How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?
The Length of Time Heroin Can Be Detected in Your Body
Heroin is a powerfully addictive opioid, leaving many long-term effects on your body and life, beginning with long-term dependence. Heroin detox and withdrawal are physically punishing experiences. Long-term recovery and sobriety require a long process of supervised treatment, but how long heroin stays in your system can vary due to several factors.
About Heroin and Heroin Addiction
Heroin entails a class of opioid drugs usually prescribed as painkillers. But heroin itself has no approved medical use and is illegal. It attaches to the brain’s opioid receptors, which release dopamine, neurotransmitter dopamine that causes intensely pleasurable feelings – the sudden “rush” of euphoria that keeps users coming back.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says the pleasure is often followed by unpleasant sensations like dry mouth, itchy skin, and gastrointestinal upset leading to nausea and vomiting. The user finally grows drowsy and experiences the pleasant relaxation and lack of care that heroin is known for. Over time, heroin causes changes to the brain’s chemistry, leading to intense cravings that become harder and harder to break free, impacting how long heroin stays in your system.
How Long Heroin Remains in Your System
For a drug with such lasting effects on the body, heroin spends a surprisingly short time in the body. It has a half-life of only 30 minutes, which means it takes 30 minutes for half of it to be flushed out of the system. In some cases, the half-life is as short as three to eight minutes.
To detect heroin in your system, examiners use the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approved blood, saliva, urine, and hair follicles tests.
How Long Will Heroin Show Up on a Drug Test?
Because heroin leaves the body so quickly, tests of bodily fluids, including blood, urine, and saliva, can only detect heroin in your system for a few hours or days after you last used the drug. But bear in mind that if you’ve been using heroin for a long time, it could be detectable for longer.
Long-term use causes heroin to build up in your fatty tissues. It takes longer to flush drugs from fatty tissues than from blood or urine, so the length of time heroin stays in your body may be more than you think.
Here are the average lengths of time involving how long heroin stays in your system:
5 hours or less
Up to 2 days
Up to 2 days
Hair Follicle Test
Up to 3 months or more. In fact, this is the only test that works for longer than a week.
The Best Way to Get Heroin Out of Your System
Heroin withdrawal can be a physical and mental ordeal, so patients undergoing medically supervised heroin detox are closely monitored to keep them as comfortable as possible and prevent complications.
Professional detox management reduces the chance of relapse later on. Treatment may include drugs such as Suboxone, which is classified as a partial opioid agonist. It works by producing a milder high than heroin, gradually reducing dependence. Suboxone is still potentially addictive, so its use must be carefully administered.
Medication alone is not enough for successful heroin detox. It is usually offered as part of a comprehensive recovery program that includes intensive therapy. A combination of professional counseling services, individual and group therapy has increased success rates and is vital in helping recovering heroin users achieve long-term sobriety.