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How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your System?


You didn’t click this story to be told that heroin is bad for you—or that you should stop doing it, so let’s just get right to it.

These are not the kinds of statistics that the National Institutes of Health publishes, but the following figures are commonly accepted—with a few variables such as body weight, metabolism and how heavy your drug use has been.

Heroin is classified as a Schedule I drug in the United States, meaning it has no currently accepted medical use and is known to be highly addictive.

After injected, snorted, or smoked, heroin begins to be metabolized in the body into a compound called 6-acetyl morphine. The half-life of heroin is quite short, only two to six minutes, whereas 6-acetyl morphine has a half-life of up to 25 minutes. Because the body breaks down heroin rather quickly, the high dissipates fast.

Usually, up to five half-lives are needed for the body to entirely expel heroin from your system.

This means that half of the drug taken in a single will be removed from the body in 30 minutes.

The time it takes for heroin to pass through your system depends on various factors, such as:

  • Age
  • Height and weight
  • Genetics
  • Hydration
  • Amount and quality of drugs taken
  • Metabolism rate
  • Body fat content
  • Health of the liver and kidneys
  • Intereaction with prescription and non-prescription drugs

It is actually the heroin metabolites that are looked for by drug tests since they tend to stay in your system much longer than the heroin itself.

How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your Urine?

Urine tests are the most commonly used (especially when it comes to employment) to test for heroin since they are cheaper, easy to use, and minimally invasive. This is the area where you see the most discrepancy.

Generally, heroin can be detected in urine for 2-4 days, but some sources caution that, for heavy users, it can be found for as long as a week to 10 days on a drug test.

How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your Saliva and Blood?

Because heroin has a short half-life, blood and saliva tests are not typically used to detect it. Blood tests are usually given in the event of a medical emergency when a user needs immediate attention. Heroin is detected in the blood for a relatively short period of time, generally no more than 2 days but usually only 5 to 6 hours.

It can be detected in the saliva for longer—between 1-4 days.

How Long Does Heroin Stay in Your Hair?

The short answer is 90 days or more. Standard practice is to test the 1.5 inches of hair closest to the root. Because hair grows at a rate of about a half-inch a month, that equates to about 90 days.

If you’re bald, things get tricky, because body hair is then tested. While there is no conclusive evidence, some sources say that body hair can detect drug use that occurred as long as one year ago.

Passing a Drug Test for Heroin

If you have enough advance warning, blood, saliva and urine tests can be passed by abstaining from using heroin. You’ll also find plenty of chatter on the internet about using someone else’s urine sample, but it’s fairly difficult to pull off.

You’ll also find advice about adding bleach or other cleansers to urine. A trick like that will be detected.

You may also come across shampoos that claim to clean the hair of any traces of heroin. The truth is that drugs don’t coat the hair, they are found within the hair shaft and cannot be washed away. It’s best to avoid these products and stop using heroin immediately if you need to pass a drug test.

It’s important to understand that heavy, long-term heroin use is easier to detect since such abuse causes heroin to be stored in the fatty tissues which take considerably longer to leave the body than when the substance is in the blood or other bodily fluids.

Are you a casual heroin user?

You might use Heroin every once in a while because it makes you feel good, but you may be surprised by the effects of snorting Heroin.

False Positives in Heroin Testing

Although most of the trace amounts of morphine and codeine in poppy seeds are removed during processing, foods with poppy seeds can still contain small amounts of these chemicals, resulting in a false positive if you’ve eaten foods with these seeds recently.

Eating foods with poppy seeds can trigger a false positive within two hours of consumption and the opiate residue can be found in your urine for up to 60 hours.

Taking certain medications such as quinolones, rifampin, and diphenhydramine can set off a false positive for opiates on enzyme-mediated immunoassays.

How do I get heroin out of my system?

There is no pill you can take or elixir you can drink to remove heroin from your system. The only course of action is to stop taking the drug altogether and let your body return to normal.

This may sound easy, but heroin withdrawal can come with serious and flu-like symptoms which are extremely uncomfortable. As the heroin leaves your system completely, your withdrawals will become less severe.

A Better Way to Escape Drug Addiction

You’re taking huge risks every time you use heroin—and your employment is actually pretty low down on the list of concerns. More troubling is that, these days, you never know exactly what you’re injecting, smoking or snorting—which makes an overdose a very real risk even if you are only a casual heroin user.

There’s a better way to live than trying to beat drug tests and bad heroin.

At The Raleigh House, we know that just getting off of heroin isn’t enough. The goal is to build a life that’s better than before—one that’s full of both joys and challenges.

The recovery process begins with ridding your body of heroin, a process known as detox. During this time we will address your mental, emotional, and physical aspects of detoxing which may include the use of medications to help ease withdrawal symptoms to break opioid dependence.

You will be cared for by our team of doctors, psychologists, master’s level therapists, nurses and even a nutritionist. Together, we’ll make a plan for rehab—and for the future.

Fill out our form or contact us today at (720) 891-4657 to learn more about the heroin addiction treatment program at The Raleigh House.

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