How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?

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The question of how long heroin stays in a person’s system has a much wider application than simply landing a job that requires a clean drug test or staying on the Probation Officer’s good side.  Such havoc is wreaked upon the body and brain of a heroin user that the drug’s effects can have lasting consequences — for weeks or months after the last dose.

The Half-Life of Heroin

The half-life of heroin, which is the amount of time it takes for the body to eliminate half of the drug, is only around 30 minutes, though both the feelings of euphoria and withdrawal may be felt by a user after the drug has been metabolized. There are various factors that affect the length of time heroin remains in the system. Heroin use is detected through urinalysis and blood, saliva, and hair follicle testing.

How Long Does Heroin Stay in Urine?

An immunoassay [1] is the most commonly used form of urinalysis due to its ease of use, rapid results, and cost-effectiveness. The immunoassay does not detect the level of heroin in a person’s body.  Rather, it detects the body’s ability to form antigen-antibody complexes and will pick up usage markers in the urine for 3-4 days.

How Long Does Heroin Stay in Saliva?

Only a few minutes after heroin consumption, the drug will show up on a saliva test. Saliva testing has a limited window of only 48 hours, can be done quickly and affordably, and unlike a urinalysis, requires no privacy precautions. 

How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your Blood?

While a blood test may intuitively seem like the most accurate method for detecting heroin in a user’s system, it has the shortest window of viability and will not pick up the drug in as little as 12 hours after use. It is useful, however, for determining if a person is under the influence at the time of the test and still has the drug in his or her system.

How Long Does Heroin Stay in Hair?

The most effective method for spotting substance  use is hair testing. It is more expensive than other tests but is non-invasive and can detect many types of drugs and their metabolites for up to 3 months.

Five Factors that Influence How Long Heroin Stays in Your System

The amount of time it takes for Heroin to leave your system can vary. There are multiple factors that come into play. 

  1. Method of Consumption. Heroin can be snorted, injected, or smoked. Heroin will remain in a person’s body for a longer period of time if it was snorted as opposed to being injected.
  2. Metabolism. People’s bodies metabolize substances at different rates. Therefore, the amount of time heroin stays in a person’s system can be affected by his/her metabolic rate.
  3. Weight. Heroin will stay in a lighter individual’s system for a shorter time than a heavier person.
  4. Dosage. The more Heroin a person consumes, the longer it will stay in his/her system
  5. Experience. It will take longer for Heroin to leave the body of a person who has been taking it for a while because the Heroin has already been built up in his body.  

What is Heroin?

Heroin, originally developed in the late 1800s as a cough suppressant, is derived from the opium poppy, placing it in a class of drugs called opiates. Opiates have several beneficial properties and have been used for centuries for their unmatched analgesic effectiveness.  The positive reinforcing qualities [2] of opiates (pain relief and euphoria), particularly heroin, create the potential for chemical dependence or addiction.  In fact, more than half of the people who try heroin even one time become dependent on the drug.

What are the Effects of Heroin?

The long-term consequences of heroin use go far beyond the implications of an impending drug test.  Heroin is extremely addictive, and repeated use changes the physiology of the brain, creating severe hormonal imbalances.  Heroin also causes progressive tolerance, a phenomenon that occurs when more and more of the drug is required to achieve the same effects. Over time, the body adapts to the presence of an increasing level of the drug, and withdrawal symptoms occur when its use is suddenly reduced.  It is this cycle that keeps a user locked in addiction’s grip.

Heroin withdrawal symptoms are common due to heroin’s short half-life and addictive properties. While not as physically dangerous as alcohol withdrawal, is a painful and mentally taxing process, and it is the temporary discomfort that often reignites a relapse.  The physical symptoms of withdrawal do subside in a relatively short period of time, giving the user the opportunity to address the underlying triggers for drug use and begin the healing process.

Recover from Your Heroin Addiction at Avenues Recovery

Participating in a recovery program that includes detoxification, medication management, and intensive, clinically proven methods of treatment is often the first step in breaking the cycle of addiction.

Contact Avenues Recovery today, and one of our caring program Ambassadors will walk you through a judgment-free evaluation. We offer a variety of resources and treatment programs to help you achieve a healthy lifestyle. Take your next step at Avenues Recovery




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