how long heroin stays in your system
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How Long Heroin Stays In Your System: 4 Tests To Find out

Heroin is a commonly used drug in various parts of the world. The drug is famous among other drugs because it gives the consumer an immediate high feeling. The effects of this drug are short-lived, but how long heroin stays in your system is a matter of debate. It can only be found by performing drug tests and various other tests.

Heroin is known as an illegal opioid made out of morphine. Morphine is a natural substance generally obtained from the seed pods of various opium plants. Heroin use is done in many ways. Some people like to smoke it, whereas some like to snort. Some people like to take injections containing a different dosage of heroin.

Heroin addiction is hazardous to health. Heroin overdose is one of the leading factors of death in youths today. According to research, in 2020, over 1300 people died from consuming high dosages of heroin.

People who use heroin frequently resist this drug and must intake more heroin to desire the outcome. Consuming heroin or other opioid drugs can lead to serious health problems in the future and is the major cause of responsibility failure in schools, offices, or other organizations.

Duration Of Heroin Effects

Heroin addiction is common in teenagers and middle-aged youth of today. People take heroin for many reasons. Some reasons are to feel better, feel more confident about themselves, and reach a soothing state of mind.

The effects of heroin depend on some factors. Some factors are the amount of heroin being used, the quality of heroin, and the frequency of intervals.

Some effects may be experienced by most people who are a victim of this highly addictive drug. Though the drug has short-half life of only a few minutes, it has some hazardous effects on the body.

Listed below are the effects commonly seen in most heroin consumers.

1. Euphoria

Euphoria is the state in which a person’s system feels extremely happy and contended. It makes the person extremely happy and arouses the feeling of excitement.

People with heroin addiction often take this drug to experience this feeling of happiness and contentment. In some cases, euphoria can also be caused by some neurological disorder. It is a temporary feeling that lasts as long as the high lasts in the body.

To get this feeling repeatedly, people forget how dangerous heroin overdose can be and, as a result, ends up hurting themselves.

2. Drowsiness

Another common effect of heroin on a person’s system is drowsiness. It is a feeling of laziness that a person experiences after taking heroin frequently.

Regular consumers of heroin have also complained that they feel a need to sleep very often. It happens because how long heroin effects stay on the system cannot be determined without performing tests like saliva, urine, and blood tests. As long as the effect stays on the system, the person will likely feel drowsiness.

3. Constricted Pupils

Regular consumers of heroin have also complained that they have noticed their pupils shrunk over time. Not only in bright light, but their pupils tend to stay shrank even in dim lights.

If it continues to be the same for a long period, it may lead to serious eye problems. If you are facing this problem now and then, it is advised to visit a doctor at the earliest.

4. Respiratory Problems

A report from the American Addiction Centers shows that people consuming heroin are more likely to be affected with respiratory problems than people who are not using heroin regularly.

5. Nausea

Another very common effect of heroin addiction is nausea. A feeling of uneasiness remains throughout the day. Once the heroin intake starts to get regular, all these problems tend to increase.

In severe cases, it is advised to consult a doctor immediately.

6. Dry Mouth

Like marijuana, excessive drug use like heroin can lead to dryness of the mouth and the throat. A weird dryness is felt not only in the mouth but also in the throat due to the consumption of heroin.

If you are a regular consumer of heroin, it is advised to quit this practice as early as possible.

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Apart from the effects mentioned above, consuming heroin also has some other effects, like flushing of the skin, itching, upset stomach, vomiting, a fuzzy brain, and heavy arms and legs.

The effects mentioned above has half life effects on the body. But consuming heroin for a decent amount of time can have long-term effects on the body. These effects are mentioned below.

  • Insomnia

  • Collapsed Veins

  • Infection in the valves and lining of the heart

  • Several factors lead to a skin infection

  • High risks of being infected by HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, and hepatitis B

  • Various Mental Disorders

  • Kidney Diseases

  • Liver Diseases

  • Miscarriage

  • Menstrual Problems

  • Tuberculosis

  • Pneumonia

You might now be worried about how long heroin stays in your system or how long heroin high stay in your system. It completely depends on the method of intake.

If a person injects heroin into their veins, they will get a much quicker result than those consuming it in other ways. In the case of an injection, the heroin high lasts longer than the consumed in various other ways.

Let us dive into more details to know how long the highly addictive drug last in our system.

