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How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?

Heroin is considered one of the most addictive drugs in the world. But the big question people ask is, "how long does heroin stay in your system?"

How Long Does Heroin Stay In Your System?

If you’re worried about the detectable period of heroin in the system and the fastest way to get heroin out of your system, it partially depends on various factors and detection methods. However, before getting answers to these questions, you need to understand the substance and its effects on the body.

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What is Heroin?

Also referred to as “smack,” “dope,” or “brown sugar,” heroin is from a class of drugs called opioids. It’s considered one of the most addictive and potent drugs worldwide. It’s derived from morphine, from opium poppy plants. Heroin caused a rush of pain relief and excitement, followed by a relaxed state of mind and being. Due to its overwhelming effects, users tend to get addicted to it.

Depending on how it's consumed, when heroin enters the body, it immediately produces feelings of euphoria, painlessness, and well-being that may last up to four to six hours.

Impact of Heroin

Heroin is often snorted, injected, or smoked, resulting in a fast, exhilarating high.1 This is then followed by users feeling contented, relaxed, and sleepy. However, because of the damage it brings to a user's health and wellbeing, it’s tightly controlled by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration).2

Effects of Heroin

The effects of heroin last longer than those of some drugs like meth. However, it has a short half-life of about 30 minutes. This means when a single dose is consumed, half of the heroin in the system will be flushed out in 30 minutes.

Heroin has instant effects after usage, and depending on the dosage, the euphoric state can persist for a few minutes. In contrast, the other effects last for about one to two hours. The wearing-off hours of some effects of heroin in the body are between three to five hours.

Heroin Side Effects

Some common effects of heroin include a rush of euphoria and a state between sleepiness and wakefulness. Some short-term effects include heroin constipated pupils, dry mouth, relaxed muscles, nausea, heavy hands and feet, and more.3 Also, some long-term effects of heroin include insomnia, heart lining infection, collapsed veins, lung complications, and more.4

How is Heroin Processed in the Body?

Heroin is a relatively short-acting drug that doesn't stay in a person's system for long. As soon as heroin reaches the brain, a rush of euphoric feelings is produced. Once it's in the brain, it converts into morphine heroin and attaches to the opioid receptors, causing the user to feel euphoric.

At this point, dopamine now floods the brain, resulting in feelings of drowsiness, contentment, and comfort that last for a few hours following consumption.

Factors That Affect Detection Time

Several factors determine how long heroin stays in your system. These factors will be detailed below.

Individual Factors

Factors like your metabolism, body mass and weight, tolerance, genetics, age, and the presence of other drugs can influence how long heroin stays in your system. For example, a high tolerance can make heroin stay in your system longer.

Dosage and Frequency of Use

The detection time of heroin in the system during a heroin drug test depends on the dosage and frequency of usage of heroin pills and other substances.

Drug Purity and Drug Interactions

Due to heroin's illegality, its purity has little to no consistency. Some doses may be stronger and purer, leading to an increase in elimination time, while some may be weak and impure, which won't take time to be eliminated from the body.

The interaction of heroin pills with other drugs or substances can also affect the metabolism rate of heroin.

Drug Testing For Heroin

There are various testing methods that can be used to detect heroin in the bloodstream. These include:

Urine Tests

The urine or "pee test" is the most commonly used drug screening method. Using this test, heroin in urine can be detected for up to two to three days after the last use. This is mainly because of the presence of morphine heroin. In most cases, some urine tests have shown positive results for up to seven days.

Blood Tests

This sort of heroin testing isn’t common because of the drug's short half-life. Because heroin leaves the body quickly, detecting any heroin in the system can be difficult. However, if the blood test is carried out, depending on when heroin was used, it can be detected in the blood for a maximum of five to six hours, with some tests showing up to two days

Saliva Tests

Although saliva tests are reliable ways to test for various drug substances, the drug's short half-life can be challenging to detect any heroin in the body. Like blood testing, depending on when heroin was used, it can be detected in the blood for a maximum of five to six hours, with some tests showing up to two days.

Hair Tests

The hair test is the only reliable heroin test that accurately detects heroin use. This heroin testing type provides a detailed, long-testing window and a record of the heroin ingested. Depending on how fast the hair grows, heroin can be detected for up to three months after last use.

Symptoms of Heroin Overdose

One of the reasons to know how long heroin stays in your system is because of an overdose. There are three factors that might cause a heroin overdose.

Indications of Heroin Overdose

These factors can lead to heroin overdose. Here are some symptoms of heroin overdose

  • Shallow, slow, or difficulty breathing
  • Discolored tongue
  • Blue tint on lips and fingertips
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Extremely constricted pupils
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weak pulse
  • Pale skin
  • Constipation and spasms
  • Coma
  • Uncontrolled muscle movements

Heroin overdose can be life-threatening. As soon as you think someone might be overdosing, you should call 911 immediately and try to rouse the person or turn them on their side to revive their breathing.5

how long does heroin stay in your system

Overcoming Heroin Addiction

Overcoming heroin addiction can be challenging, but it is necessary to achieve and maintain long-term mental and physical wellness. This process can be accomplished through:


Detoxing is the first step to overcoming heroin addiction. This is done with the help of a professionally trained team. They will supervise and monitor you throughout the process of detoxification.

Inpatient Care

Inpatient treatment removes every outside social and environmental factor that can make it harder to achieve recovery. In the inpatient treatment, individuals will have a laid-out routine, including daily therapies, attending support groups, counseling, and other activities.

Every inpatient care is different. Some focus on physical care, mental health, and daily exercises. Some offer a more exciting plan, such as hiking, rock climbing, scuba diving, and other exciting activities. Some offer a more relaxed atmosphere.

Outpatient Care

Outpatient treatment is one of the many detoxification choices for overcoming heroin addiction. This treatment plan is for those who can not go away for months from their family, jobs, or people who depend on them. The treatment will be done at a place of the individual’s choosing


Therapy is crucial for addressing the underlying habits that contribute to a person's use of heroin. Therapies can also tackle some effects of heroin addiction like depression, bipolar disorders, and various mental and physical health issues.

Get Help with Boardwalk Recovery Center

The availability of medical care can mean the difference between success and failure. Getting help with Boardwalk Recovery Center offers various treatment options to ease withdrawal symptoms and promote long-term abstinence. Boardwalk is committed to helping and supporting those struggling with heroin addiction on their journey to total recovery
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