How long does Heroin stay in your system?

Effects of heroin use – heroin addiction 

Heroin is a highly addictive opioid drug derived from morphine; heroin users often inject, snort, or smoke the drug. With the dose of street heroin being difficult to determine, there is a higher risk of overdose. 

Heroin can remain active in the bloodstream for up to 12 hours, and it often takes about 24 hours before heroin leaves the body completely.

Heroin carries a high risk of addiction and potential for substance abuse. 

Learn more about heroin withdrawal and treatment programs.

Life of heroin – drug testing detection times in your body

A drug test or drug screening can detect heroin in a user’s system even once the user has stopped taking the drug. Heroin can be detected for varying time frames depending on the test. The timeframes to detect the illicit drug are as follows:

  • Blood: up to 6 hours
  • Saliva: up to 24 hours
  • Urine: up to 3 days
  • Hair: up to 90 days

Heroin’s half-life

A drug’s half-life is half the time required for the drug’s initial concentration to be reduced by 50%.

Heroin has a very short half-life of only 3-6 minutes—the amount of time it takes for half a dose of heroin to leave one’s body. During this time, heroin is metabolized to 6-acetyl morphine. 

Heroin drug tests and false positives

Testing for heroin is commonly conducted through urine and blood testing; factors that affect the testing results can include the level of exposure and how long the user has been consuming heroin, influencing the time heroin stays in your system. It is likely that a chronic user will show the use of the recreational drug for a longer period.

Approximate detection times for each test are as follows:

Blood testing

Blood tests can detect heroin up to 6 hours following ingestion. Initial detection of heroin in the blood can be seen promptly after ingestion. 

Saliva drug tests

Saliva test samples detect high levels of heroin metabolite up to 24 hours following ingestion. 

Testing hair follicles

Heroin can be detectable in hair follicle test samples for the longest period of up to 90 days following ingestion. 

Urine tests

Heroin has a detection window in urine tests for up to 3 days following ingestion. 

Factors that determine how long heroin stays in the system

There is a range of circumstances that influence how much heroin is in a person’s body at any given time.

Heroin abusers who take high doses for a long period of time result in a build-up of the drug in their fatty tissue where it will be stored. Users who also have a high intake of varying drugs and alcohol may take longer than average to remove the drug from their bodies.

  • Age
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Basal metabolic rate
  • Liver and kidney function
  • Body mass index (BMI) & body fat content 
  • Hydration level
  • Quantity of heroin consumed
  • Duration of consumption

Risks of heroin and prescription substance abuse

The addictive nature of heroin can lead to heroin abuse. Stopping the use of heroin may result in withdrawal symptoms similar to short-acting prescription opioid withdrawal.

The risks associated with the use of heroin include physical dependence, drug abuse, and addiction. The user may require addiction treatment at a suitable rehab center. 

Heroin recovery: heroin addiction treatment programs and methods

Like other drug addictions and substance abuse, addiction to heroin can be treated in a suitable recovery center or drug rehab. Health professionals can suggest heroin addiction treatment options and facilities for addiction recovery. 

A drug rehab center can get your loved ones on the road to recovery. Heroin addiction treatment can include intensive outpatient programs.  

Detox programs such as medication-assisted treatment are suitable for the following:

  • Drug and alcohol addiction
  • Opiate addiction
  • Drug abuse (e.g. marijuana addiction, meth addiction, and cocaine addiction)
  • Alcohol addiction
  • Mood disorders
  • Co-occurring disorders (dual diagnosis treatment) 

Drug rehabilitation provides addiction treatment programs and addiction therapies for dual diagnosis should a patient experience co-occurring disorders (eating disorder, opiate addiction, personality disorder). 

More information on addiction treatment programs and detox programs.

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