How Long Heroin Stays In Your System

The effects of heroin last longer than most other drugs worldwide. The interesting part about this drug is that it has a half-life of 30 minutes. By half-life, we mean that if someone consumes, injects, or smokes one dose of heroin, it takes around 30 min to flush out half of the drug from the person’s body.

Some researchers state that the behalf life of heroin can be as less as 2 to 6 minutes in some people.

When a person consumes heroin, it converts to 6-acetyl morphine and morphine. These substances enter the brain and start working with the receptors responsible for pain, impression, and euphoria. Once this drug is broken down into the system, several metabolites are produced. We can only detect heroin metabolites in the body by performing the most standard drug tests.

Morphine has a longer half-life which can last up to seven hours. Once the morphine is broken down inside our body, the feeling of high decreases, and the other substances present in the body can be detected in a urine test even after several days of consumption.

Some popular tests or screenings to detect heroin metabolites in the body are blood and saliva tests, urine tests, hair follicle tests, and several other advanced tests.

The drug eliminates the body through urine, sweat, tears, saliva, and feces.

Several factors determine the amount of time heroin lasts in our bodies. Some of these factors are mentioned below.

  • Body fat content

  • Overall bodyweight

  • Sex

  • Age

  • Hydration

  • Dosage Volume

  • Liver and kidney health

  • Quality and purity of the dose

Methods Of Use

A lot of things depend on the method of using this drug. It determines how long the drugs stay in the system and ensures how quickly one gets high.

The method of use of heroin is directly proportional to how fast the drug reaches the receptors in the brain. The faster it reaches, the quicker you get the feeling of high.

One interesting thing to note here is that even if the drug reaches the brain quickly, it does not change the metabolization rate.

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Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash

The rate of metabolization is the rate at which the drug metabolizes in the body. Depending on the method of use, a single dose of heroin can be very effective in pain relief.

The average half-life of heroin is three minutes when injected into the system. But when this drug is smoked or snorted, it takes about five minutes to reach its peak blood volume. The drug’s time to reach the peak blood volume helps convert the initial dose into morphine.

Consumers who prefer to inject heroin into the system experience an initial rush. The drug takes less time to reach the brain and cannot metabolize. Users who like to self-inject this drug into the body often risk themselves for overdose as they tend to chase the desirable feeling without knowing whether the previous dose has left the system or not.

Drug Screenings And Drug Tests For Heroin

The ones who are willing to quit taking this drug can register themselves in the various anti-addiction treatment centers that are available today. Apart from that, many other heroin addiction treatment options are available these days.

As mentioned, heroin can be detected in the body through various drug screening tests. Some of the tests are urine tests, hair follicle tests, saliva tests, and feces tests. All these drug tests mentioned above are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These tests are useful in detecting heroin in the body at various stages, even after several days from consumption.

These tests not only detect the heroin intake in the body but are also effective in determining the strength of the last dose the user took. Though the testing sensitivity varies for different screenings, most of them are effective in detecting the drug after several days and weeks of consumption.

Here is a detailed overview of each of the drug tests.

1. Urine Test

A urine test can detect the intake of heroin for up to three days after consumption. How long the drug shows up in the urine test also varies for many reasons. But it has more detection time than that blood and saliva tests.

2. Blood Tests

Heroin in blood tests shows up to twelve hours after consumption. The drug does not stay in the blood for a long time; therefore, it is not the best test to detect heroin in the system. However, in some cases, heroin can be detected in the blood for two days.

There are some other useful tests that a person can look out for.

3. Saliva Tests

Like the blood test, saliva is also not very effective in detecting heroin in the system. Heroin stays up to 12 hours in the saliva, and the result will be positive if checked within this time.

When this drug is smoked or snorted, it stays in the saliva for up to three to five hours.

4. Hair Follicle Test

It is the most useful for detecting heroin in the system. If consumed, the drug can stay in the hair follicles for up to three months. In some cases, if this drug is used in higher quantities, it can stay in the hair follicle for up to six months.

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Detection of heroin in the system depends upon several factors like body mass, personal metabolism, weight, and the person’s overall health. The quantity of drug taken also plays an important role in determining how long the drug will be detectable.

There are certain cases in which you may obtain a false positive result. Including poppy seeds in your food can yield a false positive result, although the amount is negligible.

Several medicines like quinolones, rifampin, and diphenhydramine can also be responsible for attaining a false positive result.

