How Long Does Heroin Stay In Your System?

Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

on December 1, 2022

Heroin only stays in a person’s system for about fifteen minutes after it is taken. However, heroin’s metabolites, primarily morphine, remain in the body for up to a day and can be detected in urine screenings for up to three days after your last use.

Depending on how it is used, the effects of heroin begin almost immediately and can last for several hours. However, heroin abuse can be detected in drug screenings for varying periods of time after the euphoric effects of heroin drug use have worn off.

How Long Does Heroin Stay In Urine?

Urine tests are the most common and often most effective option for drug testing. Heroin use can be detected in urine for 2-3 days after the drug was used.

How Long Does Heroin Stay In Blood?

Blood tests are uncommon and cannot typically detect heroin use for more than a few hours after the drug was used.

How Long Does Heroin Stay In Saliva?

Saliva tests are less invasive than blood tests but can still only detect heroin use for a short period of time, typically 24 hours or less after last use.

How Long Does Heroin Stay In Hair?

Hair follicle tests are potentially able to detect heroin use for up to 90 days after a person’s last dose.

While hair follicle tests are able to detect heroin use for the longest amount of time of all drug testing options, they are only reliable if heroin was used regularly or in high doses. Very recent or occasional heroin use will not produce a reliably positive result in hair tests.

False-Positive Drug Screens For Heroin

Certain substances like poppy seeds, Robitussin, rifampin, and quinine can produce false positives for heroin/morphine use in drug screens. Because of this, drug tests usually dismiss very low-level positive results with a cut-off limit.

Heroin Half-Life

The half-life of a drug is the amount of time it takes for the body to process half of the drug’s remaining dose. Half-lives of different substances vary, influencing the length of a drug’s effects and how long the substance, or its metabolites, can be detected in drug screens.

Surprisingly, the average half-life of heroin is only around three minutes. This means that in 5-6 half-lives (approximately fifteen minutes) heroin is effectively eliminated from the body.

But despite its short half-life, heroin provides longer-lasting effects through its active metabolites including 6-acetylmorphine, morphine, and (in small amounts) 3-acetylmorphine.

Both morphine and 6-acetylmorphine act as powerful opioid receptor agonists, providing the pain relief and euphoria that heroin is known for. 

Morphine’s half-life, which is the longest of all heroin metabolites, is typically 2-4 hours or longer in some cases, and morphine produces its own metabolites which can also be detected in drug screenings for longer periods of time.

Factors That Influence Heroin Detection Times

How long heroin stays in your body before being completely processed and removed depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • how heroin was used(injection, snorting, smoking)
  • how often or frequently heroin has been used
  • your most recent dosage
  • your metabolic rate
  • your overall health, nutrition, and hydration
  • your body composition and body fat content

While certain methods have been proposed to beat drug tests and purge substances like heroin from the body more quickly, your system has to take time and go through the process of removing the drug and all its traces.

Ultimately, the best way to get heroin out of your system and pass drug tests for good is to participate in professional addiction treatment services.

Heroin Addiction Treatment Programs

Even though heroin can be deadly and causes serious long-term effects, drug addiction and heroin withdrawal symptoms are not easy issues to overcome on your own.

This is why our professional detox and heroin addiction treatment services are available and give you access to expert mental health care, behavioral therapy, FDA-approved medications like methadone, and other personalized treatment options hosted in a comfortable treatment facility.

To find out if our heroin rehab program is a good fit for you or a loved one, please contact us today.

  1. Journal of Analytical Toxicology — Detection Times and Analytical Performance of Commercial Urine Opiate Immunoassays Following Heroin Administration
  2. Mayo Clinic Laboratories — Opiates
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Heroin Research Report

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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