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How Long Does it Take to Become Addicted to Heroin?

A man sits alone looking out at a lake.
Heroin addiction can happen quickly and without warning.

It’s possible that you could use heroin without getting addicted. However, it’s also possible that you could become addicted quickly. You might spin into a downward spiral that results in losing everything that means anything to you.

So what is a safe amount of heroin? How can you make sure you won’t get addicted?

How Addictive is Heroin?

Before we answer that question, let’s make one thing perfectly clear: there is no safe amount of heroin.

Especially since fentanyl hit the scene, it’s quite possible to try heroin for the first time, overdose and die.

Now let’s get into it. How long does it really take to get addicted to heroin?

There is no clear research-backed answer to that question. It’s also true that the answer is different for everyone. We know that people with co-occurring conditions such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder are more likely to get addicted.

It’s also intuitive that, the more often you use, the more likely you are to become addicted.

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First-Hand Experience: How Addictive is Heroin?

There is no “textbook” answer to this, but if you talk to people who have been there, you will hear a wide-variety of responses. Here are real-life comments stating how long it took until addiction set in:

  • “Daily for a couple of weeks”
  • “You could be mentally all about it after just one time.”
  • “Physically you’d feel ‘light’ withdrawal symptoms after three days use.”
  • “It takes me a matter of days before I develop withdrawals.”
  • “You technically go through withdrawal even after one dose. It is just so mild that you don’t notice.”
  • “I think it takes about two or three weeks to develop a heroin addiction.”
  • “I was between the third and seventh or eighth day that it must have taken hold of me, it was crazy how quickly it happened.”
  • “Daily use (of a high dose) like let’s say 100-150 mg a day of heroin, IV or smoked it’ll only take three days.”

Signs of Heroin Addiction

It isn’t always clear exactly when addiction sets in, but here are some signs to watch for:

  • You crave heroin and show signs of withdrawal if you don’t use.
  • You continue to use despite negative consequences.
  • You find that you can’t limit or control your use.
  • You find yourself lying about your use.
  • It’s costing you excessive amounts of money.
  • You find yourself often thinking about heroin.
  • Your relationships with family and friends suffer.

Help, Hope and Healing at The Raleigh House

The good news is that heroin addiction can be successfully treated—with the right help. At The Raleigh House, located in Denver, we embrace a whole-person approach to healing that addresses physical, mental and emotional health. Each person who walks through our door is assigned his or her own master’s level therapist. One-on-one and group therapy sessions help heal emotionally, while chef-prepared meals and activities like yoga and kick boxing help heal the body. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about the heroin addiction treatment program at The Raleigh House.



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