A hair follicle test will detect heroin at any given time. If you are among the people trying to get the heroin out of your system quickly, sorry to break the ice; this is impossible. Instead of worrying about how to get the drug out of your system, concentrate o getting medical help. It will not only help you with fighting the addiction but will also make sure you do not have to take this drug anytime in the future again.

There are a lot of addiction treatment centers that you can look for.

Heroin Addiction And Withdrawal

Heroin is one of the most dangerous drugs in the world. Regular users of heroin generally develop a substance use disorder. It means that the regular users of heroin face certain health problems, disabilities, and trouble at school, home, or work.

After taking the drug regularly, our body creates resistance to heroin. It means that a person with heroin resistance must keep increasing the dose every time to get the desired result.

When a person realizes that too much heroin is bad for their health and proceeds toward quitting, they will face some heroin withdrawal symptoms. 

  • Chills

  • Vomiting

  • Jitters

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Bone and muscle pain

  • Uncontrollable leg movements

  • Cold flashes

Heroin Addiction Treatment Options

Heroin addiction treatment is not the same for all. Many heroin treatment centers teach meditation and behavioral therapy to get the heroin out of the body. Your medical team is the best to guide you about what medical treatment you should go through to clean your system from heroin.

Medications are the best way to get your body rid of the drug and all unnecessary substances. Some medicines block the receptors in the brain and don’t let heroin affect them.

When the receptors are blocked, heroin has no or less effect on the receptors. It, in turn, arouses a feeling to stop using the drug. As a result, heroin users cannot attain the desired result.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is effective in making the users pay attention to the things that they think. It not only helps them in coping with the addiction but is useful in coping with a lot of other triggers and stress.

There is another type of therapy known as contingency management therapy. It offers the users money or vouchers are a reward for staying drug-free.

Heroin Overdose

If you see someone taking an overdose of heroin, take action immediately, as the person will need medical treatment options within minutes. A popular medicine known as naloxone can stop the effect of a heroin overdose if it is used quickly.

Naloxone can be given to a person who has taken a high dose of heroin. Getting medical advice at this point is highly advised. It will help buy some time to take the person to a doctor.

Naloxone is given in various forms, like an injection or nasal spray. In some places, you do not even have to show a prescription to get naloxone.

Factors Responsible For How Long Heroin Remains In The System

How long the drug can last is different for every person. Along with the abovementioned factors, many other factors are also responsible for determining the time it stays in the system.

The factors are mentioned below.

  • The drug moves through the body faster in younger people as their metabolism is high.

  • Body composition is another factor that determines the period of stay of the drug. How often the drug is being used is also a major factor.

  • The height and weight of a person are also responsible for determining the period of stay in your system.

  • A person’s genetics is also responsible for the period the drug stays in the body. 

  • Being hydrated is another factor. If a person is well hydrated, the drug will leave the body quicker. It may leave the body in the form of urine, saliva, or sweat.

  • Even in older people, if their metabolism is high, it will help the drug move out of the body faster than those with less metabolism.

  • The quality of the drug is another factor. The purity of the drug and whether heroin was mixed with any other substances or not also determine the amount of time heroin stays in your system.

  • Many things also depend on the type of drug screening. Depending on the drug test used, some fractions of heroin may be detected in time intervals.

After Heroin Leaves The Body

After the drug leaves the body, the following steps can be challenging. It is because as soon as the drug leaves the system, it crashes into various withdrawal symptoms. In most cases, the symptoms appear within twelve hours after the last dose. Generally, the symptoms are at their peak within the first three days and start to fade over two or three weeks.

In some rarer cases, withdrawal symptoms can be experienced for more than a month. The intensity of the heroin withdrawal symptoms varies from person to person. Long-term heroin users suffer from withdrawal symptoms that are both physically and mentally draining.

Experiencing withdrawal symptoms are common as soon as the drug starts to leave the body. If you are facing adverse symptoms and a medical emergency, it is advised to visit a doctor and get medical help at the earliest.


Heroin is one of the most dangerous drugs available on the market. Not only dangerous, but it is highly addictive. Staying away from heroin or most drugs is the best way to keep yourself healthy.

Even if you have indulged in heroin, ensure never to take more doses than required as it can be fatal.

How long the drug’s effect sustains in the system is a common question asked by many heroin users. It completely depends from person to person. Some tests can even detect heroin after several months of use.

Please avoid drugs and make people aware of their bad effects on our bodies.