Deca Durabolin
– Trenbolone
– Testosterone
– Acetate
– Testosterone Cypionate
– Testosterone Enanthate
– Clomid
– Nolvadex

Factors That Influence Steroid Detection Time

There are many variables that can alter the detectability timeline of medication, and steroids have more at play than most. Here are some of the factors that can determine how long steroids stay in the system and are detectable.

  • The Particular Type of AAS: Some AAS drugs fully clear the body in just a day or so while others can linger on for months. This is a matter of how easily the drug is metabolized.
  • Designer Or Standard: While many athletes go for the standard options due to steroid prices, designer AAS are made to be harder to detect. In some cases, they cannot be detected at all, making detection time a moot point.
  • The Test Used: Some steroids are easily detectable in all steroids drug test types. Others are only easy to see in the hair and blood, or urine and hair. Depending on the test used, the detection window may be very small.
  • Dosing And Length Of Use: The higher the dose taken and the longer the medication has been used, the more likely it is that they will show up on steroids drug test.
  • Method Of Ingestion: Oral steroids are processed faster by the body than injected ones. As such, injected steroids will have a larger window of detectability.
  • Fat Solubility: AAS drugs are lipids, which means that are fat-soluble. This means they are pulled into the fat stores of the body, making it easier for the fat to hold onto the metabolites for months in some cases—even over a year with those like Deca Durabolin.

All these variables mean that passing steroid drug tests takes a lot of planning and researching the drugs being considered. It is very easy to make a mistake and end up failing an important drug screening.

how long do steroids stay in your body

Steroid Drug Tests: Tricking Tactics Used By Abusers

For many athletes, the desire to do better and be better drives them towards steroid use. But this then puts them in a very difficult spot. If they test positive for use without a legitimate prescription for them, everything they are working for can be lost. That’s why athletes worry about getting a positive results on a drug test.

The first thing to note is that stopping steroids abruptly is not the correct solution. Not only can it be dangerous, but depending on the drug being used, it most likely will not do any good.

Given what steroids do and how they act on the body, the two methods most likely used by anabolics abusers are using fake urine designed to pass a drug screening, and someone else’s clean urine. However, both are difficult since medical technicians are usually present during these tests.

Another option some use is bladder loaded, where they use a catheter to put someone else’s urine in the bladder to get away with the swap in front of the medical technician. However, this is incredibly dangerous. The user is likely to end up with an infection, possibly one severe enough to derail their athletic career.

Finally, steroid masking agents were once a popular way to hide their use. However, most steroid drug tests now look for these as well.

Stay Steroid-Free

Steroids may not be addictive in the same way that many other drugs are, but users can feel dependent upon them and fear life without them. Drug rehabilitation centers can help athletes stop AAS use and live healthier. With the right substance abuse treatment, their performance will not suffer and their life as a whole will be better.


Page Sources

  1. Steroids and Other Appearance and Performance Enhancing Drugs (APEDs). NAtional Institute on Drug Abuse. 2018. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/steroids-other-appearance-performance-enhancing-drugs-apeds/how-are-anabolic-steroids-tested-in-athletes.
  2. Yuan X., Forman B. M. Detection of designer steroids. Nuclear Receptor Signaling. 2005; 3: e002. doi:10.1621/nrs.03002. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1402217/.
  3. Drug Detection Windows. Virginia Department of Mines Minerals and Energy. https://www.dmme.virginia.gov/dm/SubstanceAbuse/DrugFreeWorkplace.pdf.

Published on: August 16th, 2019

Updated on: June 10th, 2020

About Author

Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

After successful graduation from Boston University, MA, Sharon gained a Master’s degree in Public Health. Since then, Sharon devoted herself entirely to the medical niche. Sharon Levy is also a certified addiction recovery coach.

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